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Our Native and Naturalist Guides

Great guides are the key to exciting excursions in the Amazon!

Guides are a vital part of our team at La Selva Ecolodge. English-speaking naturalist guides accompany our guests on all excursions, and their expertise in finding and spotting wildlife can make or break the visit for our guests. That’s why we hire the best guides in the Amazon!

Every group is assigned not one, but two guides. The first is a bilingual English/Spanish speaking naturalist guide, who will be the group’s leader, educate guests about animals and plants and be responsible for the group’s safety and enjoyment. The second guide is a native guide: a member of a local community who has grown up in the jungle. Although most of them don’t speak English as fluently as our naturalist guides, their knowledge of the Ecuadorian Amazon is unparalleled.

Naturalist Guides

Not just anyone can be a guide at la Selva Lodge. All guides are licensed by the National Park.

This is a lengthy, demanding process which requires that the guides have professional-level knowledge not only about the flora and fauna, but also safety procedures and park policies.

Our guides speak a variety of languages and have different skills according to their individual backgrounds. Some of our guides are great with children, others specialize in birdwatching groups, and others specialize in botany, herpetology or other scientific disciplines. Here are some of the prerequisites for being a naturalist guide at La Selva Lodge:

  • Official license and certification from the National Park
  • Degree in a discipline related to guiding in the Amazon: i.e. botany, herpetology, zoology, biology, environmental science, etc.
  • Basic first aid and emergency procedures
  • In-depth knowledge about the flora and fauna of the Amazon
  • In-depth knowledge about other aspects of life in the Amazon, including history, culture, politics, environmental management, etc.
  • A working knowledge of the rest of Ecuador, including the highlands, coast, Galapagos and more
  • Bilingual in Spanish and another language such as English, German or French
  • Must be good with people and have superior group management skills
  • Our guides often attend classes and conferences designed to keep them up to speed on new information such as park policies, emergency procedures and more

But perhaps the most important characteristic of our guides:

  • They must have a great love of the jungle and the Amazon rainforest! Our environment is a very special one and our guides are passionate in their love for the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve and all of the people, flora and fauna that call it home.

Native Guides

In addition to the naturalist, each group is accompanied by a native guide: a young man or woman from one of the local communities who grew up on the very trails and rivers he or she now proudly shows to visitors. Their knowledge about the Amazon is not so much personal as ancestral: their families have been here for generations, living off of the forest, using medicinal plants and fishing in the rivers. What better guide could you ask for than one who can share generations of knowledge and traditions?

In addition to the knowledge they have accumulated over a lifetime in the rainforest, our local guides are given courses locally in useful skills like first aid, group management, ecotourism, guiding and more.

Our native guides generally speak Spanish and Kichwa and most have mastered at least a few words of English (they may ask you to help them practice!).

Guides and Group Assignments

When you arrive at la Selva Ecolodge, you will be placed in a small group of fellow travelers (unless you have requested a private guide) and a naturalist-native guide team will take you and your new friends on all of the excursions and share with you all of the information you need.


New! The La Selva Junior Naturalist Program

Our guides are not only trained professionals and great people, they’re also very cool. Who wouldn’t want to be a trained jungle naturalist guide, looking for monkeys, parrots and snakes for a living? That’s why La Selva is proud to announce our Junior Naturalist program. Junior travelers (ages 5-16) who wish to participate can complete a checklist of skills that we look for in our naturalists, such as making bird calls, paddling the canoes and catching piranhas.

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