A trip to The Amazon is an absolute must-do when in South America. It can be reached from Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador. After much debate and research I chose a trip to the Amazon in Ecuador as it’s possible to reach by land, making it much more affordable. And while I must preface this post by saying the Cuyabeno Reserve which is where you take the tour isn’t technically the Amazon, it’s a feeder river and you’ll see just as many amazing animals, like sloths, pink dolphins, moneys, tarantulas and anacondas. So if you’ve booked a tour to Cuyabeno or just thinking about it, here’s everything you need to know.
The easiest way to get to the Ecuadorian Amazon is from either Baños or Quito. For both you can either book private transport ($20/7 hours), local bus ($12 + taxis to the bus station/7 hours) or fly ($200 return/45 minutes).
how to take the Public Bus from quito
From the south bus station you take an overnight bus to Lago Agrio. They leave at 11:15 and 11:45. Once you arrive at Lago Agrio take a taxi to your meeting spot assigned by your tour agency. The entire trip will take you about 7 hours.
how to take the public bus from baños
Head to the local bus station ( a five minute walk from the centre of town) and take the night bus to Lago Agrio. The most reputable company to do this with is Transportes Baños. Once you arrive at Lago Agrio take a taxi to your meeting spot assigned by your tour agency. The entire trip will take you about 8 hours.
What does it cost
An Ecuador jungle tour will set you back $260+. My tour was booked through Guacamayo Lodge and they were absolutely fantastic. Delicious food, comfortable accomodation and lovely staff.
How to book
Travel agencies in both Baños and Quito offer trips to the Amazon in Ecuador. Just head to any agency in town and negotiate your price. You can if you like get in touch with any of the lodges directly, however they can sometimes be more expensive. So you may as well book through an agency.
- Enough active clothes for four days
- Long pants and tops for insects
- Bathers (you’ll swim)
- Rain Coat
- Thongs (or flip flops)
- Insect repellant
- Ziplock bag to keep clothes and equipment dry
- Water bottle
What to expect
We arrived in Lago Agrio quite early in the morning. Around 6:30and and were dropped outside the Cafe De Mario, a basic roadside restaurant. As the Guacamayo Lodge wasn’t picking us up until 9am we grabbed some breakfast and took a little wander around the town.
At about 9am the bus from our lodge arrived and we all piled in. It was a two-hour drive to the start or the river.
Once we arrived at the start of the river our guide, William collected us and it was another two hour journey by boat down the Cuyabeno River to our lodge. However this is where the fun starts. On the two hour journey you’ll see a bunch on animals. Monkeys, birds, fish you name it!
We arrived at Guacamayo we were treated to a delicious three-course lunch. And after a siesta it was time to jump back in the boat and explore the river once again. On this trip we spotted the elusive pink river dolphin. These dolphins are actually grey. But turn pink when they exercise. Kinda like us! We saw a mother and baby, which was pretty special. We also spotted some wooly monkeys; squirrel monkeys; woodpeckers; white front capuchin monkeys; Saky monkeys; long nose bats; and a bird that looked like a phoenix called a Hoatzin (or stinky turkey to the locals due to the smelly leaves they eat).
After we’d explored the river we headed to a huge lake where we were able to swim. You can’t say everyday you went swimming in The Amazon in Ecuador so that was pretty cool.
Following this it was time to explore the Cuyabeno Reserve at night by torchlight. We were on the look out for caymans and snakes. However unfortunately they all in hiding. And we headed home without seeing a thing. Once we arrived home it was time for dinner, a couple of beers and then off to bed for a well deserved sleep.
It had rained all night the evening we arrived and the rain hadn’t stopped by the morning. So the beginning of the day was very leisurely with a delicious breakfast, a few games of Uno and a lesson in toasting and brewing your own Amazon coffee.
The rain finally stopped around lunchtime and after another delicious meal we headed out for a two-hour hike to spot some more animals.
We saw red howler monkeys; a 3 toed sloth; black mantal tamarind monkeys (or Bebe leche because they are white around the mouth); a ruby poison dart frog; kingfishers; and a zombie mushroom that grows out of the neck of an ant… Crazy!
Then after another delicious meal of whole cooked fish it was time to head out on the boat again in search of caymans. Tonight was more successful spotting one cayman and a couple of boas. Winning!
After a moreish breakfast we piled into our boat and punted off to the local village – home of the Siona Tribe for a presentation by one of the local shamans, which included a dart blowing competition. And a demonstration on how to make one of the local delicacies – yuka bread.
Then it was home for siesta followed by a pre-dinner night walk. Our 1.5 hour night walk was pretty intense. Stumbling around in the jungle by torchlight spotting all sorts of creepy crawlies – scorpion spiders; tarantulas; and frogs. We even saw a scorpion with hundreds of babies on its back. Eeeeew!
Sadly our last day was here. We started with some pre-breakfast bird watching at 6:15 where we saw some tucans, vultures and a number of parrots. And then following a quick breakfast it was time for the 2 hour boat trip back to the start of the river and back to civilisation.
- Insect repellant is a must. Make sure you spray it on your clothes as well. As the mosquitos can bite through leggings.
- Your clothes will be damp and smelly by the end so make sure your next destination has a washing machine/ service
- Having your own torch and binoculars is really helpful as you’re able to spot things quickly and without having to wait for everyone else to look
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