Monkey Thrills - and Oil Spills - in the Ecuadorian Amazon

squirrel monkey
Sacha Lodge

When I started plotting a trip to Ecuador's Galapagos Islands this spring, I discovered that the country's section of the legendary Amazon, on the mainland, was feasible as a side trip. El Oriente, as the jungle here is dubbed, is a primordial pot brimming with biodiversity, a haven for the birds and the bees, and, perhaps most intriguing, a primo perch for primate viewing. With some dozen monkey species known to (literally) hang out here, the animal lover in me was already going bananas over the idea of it.