Alta Amazonía (Upper Amazon) refers to the rainforest at the junction of the Andes and the Amazon basin. These are hilly and dense forests, with crystal clear streams forming spectacular waterfalls and canyons, before flowing into the tributaries of the mighty Amazon river.
With an incredible biological diversity and easy to access, our trek in the buffer zone of Llanganates National Park avoids long journeys by plane and motorized canoe. Hike under the ancient trees that are embraced by lianas and covered with epiphytes. Look out for amazing jungle animals, from leafcutter ants and bizarre caterpillars on the forest floor, to monkeys and toucans high in the canopy. Discover the ancestral traditions of the indigenous inhabitants, and feel the magic of the rainforest in our small and sustainable jungle camps.
This trek is a great option for nature and adventure lovers of all ages. You just need to be fit, and be prepared for hiking in a tropical climate. Thanks to the elevation in the hills and the constant shade of the canopy, temperatures do not get extreme. There is always a beautiful stream or waterfall near to cool off!
If you would like to add some adventure, you can book the optional rafting tour on the last day.
At 8.00 a.m. our driver and guide will pick you up from the hotel. Soon after leaving the small town of Tena, you will be surrounded by rainforest. At the trailhead near a Quichua community we put on our rubber boots and get ready for the 7-hour hike. First you will learn and practice some basic river crossing skills at the Pano, one of the completely transparent streams that are fed by melting ice from the Andes. Then we start hiking in the lush vegetation, taking in all the peculiar sounds, smells and sights of the forest.
The guide shows fascinating plants competing for light and nutrients, like the strangler fig and walking palm. He teaches how to identify the footprints of the coati, peccari and tapir. Many jungle animals are masters at camouflage and we have to use our detective skills to find them. At the impressive Achiyaku waterfall, hidden in the forest, you can take a refreshing bath. In the late afternoon we arrive at our first jungle camp.
After breakfast we set out on a 4-hour hike to the next camp site, following small trails going up and down the hills. The megadiverse Amazon hides a great potential of natural medicine and the guide will introduce you to medicinal botany. Learn about the healing properties of the sangre de drago (dragon´s blood) tree, uña de gato (cat´s claw) vine, and matico, a tall shrub that belongs to the pepper family. Meanwhile, look out for toucans high in the canopy, or hummingbirds near the forest floor. We take a break near a small waterfall and explore a natural cave – a sacred site used by shamans for traditional healing rituals.
Arrive at the campsite for lunch. In the afternoon, try your luck at artisanal gold panning and take a swim in the river. Or just relax in your hammock and listen to the concert of cicadas. After dinner we venture out on a short hike to experience the nocturnal activity, looking for tree frogs, giant insects and night birds.
Sunrise is the best time for birdwatching. The forest is home to oropendolas, tanagers, hummingbirds to name a few. Near the river you will see the Morpho butterfly fluttering around, a true showstopper. When in rest, its rather ordinary brown wings won´t attract your attention. But when it opens its large wings, it shows a brilliant blue iridescence.
After breakfast, start a 4-hour hike in primary rainforest. We will encounter exotic flora including Heliconia´s and Labios or Hot Lips, that got this name because of its bright red lip-shaped bracts. Another amazing plant is the bamboo that contains pure drinking water, a true lifesaver in the jungle! The trail steadily climbs to a viewpoint with magnificent vistas of the extensive rainforest and the foothills of the Llanganates. We hike down to a canyon which steep walls are covered with lush ferns and bromeliads, and a cave where you can spot bats.
Return to the campsite with optional afternoon activities: practice the use of the cerbatana (blowgun) or learn how to prepare artisanal chocolate from cacao beans harvested in the camp gardens.
After crossing the river in a tarabita (small cable car) we start our last hike in the forest, walking for about 2 hours to a small settlement of Quichua people at the banks of Pano river. It has a beautiful natural pool – a great opportunity to take a last refreshing dip and relax on the white sandy beach. Satisfy your appetite with a traditional Amazonian lunch of maito, river fish wrapped in plantain leaves and grilled on open fire.
We continue our hike for another hour along several chacras (small farms) and learn about the cacao and vanilla plants, its cultivation and processing into high quality chocolate bars and vanilla extracts. From here we hike until a small road where our driver will be waiting to drive us back to Tena, arrive at about 15.00 p.m.