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Why better wildlife viewing on the narrow rivers in Cuyabeno, Ecuador:

  1. Imagine yourself exploring the Amazon rainforest. Of course, you really want to see wildlife. But only in Cuyabeno you actually get to see it. This is why: Most wildlife moves about through the canopy of the trees. From where you are on the ground, your vision is limited, because the undergrowth and the leaves are in your way. From the relative darkness where you are on the ground, you get blinded when you look up towards the canopy. That makes it difficult to distinguish the characteristics of the birds and mammals;

  2. From the ground, the canopy of the Amazon jungle looks almost black and distinguishing fauna that moves around at 35 m above the ground is almost impossible, except for highly experienced birdwatchers. The contrast between the canopy and the light of the sky is blinding;

  3. From the water, however, birding is great, because trees along the creeks are lower and also, many birds and mammals like to move about edges of the forest, not surprisingly, among them of course many water birds. The light shines on the trees from the side and you are not blinded by light overhead. Moreover, from a canoe, one can explore the rainforest comfortably watching wildlife from a seat with your camera, binoculars and a bird guide at hand;

  4. As wildlife observation must take place very early in the morning, it is paramount to be in the heart of the location of observation. In the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the Cuyabeno Lodge is on a peninsula on the border of the Laguna Cuyabeno, right in the heart of the lake system, while visitors coming from other lodges must first travel at least 45 minutes to get to the lake.

These 10 facts make Cuyabeno Ecuador one of the best, if not the best Amazon National Park in the world, where one can see more different species of animals and flowers per day than in any other Amazon park.


Dear visitor, our website gives you info about our National Parks Tours, our Galapagos programs, the Cuyabeno Loop, as well as our Cuyabeno  and Cofan Lodges in the Amazon.   For those who want to combine the Exuberant Nature of Ecuador with the Famous culture of Peru, we even have a 7 days Highlights of Peru extension! Our website gives you the best information on the internet, because we are the only tour operator run by professional biologists. Take a look:



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Indians take you in their agile dug-out canoes along winding rivers.


Start your Cuyabeno journey on Ecuador's most scenic wide Amazon tributary, the Aguarico River. Spend 3 nights in the Cofan Lodge, exploring the lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers.



Price: $ 499

 4 days

Children learning about the rainforest.


The Cuyabeno Loop explores the breathtaking scenery of lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the amazing birds and wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing Cofan Indians in the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of comfort in the famous Cuyabeno Lodge.

Price: $ 799

5 days


Birdwatching by visitors of the Amazon in Ecuador


The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden creeks and lakes is the best Amazon journey 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!


Price: $ 1099

7 days

excursion on Lake Cuyabeno


The Cuyabeno Lake Program explores all the wild places surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake. Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia trees with the whispering of the mysterious prehistoric Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and Yellow Macaws. Our Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location, because we were the first and chose the best location on a seasonal island in the Cuyabeno Lake itself.

Price: from $ 410

4 - 5 days


Alpacas in Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve are the domesticated form of the vicuñas.


Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a taste of some of the best Andean National Parks, visiting the highest groves in the world: the Polylepis trees, the highest mountain in the world calculated from the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and Lamas, the highest active volcano in the world, the Cotopaxi.



Price: from $1149

5 days

San Rafael Falls


Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic journey along the best possible sample of Andean and coastal parks. They have been designed to complement Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places, particularly Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days, it is possible to make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes and Coast" module.

Price: $ 1999

9 days


Bartelome Island at Galapagos National Park


We have a fabulous selection of Galapagos programs, including cruises, island hopping, scuba diving or relaxing on one of the many different hotels varying from modest inns to deluxe resorts.



Price: from $ 550

from 3 days

Inca wall in Cusco.


A fabulous program for visiting the most famous cultural highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. At the same time it serves as the Lima hub for the Peru National Parks Tour. This module is an extension to our National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park and/or Amazon Cruises.

Price: $ 1199

7 days

Continuation of the current page theme


The location within the Cuyabeno National Park also is of the essence:

As bird and wildlife observation is best very early in the morning, it is paramount to be right in the heart of the best place for observing animals. In the Cuyabeno, this is the Cuyabeno Lake system. The Cuyabeno Lodge is on a seasonal island, right in the heart of the lake system, while visitors coming from most other lodges must first travel 30 to 45 minutes to get to the lake. According to Tripadvisor, our Cuyabeno Lodge is the best Amazon Rainforest eco lodge in Ecuador!




Visibility on the ground within the Amazon forests is poor, making exploring the Amazon rainforest more difficult as one is blinded looking up while having to permanently having to watch where one walks. This makes wildlife observation much more difficult.


CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Exploring the Amazon Rainforest, of Ecuador from a canoe is convenient and effective.CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Jungle exploration.


Watching birds, flowers and mammals from narrow rivers is better as trees along the creeks are lower and the sunlight penetrates to illuminate the river banks. Moreover, wildlife observation and photography from the water is much more convenient and effective, as one always has his/her binoculars, camera and birdbook at hand, as opposed to when one is walking through the forest.


CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Blue and Yellow Macaw at Cuyabeno Wildlife ReserveCUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Bromelia in Amazon of Ecuador, Cuyabeno.


The beauty of the Amazon jungle is in the small details. There are up to 580 species of birds, many of them incredibly beautiful, while flowers, such as orchids and bromeliads decorate the forest.


CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Location of the Cuyabeno Amazon Jungle Lodge in Ecuador


With or About 150 long and 50 km wide, the park covers according to the latest data of the Ministry of Environment show the seize of Cuyabeno Wildlifer Reserve: 590,912 hectares (5,901 km2 or 2,330 square miles) of mostly pristine Amazon jungle as you can see on Google Earth above. The Cuyabeno Lodge is only a few hundreds of meters away from the equator.


CLICK TO ENLARGE: Official map of National Park Cuyabeno, Ecuador:

CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Official map of the CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: 450X150 km or 590,912 hectares (5,901 km2 or 2,330 square miles)


Rivers of the Cuyabeno National Park

The Reserve incorporates most of the Rio Cuyabeno watershed which drains into the Aguarico River; About 60 km down stream, along the Río Aguarico, is the Zancudo Cocha Lake and further down stream are the Lagarto Cocha Lakes along the border with Peru. At a gradually sloping elevation form 300 in the East and 200 m at the border with Peru, the Reserve is covered with humid tropical rainforest.


CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Low water at Cuyabeno LakeCUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Cuyabeno National Park during the dry season


Climate and Weather

The climate in the "Oriente" of Ecuador is varies between 3500mm at the airport of Lagoagrio and probably about 3200 mm near the border with Peru while average temperatures fluctuate between 24 C and 26 C. However, these values are very coarse and temperatures are lower in the foothills of the Andes, where the Cuyabeno Lakes are located. For instance the temperature runs up to 27 C in Leticia, in the eastern Colombian Amazon. Average Amazon rainfall also shows a strong west-east gradient, with average values decreasing towards the east.

CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Climate Lagoagrio.CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Weather data Lagoagrio.

Precipitation is the lowest in December, with an average of about 200 mm. Most rainfall falls in June, with an average of 345 mm.

At an average temperature of 25.7 °C, November is somewhat warmer, while the average temperatures in July are a bit lower at 24.1 °C. It is the lowest average temperature of the whole year.


Ecology and Species of the Cuyabeno National Park

The Cuyabeno National Park comprises the following 8 macro-ecosystems:

  1. frequently flooded forests or swamps;

  2. dwarf forests semi-permanently flooded by black-water rivers;

  3. well-drained forest, located on undulating terrain;

  4. "coffee-with_milk" coloured sediment-rich rivers;

  5. semi-permanent lakes;

  6. permanent lakes.

The internal rivers and creeks are black-water ecosystems; however, during heavy rains they become laden with sediments and may become lighter to a "coffee with milk" color.


With some 580 of bird species, Cuyabeno is a world hot spot for birdwatchers. There are also many mammals tha call Cuyabeno home, such as dolphins, manatees, 10 primates, including the night monkey, the second smallest monkey on earth, many bats and rodents, varying from the world's largest, the Capybara to many small ones. Hoofed animals are include tapirs, two species of peccary and deer. Tree dwelling mammals include Sloths and Ant Eaters. Predotars include various South American cats, including jaguar and Puma.


When the United Nations project selected the protected areas of Ecuador in 1975, Cuyabeno was known for its 6 m giant Anacondas, occasionally reaching 9 m. With the better protection, big anacondas are seen relatively frequently, sometimes with the visible remains of an animal. Some of the turtles may grow to 1/2 meter, while yellow-legged tortoises roam the land. Moreover, many smaller snakes, lizards, geckos and iguanas are found in the park. Amphibians are everywhere, but hard to spot. The fish fauna of Cuyabeno is extremely diverse and includes the pirañas, enormous catfish, electrical eels, prehistoric paiches and small colorful fishes.


CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Yellow Handed Titi Monkey at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Squirl Monkeys at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Of the 19 monkeys of Ecuador, 10 species occur in Cuyabeno National Park.


CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Amazon Manatee at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.CUYABENO ECUADOR [6 TOURS]: Amazon Dolphin at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

The Cuyabeno Rivers and Lakes are visited by Amazon Dolphins and  occasionally by Manatees.


