Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador


The about 450 long and 150 km wide, park covers according to the latest data of the Ministry of Environment 590,112 hectares (5,901 km2 or 2,330 square miles). Cuyabeno Fauna Reserve is covered with fascinating virgin Rainforest and wildlife. With good reason one could call it the best rainforest of South America. These are the reasons:

  • When walking through the jungle, it is hard to watch monkeys and birds, as they they move about in the crowns 30 m above you. When you look up, the sky is very bright and the leaves contrast so much that they almost seem black and observing animals and flowers becomes very difficult. From a river, however one can see much closer as they move about the shrubs along the river banks;

  • This is even more so along creeks, which are abundant in Cuyabeno. From larger rivers, observing wildlife is much less easy; particularly when they are so wide that they seems fresh water seas as is the case in much of the Amazon region down stream from Ecuador. In contrast, on narrow rivers, it feels like being in the middle of the rainforest while at the same time enough light filters through onto the shrubs along the shores to watch birds, flowers and mammals;

  • Creeks and narrower rivers are more abundant in upper watersheds. In the Amazon jungle of the Andes foothills where Cuyabeno is located, the terrain is hilly in most Adean countries. As a result, few upper Amazon tributaries near the Andes are navigable and lakes are lacking anywhere in the Andes-Amazon countries. Only Cuyabeno has a flat plain. It is a huge swamp with a shallow exit through which the Cuyabeno River escapes. Behind it an inmense water body builds up and some 14 beautiful lakes are present in the deepest parts, while large areas are covered with seasonally flooded forest.

  • As the reserve is located precisely on the equator, its climate is different and more consistent during most of the year;

  • None of the Andean-Amazonian countries Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia have a protected area with such convenient access as Cuyabeno. This reflects in lower prices than anewhere else. You can get from the capital to LagoAgrio in half an hour, and from there you get to the reserve in about 2 hrs over a smooth asphalt road. All this makes Cuyabeno the best Amazon park in the world!

While exploring the Amazon from the water is paramount, true Amazon cruises are virtually impossible in Ecuador, simply because all the rivers are too shallow. Several attempts have been made in the past, most notably with the "Flotel" a hotel on a shallow barge on the Napo River. Unfortunately the barge got stuck time and again and over time the owners gave up. We made the closest possible experience for an Amazon River Cruise in Ecuador by from the water in the wettest Amazon Park of Ecuador while lodging you on a small island in the largest lake in the park.  


The splendor of the rainforest is in the details. Some 580 birds are known for Cuyabeno, many of which have bright colors; Many flowers are downright spectacular, including orchids and heliconias. However, due to the enormous biodiversity, one does not get to see many individuals of the same species together. So watch out for only one or a few jewels at the time.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Cuyabeno from the air.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: heliconia in Cuyabeno.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: tropical rainforest in Cuyabeno.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Black Mantled monkeys in Cuyabeno

AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Tree frogs in Cuyabeno.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Blue & Yellow macaws in Cuyabeno.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Nose bears in Cuyabeno.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Large yelllow moth in Cuyabeno.


Visual impressions of the Cuyabeno Lodge tours


Our Amazon Tours

Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Day one

Fly in about 25 minutes from the capital Quito across the Andes to the frontier town of Lago Agrio, the oil boom town where the Amazon lowlands begin and your program for visiting the Amazon in Ecuador starts. Your flight passes by the Cayambe. Ask for a window seat at the right side of the plane to take pictures; on the way back on the left side. From there, our bus takes you in about 1 hour 45 minutes to the entry station Cuyabeno Bridge.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Cuyabeno National Park Map.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Detailed map Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Volcanoes visible from the plane on a clear day.

Detailed map of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Click for enlargement.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Lagoagrio Airport, the port of entry for visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Private bus to Cuyabeno.

Lago Agrio Airport usually is serviced with modern Embraer planes.

Private transportation from LogoAgrio to the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Cuyabeno Entry station for Amazon Visitors in EcuadorAMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Port of Entry for a visit of the Amazon in Ecuador at Cuyabeno

Entrance ranger station "Cuyabeno Bridge". The government has significantly increased security with frequent patrolling by both the national police and the military. There are permanent  police officers and park ranger at different ranger stations.

