Tours: Exploring Ecuador's Slice of the Amazon
Amazing beauty & adventure await in Ecuador's Amazon region...
the second smallest country in South America, Ecuador contains
a wealth of biodiversity. Nowhere is this more evident than in
Ecuador's portion of the Amazon River basin.
choose to book comprehensive three- to five-day jungle tours through
agencies in the capital city of Quito. This is by far the best
way for visitors with a limited timeframe to get deep into the
are prevalent in the Cuyabeno
Wildlife Reserve, a more remote part of the Amazon located
near the border with Colombia in northeast Ecuador. Most of these
tours are booked in Quito but launch from the Oriente town of
Lago Agrio, a one-hour flight or nine-hour overnight bus ride
from the capital.
tend to offer the same mix of outdoor and cultural activities
and tend to differ only on the quality of accommodations and guides.
is a popular budget choice for backpackers, offering basic cabins
without electricity or hot water, but who really comes to the
Amazon for luxury anyway? Four-day, three-night excursions start
from $200 per person, which includes accommodations, excursions,
meals, an English-speaking guide and transport from Lago Agrio
to the lodge.
A more upscale
option is the Sacha Lodge, located near the Oriente town of Coca.
The lodge, which is really more of a resort, features luxury accommodations,
gourmet dining and a 940-foot long canopy walkway, butterfly house
and bird sanctuary. A four-day excursion starts from $690 per
person, including accommodations, excursions, meals, an English-speaking
guide and transport from Coca to the lodge.
If you left
for the Oriente before exploring options in Quito, or if you lack
the time or desire to do an in-depth jungle tour, do not despair.
Amarongachi Tours, based in the town of Tena, offers top-notch
day trips for $45 at their Shangrila eco-lodge, located just twenty
minutes outside of town.
My tour included
a morning jungle trek and visit to an indigenous village with
a knowledgeable guide. Lunch was taken at Shangrila, and afternoon
activities were left to the desires of the group. Options include
white water rafting, canyoning, learning traditional handicrafts
and swimming in a waterfall lagoon. My
group opted for canyoning and spent the afternoon navigating steep
river gorges filled with bats and insects an adventure only
possible in the Amazon!