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Yasuni vs Cuyabeno Woarani
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by on March 25, 2020

Yasuni vs Cuyabeno Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest

Planning an Amazon jungle adventure, but can’t decide between Yasuni vs Cuyabeno? Some of the most popular questions are answered within this blog such as “Which park will allow me to see more animals,” “What are the communities we will visit,” and “what are the lodges like.” Hopefully, this will clear up some of the questions you have about each park and which one you think would give a better time!

Which park affords the highest likelihood of spotting animals?

Maucaw Yasuni vs Cuyabeno

Cleaning the feathers before a flight!

Both Yasuni and Cuyabeno boast being among the most biodiverse parks in the world. Between Yasuni vs Cuyabeno, we give the edge of seeing more animals to Cuyabeno. Why? It’s not that there ARE more animals, its that they are easier to see. The Cuyabeno river is less wide, slower-moving, and has more lagoons and lakes.  Because of the features listed above, the Cuyabeno affords a higher likelihood of spotting animals even though they both have a similar quantity of animals.

Think about it this way, when going slowly down a narrow river, you are much more likely to see the subtle movements of the creatures versus looking farther away and moving at a faster rate.

Seeing animals is typically better while from the river as opposed to within the forest, as the contrast of the sky, river, and trees make for easier viewing. Additionally, the lagoons afford animals a place to relax, feed, and sleep. For terrestrial animals, there is plenty of areas to drink water or perch along the river.

Despite this feature, whichever lodge or park you choose, you are guaranteed to witness an incredible amount of wildlife. Nobody leaves the parks without seeing something incredible! Another thing to keep in mind, seeing the clay licks in Yasuni are one of the reasons many choose this destination. In Yasuni, there is a very unique area where avian and terrestrial species come to lick clay walls.  The reason for this is that the clay neutralizes some of the harsher ingredients in the nuts and fruits eaten in the forest. This spot is typically occupied by hundreds of species such as macaws, paraquetes, and more.

What animals will I expect to see? – Yasuni vs Cuyabeno

In the Yasuni vs Cuyabeno comparison, both parks feature many of the same animals. There are 10 species of monkey in Cuyabeno, and nine in Yasuni. Both have magnificent birds like Macaws, colorful toucans, and beautiful hummingbirds. Aquatic creatures include giant river otters, pink river dolphins, manatees, and caimans. In terms of the number of animals and plants present in the park, this is also a tie. In both Yasuni and Cuyabeno, you will typically go on night hikes to see the unique creatures of the night.

This includes reptiles, tarantulas, insects, and more.  Additionally, lodges in both parks provide notarized canoe rides in the evening and during the day, with the main goal of spotting animals.  You never know what will you get in the Amazon, as it is unlike a zoo. However, the majority of guests never leave disappointed, and always see a wide variety of animals they had never seen before!

Anakonda Amazon Cruise - Pink Dolphin, Yasuni vs Cuyabeno

Pink river dolphins, one of the largest dolphin species.

The communities of Yasuni vs Cuyabeno

Both Yasuni and Cuyabeno consist of groups of indigenous communities. Depending on the lodge you choose, you may or may not visit an indigenous community, so make sure if you are interested in a cultural aspect that it is part of the itinerary.  Moreover, different lodges visit different communities, each who different customers and languages. 

Yasuni vs Cuyabeno all tribes of cuyabeno

Yasuni National Park Communities 

Waorani Nation

The Waorani indigenous peoples were the most recently contacted of Ecuadorian indigenous peoples. This occurred when an American missionary group made contact in 1958.  Today, the community is composed of approximately 4,000 individuals. They speak the Huaorani language, a unique language that is not related or similar to any other language.

In the last 40 years, the Waorani have shifted away from the nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle. Rather, they live mostly in permanent forest establishments. Plants, and especially trees, hold an important interest for the Waorani. The Waorani are known for their impressive knowledge of botanical and medical uses of plants, ranging from materials to poisons to hallucinogens to medicines. They also relate plants to their own experiences, especially in phases of growth.

Cuyabeno National Park Communities 

The Cuyabeno is composed of the Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Kichwa, and Shuar communities.

Siona

Besides various traditional activities for subsistence, the Siona community has been participating in the tourism activities since the 1990s. The religion of the Siona people is a type of shamanism that has many spirits that live inside of things like trees, bugs, and plants. Their origin story is about a being named Baina, who did mythic deeds that made up the world as it is today. The Siona people hold many rituals and ceremonies with the primary ceremony a healing ritual called Yahé.

Secoya

They speak the Secoya language Pai Coca, which is part of the Western Tucanoan language group. Secoya number about 400 people who for the most part are located in three settlements, Eno, San Pablo de Katitsiaya and Siecoya Remolino. They are closely related to the Siona community.

Kichwa

The Kichwa indigenous community is the most populous ethnic group in the Ecuadorian Amazon region The community participates in horticulture, and elders are experts in the use of medicinal plants and fruit trees. They believe humans, plants, and animals all have souls and are almost regarded as equals. 

After a powerful protest of the Amazonian Kichwas held in Pastaza in 1992, the Ecuadorian state handed over the rights to 1,115,000 hectares (ha) of land for their use. In Ecuador, Amazonian Kichwa is spoken by around 109,000 people from the 6 Amazonian provinces.

Shuar

There are at least 40,000 Shuars in Ecuador. The Shuar experienced a period of missionization in the 1940s and 1950s, but still, maintain various traditions such as shamanism. This group is famous for the historical practice of head shrinking.

 

The Lodges of Yasuni vs Cuyabeno

The lodges of Yasuni and Cuyabeno are split into various price ranges and classes. In terms of luxury options, the Yasuni national park has an edge over Cuyabeno. Many of the lodges have air conditioning and fancy lodges, while Cuyabeno has fewer options for luxury although they do exist. If having a pleasant temperature for sleeping is an important factor, you may want to lean towards Yasuni. However, other deciding factors include the indigenous communities you want to visit, the lodge that appeals to you the most, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The Weather Yasuni vs Cuyabeno

In the Yasuni vs Cuyabeno comparison, there are not any significant differences in the weather. Due to the close proximity, the temperature and rainfall will typically be the same. Occasionally, in both parks, there is not enough rain to allow passage to the lodges deep within the parks.  


About Keenan Ennis

Keenan Ennis studied Conservation and wildlife biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This eventually lead him to a program in Ecuador studying hummingbirds and their keystone nutritional species in the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. Since, he has worked with the critically endangered Bandurria Andina, or black-faced Ibis of the Andean Páramo. Through his ecological background, he provides an in depth insight into the conservation processes of the Galapagos Islands.

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