Ecuador Boutique travel tours - Amazon rainforest cruises

Ecuador Amazon

The size of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, so called ‘Oriente’, is around 135600 Km2 that is 40% of Ecuador’s area and only two percent of the entire Amazon basin. The Oriente is limited in the west by the eastern Andean range also known as Cordillera Real (Royal Mountain Range).

This is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world,  the number of tree species on a small plot of about 1 hectare (2.5 acres) is 307. Traveling around Ecuadorian Amazon offers an unforgettable experience for anybody's sense. This unthinkable event may occur while you walk through the forest and meet a troop of Red Howler Monkeys moving above the canopy, or when you spot a pair of brilliantly colored Scarlet Macaws darting through the treetops, or when you seek for a pair of piercing orange eyes of Black Caiman aboard a dugout canoe at night, or when you catch a glimpse of the Amazon Pink River Dolphin. These are all memories that you will carry long after leaving the Amazon.

Francisco de Orellana Port ( El Coca )

The colorful streets of Francisco de Orellana (known as El Coca) are full of business and artisans who have emigrated here from all over the country. The native populations, on the other hand, maintain their traditional lifestyle in the jungle. From here boats depart to Iquitos, Peru; Puerto Leticia, Colombia; and Tabatinga, Manaus, and Belen in Brazil. The fascinating route down the Napo through the dense jungle comes alive with the sounds of animals as you glide down the river.

The name of the province (Orellana) derives from the explorer Francisco de Orellana who it is told sailed from somewhere near the town to the Atlantic Ocean. He did this trip several times looking for the gold city of El Dorado. During his voyages he met a ferocious tribe of indians who attacked his ships and many among them were women. This led to the naming of the river as the Amazon river. The province is divided in four cantons/counties.

Ecotourism

Orellana has large, wide rivers, dense tropical rain forests, enormous natural reserves, and a high concentration of indigenous communities.

Manatee Amazon Explorer - riverboat cruises

The Manatee Amazon Explorer is riverboat designed for jungle adventures, yet featuring the comforts and advantages of modern technology. This riverboat accommodates 30 guests in comfortable cabins with private bathrooms and running hot water, individual air conditioning, on board laundry service, large dining room, inviting bar and lounge area, panoramic terrace, delicious cuisine and the finest multilingual naturalist guides, plus the highest safety standards, personable service and efficiency.

The Manatee cruises the Napo Basin where guests will explore the Napo River and its tributaries. The Napo, a white water river, is about 1300 Km long, the first 460 Km are situated in Ecuador while the rest lies in Peruvian Territory. The Manatee Amazon Explorer will navigate in Ecuadorian territory through the Napo and Aguarico Rivers.

Our expedition is based around Limoncocha wildlife reserve and Yasuni National Park. Yasuni is Ecuador´s largerst protected area with such exceptional diversity of species that is has been classified by UNESCO as a World Biosphere reserve.

Nueva Loja (Lago Agrio) - Gateway to wildness

Also referred to as Lago Agrio, this town is a popular gateway to the jungle for those looking to unlock its secrets. With an ample selection of hotels, the town bustles with tourists as locals engage in trade.With the rise of ecotourism in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Nueva Loja has become a popular departure point for  various natural reserves of the Amazon

Lago Agrio Lake

This lake, situated a few kilometers from Nueva Loja, is a good spot for fishing and for spotting crocodiles.

Santa Cecilia

Santa Cecilia, located 13 km from Nueva Loja, is a large area of primary forest with an abundance of dragon blood trees. The sap of these trees is famous for its healing properties.

Imuya

On the Lagartococha river, in northeastern Sucumbíos, you can find many small floating islands constantly adrift in the heart of the Amazon.

Dureno - Home of the Cofan

Dureno, on the banks of the Aguarico River, is most famous for being the home of the Cofan tribe. These indigenous peoples live in houses made from native materials and are sought-after jungle guides today. Using responsible tourism to generate revenue which allows the tribe to maintain its community and rainforest from encroachment, Cofan guides take tourists into seldom visited areas of the Amazon which are especially rich in wildlife and natural beauty. Many of the Cofan’s river and rain forest tours start in Tarapoa.

Handicrafts and Artisan Goods

In Puerto Bolivar, Sucumbios, the indigenous Siona community produces handicrafts such as baskets, crowns, shigras (natural-fiber bags), and hammocks. Other popular handicrafts of the area are necklaces made of seeds and fired ceramics finished with vegetable paints.

The Cofan - Guardians of the rainforest

Tours can be tailored to the interests, physical abilities, and time limitations of each group.  The recommended tour includes a little of all aspects of the Cofan world. But for those groups with special interests, we can focus on any number of areas:

Trekking

Trekking in the rain forest with or without overnight stays in the forest.

