If you want to explore the Ecuadorian Amazon, here’s a list of our top 10 destinations!
In our newest top 10 we will reveal the best places to enjoy the Ecuadorian Amazon, otherwise known as the “Lungs of the Planet!” Old roads have been fixed and now their perfect conditions allow any traveler to reach the green and abundant rainforest!
1. Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve has two seasons in a year, the “dry” season from March to August and the “wet” season the rest of the year. Picture a flooded forest… During the wet season, “Laguna Grande” or the “Main Lake” resembles a natural mirror, where the skies are reflected on the still waters, and all around is an infinite primary forest. Instead, when the dry season arrives, the water level drops drastically and animals such as caimans happily roam about. Cuyabeno is home to caimans, boas, anacondas, several species of frogs and monkeys, hundreds of species of birds, and even pink dolphins! Getting to the reserve is a trip you have to plan ahead, seeing as there is a limited amount of eco-lodges inside the territory where you can stay. Don’t worry too much when choosing a lodge, they are all very similar in structure and amenities and they have all been built using the same standards. Oh and one more thing…. the only way to get here is by canoe! The adventure starts the minute you leave your car in the parking lot and start making your way down the river and to your lodge.
2. Parrot Clay Licks
If you are an animal lover this is your opportunity to watch exotic animals in their natural habitat! Visit the Añangu Salt Lick located in the province of Orellana, where you can spot more than 5 species of parrots, parakeet, and macaws! Birds visit the salt lick in order to extract minerals necessary for their digestion and this eating habit is truly one of the most spectacular natural sights. Don’t miss out on this beautiful natural occurrence!
3. San Rafael Waterfall
If we are going to talk about waterfalls, we can’t help it but begin with San Rafael. Would you like to discover the country’s highest waterfall? This impressive waterfall has a 150m drop! You can park outside the San Rafael area, where a 700m walk takes you to the fall. As you make your way through the trail you will be accompanied by hummingbirds, monkeys, guantas, and other small wild animals that scurry through the vegetation. Once you reach the viewpoint, you will feel the cool mist on your skin. Sometimes it can get cloudy and you can experience drizzle, but it all adds up to a natural spectacle!
4. Cayambe Coca Reserve
If you like to feel the chilly wind on your cheeks, we recommend Cayambe Coca Reserve, where you’ll be in contact with the Ecuadorian Paramo without being far from the city. The National Park has several lagoons, which hold the purest waters in the whole country. Besides, the surrounding forests seem enchanted and the wildlife encounters are something magical… Deer, foxes and even the immense Andean Condor could cross your path! Cayambe Coca is a peaceful retreat into the moorlands, where you feel the harmony and serenity of natural wonders around you.
Are you a lover of nature seeking adventure? Tena’s river rafting tour is the activity for you! Jatunyacu is one of the most important rivers in Tena because of its white water rapids and the green vegetation that surrounds it! For a day full of adrenaline you can rent a rafting tour (from one of the many operators that offer this service) which includes a certified guide, a security kayak, transportation, high-quality equipment, lunch and photos to remember this experience! Besides, teamwork makes this adventure extremely fun- you can get into the same raft with your group and laugh and row and have an incredible time!
6. Las Latas Waterfall
The Amazon is a biodiverse territory with so much to explore… Just 12 km from Puerto Misahualli, you can find Las Latas Waterfalls. After a 2h walk through the secondary humid forest, you will approach three waterfalls, each a different size. This destination is one of our favorites for bathing and enjoying the rainforest while having some fun. Natural slides connect the waterways, and this makes for a great time on the water- for both adults and children to enjoy!
7. Indichuris Viewpoint
Located in Puyo, a viewpoint overlooking the Ecuadorian Amazon awaits! Just above the majestic Pastaza River, the dense rainforests and the Andes mountain chain, a peaceful resting area gives you the best views. On a clear day, you can spot Sangay volcano, Tungurahua volcano, El Altar, and even the mystical Llanganates. You will be astounded! Besides, the viewpoint also has a swing where you can feel as free as ever- flying over the edge that overlooks rainforest paradise.
8. Yasuni National Park
There aren’t many experiences that compare to meeting communities in voluntary isolation. Yasuni National Park is one of the few places where indigenous communities such as the Waorani, Shuar and Kichwa Añangue, exist in their natural habitat. After years of contact and pacts with tourism agencies, they have allowed us to come into their homes, where they teach us about their culture, their way of life, and their ancestral beliefs tied deeply with nature. And this is not the only aspect of Yasuni that makes it so incredible. The park fosters the most biodiverse territory in Ecuador, home to more than 510 bird species, 117 mammals and 176 amphibians and reptile species! Yasuni is the heart of the Amazon, and here you will live this beautiful and complex environment at its fullest!
9. Tayos Cave
Did you know that after his return from the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong ventured into the Tayos Cave? “La Cueva de los Tayos” is an immense cave that rests 70m under the earth! Several explorers, historians, and investigators visit the cave every year- because within this cave, they have rescued evidence that points to human settlements dating back to the year 1000 AC! Within its dark and cold rooms, amid gigantic stalactites and stalagmites, explorers have even found metallic leaves inscribed with the history of humanity. But that’s not it… huge chambers resembling amphitheaters, mysterious sounds, cawing birds, and undeniable energy reside in the cave; its extension still undefined. If you dare to venture into this mystical cavern you have to be in a great physical condition: the only way in is through a 60m rappel descent accompanied by a specialized guide!
10. Podocarpus National Park
Submerge yourself in the enchanted forest of the Southern Andes! Podcarpus National Park also known as “the botanical garden of America” is home to over 4,000 species of plants! Take a dip in one of the many waterfalls inside the park while you bask in a natural paradise. Also, remember to be on the lookout for the emblematic spectacled bear, possibly a jaguar, and the small deer that roam these territories! Podocarpus National Park is located in the provinces of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe.