Napo Province Gold Prospecting

by Brian Kanis
(Tena, Ecuador)

Hi Guys, I think it's been a while since anyone has posted in this forum, but for anyone who is still out there, this is for you...

I am currently in Tena, Ecuador with the hopes of finding gold. I am new to prospecting and I although I thought I had an idea of where to start, I am now somewhat discouraged. I purchased a gold pan in Quito and I plan on heading up the rivers to a nearby town in the Napo province, then I will be setting out into the mountains to camp for a few days.

The only piece of equipment I have is the pan, however, if all goes well, I plan on building a compact sluice and the returning to areas where I find a higher concentration of gold. Panning seems to be the most labour-intensive / time-consuming process to find gold, but if I pick the right areas, it should be a good way just sample, right? Another piece of equipment that I am now thinking of constructing is a hand dredge, however, I am unsure on whether the local Ferreteria will have all of the parts I require.

If anyone has any information or would like to join me on the adventure, please email me. I'm 20 years old in good physical condition, and I'm determined to find gold to fund my adventures. If anyone already has a sluice or hand dredge for sale in Ecuador, I would gladly take it off of your hands. I plan on staying for 3 months, but if I am able to at least cover my daily expenses, I may never leave. I'm looking forward to any response :)

Brian Kanis

Stan's response: Hi Brian, you remind me a lot of myself. It seems like only a short time ago (it was actually 25 years ago) that I arrived in Tena with a gold pan and a dream.

My journey there lasted nearly 10 years. I think I must have prospected up every river and stream in the Province. I found gold nearly everywhere I went.

My biggest recommendation for you would be to first study how the Natives pan and produce gold along the Jatunyacu and Napo Rivers. Copy what they do. Almost all of them can pan a gram or two in a few hours. That will get you started.

Be aware that there are several different sources of gold in the area. My favorite gold is found in the ancient river channels. It is big and coarse.

The Anzu River erodes many ancient channels and carries a lot of big gold. Between the Jatunyacu and the Anzu, you could be very busy for years to come. You just need to get a good start and become self-sustaining as soon as possible.

Comments for Napo Province Gold Prospecting

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Jun 05, 2017
3 hours from you
by: Armando

Hey Brian,

Tena is about 3 hours away from Macas, where I live. We are planning a rafting/prospecting trip near me and I wanted to extend an invite to you. I just posted in the forum if you are interested. I also look forward to hearing how the finds are near Tena. Hope to connect with you soon!

May 09, 2017
Thank you!
by: Brian

Thanks for all of the information guys! I nearly have all of the materials for an aluminum sluice, and I will be heading out in a couple of days. I made a few local friends yesterday with land among the Napo. I'll test the sluice and learn as much as I can by panning with the natives before going out alone. I'll keep everyone updated along the way with pictures and locations. Wish me luck! :D

Stan's response: Thanks Brian. We definitely want you to keep all of us up to date on your adventures and progress.

The Natives along the Napo are mostly focused on recovering "flood gold". The flood gold occurs in concentrated "pay streaks" along the river banks.

You can know immediately if you are within the pay streak or not by what you see in your pan. The difference is day and night. The Natives are experts on working within pay streaks.

Flood gold on the Napo is relatively shallow, usually within a foot or so of the surface. Once you locate a pay streak, you simply clear the rocks out of your pay streak space, scrape the sands together and process them.

Every time there is a big flood (once or twice each year), the pay streaks change locations slightly. That said, the floods bring down a whole new supply of gold.

The gold harvest can last indefinitely, if you so choose that lifestyle. Then the trick becomes how to run greater volumes of material faster.

Remember, motors and pumps are prohibited without a legal concession. However, you'll likely notice dozens of people working illegally all over the Oriente jungles with little or no consequences...

May 09, 2017
Do as the natives do
by: Jack


I too lived in Tena, and prospected along the Napo. If you go down to Puerto Napo east of the bridge, on most any day you will find locals shoveling into simple hand built wooden sluices. Using only a piece of coarse fabric to catch the gold, and dipping water with a can, they end the day with gold in their hands.

Do what they do. Go where they go. Build a small sluice you can easily carry, use your pan for cleaning up your concentrates. Shoveling into a sluice is much faster and a more efficient use of your time. Stan is guiding you to rivers in the same area that are proven sources of gold. Have fun.

May 08, 2017
Follow your dreams
by: Anonymous

Go for it! Wish I was in a position to follow a few dreams I have before I get too old. Keep us posted!

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