Here is where your real trip starts: An agile dugout canoe takes you on a one and a half hour tour on the winding Cuyabeno River to our  Amazon Rainforest lodge, the Cuyabeno Lodge.


Upon arrival, your adventurous Amazon journey really takes off, as we take you along the beautiful winding Cuyabeno River to reach our 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 explore the Amazon, as our Amazon Jungle Lodge Cuyabeno Lodge is one of the few accommodation located on any of the seven lakes of the Cuyabeno river system.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Cuyabeno Lodge welcome sign welcoming you on your Ecuador Amazon visitAMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Relaxing on the Cuyabeno Lodge deck during your Amazon visit in Ecuador

The entrance to the Cuyabeno Lodge.

Relaxing a while after arriving at the lodge.



AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Resting in hamacs at the Cuyabeno Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Swimming at the Cuyabeno Lake during your Amazon visit in Ecuador

Upon arrival, you take a hot shower, relax a bit and after some rest, you may enjoy a swim in the lake.


Amazon Manatee at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Amazon dolphin on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

With some luck, spot a few Amazon Dolphins or maybe even a Manatee.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Tree Frog of the Amazon Jungle seen on a night excursion when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Nocturnal amazon animal found on an Amazon visit in Ecuador


Once the curtain of night falls after dinner, you will silently head out onto the lake again; this time in search of Caiman. You can spot them with flashlights, reflecting in their eyes like bright orange lights. Occasionally, with a bit of luck you may also catch the green eyes of a wandering Ocelot Cat or Jaguar in your beam. On the next night we take you on a walk through the woods with a flashlight. During such walks, we may find some of the strangest creatures, like this spider-like critter. Tree frogs are everywhere, but it is a bit difficult to find them. The moment you think you finally have one in your camera, they leap away to never be found again .


Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Days two and three

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 browse 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.


Bird and wildlife watching at dawn


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Make great friends at the Cuyabeno Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Cuyabeno Lodge: electric outboard engine

Breakfast after the morning excursion.

Exploring Cuyabeno National Park 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.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Heliconias can be seen on Amazon visits in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Beautiful flowers enlighten Amazon visits in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Heliconia in the Amazon tropical Rainforest seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Amazon visitors enjoy orchid at Cuyabeno, Ecuador


After breakfast explore the Amazon rainforest 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.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Blue and Yellow macaws can be frequently seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Black Mantled Tamarins at Cuyabeno Lodge, your comfortable hotel when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Blue and yellow Macaws are fairly common in Cuyabeno.

Black-Mantled Tamarins live in groups of up to 200. A group often hangs out around the lodge.


AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Swamp trees, Macrolobiums, at Cuyabeno are frequently seen on Amazon visits in Ecuador.Epiphytes in the Amazon Jungle

After lunch and a siesta you will look for birds and orchids in the flooded igapo (Brazilian Portuguese for Amazon swamp) with Macrolobium trees covered in abundant epiphytes. At the end of the day you can enjoy a sunset swim in the lake.






AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Vegetable garden of Amazon tribe visited during a visit of the Amazon in Ecuador.AMAZON RIVER CRUISE, ECUADOR [ORIENTE]: Amazon Rainforest tribal Woman prepairing manioc for visitors of the Amazon in Ecuador.

A visit to the Siona village is always interesting: Vegetable garden with explanations from a Siona woman

Preparation of manioc in the fire box.


The evenings are always a pleasant and relaxing time, far away from the modern world with television, you enjoy the peacefulness of the sounds of the jungle.


Having fun at our  lodge in the evenings or......


enjoying a quiet read.


Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador, Day four

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 to take you on a trip back. skimping Cayambe National Park as it winds along the Andes flanks back to the central valley. For the flight back ask for a left window seat.


How to book for the lodge?

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. For details consult our reservations page. Prior to departure, visit our office in Quito at this location where you can proceed with your payment. Also consult our frequently asked questions about our Amazon Jungle Lodge.


What is essential to bring?

For this question we link to our special vacation packing list for the Amazon River Cruise, Ecuador.


Cuyabeno Lodge:

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

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

Cell (mobile) phone: (++593) (0)999 80 3395

Email: info@cuyabenolodge.com.ec