An evocative expanse of towering trees interspersed with rivers and lagoons, the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve begs to be explored.
The Cuyabeno Reserve was formally established in 1979, covering 1.5 million acres of primary rainforest, with countless plant varieties, lakes and numerous rivers to discover. It makes up part of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, considered to be one of the world’s most biodiverse places in the world. This majestic rainforest segues into the eastern side of Ecuador, making up a huge proportion of the country with its thriving plant and wildlife; a truly unmissable highlight of this already exquisite South American gem.
There are various entry points into the Ecuadorian Amazon, with Lago Agrio being the gateway to Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve – the second largest of Ecuador’s protected regions. It is also one of the wettest, since it experiences the rainy season for around two-thirds of the year, meaning that the rivers, lakes and lagoons here are plentiful and attract fascinating species like Dolphins, Manatees, Herons, Caimans and more. In fact, the Cuyabeno Reserve is home to around 580 species of bird, 250 fish, and 100 mammals, including Tapir Monkeys, Jaguars and Pumas, enough to rival any other region in the Amazon for incredible wildlife-watching.
Despite its undoubted attraction, the Cuyabeno Reserve – found in the northeast of Ecuador – is still relatively unknown, meaning that it is possible to enjoy early-morning birdwatching expeditions, nature hikes and night-time walks with a feeling of exploring the jungle in its raw and untamed form.
Visit an indigenous Amazonian tribe
The Siona indigenous community are known to have lived in perfect harmony with the rainforest for centuries. Today, they still live by those same traditions, though also encourage visitors to spend time with them, understanding the intricacies of the Amazon and the means through which they endeavour to protect it.
Explore the Amazon for medicinal plants
Any hike through the jungle trails of the Amazon Rainforest is an enchanting experience. As more is understood about this delicate though essential ecosystem, the medicinal benefits of many endemic plant species is at the forefront of that understanding. So take a hike into the wilderness with an expert guide to learn the different ways the plants of the Amazon are being used to treat common ailments.
The Cuyabeno is made up of vast open spaces where lagoons lie, as well as tight waterways with the riverbanks close on either side. This means that canoe safaris are varied and rich with wildlife encounters; the very route from Lago Agrio to the reserve is by river, a two-hour journey in which visitors drift along the narrow Cuyabeno River, for a wonderful introduction to a stay in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Highlights of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve: