Cuyabeno Logo

Home Up Program Cuyabeno Park FAQ Climate Cuyabeno Jungle animals Plants & mushrooms History

Click  for  8   languages:

Nederlands voor Cuyabeno LodgeItalian for Cuyabeno LodgeEspa˝ol para Cuyabeno Lodge

Chinese for Cuyabeno LodgeFranšais pour Cuyabeno LodgeDeutch fŘr Cuyabeno LodgeRussian for Cuyabeno Lodge




Cuyabeno, Tripadvisor Choice

              Winners of the Traveler's Choice for all of South America!



In 1974 a forestry project of the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) set off a process that totally changed the conservation history of Ecuador. Until then Galapagos National Park and Cotopaxi National Park were the only protected areas in the country. Much of continental Ecuador was still largely unknown with two third of the country being virgin tropical rainforest: most of the Oriente, as Ecuador calls its Amazon region, half of the outer Andes slopes and most of the Esmeraldas coastal lowlands and mangroves of Ecuador. As well as a good part of the Guayas mangroves The biologists of the FAO team started exploring the entire country for the best natural areas for their evaluation; several of the this study team would later become the founders of the Cuyabeno Lodge.


We traveled the four regions of the country, riding four-wheel-drives where we could until they would get stuck in the mud or until going further would be impossible for the presence of cliffs and jungle. From there we would explore the jungle for weeks on foot hiring local guides until we would have a feel for the area. For the Ecuadorian Amazon - which was still was covered by 90% with rainforest and incredibly inaccessible - a special team was led by the founding member of the Cuyabeno Lodge to explore the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador. This team of explorers started combing the region by dug-out canoe as far as they could go into the smallest creeks. What could not be traveled by canoe, was first explored with small airplanes. They visited isolated Indian tribes landing on their airstrips, often no longer than a football field, but as level as a freshly ploughed corn field. Their villages would later serve as base camps for exploring the jungle on foot while the people of the tribe, would show their territories and teach us about their ways of life.


Based on the findings of the FAO study most of the protected areas of the country, that now make up the System of National Parks of Ecuador, among which the Cuyabeno watershed, which was to become a "Fauna Production Reserve". Today, very few people know the background of that management category, so, lets explain. In the mid-seventies, the FAO was promoting wildlife farming and game cropping in Africa. So, thought it a good idea to try something similar in Ecuador, with the idea to finance management costs from revenues generated from wildlife farming and hunting. We thought that it would also create opportunities for the indigenous people of the area, the Sionas, to become a part of fauna production operations taking benefit of their own hunting and fishing culture. So, Cuyabeno was proposed to become a Fauna Production Reserve. You can download the original FAO report, Strategy on the conservation of outstanding protected areas for Ecuador.


In the course of the years, as the world's attention shifted more towards ecotourism and Ecuador was gathering more and more international fame for its Galapagos Islands as an holiday destination, legislation was never put in place to allow for fauna production use, and looking back, that was a wise decision of the Government.  Now, for all practical purposes, Cuyabeno serves as a national park, and the Siona are heavily involved in the tourism services, thus providing them with jobs, while much more of their traditional lands have been protected than for any other group of Indians in Ecuador.

Dry season at the Cuyabeno Lake

Cuyabeno during the dry season, when breeding of birds and reptiles is at its peak.


End 1976, about 92 areas had been studied and about a dozen were marked top priority and in 1979, the Government gazetted each one of the highest priority areas, thus protecting about 9% country, including Cuyabeno Nature Reserve. However, just putting and area under legal protection is not enough, and a bit at the time, people started moving into some of the gazetted areas; deforesting some more than others. After roads for oil-exploitation had opened the area in 1983, Cuyabeno became very badly affected and lots of forest was being cut down by people who had invaded the Eastern watershed.

