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Top 7 Amazon River Cruises Ecuador


Are these really the Top Amazon River Cruises in Ecuador?

YES! This is why...

When walks through the jungle, wildlife overhead in the canopy are difficult to distinguish. When you look up there is not much to see. The leaves are dark against the light sky, appearing almost black.  Along narrow rivers though, light can penetrate through the forest allowing you to see birds and other animal. This allows you to watch birds, flowers and mammals much better, from the comfort of your canoe.


So what makes Cuyabeno so special...

  • The only nature reserve in the Amazon-Andean countries with plains in the near-Andes Amazon region. Slow-flowing rivers and abundant lakes can only occur in flat terrain; not in hills. This makes Cuyabeno so unusual!

  • While there are some well-drained forests, you may see some land-bound animals and birds; but with such abundance of water, you will get to see lots of water-bound animals like: Dolphins, Manatees, Capybaras, Caymans, Ducks, Cormorants, Herons, etc.

  • Watching animals from a boat is much more comfortable than  on foot. Your birding and mammals books, your binoculars and your camera are all easily at your disposition.


But there is more...

  • Getting from Lagoagrio to Cuyabeno is (mostly) over an asphalt road. Distances over water are much shorter than to other reserves, like Yasuní National Park;

  •  Our programs are organized by or in collaboration with small Indian tribes, the Cofans and Sionas;

  • All programs are so child friendly, I took my grandchildren (3,5 & 6) there. Wao, did they love it!



Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Day one

Our vehicle meets you in Lagoagrio to bring you to the main entrance of the park "El Puente".


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Transportation from Lago Agrio to Cuyabeno.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Cuyabeno Park Entrance, "The Bridge".

Our transport meets you in Lagoagrio to bring you in about 2 hours to the main entrance of the park.

Main entrance ranger station "Cuyabeno Bridge", where visitors enter the canoes to the Cuyabeno Lake area.


Upon arrival, your adventurous Amazon journey really takes off, as we take you along the beautiful winding Cuyabeno River to reach our Cuyabeno Lodge. It's a fascinating ride on this tributary of the Amazon River, that will take you  first to the largest lake in the reserve, the Laguna Cuyabeno also known as Laguna Grande. This is the perfect spot to experience the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador, as our Cuyabeno Lodge is one of the few accommodation located on any of the seven lakes of the Cuyabeno river system.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Visitors on their way to the Cuyabeno Lodge. TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Navigating down the upper Cuyabeno River.

Our canoe takes you down the winding, narrow upper Cuyabeno River.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Cuyabeno Lodge seen from the air.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Cuyabeno Lodge welcome sign.

Until you reach the Cuyabeno Lodge at a seasonal island in Lake Cuyabeno.

The welcome sign of the Cuyabeno Lodge.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Modern showers at the Cuyabeno Lodge. TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Looking down at the Cuyabeno Lodge from the canopy tower.

Upon arrival you can take a refreshing shower in your cabin.....

and take a look over the premises from the Cuyabeno Lodge Canopy Tower.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Relaxing on the deck of the Cuyabeno Lodge.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Taking a plonge at the Cuyabeno Lake.

After which you can relax on the deck, or....

take a refreshing swim in the lake.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: the cosy restaurant of the Cuyabeno Lodge.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Comfortable rooms at the Cuyabeno Lodge.

At night enjoy a delicious meal in the Cuyabeno Lodge restaurant.

All beds have mosquito netting.


Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Days 2 and 3

As birds are most active at dawn, you may start out your day with birdwatching before or right after breakfast with our experienced guide. Blue and Yellow Macaws fly noisily across the Cuyabeno Lake, while Hoatzins whisper their hoarse sounds as they brows the leaves of the Macrolobium trees. You may also hear the mysterious swelling sound of the Howler Monkeys or see a troop of squirrel monkeys bouncing through the treetops. In fact, 10 species of monkeys have been recorded in the reserve.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: In Ecuador, birding is for all ages.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: The electric excursion canoe of the Cuyabeno Lodge.

