For its size, Ecuador may be the most geographically diverse country in the world. Besides the volcanic islands of Galapagos, it has three distinct regions: a coastal belt, the Andes mountains, and the sparsely inhabited El Oriente, or the Upper Amazon Basin to the east. El Oriente is mostly primeval rainforest, merging into cloud forest in the eastern foothills of the Andes. It teems with rivers that feed the mighty Amazon, the lifeblood of the "world's richest and most varied biological reservoir, containing several million species of insects, plants, birds, and other forms of life, many still unrecorded by science. The luxuriant vegetation and wide variety of trees include many species of myrtle, laurel, palm, and acacia, as well as rosewood, Brazil nut, and rubber tree." As in parts of Brazil, the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador is also shrinking, led by the usual economic motives (timber, petroleum, etc.) and new human settlements.
About six years ago, Usha and I went to El Oriente. We took a bus from Quito to the tiny town and jungle outpost of Tena, where we hired a taxi and went further east to a point along Rio Napo called Puerto Barantilla, where we took a boat to our jungle lodge near the mouth of Rio Arajuno. Over the next three days, we explored the region with local guides, including a memorable all-day hike through primordial forest, buzzing with streams and massive diversity of life (it rained hard that afternoon, making our hike path quite treacherous). We also went river rafting one day after assembling a raft out of logs with our guide's help, and hiked to amaZOOnico, an animal rescue and rehabilitation center run by local and overseas volunteers. Here we saw some of the great variety of Amazonian wildlife, including macaws, toucans, trumpet birds, tortoise, many kinds of monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, peccaries, tapirs, capybaras, agoutis, etc. The lodge served all of our meals. Dinner staple was fish with vegetables, rice, yucca or plantain, and tropical fruit, served by candlelight (the lodge had no electricity). The mosquitoes were large and vicious. The forest comes alive at night with the sound of a gazillion crickets.
The 10 min video below is based on the footage I took there (turn on HQ mode after it starts playing; a QuickTime version is here).