Welcome to the wildest place on earth! Ecuador's upper Amazon Basin, referred to locally as the Oriente, awaits you. This region is unquestionably one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. Here, you can experience incredible wildlife viewing and bird-watching, nature photography, jungle hikes, dugout-canoe excursions, and a unique mix of native people adapted to life in the heart of the tropics. From bird-size butterflies to butterfly-size birds, from piranhas to vampire bats, from poison-arrow frogs to monster anacondas, and from spider monkeys to howler monkeys, the sky is the limit for the spirited soul. The area surrounding Tena and Misahualli is the most-visited rainforest destination in the country. One of the more developed regions of the upper Amazon, it is also the most accessible. Jungle excursions abound and there are still small patches of primary forest, mostly in the form of private reserves. Outstanding rafting, kayaking, swimming, tubing and hiking opportunities are available, as well as birding, botany, medicinal study, cultural and general nature travel. Farther down the Rio Napo, the land becomes more pristine. In the south, especially along the eastern slopes of the Andes and around Macas, the rugged topography and lack of access have preserved some of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities and intact indigenous cultures in Ecuador. In this region, virgin rainforest and the communities of the unique Achuar and Shuar Nations await the true adventure seeker. As the Andes descend dramatically eastward into the Napo region, the true tropical lowland rainforest begins with the headwaters of the Rio Napo. The Central Oriente offers ecological life zones similar to those in the northern region (see The Upper Amazon Basin), with many species that live here and nowhere else on earth. This is due primarily to the mixture of different microclimates created by drastic elevation changes between the Andes and the Amazon, resulting in small pockets of life that evolved separately from their close neighbors. Thus, biologically, the Oriente - with up to 5% of the earth's plant species - is arguably the richest place on the planet. This guide gives you all the details on where to stay, where to eat, what to do, how to get around, the entertainment and arts, the history and culture. Complete with maps and photos throughout.