Overshadowed by Baños, Puyo is not your typical tourist destination. In fact, despite being the capital of the Pastaza province and one of the most important cities in the Amazon, the city seemingly doesn’t have a lot to offer. But venture out of the city center, and you’ll understand why Puyo was one of my favorite places I visited last year! From how to get there, to what to do and where to stay, here’s your complete guide to visiting this I daresay, underrated town in the Amazon!
How to Get There
From Quito: Go to one of Quito’s bus terminals: Terminal Carcelen in the north of the city, or Terminal Quitumbe in the south. Buses leave all day, every hour in the morning and then less frequently in the afternoon and at night. The trip takes 5 hours and costs around $7.
From Baños: If you’re already at the Gateway to the Amazon, head to the bus terminal in Baños and hop on the next bus to Puyo. Don’t worry about the schedule because buses leave frequently all day and all night. It takes about 1 hour and a half to reach Puyo’s bus terminal and the ticket costs $2.50.
Best Things to Do in Puyo
Located between Baños, Tena, and Macas, Puyo is an important trading center in the Amazon region and a great base from which to book tours to the jungle and forest reserves. While its center arguably lacks charm, don’t go deeper into the rainforest just yet because its surroundings offer great off the beaten path activities! From taking a stroll along the Puyo river to encountering local species, here are 6 amazing things to do.
Swing over the Rainforest
Swing over the edge at the Mirador Indichuris. Located about 30 kilometers away from Puyo, the viewpoint offers a breathtaking view over the rainforest and Río Pastaza. On a clear day, you could even see the Andes and some of its highest mountains like el Sangay, el Tungurahua, and el Altar in the distance! The entrance fee is $3.
(Read more: A Guide to Visiting the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador)
Hike to Hola Vida Waterfall
Stop by Hola Vida waterfall on your way to the Indichuris viewpoint from Puyo. A 30-minute walk through the forest will take you to the 21-meter high waterfall. You can either do the hike on your own or hire a guide. The admission fee is $1.50.
Walk along the Paseo Turistico
Follow the Puyo River along the Paseo Turistico for a relaxing walk in the forest. The trail starts in the Obrero neighborhood and ends when it meets the road to Tena. I don’t necessarily recommend doing the whole walk but follow the trail for at least 400 meters until you find the Parque Etnobotánico Omaere.
Learn about Rainforest Plants at Parque Etnobotánico Omaere
Packed with medicinal and culinary plants, the Parque Etnobotánico Omaere is the perfect place to learn more about the rainforest plants and indigenous traditions before going deeper into the jungle. For $3, Chris, the guide, will take you around the park and share his passion and knowledge of the rainforest with you. A must!
Encounter Local Wildlife at YanaCocha Rescue Center
YanaCocha Rescue Center helps dozens of animals victims of illegal trafficking every year. Unfortunately, not all of them can be released, which is why they created the YanaCocha Bio Park where the animals can remain under the care of specialists. Visit the Rescue Center to not only support YanaCocha’s efforts but also see the rainforest’s wildlife. The admission fee is $3 (but donations are greatly appreciated)!
Visit one of the Indigenous Communities
7 indigenous communities live deep into the forest around Puyo: the Shiwiar, Achuar, Shuar, Sapara, Andwa, Kichwa, and Waorani. If you’re looking to meet some of their members and learn more about their fascinating traditions, there are volunteer programs and ecolodges that can put you in touch.
Where to Stay
Given its size and lack of popularity among travelers, Puyo surprisingly has a decent amount of accommodation options. To disconnect and get that rainforest ambiance, I’d recommend not staying near the city center. Here are a few of my favorites:
- La Casa del Rio B&B – Best rated on Booking.com
- Finca Heimatlos Eco Lodge & Farm – For the view!
- Karina and Roberto’s AirBnB – Where I Stayed
(Get $45 off your first booking by signing up here 👈)
Let me know if you’re planning to visit Puyo soon! I hope this guide was helpful and as always, feel free to ask me anything in the comments.
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