The Amazon contains fascinating animals and plants.
This makes it a great choice for a tropical vacation. Ecuador is fortunate to contain one of the most wildlife-rich sections of Amazonia. And there are some fantastic tours, cruises and lodges in Ecuador’s rainforest you can enjoy.
Many of these tours can be experienced by visiting the Amazon from Quito by taking a short flight to El Coca. This is a small rainforest town. And it’s your gateway for exploring this incredible destination.
The tours mentioned can arrange your connecting flights. This makes it easy for you to visit the world’s greatest tropical wilderness.
There are a few wildlife-rich areas to enjoy in Ecuador’s Amazon. These include national parks, national reserves and private reserves.
Within and around these areas, you can find an astounding level of animals and plants.
See towering rainforest trees, delicate orchids, different monkeys and a variety of colorful birds.
As a rare treat in the northern Amazon, visitors can see the Yasuni claylick. This is a fantastic area to watch parakeets and parrots gathered at the clay. The parrots visit these areas of the riverbank to obtain salts, which are hard to find elsewhere in the rainforest. The clay is also useful in detoxifying unripe fruits and seeds the birds have eaten in the forest.
For an introduction to Ecuador’s Amazon and to provide a tour example, click the video below for the Manatee Amazon Cruise.
The Manatee Amazon Cruise is a recommended experience for exploring the Yasuni National Park. Enjoy comfortable suites, delicious cuisine and professionally guided tours aboard small skiffs and on trail walks. You will be scouting for the many different animals and plants, including several different monkeys, parrots and much more.
Quito to the Amazon
To reach the Amazon from Quito, you first need to head to El Coca. Officially named Puerto Francisco de Orellana, this is Ecuador’s gateway to the Amazon Rainforest. El Coca is positioned at the meeting of the Coca River and Napo River. And from this small jungle town you can enjoy Ecuador’s Amazon. Explore wildlife-rich rainforest from top rated rainforest lodges and excellent Amazon River cruises.
Main Protected Areas
The main protected areas in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest are the Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno Reserve.
The Yasuni and Cuyabeno protected areas are on opposite sides of the Napo River. And these areas, as well as the surrounding region, are home to highly diverse rainforest.
The Yasuni National Park
Yasuni National Park is the jewel in the crown of Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. This ranks as one of the most species-rich protected areas on Earth. Research in the park across mammals, reptiles, birds and plants has found world records in diversity.
The Yasuni National Park is bordered in the north by the Napo River, which runs past the Amazon gateway of Coca. It is this river that will transport you to your Amazon Rainforest lodge and cruise destinations.
The Yasuni National Park is a UNESCO-listed protected area. It covers around one million hectares of lowland Amazon Rainforest. The Yasuni region is a much-loved area among nature lovers because of the high amount of wildlife to see.
The Cuyabeno Reserve
The Cuyabeno Reserve is Ecuador’s second largest protected area after the Yasuni National Park. The reserve protects around 600,000 hectares of lowland Amazon Rainforest. Like the Yasuni National Park, the land gently slopes down away from the Andes.
A significant portion of the reserve is classed as flooded forest. Because of this, the region has many lakes and waterways. It’s thought that because of the more flooded nature of the Cuyabeno Reserve the area has a lower level of wildlife than the neighboring Yasuni National Park.
As the reserve is just across the river from Yasuni, the wildlife is very similar despite a potentially lower level of biodiversity. Wildlife you can find includes the different monkeys, black caiman and giant river otters.
Exploring Ecuador’s Amazon
From the recommended lodges and cruises, you can enjoy exploring the Amazon. Enjoy guided walks on rainforest trails to see many animals. Spot howler monkeys, toucans and fascinating reptiles.
In addition to the many animals to find, you can find some of the favorite plants and trees. These include the many beautiful orchids and the giant trees like kapoks and strangler figs.
Best Time to visit
There are just two seasons in Ecuador’s Amazon. These are the wet season and the dry season characteristic of tropical environments.