The Cuyabeno and Cofan Lodges, are located for exploring the park. Our programs famous for the quality of our tours with great guides who know their birds, mammals and plants. Check our Cuyabeno Lodge rates.



Cuyabeno National Park, Ecuador Tours, Canopy tower



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 $ 25 for the round trip and you have to leave from your hotel in Quito to the terminal  an hour before departure (by taxi). 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 boarding the our motorized canoe, will be more or less 15 hours. The same applies for the Lake Cuyabeno accommodations which pass through the main park entrance on the Cuyabeno River.

  • 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 - 6 hours from your hotel until you can embark on the Rio Aguarico. The same applies for the Lake Cuyabeno accommodations which pass through the main park entrance on the Cuyabeno River.

  • 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 Reserve, the San Rafael Falls, the Reventador Volcano and the Papallacta spas. The same applies for the Lake Cuyabeno accommodations which pass through the main park entrance on the Cuyabeno River.


Routes from the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve programss of Parks and Tribes / Cofan Lodge:

  • Left above: Cuyabeno Lake Area;

  • Right above: Cuyabeno Loop;

  • Left: Lagarto Coche Expedition with the Cuyabeno Lake area as an additional option.




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 San Rafael waterfall surrounded by virgin cloud forest 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.

On a clear day you can see the Cayambe exactly on the equator, as you fly around it. It is the only major volcano as well as the only glacier in the world precisely on the equator. On the way in, chose a window on the right and on the way back on the left of the plane.




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.


Meals and beverages.

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;

  5. Transportation between Lagoagrio and the access rivers.


Bottled and alcoholic beverages need to be paid.



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.



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.



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






Prices in US$


Standard room

$ 499

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers.




Prices in US$


Standard room at the Cuyabeno Lodge part (nights 3 &4) $ 799
Standard room in the Cofan Lodge (nights 1 & 2) and Deluxe room at the Cuyabeno Lodge (nights 3 & 4) $ 899

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers.




Prices in US$


$ 1099

Including Extension Cuyabeno Lake from where returning to Lagoagrio.

$ 1349

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers.




Prices in US$

Shared budget room (Dormitory shared among 4 people, shared bathrooms) $ 270
Standard room (17 m2, private bathroom, shared balcony) $ 410
Standard room Plus (±20 m2, private bathroom, shared balcony) $ 430
Deluxe room (25m2, private bathroom, private balcony in the tower) $ 480
Suite (36m2, private bathroom, private balcony) $510

Prices in US$

Shared budget room (Dormitory shared among 4 people, shared bathrooms) $ 340
Standard room (17 m2, private bathroom, shared balcony) $ 510
Standard room Plus (±20 m2, private bathroom, shared balcony) $ 535
Deluxe room (25m2, private bathroom, private balcony in the tower) $ 595
Suite (36m2, private bathroom, private balcony) $635
Single occupancy surcharge (for the entire trip) $100

Individual bookings are WELCOME



(or visa versa)



Prices in US$

One way per party price

$ 300

Group Price for parties of 2 - 7 (minivan) who share the costs.




Prices in US$

OPTION A: Complete national Parks Tour (10 days) $1999
OPTION B: After Machalilla return to Quito (6 days) $1349
OPTION C: After Machalilla return to Quito (6 days) via Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve (7 days) $1399
OPTION D: Start and finish in Guayaquil (5 days) $1149
OPTION E: Start in Cuenca and Finish in Guayaquil (5 days) $1149

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers.




For island hopping starting at  (Read details)


Individual bookings are WELCOME




Prices in US$

6 or 7 days (subject to flight itineraries)  
LIMA - CUSCO MODULE (Read details)


Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers.


PARKS & TRIBES and the COFAN LODGE have their sales office inside:

Hotel Balmoral, Address: Calle Moreno Bellido E6-57 & Avenida Amazonas, Quito

Telephone: (++593)(02) 2 50 5310, Cell phone: (++593) (0) 96 29 35 271

Email: [email protected]

Skype: ecotravelworldwide

Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website and founder of Parks and Tribes. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature. https://www.facebook.com/DrDaanVreugdenhil, https://www.linkedin.com/in/drdaanvreugdenhil/. He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador, including. Yasuní and Cuyabeno, the latter of which he he later recommended to be expanded from originally 150,000ha to 600,000ha, together with then Cuyabeno director Prof. Dr. Flavio Coello and Parks and Tribes partner. Daan is also the founding father of the Cuyabeno Lodge and co-manager of the Cofan Lodge. This website and its programs have been created by the renowned conservation biologist "Parks Man" Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil

This website and its programs have been created by the renowned conservation biologist "Parks Man" Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil