Have a look at our lodge-selection in the Amazon region

The Amazon is the lungs of our beautiful blue planet with its 5,500,000 km² of tropical forest. It is also the home with the greatest biodiversity in the world. Indeed, there are currently more than 2 million species of insects, 40,000 species of plants, 2,200 fish, nearly 1,300 birds, 430 mammals, 400 amphibians, and nearly 380 reptiles.

Equally impressive is the diversity of its flora with over a billion trees and 75,000 different tree species. Ecuador has only a tiny part of this gigantic Amazon rainforest, yet it remains one of the most unspoiled. The natural wealth of this region, added to that of the Andes and the Galápagos, makes Ecuador one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world. An unmissable event for all nature lovers who travel to Ecuador.

The squirrel monkeys

This monkey species, which is abundantly present in the Amazon, is also called “saimiri”. Squirrel monkeys are small and live in groups of 30 to 70 individuals.

The squirrel monkeys (saïmiri)

Its plush fur will make you fall for it. The squirrel monkey is very skilled and lives in branches.

Size: 25 to 35 centimetres, with the tail being 35 to 45 centimetres.

Weight: Ranges from 750g to 1.2kg.

Aspect: Its main coat ranges from grey to olive green with touches of gold and black.

Food: Feeds mainly on insects found in trees.

Nesting: It usually breeds during the rainy season, for a period of 3 months. The gestation of this species lasts for 5 to 6 months.

Lifespan: 23 years (in captivity)

Population: Unknown. It is a species of Least Concern (LC for IUCN)

Where to observe them ?: You can see them in the Cuyabeno reserves and Yasuni park.

The silver woolly monkey

This remarkable monkey species is currently on Ecuador’s Red List of Endangered Species. Also called “chorongo”, this large, robust-bodied primate lives mainly in trees, in groups of up to 25 individuals. It is a subspecies of the Lagothrix lagothricha family (Lagothrix poeppigii).

The silver woolly monkey (Lagothrix poeppigii)

It has very dense bronze to silver fur that darkens until adulthood, and this gives it a very recognisable appearance. It is mainly found in the Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil.

Size: 40 to 69 centimetres, with the tail being 55 to 80 centimetres.

Weight: Ranges from 8 to 12 kilograms in males and 3.6 to 8 kilograms in females.

Aspect: Paler in colour during its early years, the fur becomes denser and tends to change to brown tones, and then to bronze with silver notes in adulthood.

Food: Feeds mainly on ripe fruits and more than 250 species of plants. Its favourite dish is fig and guava shrubs.

Reproduction: The alpha male mates with the females in his group. Gestation lasts between 7 and 8 months (one baby at a time, although twins have been observed). He clings to his mother before generally becoming independent after 6 months.

Lifespan: Between 15 and 20 years (in nature)

Population:Unknown. It is an endangered species; classified as “En Peligro” (EN) on the Ecuadorian Red List and Vulnerable Species (VU) on the IUCN Red List, this species is threatened mainly by subsistence hunting, illegal trade in its meat, and development of agriculture on a smaller scale.

Where to observe them ?: You can see them around the Napo River and its main tributaries, usually at altitudes below 400 metres. It is more rarely observed at higher altitudes, in the eastern part of the Andes.

The douroucouli

The douroucouli (Aotus), otherwise called the night monkey, is very recognizable with its large round eyes.

The douroucouli (Aotus)

This nocturnal primate has the distinct feature of having monochrome vision. It is also one of the few primate species that cannot use its tail for support.

Size: 27 to 48 centimetres, with the tail being about the same size as its body.

Weight: ranges from 600g to 1kg.

Aspect: The douroucouli has large round eyes, small ears, and a golden-grey woolly coat.

Food: It is omnivorous. It feeds on seeds, insects, leaves and fruits.

Nesting: There is no particular period for reproduction. The gestation period of the female is around 4 months with a litter of 1 baby each time.

Lifespan: : approximately 20 years

Population: Unknown. It is a species of Least Concern (LC for IUCN)

Where to observe them ?: You can see them in the Cuyabeno reserves and Yasuni park.

