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Nothing that you will experience in your life will quite compare to the Tropical rainforest of Ecuador. The cacophony of the Amazon parrot and insects, the petrichor of the rich soil, fluorescent birds and butterflies plastered against the beautiful sky and the mischievous monkeys jumping from one tree to another will overwhelm your senses and leave you awestruck. The Oriente, which covers almost half of the country has much more to offer apart from the natural concoction of breathtaking wonders. The wonderful Oriente begins on the eastern Andean flank, where the wind dominated páramo gives way to the mist-laden montane forests full of mosses and epiphytes as the elevation decreases. The temperature rises as you descend further down with waterfalls finding their way into broadening valleys. Nestled between the Sierra and the lowlands, down in the foothills lies the picturesque landscape of the subtropical forests which houses a wide variety of birds. Further east the mountain ridges eventually form into a bajo (low) Oriente wilderness: Ecuador's Amazonian Jungle.
Location: Eastern Ecuador
Nearest Airport: Quito International Airport
How to reach: Most places are within 1-6 hours of Quito airport
Famous for: Exotic birding
Best time to visit: November to May
Key birds : Fiery Topaz, White-necked Jacobin, White-tipped Sicklebill, Buff-tailed Sicklebill, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Geoffroy's Daggerbill, Brown Violetear, Lesser Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Black-eared Fairy, Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Black-throated Mango, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Tourmaline Sunangel, Little Sunangel, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, White-bearded Hermit, Green Hermit, Tawny-bellied Hermit, Straight-billed Hermit, Long-billed Hermit, Great-billed Hermit, Reddish Hermit, Green-fronted Lancebill, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Choco Daggerbill
The El Oriente region is known as Las Amazonas owing to the rivers present here. These rivers were created by the melting snow from the Andes which then flow into the Amazon. The Amazonian rainforests have been home to Native Americans for thousands of years who have been living in isolation because of the natural barrier created by the Andes.
With 57% of all the mammals living in Ecuador, 500 species of tropical birds including theAmazon parrot,dolphins, monkeys, sloths, boas, turtles, and 15,000 plant species, the Amazon rainforest is the hub of biodiversity. If you are one of the lucky ones, you'll also get the chance to lay eyes upon the elusive jaguars.
El Oriente's mid-elevation and lowland rainforests are prime bird-watching areas.Amazon parrotamong other bird species makes up the 400+ bird species found in this area. With species of macaws frolicking above and the prehistoric hoatzin inhabiting the trees, there is no dearth of bird species to feast your eyes upon. All of the lodges found in El Oriente are prime bird-watching destinations.
The Amazon rainforest which stretches about 250 km to the borders of Columbia and Peru at some places, is the perfect place to go on a birding tour full of rare and amazing bird species, one of the main attractions being theAmazon parrot. You can choose single day trips into patches of forests close to town and stay with a rainforest community or at a jungle lodge. Multi-day camping treks are also available which take you into the remotest tracts of the Primary jungle in the eastern reserves. The hiking experience includes toiling through lush forests and making your way around tortuous rivers in canoes. This is done at night to witness the red eyes of the caiman and fill your ears with the rich chorus of the nocturnal creatures.
The famous areas like Reserva Faunística Cuyabeno and the Parque Nacional Yasuní are closest to the oil towns of Lago, Agrio, and Coca and are best experienced over four to five days. Tena, Puyo, and Misahuallí are smaller patches of exciting forests near Quito which are preferred by guests who don't have much time on their hands. You can also interact and stay with the local communities in Tena and Puyo. Although tourism is not much developed in the southern Oriente, you can visit Macas which has some operators and projects.