Where to go

The Amazon

A pristine example of the World's largest rainforest...

Pygmy marmoset
Pygmy marmoset

Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, also known as el Oriente (simply, ‘the East’), covers almost half of the country and spans nearly the entire Andean border with Peru and Colombia. It is difficult to fathom the sheer scale of The Amazon rainforest – it covers an area greater than India and Mexico combined. This makes Ecuador’s small portion of it all the more remarkable- boasting over 1,600 species of bird, 800 species of fish, 350 species of reptiles and 300 species of mammals. Just one acre of Ecuadorian rainforest is thought to contain over 70,000 species of insects (watch out for the bullet ants)! Another factor that really sets Ecuador apart is just how easy it is to access the rainforest. The Amazonian town of El Coca is under an hours’ flight from the capital, Quito. From here, jump on a boat and head up-river into the pristine nature reserves of Ecuador’s Amazon…

Here, you can listen to the thunderous call of the Red Howler monkey resonating through the canopy; spot the world’s smallest monkey – the adorable Pygmy Marmoset; and marvel and the roguish squirrel monkeys and white-faced capuchins. Take to the river and seek the elusive Amazon river dolphin and the impish Tucuxi dolphin; whilst keeping an eye out for giant otters and the resident 5-metre long caiman and anaconda! On the branches overhead could be a prehistoric Hoatzin bird or fearsome harpy eagle. You may even catch sight of the ecosystem’s most magnificent and elusive predator, the Jaguar.

For us, the Yasuni National Park perfectly epitomizes the biodiversity of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. The 10,000km2 protected biological reserve is a tiny fraction (less than 0.2%) of the Amazon basin, yet contains one third of all bird and reptile and amphibian native species of the Amazon. Indeed, with its convergence on the equator, rainforest and Andes, the Yasuni National park is considered by some to be the most biologically diverse places on Earth. The protection of this area is fundamental for the Ecuador’s ecology. Not only to prevent deforestation at the hands of oil companies and illegal logging operations, but also to maintain this unspoiled terrain that is home to the Taromenane and Tagaeri tribes.

It bodes well that ecotourism & ethno-tourism are thriving in this part of Ecuador. A number of jungle lodges (see our accommodation recommendations below) in and around Yasuni National Park embrace the local population and tribes, beyond simply exhibiting their culture to visitors. Now, the properties are actively providing them with jobs and working with them to improve education and medical services. Visitors can support these enterprises by staying at any of these lodges. They can be accessed from Coca, via a 2 – 3 hour motorized longboat journey up the Napo River. This is where the adventure really begins!

When to go to The Amazon:

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    At a glance...Ecuador's Amazon

  • Size: Half of Ecuador, yet only 2% of the Amazon Basin.
  • Location: Almost the entire eastern half of Ecuador.
  • Recommended time: Minimum 3 nights
  • Time to visit: Year round. Rain is constant, but heaviest from April - July.