The crested Hoazin

A remarkable and iconic species of crested bird of medium size, with a long neck and small head, possessing a long tail. It is found near rivers, tributaries, and in mangroves.

The crested Hoazin (Opisthocomus hoazin)

A remarkable and iconic species of crested bird of medium size, the crested hoazin (Opisthocomus hoazin) has a long neck, small head, and possesses a long tail. It is found near rivers, tributaries, and in mangroves.
One of the most emblematic birds of the Amazon, the crested hoazin is recognisable by its distinctive crest, plumage, and behaviour. You will not be able to miss it while moving along the rivers and in the marshy areas. There is only one species of hoazin, the Opisthocomus hoazin. This bird is known for its rather unpleasant smell; very “marshy” due to the acidity of its digestive system, and is therefore rarely consumed by humans. Its eggs, particularly in Brazil, are consumed by the locals.

Height: 62 to 70 centimetres (adult age).

Weight: Ranges from 650 to 850 grams.

Aspect: This medium-sized bird remains imposing due to it’s the particular crest on its bare head, and long tail. The upper part of its body is mainly covered with bronze-olive plumage, veering towards buff, as is its tail. The lower part of its plumage draws more towards the chestnut.

Habitat: : Trees that border rivers and streams, mangrove-type swamps. Always close to water and are never found at an altitude of more than 500 metres. It is found in the eastern Andes of Venezuela and Guinea, in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia.

Food: A “forced” herbivore that feeds almost exclusively on tree leaves. It has a remarkable digestive system which allows it to maintain a bacterial flora that results from a long fermentation of its food, which is also rich in carbons, proteins, and other nutrients.

Nesting: It usually breeds during the rainy season (monogamous) and forms nits that are 2 to 5 metres high on the heights, just above wetlands. Produces 1–6 eggs at 1.5–2-day intervals, each with an incubation period of 30–31 days. Incubation begins from the second egg.

Population: Non-threatened species, although the precariousness of their habitat and their specific diet make them potentially vulnerable, in particular to agricultural water pollution.

Where to observe them ?: You can see them in the Cuyabeno reserves and Yasuní park.

The black caiman

Belonging to the Alligatoridae family, black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) is the only representative of the genus Melanosuchus. It is the largest of the crocodilians in America, with some specimens reaching up to 4–5 metres in adulthood (the largest observed being 7.7 metres for 1310 kilograms in Brazil in 1965). Their swimming was measured up to 48km/h underwater.

Black caiman (Melanosuchus Niger)

It is indeed, along with the sea crocodile and the Nile crocodile, one of the largest species of reptiles on earth. It was hunted to near extinction for its skin, and today it depends on man’s protection. It is still very present today in areas of rainforest including Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, and Guyana.

Size: On average, ranges from 3 to 4.25 metres, with older males exceeding 5 metres.

Weight: Ranges from 300 to 400 kilograms in males, 100 kilograms in females.

Aspect: The black caiman is distinguished by a bony ridge above its red eyes and black, scaly skin. This dark colour allows it to camouflage itself effectively during its night hunts as well as absorb more heat to thermoregulate its body.

Habitat: Caimans establish their nests at the edge of the banks, where they keep their young under surveillance. This is why it is very dangerous to approach the shores when babies are present; their cries immediately alert their parents to danger. They mainly live and hunt in water, but can also catch prey that approach the edge of rivers such as tapirs, capybaras, deer, or even anacondas.

Food: Black caimans mainly eat fish such as catfish and even piranhas as well as other animals such as birds and turtles. The larger males are able to tackle large-scale preys (tapirs, capybaras, deer, etc.)

Nesting: Between November and December (once every 2/3 years), females build a nest of earth and vegetation by the river. Each lay between 50 to 60 eggs, which hatch after about six weeks. A “squeak” that the young emit inside the egg allows their mother to be informed of their presence and the next hatch. She then takes them in her mouth to a pond to monitor with ease. The mother even helps the little ones take out eggs that are too hard, by cracking them between her teeth. She then leads them to other rivers and cares for them for several months.

