Best of Ecuadorian Highlands and Amazon: Part 2

Ecuador lies in the “Heart of the Earth”, so it’s not a surprise why people easily fall in love with this beautiful place. Ecuador is noted for its stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, lush junglescapes, impressive biodiversity, charming towns, and friendly people. Sounds like a paradise unlike no other, right? 

Here’s the second part of the best places to visit in Ecuador Highlands and Amazon. If you haven’t read the first part, you can check it out here.

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Hoatzin – Ophisthocomus hoazin, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador by Judy Gallagher

This Ecuadorian Amazon is a bucket-list-worthy experience for nature lovers visiting South America. Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is an incredible place where you can enjoy wildlife spotting. There’s no dull moment in this awe-inspiring environment. You can hike in the forest and learn about the rich flora and fauna. Get a chance to see different kinds of creatures such as monkeys, turtles, frogs, snakes (anacondas), and more. The forest is also home to many exotic birds including toucans, macaws, the umbrella bird, hoatzin, and the harpy eagle. You can also take a boat ride down the river for a chance to see Pink River dolphins, caimans, and electric eels. One of the highlights that you can look forward to in this jungle Cuyabeno adventure is meeting a Siona indigenous community. This enriching experience gives you the honor of learning about their customs and ancient traditions.

Misahualli (pronounced Mees-a-why-YEE)

Photography, Scan and postprocessing by Hubertl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Misahualli is a small town at the junction of the Misahualli and Napo rivers. The town has a beautiful jungle, waterfalls, and a sandy beach.

The most beloved residents of this town are the Misahualli monkeys. They love wandering along the beach and into the park at the center of town. The monkeys look adorable, but they can also be quite naughty. So make sure you secure your things, especially your bags and gadgets when strolling in the area. These monkeys have very quick hands and sometimes they would sneak behind and grab your food or water bottle. These playful monkeys love snatching sunglasses too, so be attentive at all times. 

There is a  butterfly farm near the park where you can see many lovely butterfly species found in the jungle such as the gorgeous blue morpho butterfly.

Yasuni National Park

Yasuni National Park - Best of Ecuadorian Highlands and Amazon
Yasuni National Park by Jose Schreckinger

Imagine a lush tropical rainforest with biodiversity that’s full to the brim … this best describes Yasuni National Park. Tagged as the most biologically diverse spot in the world, this lush jungle is home to many indigenous tribes and incredible flora and fauna. The nature park was established in 1979 and ten years later, UNESCO declared it as a World Biosphere Reserve.

One of the leading activities that you can do is hiking the Amarun Nambi trail to Centro de Interpretación Yaku Kausay. You’ll find a small museum where you can learn about the history of the national park, the communities that thrive here, and the flora and fauna.  The museum showcases wooden hand-carvings of the main species found in the tropical rainforest. 

Another great stop is the Observation Tower Cury Mullo where you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the rainforest. The tower stands at 50 meters tall and beside it is a giant tree. The tower gives you the perfect view of the treetops and the river. You might spot some monkeys and birds from the tower. 

You can take a boat ride to see the Saladero de Loros, a small salt lick along the river’s edge where parrots flock to eat salt. The birds need salt intake to counterbalance all the poisonous fruits that they ingest. 

Yasuni National Park is a haven of Big Ceibos and the Pink Boa Tree. You can hike along a loop trail to see these incredible, giant trees, some of which loom at 50 meters high and measure more than five meters wide.

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands - Best of Ecuadorian Highlands

People have been amazed about these islands ever since it was discovered in the 16th century. The islands are named after the giant tortoises found here. It is made up of 13 large islands, six smaller ones, and 42 islets. The larger islands are Santiago, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela, Fernandina. Galapagos Islands were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The entire protected area is about 7,880 square kilometers.

Its rich biological diversity makes Galapagos Islands a bucket-list destination. The hot and rainy season of December through May is when the ocean is usually at its calmest in the region. That’s why there is an influx of visitors during this period. Visitors who are not too fond of the rain and heat may visit during the cooler, dryer season from June through November.

This volcanic archipelago nestled in the Pacific Ocean has been called a ‘melting pot’ of marine species after Charles Darwin’s research on these islands. The combination of its remote location and seismic and volcanic activities has led to the evolution of unique animals such as the land iguana and giant tortoises. Visiting this unspoiled region will give you the opportunity to witness these unique and incredible species.

The giant tortoise is perhaps the apple of the eye of many travelers. Two of the best places to see these magnificent creatures are Rancho Primicias, a privately-owned animal sanctuary, and El Chato Tortoise Reserve on Santa Cruz Island. You can have your photo taken with the giant tortoise, but keep in mind that feeding and touching the animals are not allowed. 

Bird lovers will surely be delighted by the region’s rare bird species including the many species of finches, flightless cormorant, waved albatross, and the Galapagos penguin.

Galapagos is also known for its calm, pristine, and laid-back beaches that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling like the Osborn Islet. The Island of Cristobal enjoys year-round waves, making it popular among surf enthusiasts. The best months to go surfing are December through February. This is the period where experienced surfers can expect some of the best and the biggest breaks working with north swells; some of which can reach double overhead.

Come and visit Ecuador 

If you’re looking for a rewarding destination on its own, you can never go wrong with Ecuador. Join our Ecuador surf trip to experience its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, fine food, and the thrill of surfing.