The vast tract of land locally known as Amazonía holds more drama than a rip-roaring flood or crackling lightning storm. Rivers churn from the Andes into the dense, sweltering rainforest on course for the Amazon basin. Along the way, ancient indigenous tribes call riverbanks home and astounding wildlife can be glimpsed. Those lucky enough to reach the remoter jungle lodges (several hours downriver from the nearest towns) will be able to fish for piranhas on silent blackwater lakes, hear the menacing boom of howler monkeys, spot the shining eyes of caiman at nighttime and – perhaps – spy one of those elusive bigger mammals such as a tapir or jaguar.
Exploring the Oriente gives you the unforgettable experience of seeing the natural world up close and personal. But this region is not just jungle. Ecuador's best thermal spa, most spectacular waterfall, most active volcanoes and most formidable white-water rapids also await.
- Papallacta Soaking in pristine steaming waters, watching the mist move across the green mountainsides above.
- San Rafael Falls Standing in the thunderous spray of Ecuador’s highest waterfall.
- Parque Nacional Sumaco Napo Galeras Hiking high up through three different vegetation zones to gaze out over jungle and cloud forest on the country's most volatile volcanoes.
- Reserva Producción Faunística Cuyabeno Watching for an astonishing range of birds and animals in this blackwater paradise.
- Parque Nacional Yasuní Sleeping in river lodges in one of the world's most biodiverse jungles, then visiting its exceptional parrot clay lick and rainforest canopy towers for wildlife-watching.
- Laguna Pañacocha Fishing for piranhas and looking out for gigantic arapaimas and pink river dolphins.
- Tena Taming white-water rapids on a rafting adventure on multiple nearby rivers.
When to Go
Dec–Mar The driest time of year, when some rivers become impassable due to low water levels.
Apr–Jul The wettest time of year – make sure you’ve got a good raincoat!
Oct–Nov The best time of year, when the rivers are all passable, it’s not too wet, and wildlife is easy to spot.