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These 6 Amazon Rainforest Expeditions, that take you on hidden  creeks and lakes are the best Amazon journeys in Ecuador! Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths, Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní! This is why! Within Cuyabeno, these are the best Cuyabeno programs because they have been designed by the conservation biologist who started ecotourism to Cuyabeno and the Cofan Tribe, who manage one third of Cuyabeno.



The 7 day's Lagarto Cocha Expedition is an epic journey deep into the wildest part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, exploring creeks and lakes that hardly any tourist ever gets to see.


Day 1

Our transport meets you in Lagoagrio to take you in about 2 hours to the the canoe landing location Nuevo Unión, on the Aguarico River.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Detailed map Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve with route.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Aguarico River landscape.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan Lodge tourist canoe.

The Lagarto Cocha Expedition takes you on a 200km odyssey through the Eastern Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, starting at the River Aguarico.

The tourist canoe of the Cofan Lodge.


Upon arrival in Zábalo, you will be shown around in the village and taken to your cabins to freshen up and rest, as it has been a long day since your departure from Quito.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Relaxing on the Cuyabeno Lodge deck during your Amazon visit in EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan Lodge Cabin.

The restaurant of our Cofan Lodge.

One of the cabins of the Cofan Lodge.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Resting in hammocks at the Cofan Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Zábalo Cofan village.

Resting in a hammocks in our restaurant.

A walk in Zábalo village.


Day 2

You will be taken on one of the few Ecuadorian black water rivers, where the clear dark water provides ideal conditions for Giant Otters. There is also a vivid population of Scarlet Macaws as well as a great variety of tropical birds and monkeys.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Blue and Yellow macaws can be frequently seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Black Mantled Tamarins at Cofan Lodge, your comfortable hotel when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Blue and yellow Macaws are common in the reserve.

Black-Mantled Tamarins live in good-sized groups.


In the evening, you return to Zábalo to spend the night in the Cofan Lodge.


After dark, we make a short excursion to look at nocturnal animals.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Tree Frog of the Amazon Jungle seen on a night excursion when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Nocturnal amazon animal found on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

Tree frogs are very common, but it is somewhat hard to spot them. The minute you think you at last have one in your camera, they jump away to never be seen again. With lots of luck, you may see the reflecting eyes of an Ocelot Cat in the beam of your flash light.


Day 3

The day begins with learning about of the Cofan ways. You will be instructed how to shoot with a blowgun, and get the opportunity to see the traditional Cofan dresses.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cuyabeno Entry station for Amazon Visitors in EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan shaman with village children.

Learning how to shoot with a blowgun.

The shaman with some of the Cofan children and of tourists.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Zábalo kitchen garden.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Cofan turtle restoration project.

The traditional vegetable garden produces typical food of the Amazon region.

The Cofan turtle breeding project helped restore the turtle numbers in Cuyabeno.


In the morning we take off to the largest lake of the Ecuatorian Amazon, Zancudo Coche, located in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. After a well-deserved night's rest, you will explore Lake Zancudo Cocha and its surrounding.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon jungle flowering.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon forest in the dry season with some trees shedding their leaves.

Sometimes, you will see trees flowering, but always as part of a very varied jungle, where no tree species will ever dominate the landscape.

During the dry season - which is never truly dry, just dryer - some trees will shed their leaves.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions:  Amazon Manatee at Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon dolphin on an Amazon visit in Ecuador

Usually there will be a few Amazon Dolphins (no guarantee of course) or, if you are really lucky, a Manatee.


Skim past the shores with beautiful jungle trees and spot sloths and monkeys, like the Black-mantled Tamarins, noisy Howlers and Wooley Monkeys. Watch for the more than 540 species of birds known for the area, varying from hummingbirds to Harpy eagles, King Vultures to endangered – yet common in Cuyabeno - Blue and Yellow macaws.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon jungle seen from the air.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Candle bush in the Amazon.

Cuyabeno's rainforest has the greatest recorded number of species per hectare anywhere in the world.

The Candle Bush grows along river courses.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Ecuador Amazon birding expeditionAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Birdwatchers on Amazon Expedition in Ecuador

The reserve has become a favorite place for birdwatchers.

Tourists "hunt" wild animals with their binoculars and cameras.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: flooded forest along Lake Zancudo Cocha.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: jungle lunch in Cuyabeno.

The borders of the lake are often inundated.

Along the way we picnic on a "blanket" of palm leaves.


We spend the entire day exploring the lake, after which we make camp and sleep in tents along the lake side.


Day 4

After breakfast, we enter a branch of the Imuya River, which forms the Lagarto Cocha watershed. We send the entire day exploring this beautiful black water river, looking out for wildlife and birds.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: the Imuyo River is the clearest black water river in the Amazon of Ecuador.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: The black water of the Imuyo River mixing with the "white" - in reality coffee-with-cream colored sediment loaded River Aguarico.

With its entire watershed protected in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the Imuyo River is the clearest black water river in the Amazon of Ecuador.

The clear black - sediment poor - water of the Imuyo River mixes with the sediment loaded water of the Aguarico River. The color comes from the soil particles dispersed in the water.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: natigating up the Imuyo River.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: extended swamps characterize the forest.

Continuing the journey upstream the Imuyo River until we reach the Lagarto Cocha lakes.

Extended swamps characterize the forest.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Amazon visitors enjoy orchid at Cuyabeno, EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Beautiful flowers enlighten Amazon visits in Ecuador.AMAZON FOREST PLANTS, ECUADOR: Amazon rainforest plants include the Orchids growing in Cuyabeno. Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Heliconia in the Amazon tropical Rainforest seen when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

Some of the jungle flowers you may find along the way, depending on the season.


In the evening we make camp (in tents) along the river.


Day 5

After breakfast, we enter the Lagarto Coche Lakes, a dense network of lakes and creaks at the border with Peru. We spend 2 days exploring the lakes and Macrolobium swamps.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: The border of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is a huge swamp area.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Lagarto Cocha along the Peruvian border is a huge swamp area.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Along the border with Peru, Cuyabeno Reserve of Ecuador is an enormous swamp.Epiphytes in the Amazon Jungle

Lagarto Coche is a dense network of creeks and lakes.

The Macrolobium trees form mystic swamps with their bonsai shaped truncs.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Taking a plunge in Lagarto Cocha lakes. Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: excursion in Cuyabeno.

After a days' excursion it is very refreshing to take a plunge into one of the lakes.

On excursion in one of the Lagarto Cocha Lakes.


In the evening, we make camp along one of the creeks or lakes.


Day 6

In the morning, we continue exploring the Lagarto Cocha Lakes swamps.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Seasonal floating meadows in Cuyabeno, Lagarto Cocha. Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Lagarto Cocha lakes with Macrolobium trees in Cuyabeno.

The swamps form dense networks of flooded forest and seasonal floating meadows loved by Manati.

At other locations the swamps are formed by Macrolobium trees.


In the afternoon, we have to head back to Zábalo, where you spend the night in the Cofan Lodge.


Day 7

On day 7, you will experience the feel of so many of our visitors: "It all went by too quickly".

From Zábalo, we take you upstream Aguarico River to the road at El Unión, where your transport is waiting for you to take you to the airport or the bus-terminal in Lagoagrio, where your journey ends. Check our Cofan Lodge rates.



For those who would like to explore the entire Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, we have the Cuyabeno Lake Extension. Your expedition would last two more days, the last of which, you would spend around the famous Cuyabeno Lake while being lodged in the comfortable famous Cuyabeno Lodge. This would be a fantastic conclusion of your Amazon Rainforest Expedition.  For details about the program, take a look at Cuyabeno Tour, but in stead of staying 3 nights, you would be staying 2 nights.


For this extension, your extended itinerary would continue after the previous day 6:


Day 7

After breakfast, we take you to the mouth of the Cuyabeno River, where usually some river dolphins hang out. From there you will be taken to the Canopy tower, to have an impression of the natural canopy.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: The mouth of the Cuyabeno River.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: The Cuyabeno Canopy Tower.

The Cuyabeno River Mouth is frequented by Amazon Dolphins

The highest canopy tower in Cuyabeno takes you all the way into the crown of a gigantic tree.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Canopy tower platform.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: view from the canopy tower.

Admiring the view from the canopy tower platform.

The tree canopies are where the Amazon jungle has most of its species.


After visiting the canopy tower, the journey continues upstream to the Cuyabeno Lake, from where the program will be taken over by one of the lodges at the Cuyabeno Lake, of which the most famous is the Cuyabeno Lodge.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Port of Entry for a visit of the Amazon in Ecuador at CuyabenoAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Macrolobium trees at Lake Cuyabeno.

Continuing the journey upstream the Cuyabeno River.

The Macrolobium trees at the border of the Cuyabeno lake are like giant Bonsai trees and full of epiphytes.


Upon arrival at the lodge, you can take a hot shower and rest up a bit and take a swim in the lake at sunset.

Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Swimming at the Cuyabeno Lake during your Amazon visit in EcuadorAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Make great friends at the Cuyabeno Lodge when visiting the Amazon in Ecuador.

A swim at the lake is always wonderfully refreshing and a lot of fun.

Dinner in the restaurant of the comfortable Cuyabeno Lodge.


At night you can take an night excursion through the "tierra firma" - better drained hilly (but not dry) forest and explore the cool mysterious critters of the night.


Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Grasshopper shedding skin.Amazon Rainforest Expeditions: Interesting lizard in the jungleAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: A jung tarantella spiderAmazon Rainforest Expeditions: Frog waiting to snap up a fat insect

Nocturnal critters


On night excursions, one can see the most unusual critters and events, like a cricket that just changed its skin, nocturnal lizards, tarantulas, and of course, tree frogs.


Day 8

After a well-deserved night's rest, you will explore the Cuyabeno Lake and its surrounding Macrolobium swamps, which are more developed than in Lagarto Cocha. The forest in this part of the reserve is better developed and you are likely to see different species of wildlife.


Day 9

On this final day, you will have to leave early in the morning to get back on time to catch the plane or bus to Quito in Lagoagrio. You will ride the canoe up the Upper Cuyabeno River to the main entrance of the park, the "Cuyabeno Bridge", where your transport will be waiting for you to bring you to the airport or to the bus station to take you on your trip back to Quito.




There are 3 options to travel to the Amazon Lowlands:

  • Take the night bus from Quito to Lagoagrio (usually leaves at 11 at night) from the "Terminal Norte" in Quito and arrive in Lagoagrio at dawn. It costs about $ 46 for the round trip and you have to leave from your hotel in Quito to the terminal  an hour before departure. Alternatively, you can take a day bus, but then you will have to spend the night in Lagoagrio. We will pick you up in Lagoagrio in combination with arriving passengers by plane, departing generally at 10:30 (depending on the arrival of the plane), to Nuevo Unión (2 hours), where we embark in our canoe at about 12:30. Between your departure from your hotel at night at 10 at night until disembarking, will be more or less 15 hours.

  • Fly with Tame Quito - Lagoagrio. You can book your ticket at, which costs about $ 220 round trip per person, but additionally you have to consider the cost of a taxi that costs 2X25; Then it actually costs $ 270. Your flight usually leaves at 9 in the morning, and takes 30 minutes to arrive. As many times the flight is delayed, count on arriving around 10, and after getting your luggage, it will be 10:30. We'll pick you up at the airport. From there it takes two hours to arrive in Nuevo Union, where we leave in our canoe at 12:30. Thus flying takes a total of 5, 5 - 6 hours from your hotel until you can embark on the Rio Aguarico.

  • A great alternative is taking our Private Trans-Andean Transportation to the Aguarico River, which costs $300 per party which will be shared among the participants in your group. We will pick you up at your hotel early in the morning and take to the Aguarico  or Cuyabeno River in about 8 - 9 hours depending how much time we spend on the way at the overlooks into the Cayambe - Coca Ecological Reserve.


Very early in the morning you will be picked up at your hotel in Quito to travel along the scenic road to the Aguarico River, passing through Ecuador's most striking waterfall, the San Rafael Waterfall, as well through the paramo (Andes meadows) of the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve.

Lake Papallacta.San Rafael Waterfall overlook.

Near the mountain pass you pass by beautiful paramos and some of the highest rainforests in the world along Lake Papallacta.

The virgin cloud forest San Rafael waterfall is the most beautiful waterfall of the country.


Jamanco Spa hotsprings, near Papallacta.Reventador Volcano pouring out lava.

Bordering Lake Papallacta is the Jamanco Spa with great mineral water without prior filtration as done in the Papallacta resorts. As a result, the mineral quality is supposed to be better, while resort prices are a fraction of the spas in Papallacta.

The Reventador is Ecuador's most active volcano and frequently runs of down-pouring can be seen glowing in the night.

  • It is possible to arrange for spending the night at either a Papallacta (costly) or Jamanco (friendly and much more economical) Spa, but then another day is needed.

  • Many passengers who take the private transportation, chose to fly back or visa versa.

Lagoagrio Airport.Cayambe Volcano seen from the flight to Lagoagrio.

Arrival at the airport of oil-boom town Lagoagrio.

At a clear day you can see the Cayambe exactly on the equator, as you fly around it. On the way in, chose a window on the right and on the way back on the left of the plane.


What is essential to bring our best Amazon Rainforest Expeditions?

Please check our vacation packing packing list for the tropics.


The COFAN LODGE has its sales office in:

Mariano Cardenal N74-153 y Joaquín Mancheno; Carcelen Alto District (Barrio)


(++593) (0)(2) 252 7314



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