PARKS AND TRIBES

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6 BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]

These 6 Tropical Adventure Tours, that take you on hidden  creeks and lakes are the best Amazon journeys in Ecuador! Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths, Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní! This is why! Within Cuyabeno, these are the best Cuyabeno programs because they have been designed by the conservation biologist who started ecotourism to Cuyabeno and the Cofan Tribe, who manage one third of Cuyabeno.

 

7 DAYS' LAGARTO COCHA EXPEDITION

The 7 day's Lagarto Cocha Expedition is an epic journey deep into the wildest part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, exploring creeks and lakes that hardly any tourist ever gets to see.

 

Day 1

Our transport meets you in Lagoagrio to take you in about 2 hours to the the canoe landing location Nuevo Unión, on the Aguarico River.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Detailed map Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve with route.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Aguarico River landscape.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Cofan Lodge tourist canoe.

The Lagarto Cocha Expedition takes you on a 200km odyssey through the Eastern Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, starting at the River Aguarico.

The tourist canoe of the Cofan Lodge.

 

Upon arrival in Zábalo, you will be shown around in the village and taken to your cabins to freshen up and rest, as it has been a long day since your departure from Quito.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Relaxing on the Cuyabeno Lodge deck during your Amazon visit in EcuadorBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Cofan Lodge Cabin.

The restaurant of our Cofan Lodge.

One of the cabins of the Cofan Lodge.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Resting in hammocks at the Cofan Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Zábalo Cofan village.

Resting in a hammocks in our restaurant.

A walk in Zábalo village.

 

Day 2

You will be taken on one of the few Ecuadorian black water rivers, where the clear dark water provides ideal conditions for Giant Otters. There is also a vivid population of Scarlet Macaws as well as a great variety of tropical birds and monkeys.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Blue and Yellow macaws can be frequently seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Black Mantled Tamarins at Cofan Lodge, your comfortable hotel when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Blue and yellow Macaws are common in the reserve.

Black-Mantled Tamarins live in good-sized groups.

 

In the evening, you return to Zábalo to spend the night in the Cofan Lodge.

 

After dark, we make a short excursion to look at nocturnal animals.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Tree Frog of the Amazon Jungle seen on a night excursion when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Nocturnal amazon animal found on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

Tree frogs are very common, but it is somewhat hard to spot them. The minute you think you at last have one in your camera, they jump away to never be seen again. With lots of luck, you may see the reflecting eyes of an Ocelot Cat in the beam of your flash light.

 

Day 3

The day begins with learning about of the Cofan ways. You will be instructed how to shoot with a blowgun, and get the opportunity to see the traditional Cofan dresses.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Cuyabeno Entry station for Amazon Visitors in EcuadorBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Cofan shaman with village children.

Learning how to shoot with a blowgun.

The shaman with some of the Cofan children and of tourists.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Zábalo kitchen garden.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Cofan turtle restoration project.

The traditional vegetable garden produces typical food of the Amazon region.

The Cofan turtle breeding project helped restore the turtle numbers in Cuyabeno.

 

In the morning we take off to the largest lake of the Ecuatorian Amazon, Zancudo Coche, located in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. After a well-deserved night's rest, you will explore Lake Zancudo Cocha and its surrounding.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Amazon jungle flowering.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Amazon forest in the dry season with some trees shedding their leaves.

Sometimes, you will see trees flowering, but always as part of a very varied jungle, where no tree species will ever dominate the landscape.

During the dry season - which is never truly dry, just dryer - some trees will shed their leaves.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]:  Amazon Manatee at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Amazon dolphin on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

Usually there will be a few Amazon Dolphins (no guarantee of course) or, if you are really lucky, a Manatee.

 

Skim past the shores with beautiful jungle trees and spot sloths and monkeys, like the Black-mantled Tamarins, noisy Howlers and Wooley Monkeys. Watch for the more than 540 species of birds known for the area, varying from hummingbirds to Harpy eagles, King Vultures to endangered – yet common in Cuyabeno - Blue and Yellow macaws.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Amazon jungle seen from the air.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Candle bush in the Amazon.

Cuyabeno's rainforest has the greatest recorded number of species per hectare anywhere in the world.

The Candle Bush grows along river courses.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Ecuador Amazon birding expeditionBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Birdwatchers on Amazon Expedition in Ecuador

The reserve has become a favorite place for birdwatchers.

Tourists "hunt" wild animals with their binoculars and cameras.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: flooded forest along Lake Zancudo Cocha.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: jungle lunch in Cuyabeno.

