Visiting the Amazon rainforest is a bucket list dream for many – and dreamy it is!

Here’s how to plan your trip to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador and the best Ecuador Amazon tours.


If you’re planning a trip to the Amazon rainforest, there’s a good chance you’ll start your Ecuador trip in Quito. And Quito is one of the best starting points for visiting the Amazon.

Not only is the Amazon in Ecuador one of the most accessible ways in, but it also offers a more varied trip. 

As well as welcoming flights from all over the world, Quito is a vibrant capital city with plenty to do on either side of your jungle adventure.

Booking an Amazon tour from Quito is fairly easy, too.

While the Amazon’s remoteness doesn’t exactly make it one of the easiest places on Earth to travel, Quito is one of the easier destinations to travel from.

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THE BEST AMAZON TOURS IN ECUADOR


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Planning an Amazon trip in Ecuador 

Every Amazon tour is a little different, so it’s a good idea to understand your options before you book.

From areas to visit to accommodation styles, every tour will give you a different experience. 

Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing your Amazon tour.


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Where to go in the Amazon

If you’re visiting the Amazon in Ecuador, you have two choices of where to go: the Cuyabeno Reserve or Yasuni National Park. 

Both are about the same in terms of travel times from Quito, so it really comes down to personal preference. 

Many travellers say that Yasuni feels more untouched – which may be a positive or negative, depending on what you’re looking for!

On the one hand, it allows you to switch off entirely. On the other, though, photographers and people who need to charge electronics may struggle in Yasuni.


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Accommodation in Cuyabeno also tends to be a little nicer.

Don’t get me wrong – you won’t find anything close to a 5-star hotel in either park. But the lodges in Cuyabeno are as comfortable as they come (but still very, very rustic!). 

If you want a more comfortable experience where you still get close to nature, choose Cuyabeno.

If you want to feel completely absorbed in nature and forget modern life entirely, you might prefer Yunasi. 


A riverside hammock at Green Forest Ecolodge in cuyabeno, Ecuador
A riverside hammock at one of the Cuyabeno lodges

When to go to the Amazon in Ecuador

There are two main seasons in the Ecuadorian Amazon: wet and dry. The latter runs from December to March, while the latter covers the rest of the year. 

Again, there are advantages and disadvantages to visiting the Amazon in both seasons. 

Both seasons are hot and humid, but the dry season tends to be a little cooler.

More land is visible during this time, which means it’s easier to spot land wildlife, but it may be harder to see other animals. It’s also the best time to avoid mosquitoes since there will be fewer during this time.


TRAVEL TIP: Pack lots of good quality insect repellent – like this one – anyway! Mosquitoes exist all year round, as do many other bugs and spiders.


If you want to see as much of the wildlife as possible, the wet, warm season from March to July is probably your best bet.

Just be prepared for thunder showers during these months. While they happen all year round – it is the rainforest, after all! – you can expect more rain around April. A lightweight rain jacket is a must-have at all times of year.



Vaccinations and insurance

Before you jet off on your dream Amazon trip, don’t forget to take care of the boring bits (sorry!). 

Some travel vaccinations need to be given well in advance, so check with your doctor to make sure you have everything you need. If you don’t, get them as soon as possible.

According to the NHS website, vaccinations you may need include Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Rabies and more. Your doctor may also recommend anti-malaria tablets, depending on the length of your trip.

The Amazon is a very unique environment, so you’ll want to make sure your travel insurance covers you too. 

If you haven’t bought insurance for your trip, I recommend World Nomads. They’re not the cheapest option, but they cover more adventurous activities that other insurers exclude (usually in the small print!).

Plus, I can personally vouch for them after a hiking accident in Peru left me hospitalised. 

Click here to read more about the pros and cons of using World Nomads or click here to get a free, 30-second quote.


Amazon rainforest kingfisher in the Cuyabeno Reserve
An Amazon Kingfisher, one of the many bird species you might spot on your Amazon tour.

How long to stay in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Most Amazon tours from Quito last 3-5 days, ending back in Ecuador’s capital. 

I would say 3 nights is enough to immerse yourself in jungle life and give yourself the chance to see a whole load of wildlife. 

The one exception, perhaps, is if you’re a photographer.

If you’re hoping to find or photograph a particular animal, give yourself as much time as you can. Some days can be a total wipe out, while on others you see three anacondas in a row (true story!).

If you’re continuing your Ecuador travels after the Amazon, 3 nights in the rainforest is more than enough. If you’re spending 2 weeks in Ecuador, it’s the perfect amount.



What to expect on an Amazon jungle tour in Ecuador

One of the best things about any type of safari is that every day is different. An Amazon safari is no different. 

A typical day on an Amazon tour can be packed with as much (or as little) adventure as you like.

As well as the standard river safaris, which usually last around 3 hours, you’ll have a chance to go on walking safaris, explore hiking trails, swim in the Amazon river and even go on a night walk. 

Most days in the Amazon begin early to give you best chance at spotting wildlife. Breakfast will usually be served at around 7am and followed by a morning river safari. 

After a filling lunch back at your lodge, you might embark on another river safari or head out by foot. If you want a more relaxing break, many of the lodges have hammocks, relaxation areas or viewpoints to enjoy nature from.

If there’s something in particular that you’d like to experience, make sure you choose a tour that includes it (or offers it as an extra).


A motorised canoe tour in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Many Amazon tours offer the chance to watch magical sunsets

The best Amazon tours from Quito

Now you know what to look for in your Amazon tour, here are some of the best ones.

Best for first timers: A classic 4-day Amazon tour

The most popular way to visit the Amazon from Quito is on a 4-day trip. 

This 4-day / 3-night jungle trip will take you to the Cuyabeno Reserve. There, you’ll spend every night in one of the premium lodges, providing a completely immersive experience. 

