Magic River - Cuyabeno Reserve
Magic River is a smaller Amazon operator offering specialized tours in the Cuyabeno reserve which avoid the use of motorized canoes and generally include at least one night camping in the rainforest. These tours are ideal for those who wish to immerse themselves in the rainforest without the noise of motors which can scare the animals (some longer trips are made in motorized canoes). The lodge is simple and basic while offering the important amenities, and while camping, tents are located under additional shelter.
Two itineraries are offered; one is a 5 day tour with one night camping and the other nights at their lodge; the other is an 8 day adventure tour paddling through remote areas of the Cuyabeno reserve and camping most nights. Customized tours can be arranged as well for those who wish to spend more time in the Amazon or wish to focus on birding, wildlife, trekking, culture, or other aspects.
The Magic River lodge offers comfortable but basic accommodations in double rooms with private bath and shower, excellent quality food, small groups, top quality canoeing and camping equipment, English and German speaking guides, and reasonable pricing. Campsites offer accommodations in tents pitched in one large sheltered room or under shelters.
Tour group size is limited to 10 passengers on the standard 5 day tour and 8 passengers on the 8 day tours to maximize the tour quality and minimize the environmental impact of the groups.
- Classification: Tourist
- Ownership and Operation: Private
- Departure days: Fixed group departure dates; minimum 2 passengers for standard tour and 4 passengers for 8 day tour
- Departure City: Lago Agrio
- Accommodations: Rustic, traditional lodge and sheltered campsites
- Electricity: None
- Features: Paddle canoes, dining area
- Activities offered: Canoeing, community visits, wildlife and bird observation, hiking, camping
Magic River offers two regular itineraries, and they can arrange customized tours from 5 to 21 days focused on special areas of interest such as birdwatching, wildlife, culture, canoeing or trekking. All tours begin and end in the town of Lago Agrio.
Standard 5 Day Program in the Cuyabeno Reserve
This tour enters the Cuyabeno reserve by paddle canoe, with camping the first night. It is oriented to those who have a passion for the environment and a love of adventure. We discover this wild and fascinating world in the most natural and rewarding way - by canoe and on foot. We should be able to see parrots, toucans, monkeys, freshwater dolphins, anacondas and caimans.
Aguas Negras and Cuyabeno River - 8 Day Adventure Tour
Offered only from March to the end of July and mid September to the end of November.
Our 8 day tours are designed for people that like to explore more remote areas of the rainforest at far distance from the typical tour routes that are offered by most tour operators. This tour suits canoeists and/or wildlife enthusiasts who prefer small, remote rivers with more chances of spotting wildlife. The Aguas Negras River is a small tributary inside the Cuyabeno Reserve. It has no motor canoe traffic and very few tour groups per year. During the first 4 days of the tour, all equipment has to be carried in the paddling canoes. Camps will be set up on the river bank, where you stay in tents. These tours are accompanied by the best and most knowledgeable guides in the reserve. You will learn about survival techniques in the rainforest and encounter a variety of medicinal and other useful plants.
Itineraries listed below are subject to changes, but are presented to give an overview of the activities you can expect during your tour.
- 5 Day Itinerary
We leave Lago Agrio in the morning and travel to the Cuyabeno River bridge (the Park entrance) in private transport (3 hours). From the bridge we paddle by canoe down the Cuyabeno River to the Tiger Pass campsite, a beautiful spot in the midst of lush forest (3 hours). On the way, we see the wide range of flora and fauna that live in the primary forest. We finish the day with a night walk in search of nocturnal creatures. We spend the night camping out in tents.
We continue paddling downstream to the Magic River Camp located on the banks of Cuyabeno River (3.5 - 5 hours). The facility consists of rustic jungle huts providing double rooms with beds, private bathroom and showers. In the afternoon we will explore the flooded forest of the Laguna Grande Lake, take a refreshing dip in the lake and watch the sunset.
In the morning we take a longer walk on a small path through primary forest (3 hours). Our guide will explain the uses and applications of plants, those which are medicinal, edible, poisonous or hallucinogenic, and those that are used to build houses and canoes or to make hammocks and baskets. Later we head back to the camp for a rest. In the evening we paddle downstream on the Cuyabeno River by canoe. There are good chances of fishing for the notorious piranha on our way. After dark we take a night excursion in search of caimans.
Today we visit the cultural center of Tarapuy, the indigenous community of the Siona. We travel by motorized dugout canoe downstream on the Cuyabeno River and have a short hike, for about 2 hours, until we reach the community. Here we get an insight into the Siona culture and their current lifestyle. We will help to make bread from manioc root in a family home. On our way back to the lodge, we pass a gigantic kapoc tree with its immense buttress roots, believed to be about 100 years old.
Before sunrise we head out in the canoes, paddling along the Cuyabeno River to spot birds. We return to the camp for breakfast. During the morning we take the trip back in the motor canoe. Again there are chances of spotting wildlife on our way to the Cuyabeno River bridge. Our private transport will be waiting to take us back to Lago Agrio, where we arrive in the late afternoon.
- 8 Day Aguas Negras Tour
DAYS ONE THROUGH FOUR
Paddling on Aguas Negras River
Transport from Lago Agrio to the Aguas Negras River. During the next 4 days, we will paddle downstream on the small blackwater river. Canoeing will be combined with a variety of daytime hikes through the jungle. On the evening of the fourth day, we join the Cuyabeno River, which is 3 times bigger than the Aguas Negras River. Here we head for a rustic hut that belongs to the Kichwa community of Playas de Cuyabeno, and sleep in tents inside the hut.
Jungle hikes and observation tower
In this area we have the opportunity to go on hikes along small jungle paths through primary forest, visit the 7-story high observation tower with a spectacular view over the rainforest and observe river dolphins. We finish the day with a night walk in search of nocturnal creatures. We stay overnight in the same rustic hut as the previous night.
1 day visit to Cofán community
By motor canoe we reach the confluence of the Cuyabeno and Aguarico rivers within 1 hour. We travel downstream until we reach the village of Sábalo, an indigenous community of the Cofán. Accompanied by a Cofán guide, we visit this typical village and take a walk on a circular trail, getting to know a variety of medicinal plants used by the Cofán. On the walk we will see an old giant kapok tree with immense buttress roots. In the afternoon we return to the Cuyabeno River, where we stay another night in the typical hut.
Journey Cuyabeno River upstream, Shaman visit
Today we use a motorized dugout canoe to travel upstream on the Cuyabeno River until we reach the Magic River Camp in the Cuyabeno lake system. On the way we may visit the shaman of a nearby village and learn about medicinal plants and healing practices. In the afternoon there will be time to explore the flooded forest of Laguna Grande, paddling by canoe until dark.
Early morning birdwatching, return to Lago Agrio
Early morning birdwatching. Later we paddle to various smaller lakes in the area. After lunch we return by motor canoe to the park entrance. From here we reach Lago Agrio within 3 hours by private transport. Arrival in Lago Agrio at approximately 6:00 pm.
5 Day Standard Tour (minimum 2 passengers):
- $330 USD per adult, double occupancy
8 Day Aguas Negras Tour (minimum 4 passengers):
- $800 USD per adult
- Transportation Lago Agrio-Cuyabeno-Lago Agrio
- Accommodations (in tents or rustic lodges) and meals during the tour
- Bilingual guide for 5 day tour, bilingual and native guide for the 8 day tour
- Rubber boots for the hikes and walks
- Camping and canoeing equipment
- Community entrance fees
- Airfare or bus transportation Quito - Lago Agrio - Quito
- National Park Entry Fees if applicable
- Extra snacks or drinks
- Expenses and accommodations in Lago Agrio before or after the tour