Cuyabeno Forest Reserve - A Well-Watered Bird-Watching Paradise
The Reserva de Producción de Fauna Cuyabeno, or the Cuyabeno Forest Reserve as it is known in English, is unusual in that two thirds of the year the forest is submerged in water. When it is not flooded it is made up of dry futbol fields. This unusual occurrence is due to the rainwater that flows from the many rivers down into this reserve, which acts as a lagoon and can be 20 to 30 feet deep. The reserve is one of the largest in Ecuador, with 6,000 square kilometers of rainforest. It is a part of the Amazon Rainforest and was established in 1979. Within these forests there are also groups of indigenous people, like the Cofan, Shuar, Secoya and the Siona, that help the reserve with jungle tours and eco-tourism.
The Reserve has many tributaries that come off the Cuyabeno River and, with the many lakes that connect to each other, its no wonder that the Cuyabeno Reserve floods. When you paddle in traditional dugout canoes in the flooded national reserve, you will notice that although the water is reasonably clear it does have a brownish color from the tannin released from the large variety of immersed plants species that occupy this area. As can be expected there is also a large amount of unique marine life found here, like the pink freshwater dolphin, anaconda, turtles, caiman, piranhas, manatee, giant otter and over 450 species of fish.
The Reserve is made up of a rich and diverse variety of flora and fauna, with over 500 birds recorded to have made the Cuyabeno Reserve their home. One example is the Harpy eagle. So if you are a keen bird watcher, then bring your binoculars because you are in for a treat with so many beautiful and exotic birds at your disposal. Many of these animals, like the tapirs and ocelots, and birds are unique to Ecuador and specifically to this Reserve. There Cuyabeno Forest Reserve also provides you with lodges to stay at if you want to spend a couple of days in the Reserve. You can do guided tours that last a couple of days through the Cuyabeno Forests, allowing you many different opportunities and ways to explore this unique area.