Yasuní, the largest protected area in continental Ecuador protects impressive biodiversity in the heart of the Amazonian tropical rain forest and protects part of the territory of the Waorani nationality. Surprising biodiversity figures have been reported in Yasuní for various groups of flora and fauna, never before recorded in any protected area.
Here we find hundreds of species of trees, wide rivers that overflow with torrential rains, and large animals such as the jaguar, the anaconda, and the harpy eagle.
We also find very small creatures, such as the lion or pocket monkey, the smallest primate in the world, and a great variety of reptiles and amphibians that place this park among the most biodiverse in the world.
The human side of Yasuní is also full of surprises. Inside the park live the Tagaeri and Taromenane, Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation. To protect them and the biodiversity of Yasuní, the Tagaeri-Taromenane Intangible Zone was created in 1999. The Yasuní National Park, the Intangible Zone, and the adjacent Waorani territory were declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1989.
Province: Extension: International recognition
ORELLANA, PASTAZA 1022736 hectares Biosphere Reserve (1989)
Year of creation: Altitudinal range:
1.979 190 – 400 meters
By air or land, you must reach the city of Puerto Francisco de Orellana (Coca). From here, depending on the destination, there are several routes, mainly rivers.
The Napo River, one of the main tributaries of the great Amazon River, flows through the north of the park, while the Curaraylo flows through the southern limit. Between both rivers, there is a complex network formed by the Tivacuno, Tiputini, Yasuní, Nashiño, Cononaco, and Tigüino rivers, which make up the lower Napo basin. In the middle of this labyrinth of rivers are more than a million hectares of tropical forests that make up this national park.
A tour of the topography of Yasuní reveals its different environments. In the central and western parts of the park, there are wide plains with small hills bordered by streams and medium-sized rivers.
The banks of the rivers and the nearby plains are periodically flooded when the rains get heavier, enriching themselves with the nutrients carried. The hills, on the other hand, are never covered with water, and on them and other areas that are not subject to flooding, the terra firme forest grows. At the other end of the park, near the border with Peru and around the mouths of the Yasuní and Tiputini rivers, the soil is not very permeable, so rainwater accumulates and forms extensive swamps where palms abound. bruise
The entire area between the Napo and Curaray rivers was home to semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples related to the Waorani culture and language.
The Waorani lived throughout the area, hunting, gathering fruits, and maintaining small crops; in 1969 they were confined and grouped in an area called “protectorate”, located at the headwaters of the Curaray River.
The clans that did not agree to live in the protectorate or give up their way of life are the seed of the Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation. Today, to the west of the park extends the Waorani Territory, which covers only a part of their ancestral territory, while the northern part of Yasuní is concessioned to several oil companies.
Other inhabitants of the park are indigenous Kichwa from the banks of the Napo River, who live north of the protected area, and an itinerant population of students and researchers who work in the two scientific stations that are located inside the park and in its buffer zone.
Yasuní is a biodiversity sanctuary. The investigations carried out in the last decade reflect impressive figures not previously recorded in any other area of tropical forest in the region and although the data may vary over the years, they give us an idea of what this national park is home to more than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs, 204 species of mammals, 610 species of birds, 121 reptiles, 150 amphibians and more than 250 species of fish.
In one hectare of Yasuní, for example, 650 species of trees were reported, which represents more than those found in all of North America. The terra firme forest, the one that is not flooded, constitutes the main ecosystem of the park.
In the great green carpet of Yasuní, some trees can reach 50 meters in height and with trunks of more than 1.5 meters in diameter. In addition to their extraordinary size, some, such as ceibos, sangres de gallina, and canelos, form enormous roots that open in a triangle at the base of the tree. Others, such as dragon blood, caspi cross, chunchos, and cacao de monte, of equal or smaller size, lack these unique roots. Among the large trees, we also find a group of plants that are very abundant in tropical forests: the palms. Chontas, chambiras, ungurahuas and pambiles are frequent.
Yasuní is home to 12 species of monkeys; There are from the largest, such as spiders, chorongos, and howlers, to the smallest monkey in the world, the lion or pocket monkey. We also have the baby milk chichichos, named for their habits of sucking the sap of certain trees. Other mammals are the jaguar, the largest feline in the Americas, and the capybara, the largest rodent in the world. There are also pumas, Amazonian tapirs, anteaters, peccaries or wild pigs, and smaller mammals such as guatines, deer, tigrillos, and cusumbos. Birds are another spectacular group. In large flocks, the colorful macaws and parrots cross the skies. Toucans, sigchas, fly eaters, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and a great variety of hummingbirds jump among the foliage of the plants. Trumpeters and tinamous walk on the ground. Deep green tree frogs with enormous eyes crouch on the branches of bushes and grasses; On the ground, under leaves and stones, are the tiny nurse frogs that take care of the laying of eggs. In the rivers and lagoons, such as Añangu and Tambococha, live pink dolphins, small gray dolphins, manatees, and giant otters. Near the water, there are countless herons, hoatzins, and cormorants, as well as charapa turtles. In the rivers also lives the giant anaconda and a great variety of fish such as cachamas, paiches, palometa, bocachicos, catfish, sábalos, and tucunaris.
