The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical forest.
It’s also the largest container of wildlife. This rainforest covers an incredible 40% of South America.
Of this vast forest, Ecuador contains the most wildlife-rich region. And Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest has broken world records for species richness.
You can reach Ecuador’s Amazon after a short flight from Quito (Ecuador’s capital) to Puerto Francisco de Orellana. This is your rainforest gateway town and is known affectionately as El Coca.
Ecuador’s Amazon is cradled by the imposing Andes mountains. This is where the mighty Amazon River begins as a few trickles on a mountainside.
These few trickles eventually combined to become the Napo River. You will travel down this river to get to your Amazon lodge or while aboard your Amazon cruise. The Napo River then merges with others in Peru to form the famous Amazon River on its journey across the continent.
On Ecuador’s Amazon tours, enjoy the beautiful scenery, wildlife and remote wilderness of the Amazon Rainforest.
The wildlife you can find in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest is incredible. Enjoy spotting many different monkeys, colorful birds and many different reptiles. While walking the forest, you will also enjoy the many beautiful butterflies.
Protected Areas of Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest
There are a few different protected areas in Ecuador’s Amazon. The most famous, and a protected area regarded as the jewel in the crown of Ecuador’s rainforest, is the Yasuni National Park.
Other protected areas include:
- Cuyabeno Reserve
- Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park
- Cayambe Coca National Park
- Llanganates National Park
There are also a number of private reserves. One of the favorites to visit is the reserve surrounding the Sacha Lodge with its incredible canopy walkway.
The Yasuni National Park
The Yasuni National Park is the main protected area in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. This protects around 1 million hectares of wildlife-rich tropical forest.
The Yasuni is named as one of the world’s most important protected areas for animals and plants. Studies inside the Yasuni National Park have set world records for species diversity.
Within the national park, you can find different habitats. You can find high-ground forest known as terra firme, which doesn’t flood. There is also várzea forest, which floods at certain times of year. And you can also find igapo forest. This is forest that remains at least partially flooded throughout the year. Combined, these habitats provide homes for countless animals and plants.
The Yasuni Park contains around 150 frogs and other amphibians. These include the favorite tree frogs iconic to tropical forests. Impressively, there are over 600 different birds. With this many species, it makes Yasuni and Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest a birder’s paradise. Enjoy spotting the many different parrots, toucans, tanagers, cotingas and hummingbirds. There are also over 200 different mammals. The mammals include the larger species such as jaguar, tapir and different monkeys.
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is found the other side of the Napo River to the Yasuni National Park. Although In the shadow of the more famous Yasuni National Park, the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve one of the largest protected areas in Ecuador.
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve stretches over 600,000 hectares of Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. This is an area where you can still feel the gentle slope of the Andes mountains.
The protected area offers similar forest and wildlife as the Yasuni. However, the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve contains a little more flooded and semi-flooded forest. This may make sightings of aquatic species, such as caiman, pink dolphins and anaconda more common.
In the reserve, you can find around 550 bird species and over 100 different mammals. The birds you can find include different toucans, macaws, cotingas, and many water species. See a diversity of kingfishers, herons, hoatzins, and cormorants. There are also different rare and endangered animals, such as giant river otters and crested eagles.
Animals to See
Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest is the most species-rich section of Amazonia. This means that the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador is perhaps the most wildlife-rich area on Earth.
Iconic Species in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest
Here, we will go over some of the favorite wildlife sightings to see from the top Amazon tours in Ecuador. With your professional guide, you will head out from comfortable lodges and cruises to experience the rainforest.
The Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador is home to several different monkeys. You can find the intelligent capuchins, curious squirrel monkeys and playful tamarins. There are also larger species. These include the howler monkeys, woolly monkeys, and spider monkeys.
The spider monkeys are the largest monkeys in Ecuador’s Amazon. But they are also some of the most rarely encountered. This is unless you’re in areas of pristine forest, as they like the dense rainforest interior.
The smallest monkeys you can find are the pygmy marmosets. These weigh around 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and are only found this side of the Amazon Basin. Pygmy marmosets often live as a family unit around a favorite tree. They feed on tree sap and small insects.
If you head out on night walks with your rainforest guide, you will also see the owl monkeys. You can see these monkeys in tree holes during the day. They will often poke their heads out to investigate their surroundings.
On the list of many bird watchers, Ecuador is home to around 1,600 bird species. This number is concentrated in the Cloud Forest and lowland Amazon Rainforest.