The borders of the lake are often inundated.

Along the way we picnic on a "blanket" of palm leaves.

 

We spend the entire day exploring the lake, after which we make camp and sleep in tents along the lake side.

 

Day 4

After breakfast, we enter a branch of the Imuya River, which forms the Lagarto Cocha watershed. We send the entire day exploring this beautiful black water river, looking out for wildlife and birds.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: the Imuyo River is the clearest black water river in the Amazon of Ecuador.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: The black water of the Imuyo River mixing with the "white" - in reality coffee-with-cream colored sediment loaded River Aguarico.

With its entire watershed protected in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the Imuyo River is the clearest black water river in the Amazon of Ecuador.

The clear black - sediment poor - water of the Imuyo River mixes with the sediment loaded water of the Aguarico River. The color comes from the soil particles dispersed in the water.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: natigating up the Imuyo River.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: extended swamps characterize the forest.

Continuing the journey upstream the Imuyo River until we reach the Lagarto Cocha lakes.

Extended swamps characterize the forest.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Amazon visitors enjoy orchid at Cuyabeno, EcuadorBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Beautiful flowers enlighten Amazon visits in Ecuador.AMAZON FOREST PLANTS, ECUADOR: Amazon rainforest plants include the Orchids growing in Cuyabeno. BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Heliconia in the Amazon tropical Rainforest seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Some of the jungle flowers you may find along the way, depending on the season.

 

In the evening we make camp (in tents) along the river.

 

Day 5

After breakfast, we enter the Lagarto Coche Lakes, a dense network of lakes and creaks at the border with Peru. We spend 2 days exploring the lakes and Macrolobium swamps.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: The border of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is a huge swamp area.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Lagarto Cocha along the Peruvian border is a huge swamp area.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Along the border with Peru, Cuyabeno Reserve of Ecuador is an enormous swamp.Epiphytes in the Amazon Jungle

Lagarto Coche is a dense network of creeks and lakes.

The Macrolobium trees form mystic swamps with their bonsai shaped truncs.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Taking a plunge in Lagarto Cocha lakes. BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: excursion in Cuyabeno.

After a days' excursion it is very refreshing to take a plunge into one of the lakes.

On excursion in one of the Lagarto Cocha Lakes.

 

In the evening, we make camp along one of the creeks or lakes.

 

Day 6

In the morning, we continue exploring the Lagarto Cocha Lakes swamps.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Seasonal floating meadows in Cuyabeno, Lagarto Cocha. BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Lagarto Cocha lakes with Macrolobium trees in Cuyabeno.

The swamps form dense networks of flooded forest and seasonal floating meadows loved by Manati.

At other locations the swamps are formed by Macrolobium trees.

 

In the afternoon, we have to head back to Zábalo, where you spend the night in the Cofan Lodge.

 

Day 7

On day 7, you will experience the feel of so many of our visitors: "It all went by too quickly".

From Zábalo, we take you upstream Aguarico River to the road at El Unión, where your transport is waiting for you to take you to the airport or the bus-terminal in Lagoagrio, where your journey ends. Check our Cofan Lodge rates.

 

CUYABENO LAKE EXTENSION

For those who would like to explore the entire Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, we have the Cuyabeno Lake Extension. Your expedition would last two more days, the last of which, you would spend around the famous Cuyabeno Lake while being lodged in the comfortable famous Cuyabeno Lodge. This would be a fantastic conclusion of your Amazon Rainforest Expedition.  For details about the program, take a look at Cuyabeno Tour, but in stead of staying 3 nights, you would be staying 2 nights.

 

For this extension, your extended itinerary would continue after the previous day 6:

 

Day 7

After breakfast, we take you to the mouth of the Cuyabeno River, where usually some river dolphins hang out. From there you will be taken to the Canopy tower, to have an impression of the natural canopy.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: The mouth of the Cuyabeno River.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: The Cuyabeno Canopy Tower.

The Cuyabeno River Mouth is frequented by Amazon Dolphins

The highest canopy tower in Cuyabeno takes you all the way into the crown of a gigantic tree.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Canopy tower platform.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: view from the canopy tower.

Admiring the view from the canopy tower platform.

The tree canopies are where the Amazon jungle has most of its species.

 

After visiting the canopy tower, the journey continues upstream to the Cuyabeno Lake, from where the program will be taken over by one of the lodges at the Cuyabeno Lake, of which the most famous is the Cuyabeno Lodge.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Port of Entry for a visit of the Amazon in Ecuador at CuyabenoBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Macrolobium trees at Lake Cuyabeno.

