The oil infrastructure has made the Ecuadorian Amazon one of the most easily accessed rainforest areas in the continent, with its centres of jungle tourism all within a day’s bus journey of Quito. There are two main routes to the Oriente. The first leaves the capital and descends into the Amazon basin from the Papallacta pass, splitting at Baeza, north to Lago Agrio (and then Coca), and south to Tena and the faster way to Coca. The second drops from Ambato through Baños to Puyo, where it meets the road between Tena and Macas. A new gravel road runs from Guamote (south of Riobamba) directly to Macas, slicing through Parque Nacional Sangay, and other poorer roads descend from Tulcán to Lumbaqui (on the Baeza–Lago Agrio road) and from Cuenca and Loja into the southern Oriente.
The region is militarily sensitive and you’ll be required to produce your passport at regular checkpoints. More so than at other places in the country, it’s important you have original documents rather than copies. As far as security is concerned, the areas adjacent to the Colombian border are currently unsafe due to infiltration of guerrilla and paramilitary units and should be avoided.