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Amazon Rainforest Facts

Ecuador Rainforest Facts

The Ecuadorean Amazon basin, known locally as the ‘Oriente’ lies in the east of the country, and measures around 135,6000 km2. This accounts for only 2% of the entire Amazon basin.

How do I get to the Amazon lodges?

Although you can drive down from Quito through the cloud forests on the eastern slopes of Ecuador’s Andes, it is a long journey and the scenic portion is relatively short, so most journey’s to Ecuador’s rainforest start in Quito and the easiest way is to fly. It is a short 35 minute flight which literally takes you up and over the Andes, and then down to the Amazon basin to the town of Coca. Coca has grown up out of both tourism though principally the oil exploitation in the area. It has something of a frontier feel and isn’t the most attractive of towns! From here the rainforest lodge teams meet you at the airport and take you down to the dock, around a 10 minute bus journey where you board a speedboat and begin. The first part is by speedboat and takes over 2 hours. From here you board the dug out canoes and begin paddling through the creeks towards your lodge and it is from this point you will start spotting some of the amazing wildlife to be found here.

How much rain can I expect in Ecuador’s Rainforest?

The seasons in the Rainforest should be described as ‘wet’ and ‘wetter’! Usually however the rain falls at predictable times in the afternoon and so daily activities can be planned around this. The annual rainfall in the Napo Basin, which is where all the lodges we work with are based, can reach 3800 mm with an average monthly rain of 260 mm. The wettest month is, usually, July with 400 mm and the driest is December with 130 mm. The rainfall seasonality in the Napo is bimodal. In other words, there are two wet seasons, one between March and July, and the other between October and November.

What are the temperatures and humidity like?

The mean annual temperature is 25.5 °C with a mean maximum temperature of 30 o C and a minimum of 23 o C. November, December and January are the hottest months whereas July is the coldest. The relative humidity is high during the whole year. In the dry season, the annual mean humidity is about 83% while in the rainy season is almost 90%.

What should I pack?

This is very much a suggested list and much is down to personal preference, but here are some suggestions of what to pack.

  • Good binoculars for wildlife viewing. We suggest that each visitor carry their own binoculars.
  • Camera/video gear (if using film, lower ASA for open areas (50 or 100), higher ASA for forest (400 and up). [24 hour electricity (120v) is available for charging batteries and digital equipment.]
  • Two or three pairs of lightweight long trousers.
  • Two or three long-sleeved lightweight shirts.
  • Two or three T-shirts.
  • One or two pairs of shorts (mostly for around the lodge).
  • Lightweight sweater or jacket.
  • Rain gear (if you prefer not to use the ponchos provided, though the ponchos at the lodges are generally very good and this can help save some space in your bag!).
  • Three or four pairs of cotton socks.
  • Sandals (Teva/Merrel sportss type or similar for around the lodge).
  • Three or four pairs of absorbent socks.
  • Small day pack for excursions.
  • A bottle to carry water on hike (1-quart size is sufficient).
  • Ziplock-type plastic bags to cover valuables and keep out the humidity
    Insect repellent (Skin-so-soft or DEET product with at least 20% concentration).
  • Torch/Flashlight or headlamp bright enough for use on night walks.
    Small, packable umbrella (can be useful in light rain – very useful!).
  • A hat for sun protection (and that will stay on during windy boat rides).
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen lotion with a high SPF rating.
  • Personal toiletries and medications (carry medications with you when arriving and leaving the lodge).
  • Extra batteries/film/video tapes as appropriate.
  • A photocopy of your passport (always good to have while traveling).
  • Credit and Debit cards, as your bar bills etc can now be paid by card at some of the lodges (please double check with us on this as the situation can change) Also good to have some money in cash for tips.

More about Ecuador’s Amazon

The “Oriente” as Ecuador’s Amazon region is locally know, is bounded on the west by the eastern Andean range also known as Cordillera Real (Royal Mountain Range). The eastern side of Ecuadorian Amazon Region is boundless because it expands toward the Amazon plains. The oriental flank of the Cordillera Real has an abrupt terrain that go down from an altitude of 6000 – 4000 m to 500 m in less than 100 Km.

For this reason, most waterways of the Ecuador’s Amazon system initiate along the slopes of the Cordillera Real where torrential, high gradient streams with changeable course flow southeastward to generate three main hydrographic basins: the Napo, the Pastaza and the Santiago basins. The Ecuadorian Amazon basin lies on deep tertiary alluvial deposits above
Cretaceous marine sandstones with Pliocene and Miocene formations and recent alluvial deposits from the Quaternary. The topography of the lowland region is characterized by the presence of irregular and round hills, terraces and alluvial plains. The soils are red – brown lateritic (oxisols) in well drained areas closest to the Andes, while in poorly drained areas away from the Andes the soils are red -yellowish podzols (ultisols).

Napo Basin

The Napo Basin originates east of the Ecuadorian Andes and expands southeast to the convergence of the Napo and the Marañon rivers in Peru. The area of the funnel – shaped basin is 98445 Km2. The Ecuadorian part is about 31400 K m2 that is 30% of the total basin
area. Additionally, the Napo basin is the largest in Ecuador covering about 20% of the entire Oriente.

The Napo with only 1,300 Km is a small Amazon affluent that has a discharge rate of less than 1% compared to other major Amazonian watercourses like the Rio Negro in Brazil. The upper Napo River, almost 460 Km long, is entirely situated in Ecuadorian territory while
The rest (840 Km) goes across northeast Peru. The Napo would be classified as a white water river because its appearance is turbid, the predominant color of water is pale -brown and the suspended sediment load is high. In the lowlands, the Napo riverbanks are
continuously being changed by lateral erosion associated with meanders. That leads to the formation of temporary channels locally known as ‘chictas*, sand beaches (quartz), islands, oxbow lakes and floodplains. The water level in these types of rivers is constantly changing due to local rains and precipitation in the Andes. Sometimes during the rainy season, variations in water depth can be as much as 4 m in less than 8 hours.

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