There are benefits of visiting in either time of year. Even over the wetter months, the rain starts in late afternoon and often ends by the following morning. This allows for a full day of rainforest exploration.
The wet season can mean you can get deeper into the rainforest, the clay lick can be more active, and is when the forest fruits and flowers. This means monkeys and birds are more easily seen feeding on abundant food.
Over these months there is an increase in the frequency and intensity of rain. And usually this is from December to June.
The dry season can also mean the wildlife is more easily encountered. This is because animals are thought to concentrate around fewer pools of terrestrial water. The trails can be less muddy and there is less chance of activities being postponed due to rain. The dry season is usually between July and January.
Aside from this, the rainforest can be visited at all times of year. What really matters is your choice of lodge or cruise, as it’s the service and guides that determine the quality of your experience.
We will provide a selection of recommended Amazon lodges and rainforest cruises below to choose from.
Attractions & Features
There are a few different attractions in Ecuador’s rainforest to help you make the most of the Amazon. Enjoy canopy walkways, canopy towers, and the Yasuni clay lick to see different parrots.
Canopy towers allow you to experience the rainforest from a different perspective. This is how many birds of prey and monkeys see the Amazon as they explore the branches of tall rainforest trees.
You will visit canopy towers on all tours features on this page.
Yasuni Clay Lick
The Yasuni clay lick is located by the Napo River and inside the Yasuni National Park. The lick is a naturally eroded area of clay where parrots, parakeets and macaws visit to eat the salt-rich and medicinal clay.
The licks provide almost guaranteed wildlife sightings. And the birds visit these to obtain the salts, but also to detoxify unripe fruits and seeds they have eaten in the rainforest. To find the human equivalent, you can think of antacids.
A canopy walkway allows you to walk leisurely above the canopy. The most impressive canopy walkway in the Amazon Rainforest is accessible from the Sacha Lodge.
The walkway stands 94 feet (30 meters) above the ground and extends 940-foot (275-meter) through the rainforest. This is especially loved by birdwatchers as you can see many different species.
To see this canopy walkway, click the video below for an introduction to the Sacha Lodge.
Cruises & Lodges
The Ecuadorian Amazon is home to fantastic rainforest lodges and river cruises. These offer guided tours to enjoy the wildlife and fantastic scenery.
The Sacha Lodge
The Sacha Lodge is nestled in its own private reserve and offers one of the largest canopy walkways in the rainforest. You can also enjoy the views from a tall canopy tower.
On guided tours from the Sacha Lodge, enjoy rainforest walks to find different animals. These include the many different monkeys, reptiles, colorful birds and tree frogs. In addition to exploring during the day, head out on night walks to see a different community of species.
You will explore the 5,000 acre rainforest reserve with your professional guide on trail walks and lake tours.
To check availability for your travel dates, send the Sacha Lodge a request using the tour bubble below.
La Selva Lodge
La Selva Lodge is a luxury-class lodge and spa for the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.
Enjoy a very comfortable and sustainable lodge, luxurious suites, and delicious cuisine. You will then head out on guided tours in the Amazon Rainforest to find different animals plants. Explore the rainforest on forest walks, canoe adventures and night excursions. Enjoy La Selva’s canopy tower, spa, clay lick, nearby lake and the many trails through the rainforest.
Manatee Amazon Cruise
The Manatee Amazon Cruise takes you into the Yasuni National Park. You will voyage down the Napo River to explore the wildlife-rich Ecuadorian Amazon.
Enjoy spotting several different monkeys, colorful birds, reptiles and delicate tree frogs. Visit the Yasuni clay lick, canopy tower and head out on jungle hikes and canoe exploration.
Anakonda Amazon Cruise
The Anakonda Amazon Cruise is the sister ship of the Manatee Amazon Cruise. Enjoy wildlife tours in the Amazon Rainforest to find different animals and plants.
You will visit a canopy tower, enjoy canoe excursions and visit the Yasuni clay lick. You will also explore the rainforest on guided walks and skiff expeditions to find different monkeys and colorful birds.
Tours for visiting the Amazon from Quito
And here is our summary selection of Amazon tours: