Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/Ammit JackSpotted Puffbird; rare specie to find..Black-faced Antbird; found following Army Ants SwarmGreat Jacamar, found in the Terra-firma forestWahoranis gerreros danzandoHuella guerrera wahoraniCascada arco irisHormiga trabajadoraCharapas de agua

Families will love:

  • Visit indigenuous tribes
  • See toucans and monkeys in the wild
  • Natural beauty, far removed from civilization

The Amazon is so immense -- conjuring up images of vast rainforests, water and indigenous tribes -- that it's easy to forget that it's a 4,400-mile river with thousands of tributaries. Stretching into eight South American countries, the 2.6-million-square-mile basin is the largest forest of its kind on the planet. Most travelers associate the Amazon with Brazil, known ... more
The Amazon is so immense -- conjuring up images of vast rainforests, water and indigenous tribes -- that it's easy to forget that it's a 4,400-mile river with thousands of tributaries. Stretching into eight South American countries, the 2.6-million-square-mile basin is the largest forest of its kind on the planet. Most travelers associate the Amazon with Brazil, known for its cruises on a wide swath of the river. In recent years, however, deforestation and industrialization in Brazil have reduced wildlife viewing to a minimum. Now families head to Ecuador to view monkeys, jaguars and more than 1,300 types of birds including toucans, macaws, parrots and kingfishers.

Stretching from the eastern flank of the Andes to the borders of Colombia and Peru, Ecuador's Yasuni National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. Covering almost half the country, it's home to only five percent of the population. Today, the habitats and traditions of the remote communities are under threat from oil companies, palm oil plantations and loggers. Fortunately, Ecuador is at the vanguard of ethno-tourism, with indigenous groups increasingly using ecolodges as an economic alternative to selling their land. One of the prime examples is the Huaorani Ecolodge, a solar-powered oasis in the heart of the Amazon, owned by the Huaorani. More upscale options include the Napo Wildlife Center in Yasuni National Park.

Once you arrive in the region, expect guides to lead you on dugout canoe rides down the tributaries to and from the lodges. You'll stop to meet indigenous tribes who live in virtual isolation, straight out of the pages of National Geographic. Guides lead families on hikes deep into the jungle to view wildlife, swim beneath a towering waterfall and teach guests how to use a blowgun, an important skill in these parts. Back at the ecolodge, you can swim in the shallow waters, lounge on a hammock and drink the banana smoothie-like concoction called chucula. At night, the exotic sounds of the jungle accompany your dreams.

If you're looking for a travel destination that's out of the ordinary, Yasuni National Park is one of the most intriguing and educational destinations you'll find.

Written by Stephen Jermanok less

Yasuni National Park (Amazon) Planning & Tips