Hakuna Matata wildlife tour
This 8 day trip is a combination of comfort and nature. The first two nights you will spend in our homelike lodge not even 125 miles away from the capital of Ecuador. It is nested in a lush surrounding including a tropical garden and a private protected forest and beach on the river. The third day you will discover the highest waterfall of Ecuador and sleep one night in a hotel before, on day four, you will go on a canoe tour through the jungle, paddling the whole time and…
This 8 day trip is a combination of comfort and nature. The first two nights you will spend in our homelike lodge not even 125 miles away from the capital of Ecuador. It is nested in a lush surrounding including a tropical garden and a private protected forest and beach on the river. The third day you will discover the highest waterfall of Ecuador and sleep one night in a hotel before, on day four, you will go on a canoe tour through the jungle, paddling the whole time and camp the night in the middle of the rainforest. After that you will spend the next 3 nights in an Ecolodge located in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve from where you can explore the flora and fauna of the reserve on a daily base, either by foot or in your canoe. You will see many plants and animals that you have never seen before and experience an intensive and unique trip to the jungle that will put pictures and memories into your suitcase back home.
Fast drying clothes (Shirts and shorts; for the evenings and mornings you need light colored long-sleeved clothing), Swimwear, Lightweight raincoat, Rubber boots (up to size 12 (UK) / 14 (US – men) are in the lodge available), Fitting socks for rubber boots, Sturdy footgear, Sandals / flip-flops / crocs
English Speaking Guide
Not mentioned meals
Day 1: arrival – journey to the amazon rainforest – leisure or optional activities
Within 3 hours from Quito you will arrive in our exclusive Lodge. During your drive you will notice how the vegetation changes from the landscape of the Andes into the rainforest. After passing the gate to the Amazon Rainforest you will be in a mountain jungle paradise – Hakuna Matata is your private hideaway in the tropical forest. During your trip you came closer to sea level by about 7,200 feet and are located on about 2,000 feet now. There are different options to reach our Lodge, you can take a public bus or order a private transfer. If you choose the last one you will have the option to stop at the hot springs of Papallacta to relax in these famous thermal waters (optional, entrance fee not included).
If you decide to skip the rest in the hot waters and arrive early in our jungle paradise you can add a tour by foot or by horse in the afternoon to your free day. If you decide on horseback riding you will choose one of the hotel owned horses and take a tour through the forest and rivers. If you rather take a walk you can explore the area on different hiking paths. Your guide will explain the flora and fauna and share ancestral information about plants that are used for medical reasons. However, you can also participate in our chocolate tour (all tours are optional, please let us know if you want to add this tour to your program when booking). spot! If you arrive in the afternoon at the lodge or just want to spend the day without program, enjoying our lodge, go right ahead – the adventure can start now! You can begin exploring our 300 acre private reserve where you will find a private white sand beach by the Inchillaqui River, a tropical garden, a protected forest which belongs to the Lodge and a palm shaped pool which has a length of 88 feet and is 72 feet wide – only mosquitoes will be hard to In the evening you will enjoy a delicious 3 course gourmet meal in an exclusive atmosphere surrounded by the sounds of the jungle. D
Day 2: Rafting tour through the jungle
