Coca is officially called Francisco de Orellana and on some cards you will only find it under this name. It is a hot and busy town in the middle of a petroleum extraction area. Coca is the capital of the province of Orellana.
A small monument at the foot of Calle Napo commemorates Francisco de Orellana’s 1542 passage on his way to discover the Amazon. There is a bridge over the Napo River in Coca: here the Via Auca starts, a road to the petroleum fields and to the more southerly Huaorani area. The view of the river is beautiful and it is pleasant to stay on its banks at sunset. You can find good hotels and restaurants in Coca, but the water and electricity supplies are not always reliable; good hotels and restaurants therefore have generators and reserve water tanks. Ironically, Coca, the center of petroleum extraction, often suffers from gasoline shortages.
Coca is a little further from the Colombian border than its sister city Lago Agrio, so it is safer and more peaceful, but it is still best to observe basic safety rules here. Coca is the starting point for visiting Ecuador’s most beautiful lodges and for cruises on the Rio Napo, towards Iquitos. The vast majority of visitors arrive in Coca by plane. A scenic 30-minute flight, steeply along the flanks of the Andes Mountains, takes you from Quito to the small airport of Coca. From there you sail in a canoe for a few hours on the Rio Napo to the lodge. Many of these lodges are run in conjunction with a local Native American community. For more information about these beautiful lodges, such as Napo Wildlife Center, Yachana Lodge and others, please refer to the specialized page