Four and Five days' programs exploring the Cuyabeno National Park


Day one

Very early in the morning, you will be picked up in your hotel in Quito, to be taken along the scenic road to the Aguarico River, passing by the paramo of Cayambe-Coca National Park. The San Rafael Waterfall, which used to be Ecuador's most dramatic waterfall, is now dry most of the time, but after heavy rains, surplus water may sometimes still give a dramatic view of the fall.


Alternatively - at additional costs- you can fly from Quito to the frontier town of Lagoagrio, the oil boom town where the Amazon lowlands begin. Lago Agrio Airport usually is serviced with modern Embraer jet or Dornier turbo-prop airplanes. Your flight passes by the Cayambe. Ask for a window seat at the right side of the plane to take pictures; on the way back on the left side. From there, our bus takes you in about 1 hour 30 minutes to the the pick up location on the Aguarico River.


Cuyabeno programs: Detailed map Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.Cuyabeno programs: San Rafael Water Falls is part of an Ecuador Andes Trek in Ecuador.


Upon arrival in Zabalo, you will be shown around in the village and taken to your cabins to freshen up and rest, as it has been a long day since your departure from Quito.


Cuyabeno programs: Cuyabeno expedition.Cuyabeno programs: Cofan lodge during your Amazon visit in Ecuador.

Our quality canoe takes you on a 2,5 hours trip to our village.

The restaurant of the Cofan Lodge.


Cuyabeno programs: Resting in hamacs at the Cofan Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Cuyabeno programs: Visiting Zabalo village.

Relaxing in one of the comfortable hammocks in our restaurant.

A view of our Zabalo village.


In the evening, you will be taken on a night excursion to discover the critters of the night.

Cuyabeno programs: taking a picture of a nocturnal tree frog.Cuyabeno programs: Spider Scorpion or Whip spinder.

Tree frogs are everywhere, but it is a bit difficult to spot them. The moment you think you finally have one in your camera, they leap away to never be found again . On a rare occasion, with lots of luck you may catch the green eyes of a wandering Ocelot Cat in your beam.


Day two

You will be taken on one of the few Ecuadorian black water rivers, where the clear water provides an ideal conditions for Giant Otters. There is also a vivid population of Scarlet Macaws as well as a great variety of tropical birds and monkeys.

Cuyabeno programs: Zabalo River with black water.Cuyabeno programs: black and white rivers mixing at Zabalo.

The Zabalo River is one of the few clear black water rivers in the Amazon of Ecuador.

The clear black water of the Zabalo river mixes with the sediment loaded water of the Aguarico River.

Day Three

The day starts out with a discovery of the Cofan ways. You will be taught how to use a blowgun, and get to see the traditional Cofan dresses.


Cuyabeno programs: practicing shooting a blowgun.Cuyabeno programs: Cofan shaman.

Learning how to shoot with a blowgun.

The shaman with some of the children of the village and of visitors.


Cuyabeno programs: Cofan vegetable garden.Cuyabeno programs: turtle conservation breeding program.

The traditional Cofan vegetable garden produces a part of your food.

The Cofan turtle breeding program has restored the turtle population in the Zavalo River.


After breakfast, we take you to the mouth of the Cuyabeno River, where usually some river dolphins hang out. From there you will be taken to the Canopy tower, to have an impression of the natural canopy.

Cuyabeno programs: Cuyabeno River Mouth.Cuyabeno programs: Cuyabeno Canopy Tower.

The Cuyabeno River Mouth is frequented by Amazon Dolphins

The highest canopy tower in Cuyabeno takes you all the way into the crown of a gigantic tree.


Cuyabeno programs: Tapirs, Tapirus terrestris, are Amazon Jungle amimalsCuyabeno programs: Capybaras, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, as Amazon jungle animals

Lowland Tapirs, Tapirus terrestris, are terrestrial lowland jungle animals but they also are very happy in the water. Highly appreciated for their meat, they are hunted havily hunted anywhere outside the reserves. One rarely sees one in Cuyabeno and Yasuni National Park, but they are there.


Cuyabeno programs: Children learning about the rainforest.Cuyabeno programs: Looking down from the tree crowns of the rainforest.

