Your journey to the Amazon begins early in the morning as you drive through the Ecuadorian countryside, transitioning from the Andes to the Amazon (locally known as the Oriente) winding along the impressive Avenue of Volcanoes—a strip of 14 volcanic mountains—and passing traditional haciendas, indigenous villages, waterfalls and protected natural areas. You’ll start to notice changes in vegetation, with Spanish moss, bananas and tropical palms beginning to dominate the countryside.

Four hours later, you will arrive to the town of Shell, named after the oil company. Around noon, depart in a light aircraft to the Huaorani community of Quehueri’ono (keh-weri-oh-noh), where after a short 35-minute flight, you’ll be greeted by your hosts and start your expedition downstream in a shallow dugout canoe called a quilla (kee-yah). Immediately, you will begin to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the Amazon. The entire paddle downstream will be filled with amazing wildlife viewing, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse and photo of the many riverside birds, including the Yellow-rumped Cacique, the Greater and Lesser Kiskadees, and any of the four Amazonian kingfishers. You won’t want to put your camera down as you traverse the mighty Shiripuno River (shire-puno) sandwiched between thick tangles of rain forest vegetation.

Arrive at Huaorani Ecolodge, your intimate and comfortable home for the next few days. You’ll have the chance to settle in, have a late lunch, and listen to an introductory briefing about the Huaorani culture and their relationship with the rainforest. After dinner, feel free to rest up for your Amazonian adventure, or if you have an urge to start exploring, ask your guide to lead you on a night walk.