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Amazon Basin Highlights

Baeza: Frequently skipped by those going further into the jungle, Baeza features spectacular landscapes of the Quijos River Valley, where there is world-class kayaking and rafting. Just two hours east of Quito, on the road to Tena, this small town is the perfect base for exploring the surrounding cloud forest, Reventador Volcano, Sumaco National Park, and San Rafael Falls, Ecuador's largest waterfall.

Isla Parque Amazónico: Located on a small island between the Tena and Pano rivers in the city of Tena, this conservation project has gardens, small waterfalls, and a diverse mix of typical Amazonian plant life and wildlife, allowing visitors who are unable to go deeper into the jungle a chance to see and learn about the region's unique ecosystems.

Limoncocha National Reserve: This reserve, located on the north shore of the Napo River, is one of the most biodiverse areas of the world, and is home to a small population of Quichua families. The reserve's focus point is the Laguna Limoncocha, which is famed for being an excellent bird-watching site. Past petroleum activities have negatively affected the reserve so ecotourism is common here.

Yasuní National Park: Yasuní is Ecuador's largest mainland national park and a UNESCO-declared International Biosphere Reserve. The park protects 982,000 hectares (2.4 million ac) of pristine rainforest, which is home to an impressive diversity of vegetation and animals, and encompasses native Huaorani ancestral lands. Yasuní is bisected by five major rivers and contains some of Ecuador's nicest jungle lodges.

Cuyabeno National Reserve: Accessed from Lago Agrio, Cuyabeno National Reserve has over 500 recorded bird species, 450 species of fish and 15 species of monkeys, not to mention an abundance of endemic plant species. The reserve contains six different ecosystems as well as a network of lagoons connected by several major rivers and their tributaries. Some of the most budget-friendly Amazon tours are those available to Cuyabeno.

By Jena Davison

I am a curious, passionate and free-spirited travel writer, currently working as a Staff Writer and Editor for V!VA. Shortly after...

18 Feb 2013

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