There are very few places as majestic and wild as The Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve in Ecuador. Unlike any other parks, this wildlife reserve is the only Amazon reserve that also lies in the foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes. Flowing down the narrow river in the Amazon jungle swinging monkeys, pink dolphins, Amazon cats, and toucans will pass you through the lush canopy and close shores.
Disconnect from the world in one of Ecuador’s most treasured ecosystems, this reserve has a multitude of activities from swimming in Laguna Grande to night walks deep in the rainforest. If you do not have Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve on your customized trip through Ecuador, it will be on the top of your itinerary after reading our guide!
Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve
A quick 25-minute flight from the capital city of Quito and a canoe ride away you will be immersed by the heat and surroundings of the Amazon. Crossing three rivers, Cuyabeño, San Miguel, and Aguarico, the Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve has hundreds of various mammals, over 400 species of fish, hundreds of bird species, and thousands of different types of plants.
Listen to the monkeys swinging over your head or the hundreds of birds singing in the narrow river branches hoping to see jaguars or condors on the close shore. Don’t be fooled the narrow river is not crystal blue water, rather, it has different colors varying from greenish water to black water to muddy water rich in Amazon minerals.
What To Do
– Laguna Grande
The hidden gem of Cuyabeño, one of its 14 lagoons, Laguna Grande is the tranquil heart of the reserve and is known for its multicolored sunsets and calm waters. The perfect place to escape the heat for a swim.
– Jungle Trekking
Along your tour you can choose from trekking through the maze of the jungle on a multi-day excursion or simply take your canoe for a day trip. If you choose a multi-day trek you will be offered the unique combination of a canoe and jungle trek trip that takes you through the mysterious rainforest for a few days.
– Bird Watching
A place where people travel from all over the world to see the birds, a birdwatcher’s paradise. Due to the marshy conditions and abundance of fish, crustaceans, and insects there are over 500 hundred species of tropical bird in the area. Grab your binoculars and camera and set out in a canoe to view some of the world’s most enchanting birds.
– Cayman Watching
Another thrilling activity for the evening in this secluded region is to go spotting for cayman. A species closely related to alligators, caymans are smaller than alligators and some crocodiles. If you do not want to go cayman spotting in the middle of the night, you may stumble upon them during the day basking in the sun.
– Catch and Release Fishing
Keeping in mind the surroundings, catch and release is the only fishing allowed for tourists. With over 400 different species of fish in these waters, only the locals are allowed to fish and consume them. You may not be able to eat your catch, but you will absolutely enjoy a great local catch along this journey.
– Water Sports
To see these narrow rivers for yourself, hop on a stand-up paddle board, kayak, or canoe to see every inch of this magical location. You can choose to sit back and relax in a guided tour or take matters into your own hands by enjoying these water sports for yourself. Spot rare animals, such as anacondas and jaguars or any one of the animals living in or around these waters.
– Swim with Pink Dolphins
One of the world’s rarest species, pink dolphins, can be spotted here in one of the 14 lagoons in the reserve, Laguna Delfincocho. Here, you will be allow given the opportunity to spot and even swim with the pink dolphins.
– Night Walk
See the other side of the Amazon as it truly comes alive from every inch during the night. Set out in the middle of the night with your trusted guide, nothing will ever compare to hiking deep through the rainforest in the middle of the night hearing the local animals and magic come alive.
– Visit the Siona Community
While most consider this a nature reserve, it started out as home to the indigenous people. Today, it is home to hundreds of the Siona people who have lived most of their lives disconnected from our modern ways until recently.
Take your trip one step further for an authentic experience to learn about their culture and traditions, partake in ceremonies involving medicinal plants, or local cooking lessons.
Where To Stay
While staying in the middle of a wildlife reserve it is important to remember our role in the environment. To keep our minds at ease, enjoy this natural beauty at one of the following ecolodges:
– Tapir Lodge
Located in the upper portion of the reserve, Tapir Lodge was built in partnership with family members of the Siona community to show travelers the real tropical rainforest of their home.
Waking up 15 meters high in wooden towers, the lodge sits in an isolated location for observing nature and a taste of the authentic life. Keeping the environment in mind, the lodge is powered by solar panels and combines wildlife-spotting with a cultural experience alongside the Siona community.
– Cuyabeño Lodge
The original eco-friendly lodge in the reserve, Cuyabeño Lodge set the stage for ecotourism in the Ecuadorian Amazon region a little over 20 years ago. With the environment in mind, the lodge was built with ecological materials from the jungle landscapes and holds a special piece of comfort in Laguna Grande.
Feel the rainforest come alive as you exit your boat onto the lush property of Cuyabeño Lodge where you will wake up in a cabaña (cabin) to the sounds of the jungle. You will find yourself at peace with nature and the sustained development of the native communities.
When To Visit
While most travel plans to Latin America are determined by wet and dry season, this is not the case for Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve, which can be visited year-round. However, the best wildlife views and full waterways occur during the wet season, which falls between March through November.
How To Explore Cuyabeño in the Ecuadorian Amazon with Kuoda Travel
When visiting remote locations in Latin America it is important to be conscious about the authentic culture and values. When visiting the Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve it is important to remember that this remote tourist attraction in the Amazon is also someone’s home.
Along your multi-day adventure through the Amazon, you will need a trusted guide that can educate you while also not stepping on the local’s toes. At Kuoda, we pride ourselves on safe, reliable, and eco-friendly customized travel through Latin America as well as contribute to local economies while preserving local heritage and culture.
In collaboration with locals, tours are offered in the reserve anywhere from 4 days to a week to build your connection with Mother Nature. After you have found your way through the narrow riverbanks of Cuyabeño Wildlife Reserve, it is a great idea to continue through the Ecuadorian Andes or The Galapagos Islands. Contact us today to curate your adventurous journey through Ecuador!