After taking pleasure in a rich and flavorful breakfast you will have the strength you need for this day full of adrenalin. You will enjoy wild water rafting on the Jatunyacu River. On this 15.5 miles route with a level of 3 / 3+ you, as a beginner or advanced rafter, will enjoy the ride. Given that you will be introduced to paddling, behavior on board and safety instructions by a professional team, there is no previous knowledge needed. In the language of the Quichuas the name of the river means “big water” which indicates the waves and rapids that will bring us a jubilant day! But don't worry, there will be time for recovery in the natural pools and throughout your journey you can enjoy the landscape of the jungle – on clear days you might even see the mountainous landscape of the Andes.If you desire a little bit more tranquility it is possible to ride on the Anzu River which offers a level 2 / 3 of rafting – ideal for families with kids. On both tours you will have a break to enjoy your lunch on the waterfront in form of a picnic. Afterwards you will hit the water again and drive to your ultimate destination Puerto Napo.After being back in the lodge you will enjoy a 3 course mean in a special atmosphere again. B,L,C
Day 3: Drive to lago agrio – San rafael waterfall – leisure
After strengthen yourself with a balanced and nutritionist breakfast again you have to say good bye to our little lodge and you can begin your trip far into the jungle. Picked up by a car you start heading to your ultimate stop, Lago Agrio, which is a 5 hour drive away. Lago Agrio is the capital of the county Sucumbios and the starting point of your excursion into the great Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Lago Agrio was founded by settlers from Loja, a city in the south of the country and therefore also has the unofficial name “Nueva Loja”. On your way you stop by at the highest waterfall in Ecuador, the “Cascada de San Rafael”. After a short hike about half an hour long, you reach the impressive cascade and see the spindrift splash in all direction. The Quijos River falls down about 500 feet at a cliff – an amazing spectacle. Surrounded by these impressive, periwinkle landscape you can sit down and enjoy your lunchbox while having an amazing view on this kettle like rock formation where the water falls into.With these images in your mind you will keep on going until you arrive at your hotel in Lago Agrio. After checking in the evening is yours. You are free to choose one of the little restaurants and try a regional specialty, like maito which is steamed rice and fish wrapped in bijao leaves, salad of palm hearts or a meal made out of yuka or the green plantain. Afterwards you have enough time left to prepare yourself for the next days of your travel – not only the temperatures but the humidity will surely help you with that. The temperatures are between 73 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, like they have been in our Hakuna Matata Lodge, but the humidity level rose and is between 95-100%. B,L
Day 4: Cuyabeno wildlife reserve – starting the canoe tour – jungle camping – night walk
Today your canoe tour begins! Right after breakfast you will head out to the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve which is named after the river that crosses through the region. The reserve was founded in 1979 and is part of the national program of preservation ofunique places in Ecuador. With its 630,000 acre it is only 10,000 acre smaller than Luxemburg or as big as the land area of Rhode Island. The reserve is framed by the Aguarico River and the San Miguel River. To reach one of the most speciose areas in Ecuador you will have to take a two hour drive. Then you can discover the unique flora and fauna within the reserve which is inhabited by 5 different indigenous tribes.After arriving at the river you will switch to your Canadian canoe which you will move forward with the help of a single-bladed paddle and a partner. There will not only be one other person in the canoe with you, but also an extra person who helps you to navigate the boat. During the next 3 hours you will soundlessly float on the river and see incredible landscapes of a primary forest and its inhabitants. A primary forest is a forest which has not be touched by mankind. Entirely free of the sound of a motor you even have the chance to see monkeys or toucans before you reach the tiger pass.Directly on the waterfront within a small clearing in the woods you will build your tents. In these you will either sleep alone or with your traveling partner. Afterwards you will enjoy a hot and delicious dinner in the warm light of candles before you head into the jungle again to discover the nightlife of it – you will look for night active animals such as insects, spiders and frogs. When you have seen it all in the light of your flashlight you will return to your tents, slip in and fall asleep surrounded by the sounds of animals such as the howler monkey.
