I did a lot of cool things during my one month stay in Ecuador, from extreme sports like bridge jumping,white water rafting in Banos to climbing the ice covered volcano of cotopaxi, However my favorite trip was the 4 days I spent in Cuyabeno nature reserve exploring the Amazon jungle in Ecuadors Oriente region.

Amazonian river

After doing a bit of shopping around in the Mariscal area of Quito talking to various tour operator’s I found a reasonably priced Amazon tour for around $250 USD for 4 days  3 nights which included the following:

  • 4 days with 3 nights accommodation in a double cabin .
  • Breakfast lunch and dinner meals for duration of your stay.
  • Rain boots and poncho’s.
  • Various activities with a bilingual naturalist guide.
  • Transportation by boat into and out of the river lodge.

river lodge

Getting There

Cuyabeno national park is located in northern oriente region of Ecuador and is accessible by bus or flight.  A flight will cost you around $130 USD return and take about 25 minutes from Quito.For those on more of a budget and less worried about time a 8-9 hour bus can be taken for around $10-13 dollars from Quito.

Once you arrive at the town of  LagoAgrio it’s a short 1.5 hour drive to the the Cuyabeno bridge where the entrace of the wild life reserve is located, From there you will be travelling by canoe.

Word of warning: be wary taking night bus’s as numerous people have reported night bus’s being robbed. It didnt happen to me but while at the nature reserve I met a couple who had gotten the same bus as me the day previous and everyone on the bus was robbed by a passenger on the bus at gun point at 2am. So it might be advisable to get a day bus if you can.

Down the river

Day 1

On the first day I arrived at 8am to the Cuyabeno bridge ready to enter the nature reserve after my 10 hour bus ride from quito (my bus got a little delayed)

Upon arrival I was greeted by a friendly bilingual guide who helped me load my stuff into the motorized canoe and we were off down the river through the amazon to the river lodge where I would be spending the next 4 days. As soon as I stepped foot in the canoe I couldnt believe it, I was in the amazonian jungle and in a canoe no less, It made me instantly forget about the long bus ride I had endured.

Amazonian river

The beautiful amazonian jungle

After a short 15 minute canoe ride we arrived at the Cuyabeno River Lodge and I was shown an awesome open air cabin where I would be sleeping the next few nights and served up a delicious breakfast.

the resort

Cuyabeno River Lodge

food 2

I then had a much needed rest in the hammock area for a couple of hours while all the native birds and animals calling out from the jungle around me.

hammock

I then went on a tour with a guide through one of the nearby jungle trails where we got to see some of the area’s largest species of tree’s ,followed by a  short canoe ride up the river  before returning for dinner.

Day 2:

After rising for an early breakfast and shower I was off on a day trip to Laguna Grande, Cuyabeno’s largest lake. During the trip I got to see many interesting plants,monkey’s,bats,birds and turtles. We went searching for an Anaconda however didn’t have any luck.

amazon river

The banks of the Laguna Grande

bats 2

Bats on a stick 😀

bat

Bat mid-flight, This would have been the best photo ever if it was in focus

However we did have more luck when it came to Piranah fishing. I even managed to land a couple of decent sized ones. Come on it doesnt get much cooler than fishing for Piranahs in the amazonian jungle right?

roar fishing

piranah

After that we stopped off at an indigenous community where we participated in the preperation of traditional Yucca bread before returning back to camp for a delicious dinner, They even cooked up a couple of the piranah we had caught during the day which turned out to be quite delicious.

food

Rice beans and meat the South American staple food 😀

the moon

Full moon above the river lodge

After dinner was done we  all put on some of the provided gum boats and headed out for a guided night tour into the jungle  where besides being constantly swarmed upon by mosquito’s we encountered a bunch of creepy crawlies.

gumboots

Here’s just a few of the awesome things we encountered on our nocturnal walk of the jungle.

blurry spider

A friendly spider guarding his lair

frog

An awesome frog

even more spiders

More spiders

stick insect

Giant stick insects

After the night jungle adventure I decided to have a bit of a rest in the hammock area before bed and look who I met  😀 Spider friend

So if you don’t like creepy crawlies maybe the Amazonian jungle isn’t the best place for you

But having said that I never found any in my bed and with a giant mosquito net I think you are pretty safe.

Day 3:

On the third day we had the option of getting up at sunrise to go on an optional bird walk or sleep in a bit and have some breakfast. I have to admit I was a little bit lazy this morning and opted for the sleep in as well as some additional hammock time.

big tree

Beautiful tree next to the river lodge.

Next up we did a day walk through the jungle led by a bilingual guide who even had a wild pig as a pet. We got to taste wild fruit and saw a lot of beautiful fauna and even a few more spiders.

wart hog

Fruit

spiders

crafted nut

The guide carved this out of a nut

After our 3-4 hour walk through the jungle we all cooled off in the river before boarding a native style canoe and paddling up stream in search of aligators or Caimens as they are called here. I really enjoyed the paddling tour as we saw a lot more animals and got to really hear and experience the amazon jungle without the loud noise of the noisy motor.

the amazon river

The highlight of the night was when we paddled back in the dark with nothing more than a small torch guiding our way. You could see the eyes of caimen as you appraoched and they slid themselves into the water.

Day 4:

On the 4th and final day you have the option to have a lazy day relaxing at the river lodge and exploring one last jungle trail before taking the early evenning bus back to quito at 6:30 or if you wish to leave earlier in the day that is possible as well

Conclusion

Overall I really enjoyed my time in the Cuyabeno wild life reserve, I got to see a lot of wild life and birds and the various canoe trips were by far the highlight for me.

Have you ever visited the Amazon? and where did you visit it?