As well as exploring the rainforest by both motorised canoe and on foot, you’ll have the chance to visit one of the small, local communities. This unique visit will give you a glimpse into the lives of those who still live in Ecuador’s rainforest.

You’ll also get to try some local treats, such as kassava bread, while you’re there!


Best for active travellers: Paddle Boarding in the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most peaceful places in the world. With limited electricity and very little human life, it’s one of the best places in the world to switch off. 

If you want a truly unique experience, choose an Amazon tour that includes stand up paddle boarding. You’ll experience the stillness and peacefulness in a whole new way. 

This 4-day tour to the Cuyabeno Reserve includes several opportunities to explore the Amazon by SUP. There are plenty of hikes and canoe safaris to break up the adventure, too, offering an active yet relaxing way to experience the Amazon in Ecuador.


An anaconda in the Amazon
Imagining coming face to face with an 8-metre anaconda.

Best for adventure seekers: Camping and kayaking 

If you want to see the Amazon in a more adventurous way, choose a camping trip. 

This 5-day Amazon tour includes 4 nights at the Amazon Explorer Campsite, where you’ll be completely disconnected from city life. 

During the daytime, you’ll explore the surrounding rainforest by kayak, canoe and on foot. You’ll go in search of the largest snake in the world, the anaconda, and visit the parrot clay lick to see a large concentration of parrots, macaws and other local bird life. 

On the penultimate day, there will also be chance to visit a local Kichwa community. Before the visit, you’ll get to hike in the rainforest and see local medicinal plants. 


Best for responsible tourists: Amazon + sustainable communities 

If sustainability is always front of mind when you travel, it’s no surprise you’ve chosen Ecuador! As well as being one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, it’s also leading in the ecotourism space. 

With Ecuador’s strict eco initiatives, you’ll hardly have to think about the impact your trip is having. But if you want to go even further, this unique tour visits some of the region’s sustainable community projects.

You’ll also get the full Amazon experience, too, with plenty of time to spot and learn about the wildlife.


A Kichwa woman making kassava bread in an Amazon community
Learn about local food traditions on a community visit.

Want more wildlife? Try these additional wildlife tours in Ecuador

Have a little longer in Ecuador? There’s plenty more to see! 

If a few days of wildlife isn’t enough, here are some longer and additional wildlife tours in Ecuador to consider. 

If you want to spend longer in the Amazon… Try a longer trip, such as this unique 8-day jungle adventure.

You’ll have even more time to enjoy the rainforest and even more opportunities to spot wildlife. With 8 days and plenty of community interaction, you’ll be one with the jungle in no time and come back with a fresh perspective and newfound sense of calm.


If you want maximum wildlife in one tour… This nature-centric tour has the perfect Ecuador itinerary for wildlife lovers. It does everything in the perfect order, too!

After spending three nights in the Amazon, you’ll head back to Quito and fly on to the Galapagos (so make sure you pack for both!).

You’ll then have five jam-packed days in the Galapagos to soak up of the local wildlife here. 


If you want to add on the Galapagos… Add this 7-day Galapagos cruise. 

Once you travel back from the Amazon to Quito, spend a night in the capital before hopping on a flight.

On this 7-day cruise, you’ll get to see all of the best places in the Galapagos. Isla Espanola, with its abundance of sea lions, iguanas and hawks, is sure to be a highlight!


A cayman in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador at night
Who knows what you might spot on a night safari…

Still got questions about visiting the Amazon in Ecuador?

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about planning an Ecuador Amazon trip. 

Is Ecuador a good place to visit the Amazon? 

The Amazon rainforest covers nine countries, and each offers a different experience. While there’s no one size fits all best place to visit the Amazon, Ecuador is one of the easiest. 

As well as having plenty of Amazon tours to choose from, Ecuador’s rainforest is relatively accessible. It is well serviced, with comfortable accommodation, yet still maintains its ecotourism credentials.

Add in the possibility to visit the country’s many other unique sights, and Ecuador is a great country for visiting the Amazon rainforest. 


Is the Amazon dangerous to visit?

The Amazon is full of dangerous animals, but few of them have any interest in humans. Anacondas, jaguars, frogs and caimans all pose threats to other wildlife, but it’s very rare that they attack humans. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious. You will have a guide with you at all times while visiting the Amazon, so make sure you do as they say. 

Perhaps the biggest danger to humans in the Amazon is the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes in the Amazon can carry diseases such as malaria and yellow, so make sure you take the necessary precautions. At the very least, pack a good bottle of strong insect repellent

How much of Ecuador is Amazon jungle? 

The land covered by the Amazon jungle in Ecuador represents 80% of the country’s forested land. That’s a pretty big amount!

Although the Amazon rainforest covers such a large part of Ecuador, the Ecuadorian Amazon contains only 2% of the Amazon basin. 

Compared with the other countries covered by the Amazon, Ecuador’s land is on the lower side of things. Just over a quarter of the land mass in Ecuador is covered by the Amazon.
 

Where is the rainforest in Ecuador? 

The Amazon Basin in Ecuador covers six provinces: Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbíos, and Zamora Chinchipe. They are all situated in the east of Ecuador, bordering Peru and Colombia.


So, now you know what to look for in a tour of the Amazon in Ecuador, all that’s left is to book! 

The Amazon is a truly magical place and any tour there is sure to be thrilling and relaxing all at once. 

If you can, spend a little longer in Ecuador and explore more of this beautiful country. This 2-week Ecuador itinerary covers all the most unique spots.

If you love wildlife, the Galapagos are another must-visit and an entirely different experience. 


RELATED READ: How to spend 3 nights in an Amazon lodge in Iquitos, Peru.


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