Puerto Francisco de Orellana, also known as El Coca or simply Coca, is the capital of the province of Orellana in eastern Ecuador.
The city stands in the Amazon Rainforest at the confluence of the Coca River and the Napo River (the smaller Payamino River also merges into the Napo in the city). It has a population of 45,163 inhabitants as of 2010. It is visited by tourists going into the Amazonian forest and is served by the Francisco de Orellana Airport. The city is named for Francisco de Orellana, who explored the confluence of the Coca River and the Napo River.
It is incredibly hot and humid, temperatures range from 20-40 Celsius but generally humidity is very high and the temperature is at least in the high 20s.
- 1 Francisco de Orellana Airport (OCC IATA) (almost 2 km north of town on the left-hand side of the road to Lago Agrio). Avianca and LATAM flies between Coca and Quito three times daily (around $110 each way).
The five-minute taxi ride there costs about $2.
Coca has 2 bus terminals – the Nuevo Terminal Terrestre is 3km north of town, a taxi here costs $2. All main interprovincial destinations are served e.g. Quito, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Baños, Tena. There is one hour of free wifi available in the terminal (per device). Sample bus prices and times (February 2016) Tena ($7, 4 hours), Baños ($12.50, 7hours), Lago Agrio ($3, 2 hours) and Quito ($10, 10 hours). There are many departures daily that you won't find online.
The old bus terminal serves mostly provincial destinations and the quality of buses is much lower, but consequently they are cheaper. It is located just off Avenida 9 de Octubre between Sergio Sainz and Luis Uquillas (east side of Avenida 9 de Octubre).
Daily speedboats run from Nuevo Rocafuerte, the village on the Peruvian border. They leave at 5am, arriving around 4pm into Coca. Fare is $15. There is no toilet onboard, but the boat makes a stop halfway for lunch. If you really need a bathroom you can jump off at one of the many stops, but you need to be quick.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful within the city. The Parque Central is a short walk from the passenger dock. You should only pay $2 to a hostel in the town from the bus station. Alternatively from the bus station you can make the short walk to Avenida 9 de Octubre and take a bus to the centre for $0.25.
Yasuni National Park is south on the Napo River near the Peruvian border. Take one of the daily speedboats to Nuevo Rocafuerte and hire a guide to take you from there. You can also arrange a tour in Coca itself, but will pay more.
You can book a tour easily to see things around the town. The pomerade is very short, at one end (the other end to the bridge) there is a museum about indigenous peoples in the Amazon. Admission is $4.
There's a monkey island where you can see the woolly monkey. There is also a wildlife sanctuary that has free admission.
Limoncocha lagoon is 60 - 90 min away, you can take a taxi and then hire a boat and driver there to tour around it, or you can go by tour. Limoncocha is the only green colour water of body in the Oriente. It is the place to be the see unusual birds, and there are also caimán (alligators) that you can spot with a torch just after sun sets.
- 1 Museo Arqueológico y Centro Cultural de Orellana (MACCO), Av. 9 de Octubre y Eugenio Espejo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tues-Fri 8:00-17:00, Sat, Sun 9:00-18:00.
- 2 Indigenous Market (near the bridge). Every Sunday. The local delicacies maito (grilled fish or meat wrapped in banana leaves) and mayones (grilled palm weevil grubs) are worth a try.
- 3 Coca Central Park (Parque Central del Coca), Napo street. Perfect to relax during the day. There are some monkeys. Nearby is the garden of El Auca, the fancyest hotel in town.
- Pasohurco Caves and waterfall. There are $2 collectivo taxi from the intersection of Av 6 de Octubre and Cuenca to Loreto (the taxi stop isn't marked so you will have to ask for it) and from there hop on on any bus going to Tena and ask the bus driver to drop you off at "Las Cavernas" (about 30 mins away and $1ish). Alternatively get a bus all the way from Coca. For $3 the owner will take you on a scramble through the caverns, show you the “animal cemetery” (containing real and imaginary fossils), and take you to his waterfall and rock pools – bring swimwear if it's a nice day.
- Eco-park. A 30-40 min trail through a bit of jungle - just the other side of the payamino river south of the town. You'll need to pay someone to ferry you across the river - speak to Carlos who owns hotel Rio Napo on Simon Bolivar street, or Luis Duarte of La Casa Del Maito on Eugenio Espejo street if you having trouble getting there. It's literally the other side of the river so don't pay too much for the trip even if “the cost of fuel is very high”. Go early for the best chance of spotting wildlife and don't forget the insect repellent.
The city is built on the banks of the Napo River; boats take passengers on the port near the bridge.
There are heaps of clothes boutiques. Clothes are fashionable and varied compared to other towns this size in ecuador. You can buy swimming outfits too.
- El Boulevar de Las Frutas, Avenida de Quito (opposite the Tia supermarket). Here you can get a great cappuccino
There are many budget hotels/hostals in the city. Expect to pay around $15 per person for simple accommodation.
There are approximately 3 slow cargo boats per month leaving to Iquitos, Peru. Speedboats leave daily to Nuevo Rocafuerte ($15, 10hours) on the Peruvian border. From Nuevo Rocafuerte you can get another boat across the border to Pantoja (1hour speedboat, slower boats may also be available and much cheaper).