Having the chance to visit the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon is a unique experience. I was there for 4 days and 3 nights to discover its stunning wildlife, the diverse flora and meet Indigenous people. An unforgettable adventure, which was definitely worth the money.
SOME FACTS OF THE CUYBENO WILDLIFE RESERVE
In the language of the Indigenous people Cuyabeno means „the country between water“. There are several black water lagoons and two main rivers Rio Aquarico and Rio Cuyabeno. Five Indigenous communities live in the reserve: Siona, Cofán, Secoyas, Quichua and Shuar. Around 560 different birds, 350 fish species, over 100 mammalians such as Puma, Jaguar and 10 monkey species live in the rain forest. Furthermore, river dolphins, four caiman species, boas and anacondas are also living in the waters. (Source: www.ecuador-discover.de)
DAY 1: ARRIVAL
We took the private transport organized by the Community Adventures Agency from Quito to Lago Agrio. From there we got picked up by a shuttle to the Cuaybeno Dolphine Loge. The streets are quite adventurous 😉 They brought us to the Cuyabeno Bridge and from there we enjoyed a ride on the boat to our lodge. On the way we were lucky enough to see some birds and monkeys. The total journey took us about 14 hours.
We arrived just in time for lunch. Afterwards there was some time to relax before going to the lagoon to see the sunset and look for red shiny eyes to find caimans and boas. After all those first impressions of the stunning Amazon, we called it a day.
📷 With the boat on the way to the lodge in the jungle.
DAY 2: MEETING THE LOCALS AND GOING FOR A NIGHT WALK
With a group of seven including our guide we canoed for about two hours to the entrance of the path to the Indigenous community. Paddling was fun. Without the loud motor we were able to see more wildlife, such as birds and monkeys. After a one hour jungle walk we arrived at the Siona community.
A 12 year old girl was waiting to show us how to cook yuca bread. In six steps we prepared the so called „Jungle Pizza“
- Harvest yuca from the plantation. Yuca looks like a small tree. To grab yuca you have to get the roots of this tree.
- Peel and wash yuca
- Rasp it
- Get the juice out of it with a special equipment
- Sieve the dried yuca
- Take the flour and bake it like a pizza over the open fire and enjoy the „Jungle Pizza“ with tuna, jam or „salsa“.
Also the Shaman of the community came to say „Hola“. He told us stories of healing processes and made some examples with us. With me he did a special treatment. He wanted to heal my sour back muscles with a special plant that had stings on it. It felt like I had an acupuncture massage all over my back. I had little red points on it. In the beginning it was itchy, then it was super hot and finally everything was good again and my muscles were a bit more relaxed. As I had a cold, he also gave me some leaves, from which I made a juice the next morning. You probably will not believe me, but it really helped 🙂
The day was not over yet. After sunset we did the jungle night walk. The mission was to find snakes and spiders. This experience was way beyond my comfort zone, as I do not like spiders nor snakes… We did not find any snakes, but did see spiders such as the Banana Spider, which is poisonous and about 10 to 15 cm big. After one hour walking around and listening to the noises in the jungle, I was released. However, there was a surprise waiting for my room mate and me. A Banana Spider found its way to our room. I managed to call the staff, which helped us get the spider out of our room without harming it or anyone else.
DAY 3: JUNGLE WALK AND SWIMMING IN THE LAGOON
Our day started at 6 am for bird watching. We saw and heard so many different birds, and we were also lucky to see a Tucan, one of the most beautiful birds in the jungle.
Later we went on a day jungle walk, for me a much better experience than the night walk 😉 During the jungle walk we learned a lot about the plants in the forest and discovered more birds and other animals. Our guide had a lot of fun when he let six girls walk through one meter deep mud… However, we all survived and after this party of mud, we were all happy to swim in the lagoon with our clothes on. And the reward of our effort in the jungle was a breathtaking sunset and a clear sky full of stars and the milky way – absolutely amazing.
📷 Sunset at the lagoon
DAY 4: TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Day 4 was all about packing and leaving. We just chilled a bit and enjoyed the last breaths of the clear Amazon air before we were heading back to the city. We left the lodge at 9.30 and on the way back we also saw some monkeys. This time we even saw a mother and its baby on her back. Wow, that was so sweet. After a boat ride, and two bus rides we were back in Quito by 21.30. Full of new insights and knowledge, I was happy to be back in my bed, where I did not have to check if there were any Banana Spiders 😉
📷 Relax in the hammock
The jungle was a unique experience for me. I felt so close to nature. I would recommend it to anyone. For me 4 days and 3 nights was just the right amount of time. Of course you can go longer, but don’t go for a shorter time period.
For the whole trip (food, accommodation, guide, bus transportation etc.) I paid $320 including tipps and the additional fee to visit the community. I think the money was definitely worth it. The jungle is an experience you do not want to miss!
Some little advice from my site:
- Bring enough mosquito repellent
- Don’t bring too much clothes, but bring long loose pants for the night.
- You rather need flip flops than sneakers, as the lodge provides rubber boots and ponchos.
📷 The jungle crew