Day 5: Canoeing on the cuyabeno river – igapó forest in the “laguna grande”
After a restoring night in the tent you will start your day right off with a strengthening breakfast just to get back into your canoe for 3 to 4 hours on the Cuyabeno River and paddle to the “Laguna Grande” (The Big Lake). This lagoon looks magical due to the trees that seem to appear out of the water. Here you switch to a canoe with a motor to arrive faster at our Lodge which will be your home for the next days. Depending on the level of water you will only see the treetops reaching out of the water or the whole tree starting with the trunk. The lodge is located in the heart of the wildlife reserve and works environmentally sound – you recycle, the power is produced by solar cells and no water heating systems are used due to the high usage of energy – a simple but authentic jungle experience.After a delicious lunch you have some time to rest before you head to your next canoe tour in the afternoon. You will explore the flooded forest (Igapó) in the “Laguna Grande”. Paddling in your canoe you will navigate through the narrow paths between the trees and see giant macrolobium trees which are covered by epiphyte plants. These plants live on tree to receive more sunlight and in the end the tree dies, because it doesn't receive enough sunlight anymore. But you will not only see impressive plants, but also monkeys, parrots and giant otters if you get lucky.After learning about flora and fauna you can relax and enjoy the sunset which is mirroring itself on the plain water surface. Within this impressive atmosphere you can just lean back and lose yourself in that special moment, or you jump into the refreshing water and follow the natural spectacle from there. On your way back to the lodge you can start looking forward to the dinner which is waiting for you to then cuddle up in your comfortable bed without being worried about nightly guests - the bed is fully surrounded by a mosquito net. B,L,D
Day 6: Jungle hike – wildlife observation in the rainforest – caiman search
You will wake up restored and enjoy the breakfast to start your day right. Afterwards you will head in a sporty day with a 3 to 4 hour hike through the rainforest. Your path will be framed by different plants that are unknown for you and thereby will be explained by your guide. As example you will see the giant of the jungle plants, the ceibo with its buttress roots, the walking palm which is moving about 4 inches a year, the pambil palm what from blow gun are made, lianas of the ayahuasca family, bromeliads, heliconias or wild roses. In general there are about 60 kinds of orchids and about 240 kinds of trees spread all over the whole park.Today your lunch will not take part in the excursion, you will have your meal in the comforting site of the lodge to afterwards rest in a hammock and relax before you are heading out into the rainforest again. This time with the goal to see animals, especially birds. 560 different kinds of birds can be found in the wildlife reserve. With your Canadian canoe you will float on the river and discover the area to find different kind of species on land as well as in the air.Before it gets dark you will sit together and enjoy your dinner. Afterwards you will go to look for caimans. In the light of your flashlights you will start searching for 3 different species of the caimans, the genus caiman, the black caiman and the dwarf caiman. Mostly you will spot the yacare caiman and the spectacled caiman which belong to the first species and can be up to 33 feet long. After this exciting excursion you will sneak into your bed and fall into a deep comforting sleep.
Day 7: Siona indigenous community – canoe trip to the cuyabeno-lagoon
Today you will start your day in a familiar environment, just to continue the day surrounded by a new culture – you are visiting the community of the Siona-Secoya, known as Siona people. This tribe is only found in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and preferably lives on densely wooded rivers. You will use your Canadian canoe again to drive 2.5 hours downstream on the river to then arrive at the community.At your arrival you will be greeted affectionately and jump into their lives right away: you are allowed to help to make the daily food, bread made out of yuka. Therefore, you harvest the root, wash it, peel it and then grate it. With this mash of yuka and some other ingredients you will prepare dough and then make a pizza over the open fire. Right off the flame you can try your homemade pizza bread – enjoy! With a full belly you can go and visit the shaman if he isn’t in a session during that time. If he is free he will take the time to talk to you about his healing techniques and the usage of different plants for healing. He also will let you in his practices and rituals with which he helps the inhabitants of the small village. After this insight look to a foreign world you will drive back to the lodge with a motor canoe.If there is more time you will again drive to the “Laguna Grande” to watch out for animals – especially for the anaconda. This is one of the biggest snakes in the world and it likes to live in moody areas, to be more specific, in Blackwater Rivers. These rivers rise from everglades and humous rainforest grounds and get their typical brown color from a high level of humic and other acids. The anaconda weaves itself right under the water surface, just the head peaks out of the water – watch out for it! This snake does not belong to the poisonous snakes; it is a constrictor snake that strangles its prey, like capybaras and caimans. Back in the lodge you will enjoy your last dinner in the stunning surrounding of the rainforest before you head to bed. B,L,D
Day 8: Birdwatching – lago agrio – departure
Today you need to get up early – the birds are not waiting for you. With your canoe and paddling you are heading out to the big Cuyabeno river again to sight some of the over 500 different species of birds that are living in the area – we recommend to bring a telescope or binoculars. The most spotted birds are the quetzal, the blue-and-yellow macaw, the harpy eagle and the common kingfisher. Back in the lodge you will have enough time – and probably hunger as well – to take breakfast before you have to say good bye to the paradise rainforest. With a motorized canoe you will head back to the entrance of the reserve and maybe spot some animals on your way, before you get into a car that is driving you back to Lago Agrio. From there you have the option to fly back to Quito within less than an hour or you head to Baños with a private transport. B