Lagoon and community of Añangu
The lagoon has black and calm waters, which makes it look like a mirror. It is located in the Kichwa community of Añangu, to the north of the park, and on the banks of the Napo River.
It is possible to navigate in a canoe through the lagoon, visit the Kuri Muyo Interpretation Center and walk through several trails that run through the tropical forest.
The mainland forest:
The exuberant vegetation that covers this forest suggests that the Amazon soils have a large layer of fertile soil. However, the layer is very thin and the soils are poor in nutrients: the richness is in the vegetation and in a thin layer that is formed by the leaves, branches, flowers, fruits, and bark that fall and cover the ground. Here is a veritable army of tiny beings that constantly process organic matter; in this way, the nutrients do not have time to accumulate, but immediately return to the vegetation, producing that exuberance and greenness. The mainland forest covers most of the Yasuní National Park and can be explored in the communities located on the banks of the Napo River, such as Añangu, Nueva Providencia, Indillana, Llanchana, or Mandaripanga.
Tambococha and Jatuncocha Lagoon
These two lagoons are located within the park and are accessed from Nuevo Rocafuerte.
In this Kichwa community on the south bank of the Napo River, we find the Yaku Kawsay Interpretation Center. From there starts a path that runs through the tropical forest.
Photography, jungle excursion, and canoe ride
The main facilities for the visit are found along the Napo River within several Kichwa communities: Añangu, Nueva Providencia, Indillama, Llanchana and Mandaripanga.
You can also visit the Tambococha sector where there is a PNY guard.
Community of Anangu:
There is the Kuri Muyo interpretation center, a camping area, and cabins.
Lookout trail. It starts at the Añangu guardianship and runs 4 kilometers (round trip). It is of low difficulty.
Parrot trail. Travel 1 kilometer through the tropical forest to the parakeet salt pan, where you can see countless birds and mammals. It is of low difficulty.
Kuri Muyo trail. It runs 100 meters from the Kuri Muyo Interpretation Center to the viewpoint of the parakeet saladero. Low difficulty.
Community of New Providence:
There is the Yaku Kawsay interpretation center and the community lagoon.
Amaru Ñambi trail. It is a 1.3-kilometer route from the interpretation center to the lagoon. Low difficulty.
Community of Indillana:
There are cabins and trails. Indillama Trail. It is a 10-kilometer route (round trip) in which they meet from a giant ceibo tree to the tapir salting area. Medium difficulty by extension.
Community of Llanchana:
There are cabins and a trail to the Enchanted Lagoon (Approx. 1 km.)
You can visit the Rumiyacu, Aguillayacu, Amarunposa, and Myllaycocha lagoons.
Here there is a guard or control post of the PNY, a camping area, and two trails
Path of the Tapirs. Drive to the Tambococha Lagoon
Pumañambi trail. It leads to the Jatuncocha lagoon.
We have different types of accommodations here, the most popular are:
Napo Wildlife Center:
Napo Wildlife Center is the best alternative for luxury ecological lodging in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This ecotourism project includes the conservation of approximately more than 21,400 hectares of tropical forest. The Napo Wildlife Center Lodge is located next to Lake Añangucocha, in the unique ancestral territory of the Añangu Kichwa community, and thanks to their initiative and with the support of the Tropical Nature Conservation System they manage this tourism project by themselves, providing income to help their local families.
It has twelve cabins and eight suites, with a capacity for 50 people. These cabins have electricity, ventilation, hot water, private bathroom.
Part of its activities is to visit the Interpretation Center to learn about the communities, also walks through the different trails, you can visit the observation tower, visit the macaw salting sheds, and bird watching.
The Lodge is so seamlessly blended into the wildlife environment that it is just another part of the forest. Watch as the giant otters dive and call to each other while you eat breakfast and when you return to your room, watch the alligators slide under the platforms. Listen to the monkeys chattering outside your balcony; and even the giant sloths that hang out in the trees by the cabins.
The accommodation in Sacha combines the highest comfort for the traveler with the preservation of the environment and the habitat of the rainforest. With high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces with hammocks, all of our cabins are built with traditional materials, subtly immersed in the lush surroundings. Each of the 26 cabins, which include singles, doubles, three family cabins, and (on request) triple accommodations, offers a spacious private bathroom with a hot water shower. Some of which even feature floor-to-ceiling windows for an immersive jungle shower experience! All cabins are screened against insects and contain ceiling fans above the comfortable beds. Each accommodation has electricity, Wi-Fi, water refill, and laundry