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Four or Five days' Amazon Rainforest Expeditions on Ecuador's Cuyabeno River and/or Zábalo River

We have two Amazon Rainforest Expeditions:

The initial 2,5 days take place in the Cofan region of the Aguarico and Zábalo Rivers of the Cuyabeno Fauna Reserve. On the 3rd day, the Cuyabeno Loop g to the Cuyabeno Lake locale of the recreation center, while the standard program stays in the Zábalo area.




Day 1

Our transport meets you in Lagoagrio to take you in about 2 hours to the the canoe landing location Nuevo Unión, on the Aguarico River.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Detailed map Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve with route.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Aguarico River landscape.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan Lodge tourist canoe.

The Lagarto Cocha Expedition takes you on a 200km odyssey through the Eastern Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, starting at the River Aguarico.

The tourist canoe of the Cofan Lodge.


Upon arrival in Zábalo, 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.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Relaxing on the Cuyabeno Lodge deck during your Amazon visit in EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan Lodge Cabin.

The restaurant of our Cofan Lodge.

One of the cabins of the Cofan Lodge.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Resting in hammocks at the Cofan Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Resting in a hammocks in our restaurant.

A walk in Zábalo village.


After dark, we make a short excursion to look at nocturnal animals.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Tree Frog of the Amazon Jungle seen on a night excursion when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Nocturnal amazon animal found on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

Tree frogs are very common, but it is somewhat hard to spot them. The minute you think you at last have one in your camera, they jump away to never be seen again. With lots of luck, you may see the reflecting eyes of an Ocelot Cat in the beam of your flash light.


Day 2

You will be taken on one of the few Ecuadorian black water rivers, where the clear dark water provides 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.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan Lodge welcome sign welcoming you on your Ecuador Amazon visit

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

The black water of River Zábalo river mixes with the light brown water of the River Aguarico.

Day 3

The day begins with learning about of the Cofan ways. You will be instructed how to shoot with a blowgun, and get the opportunity to see the traditional Cofan dresses.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cuyabeno Entry station for Amazon Visitors in Ecuador

Learning how to shoot with a blowgun.

The shaman with some of the Cofan children and of tourists.


The traditional vegetable garden produces typical food of the Amazon region.

The Cofan turtle breeding project helped restore the turtle numbers in Cuyabeno.


After breakfast, our canoe takes you to the Cuyabeno River, where often river dolphins hang out where the River Cuyabeno pours out into the Aguarico. As we work up the river, you will climb the Canopy Tower, to see the canopy from above.

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.


Looking down from the top of the canopy tower.

The crowns of the trees are where most of the species of the the Amazon rainforestlive.


After visiting the tower, you will either be taken on:

  • The Cofan standard program; or

  • The Cuyabeno Loop

The Standard Cofan Lodge Program

The Cofan lodge standard program will take you on a wonderful walk through the Amazon Rainforest, and then bring you back to the Cofan Lodge.


On day 5, of the Standard Cofan Lodge Program

We take you back back up the River Aguarico to Lagoagrio.


The Cuyabeno Loop

The Cuyabeno loop continues its odyssey up the Cuyabeno River to the Cuyabeno Lake, where you will participate in the program of one of the lodges at the Cuyabeno Lake, usually organized by the most famous one, the Cuyabeno Lodge.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Port of Entry for a visit of the Amazon in Ecuador at Cuyabeno

Travelling up Cuyabeno River.

Macrolobium surround Lake Cuyabeno like large Bonsai trees covered with epiphytes.


Pay a visit to the Siona community and appreciate their traditional way of life. Meet local women and children as they attend their vegetable gardens and prepare traditional food. Learn about different edible fruits and indigenous plants of the jungle with medicinal properties.


After getting at the lodge, you may enjoy a hot shower, rest a while and go for a swim in the lake at sunset.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Swimming at the Cuyabeno Lake during your Amazon visit in EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Make great friends at the Cofan Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

A swim in Lake Cuyabeno is quite fun and refreshing.

Dinner in the Cuyabeno Lodge.


At night you look for the orange eyes of caiman as hey light up in the beam of your flash light and for other critters of the night that live in the Macrolobium trees.


Day 4

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

Amazon Manatee at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon dolphin on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

Usually there will be a few Amazon Dolphins (no guarantee of course) or, if you are really lucky, a Manatee.


Blue and Yellow Macaws often fly across the Lake, while Hoatzins graze the leaves of the Macrolobium trees. 10 different primates have call the reserve home.  Often you can hear the call of the Howler Monkeys or see a troop of squirrel monkeys jumping through the trees.


