Must see attractions in The Oriente

  • Sights in Parque Nacional Yasuní

    Parque Nacional Yasuní

    Yasuní is Ecuador’s biggest mainland park at 9820 sq km, boasting all manner of terrain from marshes to rivers to tropical rainforest. A Unesco Biosphere Reserve, it has more than 600 bird species (including harpy eagles) as well as jaguars, pumas and tapirs.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Coca

    MACCO

    This excellent archaeological museum of Orellana region's cultural legacy is a must-visit in Coca. Housing exquisitely restored and diverse artifacts from the region – from funereal vases to purely ceremonial axes – the curation and bilingual interpretive explanations are nuanced and beautifully arranged. Various Amazonian cultures are presented in both historical and contemporary contexts, with delicate artwork enhancing the exhibits.

  • Sights in Reserva Producción Faunística Cuyabeno

    Reserva de Producción Faunística Cuyabeno

    This beautiful reserve is a unique flooded rainforest covering 6034 sq km around Río Cuyabeno. Seasonally inundated with water, the flooded forest provides a home to diverse aquatic species and birdlife. Macrolobium and ceiba treetops thrust out from the underwater forest, creating a stunning visual effect. The blackwater rivers, rich in tannins from decomposing foliage, form a maze of waterways that feed the lagoons.

  • Sights in Upper Río Napo

    Reserva Biológica Jatun Sacha

    This 25-sq-km biological station and rainforest reserve is located on the south shore of the Río Napo, 23km east of Puerto Napo. It is run by Fundación Jatun Sacha, an Ecuadorian nonprofit organization that was formed to promote rainforest research, conservation and education.

  • Sights in Baeza & Around

    San Rafael Falls

    Ecuador's largest waterfall and a slash of Río Quijos cut through thick patches of cloud forest. To visit the falls, catch a bus from Baeza to Lago Agrio (2½ hours) and ask the driver to let you off just before the puente (bridge) crossing Río Reventador (not to be confused for the community of the same name).

  • Sights in La Punta, Ahuano & Around

    AmaZOOnico

    You’re guaranteed to see all manner of jungle wildlife at AmaZOOnico, a well-known animal rehabilitation center located on the grounds of Selva Viva, a 17-sq-km reserve of primary forest on Río Arajuno, a narrow tributary of the Napo about 3km east of Ahuano. A Swiss-Kichwa couple founded the center in 1993 to care for confiscated or displaced rainforest animals.

  • Sights in Puyo

    Parque Etnobotánico Omaere

    Less than 1km north of the city center, this ethnobotanical park offers one- to two-hour guided tours (included in admission fee) of rainforest plants, indigenous dwellings and ecological waste disposal, by mostly indigenous guides. The park is run by biologist Chris Canaday, a font of knowledge about everything from jungle plants to ecological dry toilets, and the region's indigenous groups, the Shuar and Waorani.

  • Sights in Macas

    Cueva de los Tayos

    Near Limón Indanza, 112km southwest of Macas, a trail leads to the extensive Coangos cave system, where there are multiple caverns spiked with stalactites and stalagmites. Five kilometers of passageways can be explored, including the spectacular Cueva de los Tayos, which at 185m depth is Ecuador's largest publicly accessible cave. Some caving routes here require technical equipment, with a 65m vertical descent necessary on one route. Underground rivers await on other routes for the adventurous.

  • Sights in Misahuallí

    Comunidad Shiripuno

    A couple of kilometers downriver from town is this Shiripuno community, most often visited on tours with Teorumi tour agency. The community tourism project is run mostly by the women of the village, who can perform traditional dance and guayusa tea preparation, with advance notice. A canoe ride here from town is $5.

  • Sights in West of Misahualli

    Cascada Las Latas

    Misahuallí’s most enjoyable sight is some way outside the town, but it’s well worth spending a few hours to do the return riverside walk, which takes you through the rainforest. Take a Misahuallí–Puerto Napo bus and ask the driver to drop you at el camino a las cascadas (the trail to the falls) about 15 minutes from Misahuallí.

  • Sights in Cotundo & Archidona

    Cuevas de Jumandí

    About 4km north of Archidona, you’ll find Cuevas de Jumandí. This cave system, the best known in the area, has three main branches that remain partly unexplored. Forgo the sketchy waterslides that dump into a river-water pool, and tread slowly (with a flashlight) to see stalactites, stalagmites and odd formations. Rubber boots and old clothes will serve you well.

  • Sights in Misahuallí

    Sinchi Warmi

    Founded, built and run by a group of Kichwa women, this community center introduces visitors to their culture through activities such as jungle walks, traditional dance performances and chocolate-making demonstrations. Enjoy Kichwa cuisine (meals $3 to $10) and consider staying here (cabañas per person from $15); your money goes toward supporting these women with sustainable work that allows them to continue a traditional lifestyle.

  • Sights in Macas

    Our Lady of Macas Cathedral

    The cathedral announces itself with a Technicolor virgin, looming over a plaza resembling an elaborate skate park. Inside, a tranquil, column-free space with stained glass telling episodes from the town's past ushers you up to the tiled altar depicting Macas in front of a bellowing volcano. Miracles are attributed to the painting of the Virgin of Macas (c 1592) on the altar.

  • Sights in Puyo

    Paseo de los Monos

    At Paseo de los Monos you can see a variety of rescued animals, including six kinds of monkeys, turtles and birds. Some animals are caged, while others run free. For an extra fee, guides lead four-hour walks into the surrounding jungle to see more of the center’s animals. Volunteer opportunities are available, with a minimum commitment of one week (per week $130).

  • Sights in Puyo

    Jardín Botánico las Orquídeas

    Visitors rave about this privately run botanical garden, located 15 minutes south of Puyo, after Pindo Chico neighborhood just off the E45 road to Macas. Enthusiastic owner Omar Taeyu guides visitors through hills of lush foliage and fish ponds to see gorgeous plants and countless rare orchids. Call ahead to let them know you’re coming.

  • Sights in Macas

    Volcán Sangay

    The perfect snow-covered cone of Volcán Sangay (5230m), some 40km to the northwest, can be glimpsed on a clear day. It’s Ecuador’s seventh-highest mountain and one of the world’s most active volcanoes; early missionaries construed it as hell.

  • Sights in Sucúa

    Parque Botánico

    Parque Botánico, 3km southeast of central Sucúa, has a visitor interpretation center, a restaurant, a well-kept orquideario (orchid farm) and paths through subtropical forest. Taxis from the center of Sucúa charge $1.50.

  • Sights in Puyo

    Volcán El Altar

    Early risers may see the jagged white teeth of Volcán El Altar (5319m), the fifth-highest mountain in Ecuador, about 50km southwest. On clear days look southwest to see Volcán Sangay (5230m).

  • Sights in Coca

    Malecón

    Coca's pretty riverside walkway seems to extend by several blocks every couple of years. It's a pleasant place to stroll and take in the life on the river, with boats coming and going.

  • Sights in Macas

    Parque Recreacional

    We all feel the urge for a peaceful, green picnicking spot sometimes – particularly in Macas, where there's a dearth of them. Parque Recreacional delivers – with Río Upano views.