As one of countless tributary waterways to the Amazon River, the Napo River is a vital part of the local ecosystem. While it might not be as long or well-known as the Amazon, this doesn’t mean that it less worth visiting on one of AE Expeditions’ Ecuador itineraries.

Both of our Ecuador expeditions include a spectacular motorised canoe trip down the Napo River to Pompeya , allowing you to take a step back in time into a world long forgotten from the outside world. As well as seeing the unique flora and fauna of the Napo River, it is just as gripping to see and experience the culture of the local indigenous communities.

In the absence of modern technology and urban development, explorers to the Napo River are in for a good type of culture shock. While the local indigenous communities live a completely different existence to the rest of the world, they remind us the value of our personal connections and how we should treat each other.

Read on to learn more about the culture and traditions of the Napo River that you could experience with AE Expeditions.


Napo Runas (the people of the Napo River)

While many of the various native communities in South America have looked to continue their traditions, the influx of European and Latin American explorers for more than 1,000 years have certainly influenced the local people. The Napo Runas (the people of the Napo River) are no different.

Several centuries ago Portuguese rubber-harvesters used part of the Napo River as a base for their operations. This forced the native people up-river, where their culture and tradition mixed with Andean people of the Quichua group.

To this day, the local communities of the Napo River are called either Naporunas or Quichuas. There are more than 60,000 people estimated to be living along the Napo River with each village or community often holding its own traditions, religion or cultural beliefs.

In recent years, the Napo Runas have come under more scrutiny than ever. With oil companies looking to drill, ongoing deforestation concerns and the introduction of Westernised culture, supporting these local communities has never been so important.

Interacting with local indigenous communities

As your Aurora Expedition navigates the rich waters of the Napo River across the Yasuni National Park, we are welcomed by the local indigenous communities. This is an opportunity to see how they live, their hunting techniques, what they eat and how they are continuing to preserve the traditions and beauty of the river.

Before you step off the canoe, it will be possible to spot the bright colours of the Napo Runas people and get a feel of this welcoming environment. Of course, English might not be their first language, but certainly gestures and a wide smile are universal forms of communication.

The people of the Napo River are proud of where they have come from and work hard to preserve the history of their families.

The culture that you witness along the Napo River might be long removed from modern Western society, but the common values of respect, family, love and loyalty stand true. The people of the Napo River are proud of where they have come from and work hard to preserve the history of their families.

For more information on the cultural aspects of the Napo River, feel free to get in touch with us today.


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