What to see in Ecuador
Tourist attractions Amazon
The Ecuadorian Amazon is an area of dense rainforest and is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Known as the ‘Oriente’, a trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon is the chance to encounter more than 300 species of mammal, 800 species of fish and 350 species of reptile. Lying to the east of the Andes and occupying more than one-third of the total area of Ecuador, visiting the Amazon is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of any Ecuador tour.
A great base for adventures into the Ecuadorian Amazon is the town of Tena. Nestled in the Amazon rainforest, Tena, nicknamed the ‘Cinnamon Capital’, is situated in Ecuador’s northern province of Napo. Sitting in the rainforested foothills of the Andes, Tena is an attractive city, with good tourist infrastructure and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, from white-water rafting on the surrounding rivers to wildlife spotting in the jungle.
Of course, this city is best known as the gateway to the Amazon rainforest, and those who travel to Tena can spend time in one of the local eco-lodges and immerse themselves in the incredible wildlife and untouched nature of this region.
Trips to Tena are popular with backpackers and wildlife lovers alike, as the city is well connected by bus and road links to Quito and other major destinations in Ecuador. In fact, the journey to Tena from Quito is only 3.5-hours by car and includes a spectacular route over the 4000-meter high Papallacta Pass.
The Ecuadorian Amazon is also the base for a number of reforestation initiatives and has become well-known as an eco-tourism destination, making it an interesting place to visit for anyone passionate about wildlife and the environment. Furthermore, travel to the Amazon offers the chance to get to know indigenous cultures and explore the untamed beauty of Ecuador.
Things to do in the Amazon
If you take a trip to the Amazon in Ecuador, one of the best things to do is to stay at a nature lodge where you can experience the biodiversity of this region first-hand. A variety of jungle lodges are within easy reach of both Tena and El Coca, both conveniently situated on the Napo River. Rainforest lodges often organise exciting activities such as nature walks and boat trips to explore the unique environment and spot the local wildlife.
If you are staying in Tena, you cannot miss the opportunity to go rafting and kayaking. The city is well known for the impressive rapids of its surrounding rivers. A large variety of waterways offer rafting and kayaking opportunities for all levels. One of the most popular destinations for rafting tours is the Jatunyacu River, a tributary of the Amazon River, where you can enjoy an array of fun and beginner-friendly rapids.
To discover some of the local wildlife without heading deep into the rainforest, be sure to visit Parque Amazonico La Isla, one of the best things to do in Tena. A botanical garden located on an island on the Tena River, this city park plays host to all kinds of Amazonian wildlife such as tapirs, monkeys and exotic birds. Be sure to stop and appreciate the tropical flower and plant life too!
If you really want to immerse yourself in the immense biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, be sure to visit Yasuni National Park. This 9,820 square kilometer reserve is thought to be the most biodiverse place on the planet! Considered part of the ‘core Amazon’, Yasuni National Park is an ‘untouchable zone’, designated to protect both indigenous peoples and wildlife. For the ultimate Amazon experience in Ecuador, Yasuni National Park is undoubtedly the best place to visit.
Finally, another of the best things to see in the Amazon is the Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve. Located east of the city, this band of tropical wetlands is considered one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth. Situated on the Napo River, the reserve was established in 1986 as a center for field research and education. A number of well-kept trails guide you through pristine primary rainforest and the reserve is a popular day-trip destination for visitors to the Ecuadorian Amazon.