Canoeing

Canoe trips on black water streams and rivers such as the Zabalo River.

Fishing

Nothing beats casting for Zabalo Dorado in our black water rivers. These fish are one of the world's premier game fish, fighting and leaping long after most comparable fish would be exhausted. They are excellent on the table, too!

Biology

We have thousands of plant and animals species right here in our back yard. Jaguar, caiman, hoitzins, pink dolphins and much more.

The Cofán Nation is one of the oldest intact cultures in the Americas, with over five hundred years of recorded history. Their mission is to preserve their culture by protecting the environment, the rainforest that is their home. Their ecotourism project allows for maintaining cultural heritage and obtaining a means of income while protecting the rainforest.

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Located in northeastern Sucumbios, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve covers an area of 655,781 hectares and is situated between the San Miguel and Aguarico River basins. Its main attractions are its tropical forests, its lakes, such as Zancudococha, and the large number of bird species, many of which are in danger of extinction, which thrive within its boundaries. A great variety of mammals, reptiles, and fish are also present in the Reserve. Cuyabeno also has a significant caiman reserve, which can be reached from the Aguarico and Cuyabeno rivers. This is one of the Amazon Rain Forest’s most biologically rich areas. Tours depart from Nueva Loja (more commonly known as Lago Agrio).

Limoncocha Biological Reserve

This protected area is comprised of Lake Limoncocha and its surrounding areas and its main attractions are its lush primary and secondary forests. However, with over 350 species of birds and an uncountable number of reptile and mammal species thriving within its boundaries, Limoncocha’s principal attraction is its wildlife. Thousands come here each year just to get a glimpse of the black caimans that thrive in abundance. The reserve can be reached from Nueva Loja (Lago Agrio).

Tena - capital of Napo Province

The most active volcanoes in Ecuador - Sumaco (3900m), Reventador, and Sangay - can be seen from the Parque Central in Napo’s capital city of Tena. Located at the confluence of the Tena and Pano rivers, Tena offers great bathing spots such as Rancho Alegre, Cocha del Cementerio, and Dos Ríos, amongst others. There is also a botanical garden in the center of the town called “Amazonian Park”, which is ideal for ecologists. Tours into more isolated parts of the jungle depart from here.

There are several handicraft markets in Tena, Archidona, and Misahuallí where you can buy products handcrafted by artisans from different Amazonian communities. Shigras (bags), hammocks, ceramics, bows and arrows, spears, and blowpipe are just some of the things available. In Napo, just a few minutes from Tena, shamans who practice their ancestral traditions dwell in the community of Oriente Quichuas (Venecia Derecha).

In Tena, the capital city of the province of Napo, there is a large concentration of rivers with many facilities for practicing water sports. You can choose between calm routes and the excitement offered by heavy rapids.

Archidona

The town of Archidona is located 10km from Tena. Archidona is one of the regions first Spanish settlements dating back  the 16th century, the town has a rich history, a wealth of natural beauty, such as the Hollín Waterfall, and is great place to buy typically Amazonian artisan crafts.

Jumandy Caves

This complex, based around three large caves, is 5 km from Archidona and a short distance from Tena.

Puerto Misahuallí

Located just 7 hours from Quito and 20 km from Tena, Misahuallí is a popular launching point for excursions deep into the Amazon. From here, you can go up the Napo river to visit Auca (a.k.a. Huaorani) settlements deep in the rain forest.

Papallacta - Healing Hot Springs

Set high in the Ecuadorian Andes and surrounded by towering peaks, Papallacta is one of the prettiest places in South America to take a dip in thermal waters. Moreover, due to the mineral content and high temperature (between 35 and 64 degrees centigrade) of Papallacta’s water, the hot springs have medicinal properties and healing powers. You can either camp on the shores of nearby lakes, such as Ninalviro and Paltacocha, or stay in one of the local hotels. This magical place is located on the road from Quito to Tena.

 

Napo Community Tourism projects

In the Ecuadorian Amazon, there are close to 40 community projects dedicated to ecotourism. In the province of Napo, the Ricancie Project brings together 10 traditional settlements that host tourists. Travelers can participate in different activities such as the preparation of traditional foods alongside native guides and the Quichua inhabitants of the region. Another location is Aacllac, also just a few minutes from Tena. This community is home to a complex network of traditional cabins. Cotococha also offers similar lodging to tourists. Tours organized by local operators include long walks through the jungle, boat journeys on the Napo and Curaray Rivers.