Historical picture of deforestation in Cuyabeno (1980s)

Large patches of jungle were opened up for oil installations (scanned historical photo 1980s)



The, director at the time of the Cuyabeno Nature Reserve, visited the Dutch founding member of the lodge in his home in Netherlands to ask him to go back to Ecuador and work with him at a solution. After analyzing the situation, the two biologists concluded, that the invaded watershed could best be eliminated from the area as there already were too many people. There was still a lot of uninhabited jungle to "move" the reservation eastward. They advised the Government accordingly and now, the park reaches all the way to the border with Peru, also including the Lagarto Cocha Lakes, thus making Cuyabeno Faunistic Reserve the second largest nature reserve of Ecuador. In 1985, our founding member participated in a United Nations team on sustainable development of the Oriente of Ecuador. Cuyabeno remained under pressure as Ecuador depended on oil revenues and continued to open exploration roads into the reserve.


Road construction in the upper Amazon

As roads were constructed for oil exploration, people started invading Cuyabeno



After lots of brainstorming, we concluded that in order to rescue the area, it would be necessary to create alternative forms of income in addition to oil revenues, thus creating an interest at the level of both local and national governments. This could only be achieved if there were a sleeping accommodation. Our founding member suggested he would be willing to initiate a special marketing effort to bring tourists to Cuyabeno. The government appreciated the offer and agreed that an experimental Amazon rainforest lodge at the Cuyabeno Lakes was needed as an alternative to deforestation for agriculture and cattle raising. The first group of visitors ľ from the Netherlands - came in 1986. From 1986 until 1989, the tourists were hosted under rather basic conditions. In 1988, we incorporated Neotropic Turis Cia. Ltda as a social responsibility company dedicated to the conservation of national parks through ecotourism and to become. In 1989, Neotropic Turis received its license from the Government to operate an experimental lodge for ecotourism and the construction could begin. From then on, a bit at the time, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve accumulated fame as an ecotourism destination.


Neotropic Turis has always worked intensively with the Sionas., almost all its transportation business is subcontracted to the Sionas, even though Neotropic Turis is licensed to operate its own canoes. When we started the health services for the Indians were almost non-existing, so the company sent in doctor every month and financed basic treatment and occasionally hospital costs. Neotropic Turis with its tropical biologists, in colaboration with the Ministry, organized and paid for the training of guides as well as the Indians. During construction, the Sionas received on the job training in carpentry, which served them to improve their own houses.


The first facility for Amazon holidays in Cuyabeno



After our pioneering days in the nineteen eighties, our Amazon Jungle Lodge Cuyabeno Lodge has continuously improved both its facilities and its programs. Packages can be booked as stand-alone modules such as our regular Amazon visits and special Ecuador Amazon Expeditions and programs being developed for birdwatcher and other groups specifically interested in birds as well as other Amazon Jungle Animals and/or Amazon Rainforest Plants. Particularly popular are combined packages with Galapagos National Park for which we can provide special discounts. Check our Cuyabeno Lodge rates.


Visitation of reserve has grown from the first 16 visitors from the Netherlands in 1986 to about 14.000 in 2012 and the area has become an internationally renowned tourism destination on mainland Ecuador. By now, most of the pressure of illegal occupation has disappeared, in part, thanks to the Cuyabeno Amazon Jungle Lodge in Ecuador and its proud owners.


For detailed information on climate and weather conditions read: climate of Cuenca, Ecuador; climate Galapagos Islands in Ecuador; climate in the Amazon of Ecuador and climate of Ecuador. If you want to learn more about the country, read Ecuador Facts.


Download Brochure:

Rainforest Alliance Certified



The Cuyabeno Lodge is owned by Neotropic Turis Cia. Ltda., an Ecuadorian corporate social responsibility tourism corporations under Ecuadorian law. Read how our Lodge helped rescue the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Disclaimer. Site Map.

Cuyabeno Lodge / Neotropic Turis Office in Quito, Ecuador:

Joaquin Pinto E4-360 Street & Avenida Amazonas

Phone: (++593) (0)2 2521212

Cell (mobile) phone: (++593) (0)999803395


Find it on the Quito Map Zoom in, it is a very detailed map!



Talk or chat with us on Skype in English, Spanish or French. Our Skype name: