High Amazon or lower Amazon, how do you choose ?
Preparing my trip to Ecuador, I pondered that question for a long time, there is nowhere, in a guidebook that will give a good answer to that question. Both are Amazonia, only the altitude is slightly different, so how do you chose?
After debating the question with my family before our trip, we finally decided not to chose and do both, so here is a short summary of what the two places were like... it could be helpful for anyone having the same dilemma :
We went to the Napo Wildlige in lower Amazon, and Hamadryade Lodge in higher Amazon and we loved both, they offered a great experience of the Amazon, yet they are very different;
Hamadryade Lodge is in the Higher amazon, about 500mts so it's not yet really high amazon, but neither it is the low amazon where the Napo wildlife is.
The jungle around is the same, so thick it's sometimes impossible to get through, but the climates are a little different. personnaly I prefered the climate at Hamadryade Lodge, it's mild, not too hot, not too humid, so it's nicer when you go hiking in the jungle.
Also, because of the little altitude, water keeps going down, so no swamps, and I've got to tell you, when you go through the jungle, it's nice not to have swamps to cross or go around. The ground is sometimes more rocky and you can walk a little easier (just a little, mud is still present everywhere).
And water going down also means whitewater rivers, which is nice, it's a possibility to do some amazing rafting days (I definitly recommend the class IV rivers, beautiful canyons, waterfalls, suspended bridges,... amazing).
In the lower amazon, you can go on amazingly calm waterways to go and see wildlife, it's incredible, it's like everything is standing still, and suddenly the mouvments you see will be a group of monkeys or large birds. They seem to be everywhere, you don't always see them, but you hear them all the time. It's easier to see animals in that sector I guess, I've seen just as many birds at Hamadryade (actually without even leaving the Lodge), but I've seen more monkeys arounf the Napo wildlife. Of course, there are some animals that you see only in these parts of the amazon, such as aligators (the guide said that they cannot survive in running waters), piranas, or such;
well I hope that this gives you an idea about the difference. the main point being this, it's different. But to be honest, Hamadryade Lodge offers a few other advantages that are interesting : it's easier access, no detour needed (it took us an entire day just to reach the Napo, first with the plane, and then hours in a canoe ; while we just stop at Hamadryade on the way between Quito and banos), no mosquitoes (and then no malaria),... but I agree those are only secondary things
best of luck and have a good trip