The small city of Coca, officially known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana, is located at the confluence of the Napo, Coca and Payamino rivers in northeastern Ecuador. Just a 5 hour drive or short plane ride from Quito, Coca has become the gateway city to Yasuni National Park.
As the last real city before entering the national park, anyone who wants to venture further in and explore the virgin rainforest must go through Coca. However, it is more than a point to pass through. It is rich in history with communities dating back to pre-Colombian times along the Napo River.
Explore Coca’s history, modern attractions and even a small zoo, to get your first taste of the neighboring rainforest! We also have a whole article about the best hotels to stay in while visiting Coca.
The Orellana Archaeological Museum and Cultural Center, known as the MACCO is the highlight of Coca. This museum recently opened in 2015 with an in depth history of the indigenous Napo community. They have a pre-Colombian collection from the Omagua Culture. All these objects were donated by people who found the items.
The museum has three floor. The first one shows the interaction between the people, their culture and the jungle. The second floor has exhibitions of the Omagua culture and their rituals regarding the life cycle. The last floor shows the memories of the extinct Omagua culture through the preserved pottery and chronicles of explorers through the region.
Entrance to the museum is $2.50 for adults, $1.25 for children under 12, elderly and differently abled people. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM and Saturday and Sundays from 10AM to 7PM. While you can walk through the museum on your own, free guided tours are available every 30 minutes.
Within the building complex there is also a library, art exhibition space and an auditorium which hosts events and movie nights!
Located just in front of the museum is the new Malecón. It is a great walk along the riverfront with plenty of spots to relax in the shade and enjoy the view of the Majestic River Napo Bridge over the Napo River.
The Coca Zoo is a small zoo just outside of town, only a short taxi or bus ride away. The cool thing about this zoo is it help rehabilitates animals who are abused or confiscated as part of illegal trading. Animals that can be completely rehabilitated are released back into its natural habitat.
Get up close with some amazing animals you will have a hard time seeing in the Amazon. Some of the animals you will be able to see include tapir, peccary, birds, tigrillos, anacondas, monkeys and turtles.
The zoo is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 am to 11:30 and from 2 pm to 5 pm. The zoo is free to all, with donations accepted.
A big thank you to the Ministry of Environment and the Yasuní National Park for all the help they provided us.