Jatun Cocha biological research center

In the province of Napo, we find the Jatun Sacha Biological Research Center, cared for and administrated by the ecological organization of the same name. It contains abundant flora and fauna typical of tropical rain forests of the Amazon. Many species of amphibians and birds have been identified in this area. There are many trails along which tourists can explore the area.

San Rafael Falls

On the road from Tena to Lago Agrio, you will find the San Rafael Falls. At 160 m, this is Ecuador’s highest waterfall. There is a path here which leads to a lookout point above the falls before continuing down to the base of the falls where you can take in San Rafael in all of its glory.

Yasuní National Park - A Rich Natural Reserve

This enormous national park (approximately 982,000 hectares) encompasses the Yasuní, Nashino, Cononaco, and Tiputini river basins and is well known for the variety of bird species which populated its densely forested hillsides and its permanently flooded lowlands. Yasuní wildlife highlights include jaguars, harpy eagles, and caimans. The average temperature here is around 30 degrees centigrade. The park is accessed is by boat. Yasuni is located nn the province of Napo, along Ecuador’s eastern border with Peru, home to a variety of vegetation types (dense tropical forest, swamplands, rolling hills, etc.), a popular destination for scientists and adventurers from all over the world.

Macas - Southern Amazon capital

Macas, the provincial capital of Morona-Santiago, is surrounded by lush foothills, located in the Upano Valley near the Upano River. The Church of the Virgen Purísima, dating back to the beginning of the 17th century when it was built on top of the ancient and mythical "Sevilla de Oro", is a big attraction. Another must-see destination is the town’s lookout point atop Quillano peak. Sucúa, home of the Shuar and Achuar Federation, is 27 km away while Gualaquiza, a popular spot with gold seekers, is 130 km away, flanked by the Zamora and Bobonaza rivers.

Sangay Ruins

Dating back to some time between 3000 and 3500 BC, this complex of fountains, roads, and 1,200 pyramids is a vestige of Ecuador's oldest cultures. The ruins are 30km from Macas.

Los Tayos Cave

Los Tayos Cave, 110 km from Macas, is home to the nocturnal Oilbird. Many legends exist about these caves. According to locals, their depths hide valuable treasures.

Volcano Sangay

Towering above the jungle with its base 30 km from the provincial capital, volcanically active Sangay (5230 m) makes for an imposing backdrop against the sea of green in which it sites.

Upano River

Rafting on the Upani River is one of the most thrilling experiences the Amazon has to offer. You can also swim and hike nearby.

Condor national park

One of the southern Ecuadorian Amazon’s principal attractions is Condor National Park, in the province of Morona Santiago. Rich in biological diversity, the Park is home to 127 mammal species and countless species of flora. The park is situated to the west of the eastern range of the Andes and to the east of the Huaracayo Range. Due to the geological origins of the Condor Range, there are extensive hydrographic systems present that form the basins of the Zamora, Santiago, Coangos and Namangoza Rivers.

Zamora - Gold capital of the Amazon

Situated at the confluence of the Zamora and Bombuscara rivers, Zamora is a growing provincial capital. The province as a whole is rich in natural beauty and has a wealth of plant and animal species - tapirs, capibaras, guatusas, pumas, birds, and insects – as does the city of Zamora. The area is also the country’s mining capital, with gold mines in Nambija, Chinapinza, and Guayzimi.

Palphinia

Located just 5 km from Zamora, this greenhouse has many species of orchids.

Beaches of the Chicaña River

Chicaña farm, which breeds sheep and pigs, has lovely natural beaches. It’s located 55km from Zamora.

Natentza Farm

You can fish in the Nangaritza River from this cattle ranch, located 70 km from the provincial capital. Equipment can be rented on site.

Podocarpus National Park

This cloud forest, stretching west to east from the city of Loja to Zamora, has many rivers and various species of bird in its 146,200 hectares. Elevations in the park vary from 1,000 to 3,000 meters with temperatures varying from 8 to 20 degrees centigrade. The Park also has more than 100 lakes and an uncountable number of waterfalls and canyons and a myriad of plants and mammals. This reserve was established with the mission of protecting the Podocarpus trees that grow in the park. Among the main activities available, to better experience the area’s natural setting, are walks and treks during which one can admire the spectacular scenery filled with orchids and multi-colored birds.

Puyo - the center of Ecuador´s Amazon

Puyo, Pastaza’s capital, is known its developed tourist infrastructure, hospitable citizens, and tasty cuisine. The Cathedral and Parque Central are meeting points for its hard working townsfolk. One Puyo’s most important monuments is the Macahua, a symbol of the region’s handicraft production.

The city of El Puyo is located 100 km from Ambato, 110 from Riobamba, 79 from El Tena, 129 from Macas, and 239 from Quito. It is linked to them with a road system that allows unlimited access. Land and river routes and some airports connect this province with cities in the sierra or in the Amazon itself. There are also air services to the most important towns.

In the city of El Puyo, entertainment parks as well as sports complexes have been built beside the river. The weekly market is an event, because it is the focal point of the whole town's activity, enabling tourists to witness the customs belonging to each place. Complementing this, there are crafts and other examples of indigenous cultures such as the shuar, achuar, huaorani and alama.

Puyo also possesses similar sites such as the Fatima Reserve, a zoo that is home to various animal species of the Amazon rain forest. Nearby are the Omaere Ethno-Botanicical Park and the Hola Vida Reserve. The two areas offer opportunities to see the flora and fauna of the region, as well as to experience the customs of the indigenous the area’s communities. The majority of such destinations house tourists in cabins or as guests in the homes of the indigenous inhabitants.

Shamanism

In Pastaza, near the city of Puyo, lies the Hola Vida Reserve, from which it is possible to reach the Quichuas’ sacred waterfall. In the Indichuris community, it is possible to participate in rituals with a rainforest shaman.

Mera

The nearby town of Mera is also a beautiful destination as well as important oil exploration center. Some points of interest in Mera are its large pool, the bathing areas along the Alpayacu River, the scenic beaches along the Pastaza and Chico rivers, and the falls at Mangayacu, Tigre, and Quilo. You can also visit the caves in the May 24th District and walk to the Pindo Lookout.

“Misterio de los Dioses” Falls

Sixteen km outside of Puyo along the Puyo-Macas road, you’ll find the Misterio de los Dios Falls, where legend has it that rituals in honor of mythical Gods were performed. El Porvenir Waterfall is also nearby, located a short distance from the village of the same name.

Curaray River

Several indigenous communities live along this river. While visiting these communities, you’ll have the chance to see crocodiles, parrots, toucans, caiman, boas, and piranhas near Pavachi.

Kapawi - The virgin achuar sanctuary

Kapawi is one of the most pristine and isolated points in the Amazon Basin accessed only by air. The closest town is within ten days walking distance. Kapawi is located in one of the areas with the highest biodiversity on Earth, with 10,000 different species of plants and more than 540 different species of birds. Located at a 240 km from Quito, the Achuar Territory has 5000 square kilometers, and with a population of Achuar Population 4500 indigenous approximately. As you walk through the rainforest, you may be overwhelmed by the silence that belies the existence of around 200 species of mammals.

Kapawi has also provided a launching platform for the Achuar as it has brought the area to the attention of many people from non governmental organizations that invested money and time to developing different projects parallel to ecotourism such as: health, communications, transportation, and education for the entire Achuar territory.

No roads, logging or oil exploitation
Access only by air
5 000 Km2
4.500 Achuars
60 Indigenous communities
Over 540 bird species

Kapawi is a great place for birding. In ten days you can get a list of almost 400 species. The river islands often have Horned Screamers and Orinoco Geese. Muscovy Ducks are more prevalent here than at any other place and they are even in the Kapawi Lagoon. Pavonine Quetzals nest on the Kapawi-Montalvo trail as is the Rofous Potoo, and there are also Black-necked Red Cotingas, Pearly Antshrikes and Pheasant Cuckoos. Brown Jacamars are more numerous in Kapawi than at any other place you have been; ditto for Ecuadorian Cacique and Olive Oronpedola. There are many Blue-throated Piping Guans, Herons and Egrets. A Black Bushbird often hangs out near the cabañas and Red Fan Parrots are on the Capahuari river. You can see and hear Plumbeous Antbird, Dusky-throated Antbird, Dot-backed Antbird or Buff-breasted Wren.
Other birds of exceptional interest featured in Kapawi are Salvin´s Currasow, Buckley´s Forest-falcon, Sapphire Quail-dove, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Black-billed Cuckoo, White-chested Puffbird, Spotted Puffbird, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Orange-eyed Flycatcher, Moriche Oriole and the most amazing thing is that you yourself can see and record new species on the islands!

AMAZON RAIN FOREST at KAPAWI ECOLODGE & RESERVE
Called "ECUADOR'S closest approach to the perfect ecolodge" it has been prized by Conservation International with the Ecotourism Excellence Award. Kapawi offers personalized excursion programs, gourmet food, double or triple cabins with private bathroom, solar energy and private transportation from Quito. Kapawi started their operation in 1996. Since then we have been working with the Achuar Community developing a new model of eco-tourism. In the year 2011 Kapawi will be fully managed buy the Achuar people.