The Most Complete Guide of Ecuador

Yasuni National Park: Explore this biodiverse paradise

Located between the provinces of Pastaza and Orellana, Yasuni is one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth!

In the heart of the tropical humid forest, the park’s territory encompasses overflowing rivers and low plains at the foothills of the Andes. Yasuni National Reserve covers 9,820 square kilometers, or 3,792 square miles.

Yasuni was proclaimed a National Park in 1919 and a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1989. The reserve not only protects wildlife, it also protects part of the Waorani nationality.  There are more than 9,800 people within the area who work in agriculture; with coffee, bananas, yuca maize, achiote, and fishing, hunting, gathering.

Nestled in the Amazon there a three types of vegetation within Yasuni: Terra Firme, Vareza and Irapo. Terra Firme refers to the areas that do not flood, Vareza vegetation is floods periodically and the Irapo areas are almost always flooded.

The Amazon is known for its exuberant vegetation. You would think that the soil is fertile but it is actually very poor in nutrients. The richness is in a thin layer of leaves, branches, flowers, fruits and trunks that cover the floor.  

The complexities of the Amazon,  different natural contributors to this unique environment, create elevated numbers of biological diversity. The park has been referred to as an ecological bulls eye. In such an irregular terrain, there are thousands of microclimates.

Besides the hundreds of species of trees and animals as mighty as the jaguar, the anaconda and the bald eagle, there are animals and plants that haven’t been registered elsewhere.

The mysteries of what makes this place one of the most biodiverse are still being studied. Yasuní has been little explored, which means there is much more to discover.

Main Attractions and Facilities:

Añangu community:

Kichwa community home to an interpretation center (Kuri Mayo), a camping area and 3 trails. Visit a lagoon of black and calm waters. North of the park.

Mirador trail: 4km departing from the guards, low difficulty.

Pericos trail: 1 km through the tropical forest until the salts where parakeets feed. Observe an infinity of birds and mammals. Low difficulty.

Kuri Muyo trail: covers 100 meters from the interpretation center to the viewpoint of the salts. Low difficulty.

Tambococha sector:

Yasuní National Park’s control point. Here you can find the park guards, a designated zone for camping and two trails.

Pumañambi Trail: leads to the Jatuncocha lagoon.

Las Dantas Trail: leads to the Tambococha lagoon.

These two lagoons within the park can be accessed from Nuevo Rocafuerte.

Indianilla community:

This community has cabins and trails you can enjoy.

Indillama trail: a 10 km trail where you see a giant ceibo tree and the tapir salts, medium difficulty because of its extension.

Nueva Providencia:

This kichwa community in the south shore of the river has an interpretation center (Yaku Kawsay). From here a trail through the tropical forest starts.

Amaru Ñambi trail: 1.3 km from the interpretation center to the lagoon. Low difficulty.

Llanchana community

Visit cabins and a walk through a trail that takes you to the Enchanted lagoon, 1 km.

Mandaripanga community: visit the lagoons of Rumiyacu, Aguillayacu, Amarunposa and Myllaycocha.

Activities allowed within the park:

Photography: From parrots in salt licks, to pink dolphins, to exuberant surroundings, you will surely need a camera to capture this biodiverse paradise. It’s better if your camera is waterproof or if it has a waterproof case because the environment is very humid and it rains frequently.

Jungle excursions: hiking through the jungle is one of the best experiences within the park, around you different noises coming from animals big and small envelop you, and green trees give you shade as you make your way.

Canoeing: navigating the rivers is the way to move around the huge territory. Enjoy the sights of the jungle accompanying you on both sides as butterflies and monkeys greet you.

Fauna: 12 types of monkeys including pocket monkeys (the smallest primate in the world!), pink dolphins, manatees, turtles, paiches (meter long prehistoric fish), otters, guacamayos, macaws, jaguars, marmosets, toucans, parrots, hummingbirds. A variety of amphibians and reptiles including caimans. (There are more than 600 species of birds, 150 species of amphibians, 250 species of fish, 204 species of mammals, and 120 species of reptiles.)

Flora: orchids, canelos, ceibos. (more than 2,000 species of trees)

How to get there: From Quito make your way to the city of Puerto Francisco de Orellana/ Coca. You can either fly to Coca or travel by land (5h 30 min).  From there, depending on the destination, there are various routes which are principally travelled by water (through rivers).

Accommodations: If you wish to stay at a hotel or take a river cruise we recommend you check out the following: Napo Wildlife center, la Selva Lodge, the Manatee cruise, and the Anakonda luxury cruise.

*To enter the park you have to get the tetanus and yellow fever vaccines.

*You must arrive with an authorized tourism operator. To enter the park you must have a naturalist guide.

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