Explore the Amazon

Life on the Amazon's Aucayacu     Photo: Photo by Josh Paul

One of the best ways to experience the Amazon's incredible array of diversity is at Ecuador's little-known Huaorani Ecolodge, a solar-powered oasis in the heart of the 1.7 million acres of Amazon owned by the Huaorani, the tribe at the center of Joe Kane's 1995 book Savages. After a 40-minute flight from the small town of Shell—already the edge of civilization—you'll land in the village of Quehueri'ono (translation: Cannibal River, but don't be alarmed). Your guide will pole you down the slow-moving Shiripuno in a dugout canoe to the lodge, a traditional palm-thatched dining room surrounded by five simple cabins. There, you'll learn how to use a blowgun, perfect your machete swing, set traps for monkeys and peccaries, drink the banana-smoothie-like concoction called chucula, and meet the tribe's visionary leader, Moi Eno­menga. High points: spotting a jaguar on the riverbank while camping on a remote platform under the stars, then getting up before dawn to swim beneath a towering waterfall. Not many tourists have seen the Amazon this way. In fact, two branches of the Huaorani still live in virtual isolation downriver—and prefer it that way. Five days, $860 per person, double occupancy; huaorani.com

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