The Cuyabeno reserve protects a very broad spectrum of ecosystems. This area consists of rivers and lakes, swamps and flooded forests. You will also find slightly higher plains and more hilly areas.
Specific to this reserve is the abundance of shallow lakes, which lie between the forests like mirrors of mud and water. They dry out every year for two months, before being flooded again by the rivers Cuyabeno and Lagarto. The latter river floods some 10,000 has and reaches to the border with Peru. The lakes are home to a lot of animal life such as river dolphins, manatees, otters and a variety of fish, from small sardines to the catfish, which can grow to over 1.70 cm and weigh 75 kg. You will find piranhas, caimans and anacondas. The Rio Napo basin has more fish species than any other basin in the world of its size. On the dense banks you will find monkeys, tapirs and cougars. Hundreds of different species live there, including hummingbirds, parrots and the peculiar hoatzin.
In the dry season of the year, not only do the area’s inhabitants enjoy the abundant and easy fishing, but also the dolphins, otters, birds and other species that feed on fish. That is why at these times of the year a large number of waders especially storks and herons migrate here from other countries of South America.
The original population of the reserve consisted of Siona-Sequoia, Cófan and Tetetes Indians. The latter have since completely disappeared. The Cuyabeno Reserve is currently inhabited by several ethnic groups, including Signas-Sequoias, Cofanes and Quichuas. Recently, Shuar Indians from the South East of Ecuador have also migrated here in this sector.
This is one of the best areas to admire the wildlife of the tropical rainforest.