Continuing the journey upstream the Cuyabeno River.

The Macrolobium trees at the border of the Cuyabeno lake are like giant Bonsai trees and full of epiphytes.

 

Upon arrival at the lodge, you can take a hot shower and rest up a bit and take a swim in the lake at sunset.

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Swimming at the Cuyabeno Lake during your Amazon visit in EcuadorBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Make great friends at the Cuyabeno Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

A swim at the lake is always wonderfully refreshing and a lot of fun.

Dinner in the restaurant of the comfortable Cuyabeno Lodge.

 

At night you can take an night excursion through the "tierra firma" - better drained hilly (but not dry) forest and explore the cool mysterious critters of the night.

 

BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Grasshopper shedding skin.BEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Interesting lizard in the jungleBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: A jung tarantella spiderBEST TROPICAL ADVENTURE TOURS, [REVIEW]: Frog waiting to snap up a fat insect

Nocturnal critters

 

On night excursions, one can see the most unusual critters and events, like a cricket that just changed its skin, nocturnal lizards, tarantulas, and of course, tree frogs.

 

Day 8

After a well-deserved night's rest, you will explore the Cuyabeno Lake and its surrounding Macrolobium swamps, which are more developed than in Lagarto Cocha. The forest in this part of the reserve is better developed and you are likely to see different species of wildlife.

 

Day 9

On this final day, you will have to leave early in the morning to get back on time to catch the plane or bus to Quito in Lagoagrio. You will ride the canoe up the Upper Cuyabeno River to the main entrance of the park, the "Cuyabeno Bridge", where your transport will be waiting for you to bring you to the airport or to the bus station to take you on your trip back to Quito, thus ending your Tropical Adventure Tour in Ecuador.

 

CUYABENO, GETTING THERE AND BACK

There are 3 options to travel to the Amazon Lowlands:

  • Take the night bus from Quito to Lagoagrio (usually leaves at 11 at night) from the "Terminal Norte" in Quito and arrive in Lagoagrio at dawn, which takes about 7 hours. It costs about $ 40 for the round trip and you have to leave from your hotel in Quito to the terminal  an hour before departure. Alternatively, you can take a day bus, but then you will have to spend the night in Lagoagrio. We will pick you up in Lagoagrio in combination with arriving passengers by plane, departing generally at 10:30 (depending on the arrival of the plane), to Nuevo Unión (2 hours), where we embark in our canoe at about 12:30. Between your departure from your hotel at night at 10 at night until disembarking, will be more or less 15 hours.

  • Fly with Tame Quito - Lagoagrio. You can book your ticket at https://www.tame.com.ec, which costs about $ 150 round trip, but additionally you have to consider the cost of a taxi that costs 2X25; Then it actually costs $ 200. Your flight usually leaves at 9 in the morning, and takes 30 minutes to arrive. As many times the flight is delayed, count on arriving around 10, and after getting your luggage, it will be 10:30. We'll pick you up at the airport. From there it takes two hours to arrive in Nuevo Union, where we leave in our canoe at 12:30. Thus flying takes a total of 5, 5 - 6 hours from your hotel until you can embark on the Rio Aguarico.

  • Take our Private Trans-Andean Transportation to the Aguarico or Cuyabeno River, of which you can read the details below. We will pick you up at your hotel early in the morning and take to the Aguarico River in about 8 - 9 hours depending how much time we spend on the way at the overlooks into the Cayambe _ Coca Ecological.

PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION QUITO - AGUARICO

Very early in the morning you will be picked up at your hotel in Quito to travel along the scenic road to the Aguarico River, passing through Ecuador's most striking waterfall, the San Rafael Waterfall, as well through the paramo (Andes meadow) of the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve.

 

Lake Papallacta.San Rafael Waterfalls.

Near the mountain pass you pass by beautiful paramos and some of the highest rainforests in the world along Lake Papallacta.

The virgin cloud forest San Rafael waterfall is the most beautiful waterfall of the country.

 

Jamanco Spa at Lake Papallacta LakeThe Reventador Volcano pouring out lava.

Bordering Lake Papallacta is the Jamanco Spa with great mineral water without prior filtration as done in the Papallacta resorts. As a result, the mineral quality is supposed to be better, while resort prices are a fraction of the spas in Papallacta.

The Reventador is Ecuador's most active volcano and frequently runs of down-pouring can be seen glowing in the night.