Population: Endangered species, especially by hunting (its skin is still sought after in the markets), dependent on human protection.

Where to observe them ?: Visible day and night (they are nocturnal hunters), near the tributaries of the Amazon region. You will undoubtedly observe them during your trip to Ecuador, whether in primary Amazonia (Cuyabeno reserve or Yasuni Park) or secondary (Tena region).

The pink dolphin

A remarkable species of freshwater dolphin, and considered the only member of the genus Inia until 2014, with the discovery of the species Inia araguaiaensis, the Boto or Inia geoffrensis is found in Ecuador in the reserve Cuyabeno (primary Amazonian forest). During the Miocene, the Amazon forest was covered with salty seawater for periods. The Inia geoffrensis descend from ancestors who populated the ocean during this Miocene period, and who ventured into Amazonia. They evolved to adapt to fresh water as the sea gradually receded from the forest. They usually live alone or in pairs, and at most in groups of 5-6 individuals.

The freshwater dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)

The Boto is present in the Amazon and Orinoco basins, from Peru, Ecuador (in the Cuyabeno reserve), Bolivia and Colombia to their estuaries in Brazil and Venezuela.

Size: Approximately 2.80m.

Weight: Up to 150kg.

Aspect: Freshwater dolphins appear pinkish-orange in color when observed in the water of Amazon basins, where deposits of decomposed vegetation and silt impart a tea-like color to the aquatic environment. When observed out of water, their skin actually appears more pale gray, with some pink markings.

Food: The diet of the Botos is the most diverse of their order. They usually hunt near waterfalls and river mouths, often alone, day and night. The fish most consumed by the pink dolphin belong to the families Sciaenidae (corvinas), Cichlidae and Characidae (tetras and piranhas); but they can also hunt river turtles and crabs. Their diet is more diverse during the rainy season, when fish are scattered and harder to catch.

Reproduction: The alpha male mates with the females in his group. Gestation lasts between 7 and 8 months (one baby at a time, although twins have been observed). He clings to his mother before becoming independent in general after 6 months.

Lifespan: Pink dolphins can live up to 30 years. Due to deforestation, international organizations have noted a worrying rise in the level of mercury present in the blood of Botos like many other aquatic species.

Population: At least 100,000 individuals are counted to date.

Where to observe them ?: In Ecuador, pink dolphins can be observed exclusively in the Cuyabeno Reserve.

The Chontacuro worm

The larvae of the beetle Rhynchophorus palmarum, which is known by its many names including chontacuro, can inflict heavy damage on peach palm plantations (called chontas), which are sometimes infested; the heart of the tree being the main source of their food.
Another type of chontacuro is also found in “meretel” trees. These larvae are much appreciated and even cultivated for their contributions in proteins, minerals, and vitamins A, C4, and E. They have been highly prized for centuries by the native populations of the Amazon.

Although American who are native to the tropics considered this species invasive, it is now found all over the world, often causing severe damage. In its adult form, the beetle attacks coconut and palm trees and can inflict a non-venomous sting that causes diffuse inflammation. Besides, it is a vector of the red ring disease that is transmitted to coconut palms.

The Chontacuro worm (Rhynchophorus palmarum)

Chontacuro worms (larvae) are small in size and can be eaten alive or well cooked, which give them a curious crunch on the palate.

Size: Ranges between 5 and 10 centimetres.

Weight: Less than 50 grams.

Aspect: : The larvae, which is yellowish in colour with a brown head, are very plump and have cylindrical compartments that allow them to move and climb easily while they undulate. They have ends that allow them to chew.

Their adult beetle form is metallic black in colour, with a measure that ranges between 26 and 53 millimetres.

Food: The heart of the peach palm “chonta” represents the main source of their food.

Lifespan: The life cycle of the species is 120 days: 3.5 days for eggs, 60.5 days for larva (chontacuro), 16 days for chrysalis, and 42 days for adult.

Where to observe them ?: Everywhere in the Amazon, be it in secondary or primary forest. We recommend a visit to Misahualli city, where it is cooked in front of you in many small restaurants.