Yasuni National Park is a beautiful, incredibly biodiverse corner of the Amazon Rainforest, home to indigenous tribes and a wealth of wildlife.
The scientific and ecological community has recently suggested that the Yasuni National Park, touching the border of Peru to the east and part of the Amazon Rainforest, is the most biodiverse place on the planet. Just two acres of Yasuni – which spreads over more than 9,800sq km – contains a greater range of living organisms than in all of Europe combined. This protected stretch of primary rainforest houses over 600 different tree varieties, 4,000 native plant species (so far discovered), more than 120 reptiles, 150 amphibians, 600 species of birds and 200 mammals.
Among this mind-boggling array of species are Spider Monkeys, Jaguars, Toucans, Giant Armadillos, Macaws and Caimans, which you can seek out on a wildlife-watching safari through the jungle. In fact, the very beginning of your Yasuni experience will probably involve a canoe ride down from the town of Coca (where you can fly in to from Quito) towards the national park, with all manner of flora and fauna to observe around you as you glide over the water. Look for Kingfishers, Herons, Terns and much more, then of course enjoy many more boat tours and nature walks while staying at your jungle lodge.
There are some fantastic eco-friendly Amazon lodges in Yasuni National Park, some of which will invite you to learn about the local communities who have lived here for many years. Because Yasuni is not just home to a staggering array of wildlife, but also the indigenous Anangu Kichwa tribe, who peacefully coexist with the environment, doing what they can to protect their ‘casa grande’ (big home): the Amazon Rainforest.
Watch the sunset over the Napo River
The riverbanks of the Napo are an archetypal Amazonian scene: lush green forest, howling monkeys, and deep waters teeming with life. There is no bad time to enjoy the Napo, but the river is particularly beautiful at sunset, as the light changes and colours shift from orange to red; the perfect end to any day of exploring the rainforest.
Rainforest canopy observation tower
Few experiences can match that of gazing across the Amazon, atop a 40-metre observation tower. Get an entirely different understanding of each level of rainforest vegetation as you climb to the summit. Once there, the alternative perspective on this great wilderness provides much more than simply a memorable photo opportunity!
The notorious Parrot Clay Licks
The sight of hundreds of frenzied Green Parrots fighting for space in one of the nutrient-rich overflow pools which line the Amazon is something to behold! These salty ponds are an absolute favourite among the beautiful, colourful birds of the rainforest, with feeding time making for the most incredible photo opportunities.