To give an example of the birdlife in Ecuador’s Amazon, 587 birds are found around the fantastic Sacha Lodge. This represents 37% of all Ecuador’s birds and 7% of the world’s birdlife.
On the Sacha Lodge bird-watching program, you can take full advantage of expert birding guides, the canopy tower, and the canopy walkway.
There are many favorite species to see in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. These include the colorful and iconic toucans, macaw parrots and parakeets. There are also cotingas, tanagers, kingfishers, hummingbirds, hoatzins and herons. You can then enjoy chance sightings of giant harpy eagles and magnificent king vultures.
On guided tours in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest from El Coca, you will visit the Yasuni claylick. This is one of the only known claylicks in the northern Amazon Rainforest. Different macaws and parrots visit the claylick. They feed on the salt-rich and medicinal clay that detoxifies compounds found in forest fruits and seeds.
Giant Otters are one of the favorite wildlife sightings in the Amazon Rainforest. They measure 5.6 feet (1.7 metres) and have a playful and curious personality. They are a highly social species and communicate to others in their group with a diversity of calls.
The otters can be individually identified with their white throat patch. This is unique to each individual. The otters feed on fish, which they hunt together as a family team. They then retreat to the riverbank or floating log to enjoy their meal.
Caiman are crocodilians in the alligator family. But they show less aggressive behavior than their alligator or crocodile cousins. Caiman mainly feed on fish and there are different species to find. The largest is the black caiman, which reach the same size as the larger crocodile species. Others include the spectacled caiman and dwarf caiman. They are often seen in lakes and at river edges. You can easily find these when scouting for nocturnal wildlife with your rainforest guide.
On guided expeditions through Amazonia, you’re sure to see many large and colorful butterflies. There are over 100,000 different insect species in Ecuador’s Amazon. But it’s the butterflies that are often the favorites. The most famous group are the blue morphos with their large size and lightning blue wings. Other notable species include glasswing butterflies, with transparent wings, and the ‘puddling’ kite swallowtails and sulfurs. These are often seen gathered at puddles or on turtles attracted by the salt.
Bigs cats are on on the minds of most visitors to the Amazon Rainforest. However, with their keen senses and ability to move silently through the rainforest, cats are very rarely encountered. The largest cats in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest are the jaguar and puma. However, sightings are very rare. Other cat species seen more frequently are ocelots and margays. These smaller cats sometimes patrol claylicks where they ambush the visiting parrots.
The Best Time To Visit Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest
Because the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador is located on the Equator, the region offers a year-long hot temperature. In fact, Ecuador in Spanish means equator. This means Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest is a fantastic place to visit at all times of year. But there are some differences.
As we’re on the equator, there are no seasons characteristic of temperate regions. Climate remains similar month-to-month. Instead, there is simply a wet and dry season. Note that as this is a rainforest, the rain can fall at all times of year. However, over the wet season the water is higher which means more canoe exploration.
The dry season is usually from December until February. The driest months being December and January. These are also the hottest months with a temperature of around 95°F (35°C).
The rainy season is then from the end of February until November. The wettest months are often May and June. These are also the coldest months where days can get down to 75°F (24°C).
Even over the wet season, the rain often falls in late afternoon and clears by the following morning. When you choose to go to Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest really depends on the when you have available to visit.
The Top Lodges & Cruises
There are some fantastic Amazon Rainforest lodges and cruises in Ecuador. From these, skilled guides will show you this incredible section of forest. See the many different monkeys, butterflies, and colorful birds mentioned further up plus much more.
La Selva Lodge & Spa
The luxury-class La Selva Lodge offers a very comfortable Amazon Rainforest experience. The lodge is sustainable and is Rainforest Alliance certified.
From the lodge, you will explore the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. With your professional guide, head out to find incredible animals and plants. Walk past giant trees and beautiful lakes as you look for the different monkeys and colorful birds.
In addition to trail walks, you will visit the Yasuni clay lick for many colorful parrots. You will also canoe the waterways scouting for lake-living animals. As well as day tours, enjoy night walks to find different amphibians, night monkeys and more.
La Selva Lodge offers a fantastic canopy tower where you can climb into the rainforest canopy. You will see hummingbirds, bromeliads, and many different birds. Your guide will take a bird-spotting scope to give you the best chances of finding interesting species. Sometimes, you can even see monkeys moving through the canopy.
La Selva Lodge provides luxurious suites with comfortable king-sized beds. Suites offer high-quality linen and private bathrooms with rainforest showers. You can also enjoy a relaxing massage at the in-house spa after your excursions.
The Amazon & Galapagos Combination Tour
To make the most of Ecuador’s top attractions, you can combine La Selva Lodge (above) with a luxury cruise of the Galapagos Islands.
Explore the Amazon Rainforest from La Selva Lodge. Head out on expertly guided tours to find different monkeys, reptiles and colorful birds. La Selva offers delicious cuisine, an in-house spa and very comfortable suites.
You will then explore the incredible Galapagos Islands. Enjoy a luxury cruise including small-group land tours to see iconic Galapagos wildlife.
Offering a personalized experience, the luxury catamaran cruise provide more stability than other vessels. Your itinerary includes guided island exploration and guided snorkeling and kayaking excursions.
Find marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises. You will also hear of the rich Galapagos history. This is filled with pirates, whalers and world-changing exploration.
On the combination program, enjoy 3 nights on a luxury Galapagos Cruise, 3 nights at La Selva Lodge and 3 nights at a hotel in Quito.
The Manatee Amazon Cruise
Aboard the Manatee Amazon Cruise, enjoy comfortable accommodation options with modern en-suites.
From the vessel, you will be exploring the incredible Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. Your rainforest guide will escort you on skiff expeditions to find many different animals and plants.
Your guide will help you find fantastic amazon wildlife. See pink dolphins, different monkeys, colorful birds, reptiles and the tall emergent trees.
See the iconic macaws and parrots flying over the rainforest canopy. You will also visit the much-loved Yasuni claylick to see these parrots feed from the medicinal and salt-rich clay. This is one of the only known claylicks in northern Amazonia.
Aboard the Manatee Cruise, you can choose from 3-night, 4-night or 7-night Amazon cruise itineraries.
In addition to guided skiff expeditions, you will also enjoy other activities. These include canoe tours, night tours, forest walks and visiting the tall canopy tower for incredible views.
The Manatee Cruise offers 14 comfortable and modern double-twin and single-twin cabins. Each offers air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms complete with massage showers.
Click the tour bubble below to check availability and book your experience direct with the Manatee Amazon Cruise.
The Sacha Lodge
The Sacha Lodge offers a fantastic experience of the Amazon Rainforest. Head out on guided tours in the Sacha Lodge’s own 5,000 acre private reserve.
The reserve sits on private ground for exclusive use for tourism. Because of this, the wildlife has become used to tourists. See monkeys and birds moving above the lodge and boardwalks as the lodge blends with surrounding rainforest in Ecuador.
Enjoy fantastic tours through the rainforest on many rainforest trails. You will also be paddled around the waterways by your rainforest guide to find lake-living animals, such as hoatzin birds and caiman.
One of the unique features of the Sacha Lodge is the giant canopy walkway. The incredible structure stretches 940 feet (275 meters) through the rainforest as you walk 94 feet (30 meters) above the forest floor. Offering fantastic birdwatching opportunities, you can see many colorful species.
See the video below for an introduction.
You will also see animals from the boardwalks connecting the lodge rooms. This is built above the jungle floor to minimize disturbance to the forest.
The Sacha Lodge offers two dining areas. You have the main dining area and bar as part of the main lodge area. There is also another overlooking the beautiful Pilchicocha Lake. Meals are served buffet style and, on at least one evening, you will enjoy a delicious BBQ overlooking the lake.
So far, 587 bird species have been recorded on Sacha Lodge grounds. With 37% of all Ecuador’s bird species, the Sacha Lodge is an excellent place for birdwatching. If you have a passion for birds, you can be assigned a specific birdwatching guide.
Click the tour bubble below for more information.
The Anakonda Amazon Cruise
The Anakonda is the larger sister vessel to the Manatee Amazon Cruise above. Enjoy an expedition cruise in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest for a fantastic rainforest tour.
Led by expert guides, explore different areas of Amazonia along the Napo River and into the Yasuni rainforest.
See pink river dolphins, caiman crocodilians and different monkeys. Monkeys to find include howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, capuchins and titi monkeys. The favorite birds to see include the iconic toucans, macaw parrots and parakeets.
The Anakonda vessel provides comfortable suites with air-conditioning and modern en-suite bathrooms. There are 18 suites in total with 4 Deluxe Suites for your own private balcony.
The Anakonda Cruise also offers a spa room, jacuzzi, a bar-salon, a solarium and al fresco lounge. The dining room offers some fantastic views of Amazonia while you enjoy delicious cuisine. Floor-to-ceiling windows placed throughout the vessel keep you connected to this incredible environment.
There are different itinerary lengths on offer for a cruise aboard the Anakonda. You can choose from 4, 5 and 7 nights depending on your time available.