Admiring the view from the canopy tower platform.

The tree canopies are where the Amazon jungle has most of its species.


The Cuyabeno loop continues its journey upstream to the Cuyabeno Lake, from where the program will be taken over by one of the lodges at the Cuyabeno Lake, of which the most famous it the Cuyabeno Lodge.

Cuyabeno programs: National Parks man with grand childrenCuyabeno programs: Macrolobium forest at Lagartococha.

Continuing the journey upstream the Cuyabeno River.

The Macrolobium trees at the border of the Cuyabeno lake are like giant Bonsai trees and full of epiphytes.


Upon arrival at the lodge, you can take a hot shower and rest up a bit and take a swim in the lake at sunset.

Cuyabeno programs: Taking a plunge in the Amazon.Cuyabeno programs: evening program at the lodge.

A swim at the lake is always wonderfully refreshing and a lot of fun.

Dinner in the restaurant of the Cuyabeno Lodge.


At night you can take an night excursion at the lake to look for the orange eyes of caymen and other nocturnal animals that hide in the Macrolobium swamps.


Day 4

After a well-deserved night's rest, you will explore the Cuyabeno Lake and its surrounding Macrolobium swamps.

Cuyabeno programs: manatee of the Amazon. Cuyabeno programs: Fresh water dolphins of the Amazon.

Most of the time you will be able to spot a Amazon Dolphins (of course no we can never guarantee this) or maybe if you are very lucky, even a Manatee.



Blue and Yellow Macaws fly noisily across the Cuyabeno Lake, while Hoatzins whisper their hoarse sounds as they scope the Macrolobium trees for food. You may also hear the mysterious swelling sound of the Howler Monkeys or see a troop of squirrel monkeys bouncing through the treetops. In fact, 10 species of monkeys have been recorded in the reserve.

Cuyabeno programs: enjoying the sunset in the Amazon.Cuyabeno programs: taking off on an expedition.


Jungle Flowers

Flowers are beautiful but almost always come in small numbers.

Cuyabeno programs: Heliconia Amazon rainforest plant.Cuyabeno programs: Purple Amazon rainforest plant.Cuyabeno programs: heliconia are well-represented among the Amazon rainforest plants.Cuyabeno programs: Jungle flower as they decorate the Amazon rainforest plants.


Bird and wildlife watching

Unlike African safaris, the thrill of wildlife and birds is in the much smaller animals, particular monkeys. The larger animals, like tapirs, jaguars are around, but they live secretive lives, avoiding contact with people very effectively. The largest animals you are likely to see are Amazon dolfins and caimen. Birds on the other hand are very common and some of them are incredibly colorful.

Cuyabeno programs: Scarlet Macaw at ZavaloCuyabeno programs: Amazon Jungle animals include Black Mantled Tamarins at Cuyabeno

Scarlet Macaws are fairly common along the Zabalo River.

Black-Mantled Tamarins live in groups of up to 200.


Cuyabeno programs: Yellow Candle Bush of the Amazon. Epiphytes in the Amazon Jungle


Cuyabeno loop, Day 5

On day five, you will experience the feel of so many of our visitors: "It all went by too quickly". Maybe you will become one of our frequent visitors that keep coming back for a special program of one or two weeks. Anyway, you will have to leave in the morning to get back on time to catch the plane or  bus in Lagoagrio. You will ride the canoe up the Cuyabeno River to the main entrance of the park, the "Cuyabeno Bridge", where your transport will be waiting for you to bring you to the airport or to the bus station to take you on your trip back to Quito.


Cuyabeno programs: Lagoagrio airport in the rain.Cuyabeno programs: Cayambe Volcano right on the Equator.

If you fly back, request a LEFT window seat, which - weather permitting - may give you a great view of the only snow-capped mountain in the world on the equator, the Cayambe.


How to book for the lodge?

Our programs are rather customized and we try to accommodate the travel needs of our customers. To avoid misunderstandings, we don't offer a prepaid travel option. For details consult our reservations page.


What is essential to bring?

For this question we link to our special vacation packing list for the Best Jungle Tours in Ecuador.


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