In some ways, life in the Amazon rainforest continues just as it did thousands of years ago. Both light and time seem unable to penetrate the near airtight canopy of towering trees sewn together with vines and moss.
From ancient bird-eating spiders to endemic monkeys that can sit on your fingertips, to thousand year old indigenous tribes still hunting with blowguns and spears, being in the Amazon feels like traveling back in time and every inch is energized with life.
Though tropical rainforests cover less than 10% of the Earth's surface, they account for over 50% of its species. One hectare of forest in the Ecuadorian amazon boasts about as many frog species as all of North America, and just one Amazonian tree can host more ant species than all of the British Isles combined. The Amazon Rainforest captivates anyone that has the good fortune of experiencing it's wonders.
Ecuador, with its 2% share of the Amazon basin (also known as the Oriente), provides unparalleled opportunities for experiencing the magic of the rainforest. Not only does it have one of the world's best developed infrastructures for rainforest tourism, but most destinations are accessible within a day's journey from Quito.
Whether you are looking for a luxury lodge with three-course meals and hot showers, a mud-up-to-your-knees trekking and camping adventure, or something in between, Ecuador has a program just for you.
Although there is low risk for tropical diseases, it is always advisable to consult your doctor about taking precautions and getting vaccines. Please take any medications you may need with you.
Flights from Quito to Coca and back are all done with modern airplanes from a national airline. Departure times are mid-morning. For the flight to Coca, the airlines require that checked luggage be limited to 44 pounds (20 kg) per person. Heavier equipment may be taken in carry-on bags if necessary.
Normally guests will fly to Coca, then take a canoe to their final destinations. Canoes are usually covered to protect guests from the sun and rain, however, sunscreen is recommended while on the canoe to protect from the sun’s reflection off the water.
In the tropical rainforest it is best to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Common questions are usually about the “dry and wet season” within the region. However, it is best not to trust generalizations while planning a trip to the Amazon. At times it can be hot and sunny, but a cool rainstorm may appear at any moment. However, at night (especially after a rainstorm) it might get cold.
Lightweight pants and long sleeved cotton shirts are ideal for walks in the forest. Short-sleeved shirts can be worn with insect repellent. During a rainstorm, ponchos are recommended over full waterproof clothing, as it is warm and you will sweat a lot. Comfortable shoes (or sandals), shorts, and t-shirts are recommended for your stay. Please check our recommended packing list.
Laundry services may or may not be provided by your lodge, please check the details of your trip to plan accordingly.
Lodge chefs are more than happy to prepare vegetarian, vegan, or other specialized meals for you upon request. Please make sure to advise your travel agent of any dietary requirements before you travel.
All lodges include meals except for alcoholic drinks, which are usually not included, however please check with your specific lodge for any exceptions.
Water in the lodges is purified, tested regularly, and safe for consumption.
So if you're an adventurous, wildlife-loving traveler who's not afraid to go out their way to see something really special, I've got some great news for you! Ecuador is not only home to the legendary Galapagos Islands, but also the deep green jungle of the Amazon rainforest. A trip extension into the rainforest is easy to arrange and is the perfect complement to your Galapagos journey.
The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world and is home to a significant percentage of the world's wildlife and plant species. The forest teems with life, from the leaf-cutter ants on the ground to the parrots in the air. A single hectare of Amazon rainforest may be home to thousands of different species of plants, hundreds of insects and dozens of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. The Ecuadorian rainforest in particular is home for many birds: of the 9,000 or so birds that are known to science, some 1,500 of them are native to Ecuador.
The rainforest itself is a dense, living jungle. The rivers are fast, the air is humid and the thick green canopy dims the sunlight. The abundance of life makes for intense competition: plants grow on top of one another, clamoring for sunlight. Drop a banana peel on the ground and it will be gone within hours, carried off by ants and beetles for food. The treetops are alive with birds, monkeys and butterflies. Timeless cultures such as the Achuar people still live, hunt and fish the same way they have for millennia.
Ecuador's rainforest tourism industry is well developed and known for good service. Most of the animals live deep in the jungle, far from the cities, and therefore most visitors opt for a multi-day stay at one of the many remote rainforest lodges. A minimum stay is three days/two nights, but it's better to stay a little longer and fully take in the jungle. The lodges range from fairly inexpensive thatched-roof cabins to air-conditioned luxury camps with swimming pools and internet access.
However many stars your hotel has, a day in the jungle is similar everywhere. The lodges have guides, often natives who speak Spanish and English in addition to the local dialect. The guides lead informative hikes, pointing out medicinal plants, spotting camouflaged animals and treating visitors to special jungle experiences, such as snacking on lemon-flavored ants! Guided boat and canoe rides on the rivers and lakes are also popular: at night you can often see caimans, a relative of the alligator. On guided night hikes, you may see bats, scorpions and other fascinating insects and animals!
Many lodges make a point of giving back to local communities, hoping that tourism will replace other less sustainable industries such as hunting animals and birds to sell as pets. Some of these lodges are all or partly owned by the local community and the profits go to schools and social programs. Most lodges will at the very least offer tours of local communities.
Galapagos Travel Center works only with the most reputable lodges in Ecuador. Some of these lodges have decades of experience and have provided unforgettable experiences to thousands of visitors. The lodges vary according to price, location and level of comfort: you can even book a trip on a floating hotel which cruises up and down the Napo River (a tributary to the Amazon River)!
Don't let the adventure end in the Galapagos… ask your Galapagos Travel Center representative about an extension into the mighty Amazon!