Imagine yourself trekking through the great, never ending tropical forest of the Amazon. You came here to watch wildlife. But all that you see is lots of tree trunks instead of even one single mammal in sight! Did you spend all that money to end up in the wrong location?
But many the mammals and most birds actually live high up in the tree crowns. Therefore, you can hardly discover their whereabouts since the trees in the rainforest are often as high as 30 m high. While, you look up from the darkness of the forest floor, the leaves seem very dark because the light of the sky blinds you, making the leaves seem almost black. Under such light conditions, it is extremely difficult to spot and identify birds and mammals, unless you are an experienced observer.
It is much easier to watch wildlife and flowers from the water because they manoeuvre around, respectively are in the shrubs and lower branches of the trees along the shores. But such advantage primarily works for creeks.
On the wider waters of the Amazon, birdwatching and observing wildlife is often significantly less successful, since they are often so wide that they almost seem seas. On the Amazon head waters, though, one feels as though being inside the rainforest but, there is sufficient light passing the opening of the creek, to see flowers, birds and mammals on the branches and shrubs along the shores.
As upper watersheds have the streams, aforementioned are most abundant in the foothills of the lower Andes. But with the terrain being hilly in almost all of the upper Amazon, few rivers close to the Andes are navigable and there are only very few lakes in the lowlands of the Andes-Amazon countries. Cuyabeno Fauna Reserve, however, has a uniquely flat plain. It is a large plate with a shallow exit, forcing water to rise and thus creating more than a dozen of scenic lakes, interconnected by creeks and narrow natural canals. The park is among the few parks in the world exactly on the equator.
Neither Colombia, Peru, Venezuela nor Bolivia have an Amazon park with similar convenient access as Cuyabeno and nowhere else on earth, can one get so easily into a nature reserve in the tropical forest of the Amazon at such convenient prices: Thirty minutes by airplane gets you from Quito to LagoAgrio, at the beginning of Ecuador’s Northern Amazon region and fewer than two hours by bus over a new asphalt road brings you to the park entrance. Many visitors find Cuyabeno National Park the best Amazon reserve in the world!
Whilst not excessively luxurious, the Cuyabeno Lodge is regarded as the comfortable lodge on the Cuyabeno Lake. Rainforest Alliance certified, the lodge has been built 25 years or so ago by a group of wildlife biologists during a period when the park had been invaded buy illegal settlers. The initiators wished to provide alternative income from ecotourism for the local communities in an era when there still wasn’t any tourism to the area.
Now, 25 years later, the area is no longer threatened, but the owners religiously watch over the quality of the accommodations, the service and the excursions. To them it is very important that each and every visitor goes home with memories that last a lifetime. Built on the only hill on a peninsula overlooking the Cuyabeno Lake, the Lodge has a canopy observation tower with a fabulous view on both the forest and the lake. With a modern solar installation, the Cuyabeno Lodge provides electricity twenty four hours electricity every room and the restaurant and library while there are hot showers for all the guests. No other lodge in the reserve offers so many amenities.The lodge also facilitates the ranger station of the National Park Service; the canopy observation tower being the highest spot in the entire area, the cell phone unit of the tower also functions as the alarm center of the reserve.
Tropical ecologist Dr. Vreugdenhil tells you what to look out for when you select your destination to explore the tropical forest. To fully enjoy the Amazon, your hostel should neither be primitive nor excessively luxurious.