Set out into this remarkable wilderness on daily canoe excursions and hikes on terra firma (well-drained forest land). Skim past the bonsay-shaped, epiphyte-clad Macrolobium trees, and venture deep into the rain forest on narrow tributaries. Spot sloths and monkeys, like the Black-mantled Tamarins, noisy Howlers and Spider Monkeys. Watch for the more than 540 species of birds known for the area, varying from hummingbirds to Harpy eagles, King Vultures to endangered – yet common in Cuyabeno - Blue and Yellow macaws. The guides of our  Ecuador Amazon rainforest lodge, the Cofan Lodge, are widely known for their knowledge of birds as well as other Amazon Jungle Animals and Amazon Rain forest Plants.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Ecuador Amazon birding expeditionAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Birdwatchers on Amazon Expedition in Ecuador

The reserve has become a favorite place for birdwatchers.


Tourists "hunt" wild animals with their binoculars and cameras.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon visitors enjoy orchid at Cuyabeno, EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Beautiful flowers enlighten Amazon visits in Ecuador.AMAZON FOREST PLANTS, ECUADOR: Amazon rainforest plants include the Orchids growing in Cuyabeno. Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Heliconia in the Amazon tropical Rainforest seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Blue and Yellow macaws can be frequently seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Black Mantled Tamarins at Cofan Lodge, your comfortable hotel when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Blue and yellow Macaws are common in the reserve.

Black-Mantled Tamarins live in good-sized groups.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Swamp trees, Macrolobiums, at Cuyabeno are frequently seen on Amazon visits in Ecuador.Epiphytes in the Amazon Jungle


Day 5

On day five, you will experience the feel of so many of our visitors: "It all went by too quickly". Return up-stream to the entrance of the Cuyabeno Nature Reserve in motorized canoe, where your transport is waiting for you to take you to the airport or the bus-terminal in Lagoagrio, where your journey ends. Check our Cofan Lodge rates.



There are 3 options to travel to the Amazon Lowlands:

  • Take the night bus from Quito to Lagoagrio (usually leaves at 11 at night) from the "Terminal Norte" in Quito and arrive in Lagoagrio at dawn. It costs about $ 46 for the round trip and you have to leave from your hotel in Quito to the terminal  an hour before departure. Alternatively, you can take a day bus, but then you will have to spend the night in Lagoagrio. We will pick you up in Lagoagrio in combination with arriving passengers by plane, departing generally at 10:30 (depending on the arrival of the plane), to Nuevo Unión (2 hours), where we embark in our canoe at about 12:30. Between your departure from your hotel at night at 10 at night until disembarking, will be more or less 15 hours.

  • Fly with Tame Quito - Lagoagrio. You can book your ticket at, which costs about $ 220 round trip per person, but additionally you have to consider the cost of a taxi that costs 2X25; Then it actually costs $ 270. Your flight usually leaves at 9 in the morning, and takes 30 minutes to arrive. As many times the flight is delayed, count on arriving around 10, and after getting your luggage, it will be 10:30. We'll pick you up at the airport. From there it takes two hours to arrive in Nuevo Union, where we leave in our canoe at 12:30. Thus flying takes a total of 5, 5 - 6 hours from your hotel until you can embark on the Rio Aguarico.

  • A great alternative is taking our Private Trans-Andean Transportation to the Aguarico River, which costs $300 per party which will be shared among the participants in your group. We will pick you up at your hotel early in the morning and take to the Aguarico River in about 8 - 9 hours depending how much time we spend on the way at the overlooks into the Cayambe - Coca Ecological Reserve.


Very early in the morning you will be picked up at your hotel in Quito to travel along the scenic road to the Aguarico River, passing through Ecuador's most striking waterfall, the San Rafael Waterfall, as well through the paramo (Andes meadow) of the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve.


Near the mountain pass you pass by beautiful paramos and some of the highest rainforests in the world along Lake Papallacta.

The virgin cloud forest San Rafael waterfall is the most beautiful waterfall of the country.


Bordering Lake Papallacta is the Jamanco Spa with great mineral water without prior filtration as done in the Papallacta resorts. As a result, the mineral quality is supposed to be better, while resort prices are a fraction of the spas in Papallacta.

The Reventador is Ecuador's most active volcano and frequently runs of down-pouring can be seen glowing in the night.

  • It is possible to arrange for spending the night at either a Papallacta (costly) or Jamanco (friendly and much more economical) Spa, but then another day is needed.

  • Many passengers who take the private transportation, chose to fly back or visa versa.

Arrival at the airport of oil-boom town Lagoagrio.

At a clear day you can see the Cayambe exactly on the equator, as you fly around it. On the way in, chose a window on the right and on the way back on the left of the plane.


What is essential to bring our best Amazon Rainforest Expeditions?

Please check our vacation packing packing list for the tropics.

The COFAN LODGE has its sales office in:

Mariano Cardenal N74-153 y Joaquín Mancheno; Carcelen Alto District (Barrio)


(++593) (0)(2) 252 7314



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