Where to Go?
When you travel down from the Andes you are right on the edge of the rainforest. Much of the land has been colonized, much of the forest has been cut down once or twice. If you are content to see some plants, insects, a few birds and fish, go for a canoe ride and be in the jungle then you can organize a fairly cheap tour close to one of the first towns such as Puyo or Tena.
If you want to visit isolated indigenous communities or see a wide variety of animals and the full diversity of flora and fauna you will have to travel in further (by canoe) and be prepared to spend more money and time on your trip. You should also choose a location where a canopy tower has been constructed.
Sensitive tourism is probably the only alternative to more mineral exploitation and agriculture in the region, so trust that in the majority of cases your visit will probably do more good than harm.
What do you need?
Long sleeved shirt and trousers to keep insects off
Jumper to wear at night
Protection against yellow fever and possibly malaria
Emergency kit (first aid, compass, whistle)
Torch and batteries, candles
Passport (which is checked as you descend to the Amazon)
Water purifier system/ tablets
Jungle towns are small and not always well-supplied so try to have most of these things before you travel down to the Oriente. If you are on a tour, check what is provided – you won’t need to bring all these things yourself.
What type of tour?
1. Jungle Lodges
The most comfortable and often the only practical way to see primary rainforest on a short visit is to stay in a jungle lodge. Many of them have offices in Quito and foreign agents. Therefore they can organise your transport to the lodge or provide a complete package from your arrival in the country. That doesn´t mean they are easy to get to – you will still have to probably take a canoe ride for several hours to get to the lodge itself. You can reduce some costs by getting yourself to the nearest town.
Lodges generally follow sensitive environmental practices, for example working with local communities and using well-qualified guides to accompany you on any trips you wish to take.
Click here to see a list of jungle lodges
2. Community stay
Some indigenous communities offer trips where you can stay in a simple shelter, enjoying local food and a native guide. You might need to add a sheet sleeping bag to the list of what you need for this type of tour. There are also some community lodges. You will go on forest walks and canoe rides just like the other tours but hopefully have the chance to engage more in the daily life of the people and witness songs and dances.
Click here to see a list of options for community stays in the Oriente
3. Jungle Tour
Lots of tour agencies offer guided tours of varying length. They will wait for a minimum number of people to sign up which can sometimes delay things. It´s cheaper to book in a jungle town but easier to wait to depart from Quito or Baños where many agencies have offices. You can also organise things with an independent guide. Prices do vary ( $30 -$50 pp per day)but generally you get what you pay for. Check all the details as far as possible regarding your living conditions, itinerary, the qualifications and languages of your guide. You will probably sleep on a thin mattress in a simple cabaña but it could be more basic, especially if you want to go to a very remote location.