CUYABENO LODGE

Cuyabeno Logo



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

CUYABENO WILDLIFE RESERVE

 

 

 

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT CUYABENO WILDLIFE RESERVE?

 

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 into 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 the Amazon. But there even much more compelling reasons:

 

Why narrow rivers in Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve facilitate better wildlife viewing

  1. One sees many more animals along rivers where light breaks through the canopy. This is why: 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 overwhelming, 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;

  2. 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 canopy enough to see the lower trees and shrubs along the river and there is enough light to observe birds, flowers and mammals on 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 the Amazonian Andes countries Venezuela, Colombia, Peru or Bolivia with so many lakes and creeks that is so conveniently accessible as Cuyabeno. In fact, nowhere in South America exists another Amazon park as accessible and at such competitive prices as the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve;

  3. Being right on the equator, Cuyabeno has a somewhat drier but no rainless "dry" season, as opposed to Amazon areas further away from the equator. this explains why studies have found to have the highest biodiversity in the world. It has the greatest number of species of plants and animals in the world per hectare;

  4. There is yet another reason why one will see far more wildlife in Cuyabeno than in other places. Wildlife living in a terrestrial jungle, consists primarily of land animals, while along rivers and lakes both land and aquatic species are found. Many land species need to go to the river to drink, while water-dependent species occur in addition to the terrestrial fauna. Additionally, there are quite a few water-dependent species, that are relatively big, such as the Dolphins, Manatees, Capibaras, Cayman, Ducks, Cormorans, Herons, etc.;

  5. Furher, it is much more effective to spot wildlife sitting down without having to watch where one walks. While seated, one can find an animal faster in the viewer of his/her binoculars and camera, hold it steadier, while a quick consult of a bird or mammal guide is quicker with the field guides ready in one's lap;

  6. Lastly, in a motorized canoe, one may move about more rapidly between the best wildlife spotting sites than on foot, while watching birds as the scenery glides by quietly.

 

Together, these factors combined make Cuyabeno 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.

 

The location within the 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 lodge in Ecuador!

 

Outline Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Virgin Forest Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Morning mist at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

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 Wildlife Reserve: Exploring the Amazon Rainforest, of Ecuador from a canoe is convenient and effective.

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve: 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.

   

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, while flowers, such as orchids and bromeliads decorate the forest.

 

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve satellite image.

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 map of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Rivers of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

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 Wildlife Reserve: Low water at Cuyabeno Lake

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve: 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 3,000mm 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. For many birds, the dry season is the breeding season, while it also coincides with the Northern winter, the period that many Northern migrants visit the area.

 

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 with 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. The hilliest and best-drained forest is found 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 10 species of monkeys, 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 protected 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). The good news: 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 throughout 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.

Squirl 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 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.

 

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:

Shyris Park Building, Av. de los Shyris N36-188 & Av. Naciones Unidas, Office 608, 6th floor.

Phone: (++593) (0)(2) 292 6153

Cell (mobile) phone:

(++593) (0)998360348

Map:

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

Email:

niks

Talk or chat with us on Skype. Our Skype name:

cuyabenolodge