The Amazon River Basin, or El Oriente to Ecuadorians, is the biggest region in Ecuador. Ecuador has 2% of the Amazon Rainforest and makes for a convenient jump from major cities. Tourist infrastructure is well developed, and most destinations are less than a day's journey from Quito.
A plethora of tour operators based out of Quito, Tena and BaĂ±os can help you find a tour that meets your needs, be it a comfy lodge with three-course meals and hot showers, or a mud-up-to-your-knees trekking and camping adventure.
More life hums, buzzes, chatters and bubbles in the Amazon Rainforest than anywhere else on the planet. One Amazonian tree can host more ant species than all of the British Isles put together, one hectare of forest boasts about as many frog species as all of North America and the great expanse of the jungle contains more than twenty percent of the earth's vascular plant species. Here you can find a monkey small enough to sit on your fingertip, an eight-pound toad, a spider that eats birds and the world's largest snake, the 30-foot anaconda.
The Amazon is home to thousands of indigenous inhabitants, who make up nearly 200 distinct nations, including the Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Shuar, Zaparo, Huaorani and Quichua. Having lived there for more than 10,000 years, they know its trees, its animals and its rhythms better than anyone.
Oil companies are a serious threat to the rainforest today. Even at lodges deep in the jungle, plumes of smoke coming from oil refineries smudge the otherwise untouched horizon day and night. You can learn more about indigenous forest peoples and the rainforest itself oining one of the many community-based eco-tourism programs offered in the Ecuadorian Amazon or by becoming a volunteer with one of the many nonprofits working in the region.