About the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Night MonkeyEcuador contains only about two percent of the Amazon basin, which covers the eastern part of the country. Commonly referred to as the “Oriente”, this region is exceptionally rich in biodiversity of both flora and fauna. Several parks and reserves have been established to protect the ecosystem, each offering its own unique attractions including a variety of options for the tourist.

Yasuní National Park (982,000 ha) is Ecuador’s largest national park. It is home to 567 bird species, 44 percent of the bird species found in the entire Amazon basin, and has among the largest diversity of tree species of any region in the world. The park is largely uninhabited, however there are some Huaorani families and groups who have lived in the park region for generations. Yasuní National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve (603,380 ha), located in the north eastern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, is home to several indigenous nationalities as well as over 60 percent of the mammal species and over 50 percent of the amphibian species of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. A number of different lodges are found within the reserve, offering the chance to see an amazing variety of monkeys, birds, caimans, and other species. Occasionally freshwater dolphins, anacondas, and manatees can be seen. Deep in the reserve, near the border with Peru, is a region of lagoons and rivers that is practically untouched. This is considered to be the most biologically rich area of the region.

The Sumaco-Galeras National Park (206,000 ha), including the active Sumaco Volcano (3828 m), is one of the least explored protected areas. The heart of the Limoncocha Biological Reserve (4,500 ha) is the oxbow lake with the same name, famous for its black caimans.

The Amazon region has a warm and humid climate year round, and typically receives more than 2000 mm of rain each year, necessary for the growth of tropical lowland rain forests. In the Ecuadorian Amazon, temperatures vary little throughout the year, with greater variation between the daytime and nighttime temperatures. Daytime temperatures average around 28°C/82°F and drop to about 22°C/71°F at night. No true seasons exist, but average precipitation is highest from February to May and the “drier” months are July, August and September. While you might be able to take a multi day trip in the Amazon with no rain, heavy rainfall can occur during the day or night during any time of year.

Red Howler Monkey

Flora and Fauna of the Ecuadorian Amazon

Tropical rain forests are exceptionally diverse and complex ecosystems; occupying only about seven percent of the earth’s land area, they are home to about half of the world’s plant species. More than 300 tree species can be identified in just one hectare of Ecuadorian lowland forest, and the Amazon region is home to around 800 bird species. Hundreds of species of reptiles, mammals and amphibians also call the Amazon home; with some luck, many of these can be observed during a visit to the region.

Francisco de Orellana

A (Very) Brief History of the Ecuadorian Amazon

Accounts of Amazonian history in Ecuador often begin with the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th Century, but the Amazon basin is considered to have been home to some of the oldest cultures on the planet, surviving in some cases for over 10,000 years in the tropical rainforest regions of Ecuador and other countries of Latin America. Indeed, in 1996, remnants of a previously unknown culture in the Brazilian Amazon were discovered…a culture that existed 14,000 years ago.

Waorani man

Indigenous Groups of the Ecuadorian Amazon

The Ecuadorian Amazon is home to nine different indigenous nationalities, each with its own language and culture, traditionally living in harmony with their tropical rainforest environment. In the past, each group lived on its ancestral territory and contact between groups was often perilous. However, today, contacts between tribes are common and many intercultural marriages have taken place, and many indigenous communities welcome tourists.

Threats to the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the Battle for Conservation

While it is estimated that humans have populated the Amazon region for over 10,000 years, reaching a population in the millions, it is only in relatively recent history that the entire Amazon region has been threatened by exploitation of resources. From the search for gold in the 15th century to the rubber boom of the 19th and early 20th centuries, foreign invaders have viewed the Amazon as a source of valuable materials to be extracted and sold for rapid profits. During this time period, the native cultures have been used as slaves, mistreated, and often killed when they got in the way of the process.

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