El Oriente, El Oriente
Concierge.com's insider take:
The Amazon rain forest is, of course, the world's largest remaining tropical rain forest, and Ecuador has a cherished two-percent share of it. Ecotours are proliferating here, as are cultural tours that let visitors experience something of the extraordinary indigenous lifestyle that is fast disappearing. Ecuador's Rio Napo, one of the mighty Amazon's primary tributaries, is home to some 200 distinct peoples who have been here for more than 10,000 years. Some ecotour operators let you meet members of the Siona, Secoya, Quichua, or Shuar groups and share some of their extraordinary knowledge of forest plants and wildlife. Barring total immersion—or volunteering with a nonprofit organization—you can visit the more accessible rain-forest areas of Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Huaorani Protectorate, or Yasuni National Park even if you only have four or five days. Surtrek runs excellent small-scale tours to these areas and many others in the Amazon basin; you'll explore both on foot and via kayak, and spend the night in jungle lodges(www.surtrek.com).