CASA DEL SUIZO
LA CASA DEL SUIZO
La Casa del Suizo is a tranquil Amazonian refuge located on the shore of Ecuador’s majestic Napo River and a stone’s throw away from the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains. Perched comfortably above the riverbank and the small Quechua Indian village of Ahuano, La Casa del Suizo overlooks vast expanses of the surrounding tropical rainforest environment.
The trip to La Casa del Suizo will depart from Quito, Ecuador’s capital, by one of two routes: On Mondays and Fridays, it will soon be conveniently possible to take a 40-minute flight from Quito over the Andes Mountains’ majestic snow-covered peaks and down into the Amazon Region. The destination is the city of Tena, located only one hour from our port on the Napo River (at the moment this is not possible). It is also possible to reach La Casa del Suizo over land, along a scenic stretch of road, which takes us out of the majestic Andes highlands, and down into the jungle. During this 5½ -hour trip there are several opportunities to stop for photographs, overlooking lush green valleys and sparkling waterfalls. Be it by land or by air, our destination is Punta Ahuano, tiny port towns on the North bank of the Napo River where canoes await for a 20-minute ride downstream to la Casa del Suizo. (In the Casa del Suizo file, we mention the possibility of flying from Quito to Tena. However, please note that the Tena airport is not yet open so we are not yet able to do so.)
Our 75 modern rooms provide full electricity, hot water and ceiling fans to make your stay with us more comfortable. Each room has its own terrace as well, with an exquisite view that may be peacefully absorbed from a comfortable hammock. With a magnificent panorama of the Napo River, our guests may also enjoy our swimming pool, outdoor dining area and pool bar, which offer an array of delicious tropical drinks. The hotel’s dining rooms offer a wide variety of both Ecuadorian and international dishes, and our buffets cater to vegetarians. For larger groups, La Casa del Suizo now has a brand new, fully equipped air-conditioned convention center, and fax, phone and e-mail available.
All excursions at La Casa del Suizo will be led by both a bilingual naturalist as well as a native guide with expert knowledge of the rainforest’s medicinal and other useful plants. A typical day begins after an early breakfast, and there are a variety of trails and activities to choose from: Walks may range from full day hikes through primary rainforest to short, easy walks along river islands, depending on each group’s interests and physical abilities. Most outings begin with a short canoe ride along the Napo River or one of its many tributaries, during which it is possible to observe a variety of shore birds on the way to our trails. Once in the forest, where giant trees and tangled vines tower above, the guides will point out important aspects of the vegetation while on the lookout for tropical birds and other jungle creatures… Stay alert and you may find some yourself! On one trail, our native guides have built modelhunting traps to represent those traditionally used by the local people in the past. But this is only one aspect of the Quichua culture you may learn about here: There will be opportunity to visit with a local Quichua Indian family as well, whose garden contains many medicinal plants still commonly used today. They will explain how such plants are used, and demonstrate other aspects of their traditional culture such as the spiritual cleaning rituals still practiced today throughout the surrounding community. Learn how to make chicha, a typical beverage (which of course all may taste), and finally, all may participate in a blowgun targetshooting contest – but don’t expect to beat the natives! After the morning walk, many of our guests choose to have lunch under the rainforest canopy. We will send lunch from the hotel, for all to enjoy near the edge of the Napo. But the fun is not over yet! Afterwards you may live the incredible experience of building and navigating a wooden raft: On a small river island your guide will show you how to tie balsa logs together, so those who wish can float down the Napo back to La Casa del Suizo! We even have dinner
Tubes for those who wish to take a refreshing, wet ride down this magnificent Amazon tributary. For those in the mood for more serene activities, it is possible to visit an artisan in the village of Ahuano, who will demonstrate how the traditional Quichua ceramics are created, painted, and hardened. And for birdwatchers? Over 300 species have been registered during La Casa del Suizo’s activities, and bird guides are available upon request… Just be sure let us know in advance!
Just across the river from La Casa del Suizo is Amazoonico, a rescue center for wounded and displaced tropical rainforest animals. Here it is possible to see coatis, tapirs, and several species of monkey, snakes, and a variety of birds, many of which wander around freely!
With advance notice it is possible to arrange a full day of river rafting, either on the upper Napo River (class III) or the Misahuallí River (class IV – IV+). Rafting trips are led by experienced bilingual guides with top-of-the-line equipment, and include a riverside lunch. These excursions begin in Tena, at about 45 minutes from La Casa del Suizo, which is reachable either by public bus or private transportation. Please consult your travel agent for costs!
TIPS TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
Health It is always advisable to consult your physician about health measures and vaccinations before traveling to a foreign country. Although tropical diseases are rare around La Casa del Suizo, during your stay in Ecuador you may pass through areas of slightly higher risk.
Please take any medication you may need with you, as the selection of medicines in our firstaid kit is very limited.
La Casa del Suizo now has direct radio contact with Quito, as well as permanent telephone communication. In case of a medical emergency, there is a medical center in the town of Ahuano (adjacent to La Casa del Suizo) where guests may be treated.
The tour schedule at La Casa del Suizo varies, depending on the preferred means of transportation. Flights to and from Tena are on Mondays and Fridays, so for those who wish to fly, our 4 day/3 night program is from Friday to Monday and our 5 day/4 night program is from Monday to Friday.
For trips over land, our 4 day/3 night itinerary is from Wednesday until Saturday for any number of people. However, we will operate this program on any day of the week at the same cost for groups of four and up, or with an extra transportation cost for groups of less than four.
Longer itineraries and bird specialist guides are also available… Consult your travel agent for details.
The flights between Quito and Tena are charter flights using two different airlines, and departure time may vary. The airplanes are normally 19-seat Beech craft (1900), and both the planes and pilots are FAA-certified in the U.S.
For the flight to Tena, the airlines require that checked luggage be limited to a weight of 20 pounds per person. However, heavier items such as cameras and books may be taken in carry on bags if necessary.
In the tropical rainforest it is best to be prepared for all kinds of weather. A common question we receive is about the “dry and rainy seasons” of the Amazon, but it is best not to trust such generalizations to plan a trip. At times it can be hot and sunny, but a cool rainstorm may appear at a moment’s notice during any time of the year. We have ceiling fans in each room for hot afternoons, but at night (especially after the rain) some guests are surprised at the need for a sweatshirt!
Clothing Lightweight pants and long sleeved cotton shirts are ideal for walks in the forest. However, if you are more comfortable wearing short sleeves, remember that exposed skin may need a light dousing with insect repellant. During the rain, full waterproof clothing can be uncomfortable as it often gets you wet with sweat instead of water, but rain ponchos are recommendable for tropical cloudbursts. We supply rubber boots up to men’s size 14 for walks in the forest interior. Comfortable shoes (or sandals), shorts and t-shirts are fine for around the hotel during meals and free time. And don’t forget your bathing suit!
La Casa del Suizo now provides laundry service (washing and drying) for our guests. Please consult costs with our hotel administrator.
Drinks are not included in your package, and may be paid on the last night of your stay in cash (U.S. dollars), traveler checks or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). Please note that the minimum charge for credit cards is $20 US.
All of the water at La Casa del Suizo comes from a local well, and is perfectly safe for bathing, washing, and brushing your teeth. Bottled water for drinking is available at the bar. Meal Requirements Our chef will be more than happy to prepare vegetarian meals for you upon request. Please make sure to advise your travel agent of any dietary restrictions or allergies you may have, and also let our staff know as soon as you arrive.
High-speed film and a flash for cameras are recommendable for shady walks under the forest canopy. However, slower film is fine for photos on rivers and around the hotel.