Birdwatching early in the morning.

Exploring Lake Cuyabeno from a dugout canoe. For the short distances we like to use peddles instead of a motor or use our brand new whispering electrical motor.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Chesnut-fronted Parrots are common in the Amazon.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Patoos are so well-camouflaged, they are rarely flushed from their roosts.

Chestnut-fronted Parrots are among the 550 species known to Cuyabeno.

The Common Patoo is so well camouflaged, it hardly ever leaves its day-roost when approached by visitors.


After breakfast experience the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador in the "terra firma" forest with your naturalist guide where you can learn about the forest's medicinal plants and traditions. There are many colorful flowers in the Cuyabeno Nature Reserve, but it takes a bit of an effort to find them. Orchids and Heliconias are among the more spectacular Amazon Forest Plants.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Panama Flame tree Brownea macrophylla have their flowers come straight out of the trunc.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Pink flowering bush at the Cuyabeno Lodge.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Pink flowers along the Cuyabeno River.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Bright orchid are very popular among the Amazon rainforest plants.

Some of the spectacular flowers of Cuyabeno.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Giant hollow fig tree.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Amazon fresh water crab.

A giant tree in the better-drained "tierra firma.

At a distance of 3000 km from the sea, there are fresh water crabs, high up in the Amazon watershed. Are they there from ancient days when the Amazon was under the Atlantic Ocean, or did they adapt to fresh water and migrated upstream? Any way, they now live on land in the tierra firma.


One of the afternoons, you will be taken to a Siona village, where you will learn about Siona cooking and traditional food from their kitchen garden. Each time a different woman of the community will give an explanation so that they will all get a turn.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Kitchen gardens of the Sionas have many stapel food crops, like cacao.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Siona woman cooking on traditional fire box.

A visit to the Siona community: The Siona Kitchen garden includes all sorts of staple food, like manioc and even cacao.


Siona woman showing the traditional way of cooking on a fire in a fire box.


At night you will be taken on night excursions, some - by canoe - to look for nocturnal animals in the swamps, like Caymans and frogs. Other excursions are on  foot to look for the critters of the night in the forest.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: on a night excursion in Cuyabeno.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Amazon whip spider Amblypygi are clawed spiders without scorpion tail or poison

A night excursion to experience the critters of the night.

Whip spiders are related to the spiders, but but still very distinct. They are among the many critters of the jungle you only get to see at night.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Enjoying the view from the Cuyabeno Lodge landing dock.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Bonsai shaped Macrolobium trees at sunset.

The Cuyabeno Lodge landing dock offers a fabulous view over the Cuyabeno Lake and is a favorite hangout for many of our guests.

The famous bonsai shaped Macrolobium trees of Cuyabeno Lake at sun set.


TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Anacondas are infamous Amazon Jungle animalsTOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: There are 3 species of Caiman in the Amazon.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Yellow butterflies swarming around a salt lick.TOP 7 AMAZON RIVER CRUISES ECUADOR: Ring-tailed Coati, Nasua nasua, is a common inhabitant of the Amazon.

Some of the fascinating wild animals of the Cuyabeno Lake area.


Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Day 4


On day four you will experience the feel of so many of our visitors: "It all went by too quickly". Maybe you will become one of our frequent visitors that keep coming back for a special program of one or two weeks. Anyway, you will have to leave in the morning to get back on time to catch the plane or bus in Lago Agrio. You will ride the canoe up the Cuyabeno River to the bridge, where your transport will be waiting for you to bring you to the airport or to the bus station for your return to Quito.



Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Days 4 and 5

Days 4 and 5 are like days 3 and 4 if the 4 DAYS CUYABENO LODGE TOUR. The 5 DAYS CUYABENO LODGE TOUR offers a fantastic opportunity to really experience the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador and get to know the Cuyabeno Lake area more thoroughly while spending a bid more relaxation time at our wonderful lodge.


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.


We hope will meet you in person on one an Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador and enjoy the beautiful Amazon region.



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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

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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