  • It is possible to arrange for spending the night at either a Papallacta (costly) or Jamanco (friendly and much more economical) Spa, but then another day is needed.

  • Many passengers who take the private transportation, chose to fly back or visa versa.

Lagoagrio airport.Cayambe Volcano right on the Equator.

Arrival at the airport of oil-boom town Lagoagrio.

At a clear day you can see the Cayambe exactly on the equator, as you fly around it. On the way in, chose a window on the right and on the way back on the left of the plane.

 

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Amazon Tours

  1. Lodging;

  2. Excursions with professional nature guides;

  3. All Amazon programs include all meals, and fruit juices served with the meals. Our restaurants serve a mix of international cuisine and occasionally, the Cofan Lodge offers  a sample meal of traditional Cofan dishes.

  4. Meals include coffee, tea and bottled water, while additional bottled drinks and alcoholic beverages can be bought.

  5. Transportation between Lagoagrio and the access rivers.

 

National Parks Tours

  1. All hotels and lodges;

  2. Transportation: All ground transportation on the National Parks tours;

  3. In-country flights where included in the national parks tour program, but NOT to/fro Galapagos or Lagoagrio;

  4. An English speaking naturalist guide. A German or French speaking guide may also be available, but can't be guaranteed.

  5. All entry fees.

COMBI-DISCOUNTS

Depending on the program you selected, we always try to give you a discount on combined modules. Groups above 4 passengers will receive discounts, depending on group size.

 

HOW TO BOOK A TOUR?

Our programs are rather customized and we try to accommodate the travel needs of our customers. To avoid misunderstandings, we don't offer a prepaid travel option. Just send an email to or contact us through our contact data below. 

 

From Abroad:

Sending money from abroad is rather costly and we try to minimize money going to bank transfers. Once your schedule has been worked out, we kindly request you to make a reservation guarantee transfer of only $100 by Western Union or Moneygram. The balance you pay in CASH in Quito upon arrival (we don't take credit cards!) This way you don't lose a lot of money sending money. The $100 is NOT recoverable upon cancelation.

 

Why we don't accept credit cards in Ecuador either? The credit card services charge 7%! We would have to charge you for that, making your trip more expensive. We do everything to make your trip as cost effective as possible.

 

Already in Ecuador?

You can pay in our office mentioned below. We apply a cancelation fee of $100.

 

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO BRING?

For this question we link to our special vacation packing list.

2017 PARKS AND TRIBES PRICES

 

NATIONAL PARKS TOUR PROGRAM

OPTION A: COMPLETE NATIONAL PARKS TOUR (10 days)

$1999

OPTION B: RETURN AFTER MACHALILLA TO QUITO (6 days)

$1349

OPTION C: RETURN AFTER MACHALILLA TO QUITO VIA CHIMBORAZO ECOLOGICAL RESERVE (7 days)

$1399

OPTION D: START AND FINISH IN GUYAQUIL (5 days)

$1149

OPTION E: START IN CUENCA AND FINISH IN GUAYAQUIL (5 days)

$1149

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

LIMA CUSCO MACHU PICCHU

GALAPAGOS TOURS STARTING AT

(READ DETAILS) FOR ISLAND HOPPING

$  520

Individual bookings are WELCOME

 

LIMA CUSCO MACHU PICCHU

LIMA - CUSCO MODULE (READ DETAILS)

$1149

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

ZABALO STANDARD PROGRAM

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS

 

Standard room

$ 540

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

 

CUYABENO LOOP

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS

 

Standard room at the Cuyabeno Lodge part (nights 3 &4)

$ 850

Standard room in the Cofan Lodge (nights 1 & 2) and Deluxe room at the Cuyabeno Lodge (nights 3 & 4)

$ 910

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

 

LAGARTO COCHE EXPEDITION

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS

$ 1080

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

 

CUYABENO LODGE PROGRAM

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS

 

Standard room

$ 380

Deluxe room

$ 440

5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS

 

Shared budget room

$ 390

Standard room

$ 475

Deluxe room

$ 550

Single occupancy

$100

Individual bookings are WELCOME

 

 

QUITO - LAGOAGRIO (or visa versa)

PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION

One way per party price

$ 300

Group Price for parties of 2 - 7 (minivan).

 

 

PARKS & TRIBES has its sales office in:

Calle Mariano Cardenal N74-153 &

Calle Joaquín Mancheno Carcelen,

Alto Quito

Email:

niks

Talk or chat with us on Skype:

ecotravelworldwide