Family travel in Ecuador’s jungle takes you far off the beaten path, placing you in a region where even the most seasoned traveler is in awe of their surroundings. Rustic lodges hide a bevy of comforts-ranging from gourmet food at Ecuador luxury lodges to open-air lounges on the shores of peaceful lakes to take in the crimson sunset at the end of active days of exploring where nature sets a different pace. Making the most out of your time means exploring together-finding new paths into an area that has intrigued travelers for decades. Keep reading for some of the adventures that await on Ecuador wildlife tours in the Oriente with the whole crew.
Facts about wildlife in the jungle often betray the actual experience. To say that there are 500 species of birds there doesn’t prepare you for seeing pairs of toucans fly overhead so often that you take it as part of the landscape. Knowing that of the 21 species of monkeys that live in Ecuador, ten live in the jungle doesn’t give justice to seeing traveling packs of squirrel monkeys swing from the treetops or venture close to lodges to feed on fruits of nearby trees. Here are five adventures to find creatures of the jungle while on Ecuador wildlife tours in the Amazon Rainforest.
1. On the Hunt for Caimans
One of the predators of the rivers, estuaries, and lagoons of the jungle-black caimans are nocturnal. Tours from lodges including Sani Lodge, Sacha Lodge, Napo Wildlife Center, and La Selva Lodge take guests out after dark in search of the largest member of the alligator family.
Armed with flashlights, guides and community members quietly navigate canoes along the shores of waterways scanning the banks for telltale red eyes peering back from nearby hiding places.
Football-sized heads poking above the water camouflage massive bodies beneath the surface. Black caimans can grow up to twenty feet in length.
2. Spotting Birds High in the Canopy
To many, birdwatching is an exclusive activity reserved for an elite group of travelers who carry a checklist of exotic species to find while on holiday.
On wildlife tours in the Ecuadorian jungle, this notion is turned on its head. Day trips from cruises including the Manatee Explorer and the Anaconda Cruise ship take you to observation towers above the treetops. Guides run back and forth across the platform pointing out winged residents of the jungle perching on high branches, only to fly away before another is sighted nearby and in the distance.
Early morning trips give way to harpy eagles, short-tailed hawks, tanagers, and colorful macaws in flight and at rest-giving a fresh name to birdwatching and bringing a new appreciation to the feathered friends that fly overhead every day.
3. It’s the Journey Not the Destination
Each day treks down the tributaries of the Napo River to remote outposts including community visits open up a world where nature takes a stand. River dolphins and otters splash in the waters ahead of canoes, owls peer out from crooks in tree branches, sloths are deftly spotted by guides hanging close to the ground, and howler monkeys grumble in the distance. Getting from point A to point B has never been such an active excursion.
4. Hiking Underneath the Canopy
Short hikes through the dense primary forest from lodges are treks that put you in the home of the jungle’s wildlife. Trees that have been living for hundreds of years shade the forest floor-where Tapirs, Pygmy Marmosets, and Emperor Tamarins are spotted in the brush and trees.
5. Fishing for Piranha
Fishing for piranha is a family adventure that many Amazon Rainforest Lodges offer guests after a day of activities in the far reaches of the forest. Guides help both young and old set hooks and try their luck in nearby lagoons, seldom are efforts wasted as piranha are frequent visitors to the shallow waters of the jungle.
Every day spent in the Amazon River Basin is an adventure that takes the breath away. The sheer volume of animals astounds, the scope of the landscape away from the manmade world is inspiring, and the journeys into the wild are excursions that captivate the whole crew, bringing back a sense of adventure to family adventures that stay close at hand after the trip has ended.