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Jungle Tours: Exploring Ecuador's Slice of the Amazon

Ecuador's Amazon
Amazing beauty & adventure await
in Ecuador's Amazon region...

Although it's the second smallest country in South America, Ecuador contains a wealth of biodiversity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Oriente, Ecuador's portion of the Amazon River basin.

Many visitors 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 jungle.

Such tours 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.

The tours tend to offer the same mix of outdoor and cultural activities and tend to differ only on the quality of accommodations and guides.

Samona Lodge 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!

About the Author... Jessica Arriola Marati

More about Ecuador's Amazon region around the Web:

Amazon Region of Ecuador

Ecuador Amazon Jungle

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