Exploring the Amazon rainforest in Cuyabeno

Before travelling to Ecuador I made a bucket list of the things I really wanted to do and see when I was here. Very high upon that list was going on an excursion to the Amazon rainforest in Cuyabeno. A couple of weeks ago it was finally time for me to explore the Amazon on a 4 day excursion to the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and it exceeded all my expectations. I´ve already experienced so many amazing things in Ecuador but it is safe to say that this visit to the jungle was one of the most memorable.

I went to the jungle with the night bus and to be honest – while I was on the bus – the thought of why I was doing this again might have crossed my mind once or twice as the bus ride was quite long (about 6 hours) and personally I am not a big fan of long bus rides. But all of this was forgotten as soon as I stepped into the canoe that would take us to the lodge! Once we were out on the Cuyabeno River and surrounded by lush green forest all those thoughts disappeared and all I could do was enjoying the moment. The canoe rides were hands down my favorite parts of the tour. I could do that for hours on end, gliding over the river on the lookout for animals.

I visited Nicky Lodge, which is located about a 2-hour canoe ride from the entrance of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, very close to Laguna Grande. The lodge is really nice, the rooms are very big and in front of them there are some hammocks in which you can relax in your free time. And the food! The food is absolutely delicious; although simple it’s the best food I have had so far in Ecuador!

The very first animal that we spotted on our way to the lodge was an anaconda chilling on a tree trunk that was hanging over the river. During the days that I was there I saw all different species of monkeys, tons of birds and we also saw a couple of sloths hanging in the treetops. During the night walks I saw many spiders and other insects. Although I’m not fond of these creatures it was still very interesting to see!

For me it was quite hard to spot animals sometimes, so I was amazed by the skills of the guides. I truly cannot grasp how they can spot all those animals up in the treetops from such a far distance, while navigating the river. While I was having a hard time to spot them the guides were always there to help me locate them. Though, I do recommend to bring binoculars, or a camera with zoom because sometimes the animals will be too far away for you to see them clearly without some extra help. We got very lucky on the tour as we spotted a Harpy Eagle high in the tops of the trees, which was a very rare according to our guide. Without my camera I wouldn’t have been able to spot it, because it was simply too far away.

Another highlight of the tour is the visit to Laguna Grande when the sun is setting. The views are truly incredible and it was a lot a fun to take a dive in the lake. At twilight we started our search for caimans and other nocturnal animals. To me it was even more astounding that the guides are able to spot animals in the dark. I remember at one point we were supposed to see a bird on a tree branch, which I was not able to distinguish. So I asked our guide which color the bird was, to which he answered that is was the same as the tree trunk. You are very right to assume that I did not spot that bird.

Nevertheless, this was the most amazing experience I have had so far here in Ecuador and personally I don’t think that a visit to this wonderful country is complete without visiting the Amazon rainforest!

Written by: Monica