The parrot and parakeet claylicks offer one of the most incredible shows that the Ecuadorian Amazon has to offer.
Hidden in the middle of the jungle of the Yasuní National Park and immersed in a landscape with an overwhelming natural wealth, are the “saladeros”, or claylicks.
As the word suggests, the claylicks or “salting ponds” are natural formations caused by erosion that leaves exposed several minerals, mostly salt, attracting various species of birds and other animals to their rocky walls. The salting grounds have a great importance in the Amazonian ecosystem, since they fulfill a fundamental role in the alimentary supply of diverse creatures.
The large amount of mineral salts that are concentrated in these places become a feast for parrots, macaws, parakeets, as well as other mammals, who come to them to peck at the walls or drink from the water the nutrients that serve as a digestive. This food habit known as “geophagy”, very common in the animal kingdom, involves ingesting clay and other sediments to absorb sodium, calcium and magnesium, among other components, in order to help nourish your body and level the Ph levels. On the other hand, Amazonian birds feed mainly on fruits and seeds found in the surroundings, which usually have a large amount of toxins. The consumption of the minerals that can be obtained from the salting ones also helps them to detoxify from all these harmful residues, helping them to regulate their organism healthy.
The “saladeros” offer a great opportunity to observe up to eleven different species of parrots, macaws and parrots concentrated in this area, which coexist peacefully and offer a spectacular symphony of sounds and colors. Between its rocky walls and water deposits it is possible to see, in addition to birds, countless other species such as rodents, howler monkeys, tapirs and peccaries that come to this site to consume the minerals so precious to them. If luck is on your side, it is possible to see other extraordinary animals, mostly Amazonian cats, such as tigrillos and wild cats.
To reach the claylicks, it is necessary to do it by canoe, navigating through the Napo River towards the northwest end of the Park. The route is of great tourist interest for those who venture into the area, since the gentle movement of the canoe is relaxing enough to start enjoying the panorama. It is now time to take out the binoculars and prepare the camera, since various birds, otters and other animals can go out to meet them. To this experience are added the beautiful green landscapes offered by the banks of the Napo River, the sounds and smells of the natural fauna and the enthusiasm of the whole group that accompanies the canoe, eager to get to witness the beautiful natural spectacle in the Yasuni National Park saladeros.
Considering that the Yasuní National Park is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and as a “biosphere reserve”, declared by Unesco, it is essential to maintain respect for the ecosystem, following the recommendations of the guides so as not to disturb the natural habitat of animals.
It is important to remind tourists that embark on this adventure that the need to commit and help maintain harmony with the ecosystem. Finding the animals that you want to observe and photograph will not always be easy, as many of these have improved their abilities to camouflage themselves and hide from visitors and groups that are noisy or can be identified as a danger to them. It is for this reason that it is essential to maintain silence and a distance of at least 30 meters from the place where they are located, in order not to frighten them in the place where they are going to feed.This distance, however, does not affect the experience in the least. While it is possible to observe the flora and fauna at a glance, the use of binoculars helps to appreciate the details of the feathers and fur of the animals, as well as to better discern their behavior. The detail of the pecking of parrots and macaws to obtain the salts, as well as the rest of the animals that walk around the place is something that should not be overlooked.
Another great attractions offered by the nearby environment are the herds of tapirs and peccaries that can be seen. It is usually possible to find them with their puppies, approaching to drink from the waters of the salting, which offers a great opportunity to animal lovers to enjoy these incredible creatures. It will also be possible to find a large number of monkeys of various species, including howlers, which offer a delightful spectacle for observers.
The claylicks (saladeros) of the Yasuní National Park are one of the favorite attractions of tourists and inhabitants of the area, as well as one of the places of greatest natural wealth in the Amazon.