| Although most people think that a visit to the Amazon Jungle means a visit to Brazil, east of the Andean highlands Ecuador becomes part of this major ecological wilderness. In fact a visit to the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin - or El Oriente ("the East") as it is known locally - offers visitors with a superb opportunity to see how indigenous Indian tribes still cohabitate with their environment today. Add to this the fact that approximately one-third of the total diversity of the Amazon Jungle can be found in El Oreinte, and a trip to this part of Ecuador should be high on your list of "things to do and see".
East of the Andean mountain range lies the steamy rainforests of Ecuador's slice of the Amazon Basin, known as the Oriente. With an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, the Oriente occupies half the country but is home to less than 5 percent of the people. The tropical jungle, however, is more accessible than you might imagine and accommodations are probably more civilized than you would expect.
Regular flights from Quito to this intriguing area allow you to experience a virgin jungle in pristine condition, with thousands of species of orchid, plus sloths, monkeys, macaws, and pink river dolphins. And throughout this hot, sticky paradise are dozens of native tribes, retaining ancient customs despite the intrusion of outsiders.
You may want to take advantage of one of the several jungle lodges along the river, with lodging prearranged in larger cities. The Amazon lodges provide stays of four to five days and many use a combination of indigenous guides and trained naturalists and provide observation towers as vantage points for viewing life in the jungle canopy. Some, such as Sacha Lodge, provide ceiling fans, hot water, a laundry facility, hammocks, and their own private reserve.
Things to Avoid: Freelance tour guides (many are con artists who are anxious for you to part with your money and receive little in return).
Traveling this area without a guide (you need the experience of those who know about the wilds of the jungle). • Sagitar Travel Vacations can make all the arrangements for you including guides.