When our most adventurous explorers ask where to go to visit the Amazon rainforest, we recommend that they visit Yasuní National Park in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, known as one of the most biodiverse areas on earth. A jungle lodge experience in the area will allow you to immerse yourself into the depths of the Ecuadorian rainforest and experience a vast richness of wildlife.
Depart from Quito at 11am and fly 30 minutes to Coca. Lunch in Sacha’s private house in Coca, followed by 2 hour canoe ride, a 30-minute hike through the rainforest and a canoe ride across lake Pilchicocha to reach Sacha Lodge by 4pm. In the afternoon you’ll have the chance for a refreshing swim in the lake, to watch the sun set from a bird observation tower on the property and to visit the butterfly house. After dinner you will take a night walk through the rainforest or a canoe ride on the lake to view black caimans. Meals included: -/L/D
Early morning canopy walk to see the rainforest from above on one of the only self-standing canopy walkways in the world with fabulously located observation decks. Guided excursion of terra firma and agape forest to discover medicinal plants. Trek along the Higueron trail through pristine primary forest. After lunch you can choose a leisurely hike along Rio Napo or challenging hike on Leoncillo trail. End the day with canoe ride back to the lodge. Meals included: B/L/D
Hike Lagartococha trail to learn about native people and their relationship with the forest. From lake Lagartococha take a tranquil canoe ride through natural swamp, home to anacondas, caimans and capybaras. Head back to the lodge for a swim in the lake or a quick nap. After lunch you can go piranha fishing. Afternoon canoe ride in the flooded Amazon rainforest. Arrive at Sacha’s 135-foot wooden tower to visit an ancient Kapok tree and colorful birds. Watch the sun set against the backdrop of Mount Sumaco followed by canoe ride through flooded forest at night to a symphony of frogs. Meals included: B/L/D
Early morning start to take a 30-minute motorized canoe ride down the Napo to visit a parrot clay lick within Yasuní National Park. Return to lodge for a swim or to relax and visit the butterfly house. Afternoon hike along the Pantano trail to visit several different rainforest habitats, including flooded forest and swamp areas. This is an excellent trail for seeing monkeys and birds. Meals included: B/L/D
Early morning walk to visit monkeys. Arrive in Coca to take flight back to Quito where you will arrive around 12:30pm. Meals included: B/-/-
Yasuní National Park is a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. This is where to come if you’d like a true and full immersion in the rainforest, bugs and all. It is also the best location if you’d like to make contact with larger mammals such as jaguars, ocelots, tapirs and more.
Once you’ve decided on a Yasuní National Park experience, ideal for the most adventurous, you’ll need to choose which lodge suits you best. Staying in a lodge is not like staying in a hotel as it involves purchasing an all-inclusive package which includes accommodation, meals and guided activities. The lodges are not located within the National Park, but do excursions into it. Lodges vary in their level of comfort, the type of food on offer, the facilities on offer and by extension their price, but most offer similar activities and itineraries. Some lodges have special features such as the 275 meter canopy walkway at Sacha Lodge, or the fantastic level of service and incredible location of Napo Wildlife Center.
At TerraDiversa, we recommend five day excursions into the rainforest for first time visitors to give you enough time to really experience the jungle, as the first and last days will be taken up mostly by travel.