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Location of Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Located in the "Oriente" (East) of Ecuador. it is one of the few protected areas in the world located precisely on the equator. It takes only half an hour to fly from the capital Quito to the town of Lago Agrio, the port of entry to the Amazonas, and from there an hour and a half over an asphalt road to the park. No other Amazon park in the world has such convenient and fast access! Just for that,Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve can be considered the most convenient Amazon park in the world for visiting. But there is a far better reason:


Why narrow rivers in Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve facilitate better wildlife viewing

One sees many more animals along rivers where light breaks through the canopy. When one walks in the forest, the animals are difficult to observe, because they are high up in the crowns. Moreover, looking up, the contrast between the sky and the leaves is so great that they appear almost black. Only from the water can one see the birds, flowers and mammals in the shrubs and lower trees along the waterside.


But this only works along narrow rivers and creeks. Along the wider rivers, it is difficult to observe wildlife along the river; the rivers are so wide that they appear almost seas. On the narrow rivers on the other hand, one feels in the middle of the forest while the river still opens up the sky enough to see the lower trees and shrubs along the river and there is enough light to observe birds, flowers and mammals in the branches. As rivers are narrowest in the upper parts of the watershed, narrow rivers are most abundant in the Andes foothills, but in most of the Amazon, the foothills are rather hilly and few rivers are navigable and lakes are absent. Cuyabeno is unique for being surprisingly flat. It is an enormous hollow bowl with a narrow exit, which causes a large area to be seasonally flooded with scenic interconnected lakes, creeks and rivers. There is no other park in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru or Bolivia close to the Andes with so many lakes and creeks that is so conveniently accessible as Cuyabeno. In fact, worldwide, no other Amazon park can be visited so conveniently and at such competitive prices. All this makes Cuyabeno the best Amazon National Park in the world and our  Ecuador Amazon Rainforest lodge, the Cuyabeno Lodge, the best in the reserve!


Map Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve Jungle

Virgin Forest Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Morning mist at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Jungle exploration at the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Visibility on the ground within the Amazon forests is poor. Therefore, exploring the Amazon rainforest from the water is much easier.

Watching birds, flowers and mammals from narrow rivers is better as trees along the creeks are lower and the sunlight penetrates to iluminate the river banks.


Blue and Yellow Macaw at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Bromelia in Amazon of Ecuador, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

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


Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve satellite view

With or About 450 long and 150 km wide, the park covers 603,380 hectares (6034 km2 or 2330 square miles) of mostly pristine Amazon jungle as you can see on Google Earth above.


Below: Official map of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve:

Official Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve Map

Rivers of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in Ecuador

The Reserve incorporates most of the Rio Cuyabeno watershed which drains into the Aguarico River; About 60 km down stream are the Zancudo Cocha and further down stream, the Lagarto Cocha Lakes are located on 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.


Low water at Cuyabeno Lake

Cuyabeno National Park during the dry season

Climate and Weather

As weather stations are rare in the this part of Ecuador, the details of the climate of the Amazon in Cuyabeno Nature Reserve are merely indicative; the estimated precipitation is around of 3 meters of rainfall per year. While rain showers occur any time of the year, a somewhat drier period ranges from Mid December through the first weeks of March. During this period, the narrower rivers and some of the lakes may fall dry in some years. The dry season is interesting, as wildlife often congregates around the the remaining pools of the drained lakes. Many birds have their breeding season during that period.


Ecology and Species of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve comprises the following 8 macro-ecosystems:

  1. frequently flooded forests or swamps, traversed by sediment-poor dark rivers with a vegetation dominated by Mauritia flexuosa palms;

  2. occasionally flooded forests fed by sediment-rich rivers, or varzea (Pires and Prance, 1985);

  3. dwarf forests semi-permanently flooded by black-water rivers, or igapo (Pires and Prance, 1985) are formed by "bonsai shaped" Macrolobium trees covered by thick layers of epiphytes, like ferns, bromeliads, orchids and mosses;

  4. well-drained forest, located on undulating terrain that is found throughout the reserve beyond the inundated plains where the lakes occur. For instance, it can be seen in the upper watershed, in the area surrounding the main entrance of the reserve;

  5. dark  or black-water sediment-poor rivers, particularly the narrow head-waters;

  6. "coffee-with_milk" coloured sediment-rich rivers, particular the main rivers, like the Rio Aguarico;

  7. semi-permanent lakes, with the largest being the Cuyabeno Lake, that at least in part fall dry in most of the years;

  8. permanent lakes that always keep a permanent water body are rare, (Zancudo Coche along the Rio Aguarico).


The lakes are black-water ecosystems; however, when the black-water rivers are laden with sediments during high rainfall, the lakes too may become sediment laden and may become lighter to a "coffee with milk" color.


Birds are the jewels of the tropical jungle and with a bird list of up to 580 species, Cuyabeno is rising to one of the world's hot spots for birding. There are also a great number of mammals native to the Cuyabeno Faunistic Reserve, which include dolphins, manatee, at least 9 species of primates, including the night monkey, which was first recorded for the reserve by our staff, different species of both insectivorous and fruit-eating bats, many rodents, varying from the world's largest one, the Capybara to many mall ground and tree bound creatures. Ungulates are represented by tapirs, two species of peccary and several species of deer. And of course there are the Sloths, Ant Eaters and a good number of the South American cats, including jaguar and Puma. While we say that we go birdwatching, of course we keep an eye out for all animals.


When the FAO national parks team selected the Amazonian projected areas of Ecuador in 1975, Cuyabeno was known for its enormous Boa Constrictors (terrestrial, usually up to 3 m, but occasionally reaching 4 m), Anacondas (water-loving, up to 6 m Anacondas are frequently seen, occasionally reaching 9 m). It still is. Giant anacondas are seen relatively frequently, sometimes with a characteristic swelling: the remains of a peccary or capybara. Some of the water turtles are larger than half a meter, while in the hilly areas, some of the land tortoises grow to up to a meter. Smaller reptiles include many species of snakes and lizards and several species of iguanas. At night geckos hunt insects around the lights, while in daytime one occasionally finds Iguanas and many turtles on logs in the rivers. Amphibians are omnipresent, but most of them are very hard to spot, and often one must be satisfied with their orchestras that last through the night. The diversity of tropical fish of Cuyabeno is extremely rich and includes the infamous piranhas, giant catfish, electrical eels and countless little tropical species.


Yellow Handed Titi Monkey at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Monkeys at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

A primate study in the reserve, revealed that of the 19 species of primates living in Ecuador, 10 species have been reported in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.


Amazon Manatee at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Amazon Dolphin at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

The Cuyabeno Lakes are frequented by manatee and both species of Amazon Dolphins.


Read why our amazon jungle lodge, the Cuyabeno Lodge, is the best Amazon Jungle Lodge located in the Reserve. Our programs are widely known for the knowledge of our guides about birds as well as other Amazon Jungle Animals and Amazon Rainforest Plants. Check our Cuyabeno Lodge rates.


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.


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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!



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