Monkeys are equally prevalent on either side of Ecuador’s central Andes mountain range, and in next week’s blog we’ll look at species resident in the Pacific coastal region. Below, five inhabitants of the Amazon region are summarised. The following text is adapted from the Ministry of Tourism’s official observation guide, Primates of Ecuador.
Squirrel monkeys [Saimiri sciureus] – Also known as mono payaso (clown monkey) or mono soldado (soldier monkey), these measure from 25-32cm (without tail). It lives in primary and degraded forests, near water bodies. It moves a few feet above the ground where vegetation is dense, branches are thin and lianas (vines) abound. It may descend to the ground to look for invertebrates which represent a large proportion of its diet. It is very active, spending most of the day moving around.
To go deep into the lower Amazon basin, where biodiversity is highest, an extended canoe ride is a usual element of the trip. Though there are many wonderful rainforest lodges in Ecuador, only two cruise boats are licensed to operate along the Napo River, which courses through all the main highlights of the Ecuadorian jungle.
Cruises vastly increase the range of attractions one is able to visit, since lodges rarely offer excursions to places more than a few hours away. In one week, a cruise boat will travel over 100 miles to the Amazonian border with Peru. There are also half-week cruises.
The two available boats are the Manatee and the Anakonda, catering for lower and higher budgets respectively. Their itineraries are identical, with the only likely differences arising due to weather and other unforeseeables. Both boats are equipped with canoes for all passengers, and experienced guides accompany guests on all excursions.