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The Ecuadorian Amazon – Down A Timeless River And Into A Hidden World Of Magic

The Ecuadorian Amazon
Down A Timeless River And Into A Hidden World Of Magic

sunset view at the Amazon

A Land of Riches

Since the dawn of human civilization, rivers have been of vital importance. They connect land, communities, and wildlife. They weave through landscapes and change them immeasurably, bringing life, sustenance and opportunities for travel, growth, and change.

The Amazon River itself, the greatest River on earth, was discovered from within Ecuador. On February 12, 1542, Captain Francisco de Orellana, a Spanish Conquistador, began travelling down Ecuador’s Napo River leading to this powerful river, becoming the first European to discover the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. While the search for the legendary city of El Dorado, or the “City of Gold”, ultimately proved to be a failure, this great discovery made it worth the effort, and since then, the Ecuadorian Rainforest has been revealed as a true Amazonian gem, a land of riches with its diverse wildlife, and a treasured home to local cultures, never failing to enchant its many visitors.

hidden river in the Ecuadorian Amazon

The Ecuadorian Rainforest – A Biodiversity Paradise

Despite its small size, Ecuador is a simply fascinating South American country packed full of surprises, with four distinct geographical regions. Ecuador is home to the beautiful Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and on the mainland, the country boasts picturesque coastal beaches and deserts. Further inland, the majestic Andean mountain range thrusts upward with snow-capped peaks and enchanting valleys, and finally, down the eastern slopes lies the Ecuadorian rainforest basin, over 42,000 square miles (108,779 km2) of it.

Over the years this cherished ecosystem has remained relatively untouched and underdeveloped, making travel here the perfect opportunity for one to experience what it means to be fully immersed in a natural, pristine rainforest jungle. Today it is easy to find the Ecuadorian Rainforest, one need only drive for a few hours or take a short flight from the capital city of Quito.

Ecuador’s Amazon basin is a true biodiversity hotspot, one of greatest on the planet. The Yasuní Biosphere region is a true birdwatcher’s paradise, with more than 596 bird species. It is also home to 200 magnificent butterfly species, 150 amphibian species, 121 reptile species, over 200 mammal species, and 382 species of fish! Each quarter kilometer (62 acres) of land has over 1,100 tree species. This highly-biodiverse region is teeming with the magic of life, and one can feel the constant hum of vitality here in this natural paradise.

Water as an Ancient World View

This land has been home to many indigenous communities long before the Spanish Conquistadors first set foot in the Amazon, and the water in rivers and lakes was a source of great sustenance and abundance to them. Their world view revolved around these bodies of water, even more so than with the rainforest itself. Their creation story about the origin of the world begins with the creation of water, followed by forest, plants, animals and finally, humans. To them, life began in the water, the lifeblood of the earth.

These ancient cultures still call the rainforest home today and continue their ancestral way of life much as they did long ago, when they first set out on rustic canoes carved from tree logs to discover their world.

Today, there are nine indigenous cultures living in the Ecuadorian Amazon: The Kichwas, Shuar, Shiwiar, Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Zápara, Andoa and Huaorani. Many of these cultures welcome tourists and provide family cultural experiences.

There are also two tribes (known as the Tagaeri and the Taromenane) that have chosen to live in isolation and avoid all contact with the modern world. These two tribes both live within the borders of the Yasuní National Park, and Ecuador’s constitution protects them and their right to be left alone.

February 12 – Ecuadorian Amazon Day

Since the discovery by Captain Francisco de Orellana, Ecuadorian Amazon Day has been celebrated on February 12 to raise awareness about the vital importance of this region.

At Anakonda Amazon Cruises, Captain Raúl García was a true pioneer along the Napo River, beginning as a young man in 1977 when he operated the first river cruise through Ecuador’s Amazon region, retracing an ancestral route treasured since ancient times. During his travels he contacted many native communities in the region, such as the Kichwa living near the riverbanks, the Cofanes and Sionas in the north, the Huaoranis in Yasuní National Park and the Secoyas near the Peruvian Border.

Over time, he developed relationships with the local communities and spent time in their company. They taught him many things, shared their knowledge about plants and animals, and special places hidden in the region. This led to a deep appreciation of the Amazon’s cultural heritage and fragile ecosystem, and their conservation soon became his personal passion and mission.

Today, Anakonda Amazon Cruises and Captain García believe that working closely with the native communities is key to rainforest conservation. For this reason, they have created valuable conservation programs and provide visits to local communities as a vital and enriching part of their cruise experience, completing their much-praised Amazon sustainability circle.

Visitors are invited to share in a way of life largely unchanged since ancient times and enjoy the opportunity to sample traditional Amazon cuisine. This provides a much-valued dimension to the Anakonda Amazon River cruises which are already filled with immensely engaging itineraries to discover the region’s famed flora, fauna and natural attraction sites. Reflecting on his close relationship to the native cultures, Garcia states “We could do our operation without them, but it would be an operation without spirit”. He believes firmly in providing non-exploitative support to the local communities. “I want it to be a collaboration and for them to get part of the benefit…”

Experience the magic for yourself! Celebrate Ecuadorian Amazon day with us and check out our exclusive offers here.