HJDS Travel Group

The Best Place to see the Animals of the Amazon

by on Jan.01, 2013, under Travel

  • Sumo

The Amazon rainforest is home to more animals than the humid tropics of any other continent. But don’t expect to actually see so many large animals in the Amazon. Most species are relatively small, but many of them are quite colorful. Particularly among the birds, one can find numerous brightly colored species, like the noisy Macaws, the Cock of the Rock, trogons, Quetzals and numerous hummingbirds. But other animal groups also have very colorful species, particularly the insects, amphibians and snakes.

While half of the species on earth are found in the rainforests of the Amazon and the Andes, the Ecuadorian jungles have the greatest biodiversity of them all. As the weather conditions on the equator have much less variation than elsewhere in the Amazon, humid conditions prevail during most of the year, while the dry seasons are short and not really all that dry. Droughts are the main limiting factor to species that need the humid conditions of the rainforest.

Ecuador has 2 major Amazon Rainforest parks, Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, each much larger than half a million hectares. While Yasuni a bit larger and probably is a bit richer in species, Cuyabeno is the place to actually see animals. This is because, Cuyabeno has more than a dozen of lakes, interconnected by small rivers and creeks. The reason why this is significant is because of the following. When one walks in the jungle, the contrast between the light of the tropical sky and the leaves of the tree forest canopy is so strong, that the leaves almost look black and under those light conditions wildlife becomes almost invisible.

The number of birds in Cuyabeno is approaching 600 recorded species, while 10 species of monkeys call Cuyabeno home. Most animals in the tropical rainforests are rather small and many of them spend most of their lives in the canopies of the forest. At 25 – 35 m high, it is quite difficult to distinguish them. Along rivers and creeks, however, the forest tends to be lower and trees have lower branches and many birds like to perch along the river shores. The light can easily penetrate from the opening in the sky created by the river onto the branches and leaves rather than passing through them as is the case in the closed forest. Therefore the animals much more visible from the water. Among the Andes-Amazon countries, only the lake areas of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve have such ideal conditions. Closeness to the Andes gives an additional benefit as they are also still home to quite a few Andes species, thus giving Amazon parks close to the Andes additional biodiversity.

Moreover, many aquatic birds and mammals would not occur as much in terrestrial protected areas. Cuyabeno Wildlife reserve is known for its cayman, huge anacondas, both species of Amazon dolphins, capibaras, manatees, Giant Otters, among other things. And then of course there are a great number of water birds, as well as famous fish species, like piranhas, huge catfish, electric eels and countless little colorful tropical fishes.

With so many lakes and slow-flowing narrow rivers, such great animal visibility, convenient access and reasonable prices, many consider Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve the greatest Amazon park in the world. Ecuador is the best country to go, both for researchers and tourists who like to study or simply get to know the Amazon.

Learn more about Amazon #1. Stop by Wesley Vanderhill’s site where you can find out all about Amazon animals #2 and where to find them.

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