A vacation to the Ecuadorian Amazon really is a feast for the eyes. From colorful macaws and toucans to flowing rivers and coffee plants, there are lots of things you’ll see during your trip. However, there are a few things that you definitely won’t want to miss, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these five highlights of the jungle:
When you think of the Amazon rainforest, you may think of the wildlife, or the scenery. In fact, with so much going on, it can be easy to forget that people have built their lives right here in the jungle… and have been doing so for centuries and centuries. Keep a look out for carvings on any rocks you pass, particularly spiral carvings which are common in this part of the Amazon. While not much is known about the pre-Columbian cultures of Ecuador, we do know that these drawings are some sort of communications of messages, with local experts believing the spirals represent a male or father figure.
The Ecuadorian Amazon boasts an extensive cave system so keep your eyes peeled for secret passages meandering through the rocky landscape. One of the more open and accessible cave systems is the Jumandi Caves, where you can make your way through the yellow rocks, squeezing between the stalagmites and stalactites and marveling at the wildlife that enjoys living in these dark, damp conditions such as scorpion spiders and bats. There’s also a ‘healing’ waterfall, and a rock that’s said to aid fertility! There are some other great cave systems out there, too, like Ceremony and Elephant Caves.
You won’t have to look too hard to find some jaw dropping waterfalls in the Ecuadorian Amazon as there are cascading waters in many different parts of the region. One of the best is the Las Latas waterfalls, located on the Napo River in Tena. To reach the waterfall, you’ll enjoy a beautiful (though slightly wet!) stroll along the riverbed, passing by some of the Amazon’s most stunning plants and flowers including world famous orchids, guadua bamboo, and even cinnamon. After all, Tena is known as the ‘cinnamon capital of the world’. The walk to the falls takes around 15 minutes.
If you’re visiting some of the more swampy areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon, it’s well worth keeping your eyes peeled for the ‘Stinky Turkey’. This bird, whose real name is the Hoatzin, looks a little like a pheasant, and you’ll probably hear its calls long before you lay eyes on it. Why is it called the Stinky Turkey? You’ll soon find out… Hoatzin are famous for smelling like cow manure. But there’s a reason! Hoatzin are not endangered, and that’s because they have a fermentation-like digestive system, just like cows, which removes toxins from their food. This fermentation causes a rather unpleasant smell.
There are all sorts of wonderful trees to be found in the Ecuadorian Amazon, so what’s so special about Kapok trees? Kapok trees are not only interesting to look at due to their huge size and soft, cottony seed fibers but they’re also home to lots of amazing wildlife. Frogs and birds live in these trees, while the odor of the flowers is known to attract bats. If wildlife is one of your main reasons for vacationing in the Ecuadorian Amazon, also be sure to stop by Amazoonico during your tour. This rescue centre is home to all sorts of species who are unable to be released into their natural habitat.