Yasuni is recognized as the world’s most “megadiverse zone” where an incredible number of different species thrive. It is therefore known as a “hot spot” for endemism, meaning many species have originated here and are not found anywhere else on Earth. One of the secret sources of this immense biodiversity is that Yasuni is located at the crossroads of the Andes, Amazon, and the Equator. The varying sea levels, between 190-400 metres, are part and parcel of this crossroads which create a large number of ecosystems.
Everything from rivers to lakes, swamp systems such as lowland and floodplain evergreen ‘varzea’ and ‘igapo’ forests, to palm tree marsh ‘moretos’, and even diverse ‘terra firme’ tropical forest have their own regions and intricate food webs. These different ecosystems become prime habitat for a mind-boggling number of creatures. To date, there are a staggering 100,000 insect species, 270 fish, 139 amphibian, 121 reptile, 610 bird, 204 mammal and upwards of 3000 plant species on record. These numbers do not even take into account the still undocumented species that are thought to be abundant here! Due to the exceedingly diverse flora and fauna, the World Wildlife Foundation considers this region to be one of the key sites which should be made a critical priority for global conservation efforts.
Hiking trails are maintained by local people in the old ways to ensure the continued health of the forest. Their ancestors have passed down the importance of stewardship and other crucial knowledge through a variety of oral traditions. The ancestral settlements of indigenous groups who welcome outsiders, like the Kichwa Anangu, offer the incredible chance to experience ecology, biology, anthropology, and sociology unlike anywhere else. Three distinct ethnic groups are found here including the Kichwa, the Waorani, and the Shuar who are farther afield.
Within these groups are many subgroups of individuated peoples who inhabit different territories. For example, part of the official Waorani Ethnic Reserve is located directly adjacent to Yasuni and contains clans of people who wish to remain un-contacted, such as the Tagaeri and Taromenane. The priceless value of these cultural mosaics is unquestioned as the sanctity of un-contacted groups becomes evermore a moral concern in the current climate of globalization and hyper-connectivity. Thankfully, tourism that is socially conscious and environmentally sustainable is increasingly recognized as the only responsible and viable option!
Are you ready to book your next adventure? Ask one of our agents to design a trip tailored to your interests. Discover something new within the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.