The Cuyabeno National Park was established in July 26th 1980, covering an area of 1.206,760 acres. Initially members of the Siona tribe exclusively inhabited it. Today five different tribes inhabit the Cuabeno National Park. The Siona's have settled at Puerto Bolivar, the other tribes in Tarapuya.
During the eighties several migratory tribes where identified. A group of Cofanes left the Aguarico River and moved to Zabalo where they settled. The Shuar tribe, native inhabitant of the Morona Santiago province, colonized the south eastern part of the Cuyabeno National Park forming the center of Teikiua and Charapa. The Quichuas arrived from the upper part of the Napo River and settled at Playas de Cuyabeno and Zancudo.
Since the eighties these communities have survived by fishing, hunting and agriculture. During the nineties there was a rampant increase of ecotourism in the area, which led to various agreements with communities, not only to preserve the fauna and ecosystem in the Cuyabeno National Park, but to provide sustainable income for the tribes as well.
The geographical region of the Cuyabeno National Park is dominated by a flat topography containing slight undulations and small hills. The upper part of the Cuyabeno National Park is made up of a water system that is formed by 14 interconnected lagoons, of which only one is accessible for tourism. The other lagoons are restricted and may only be accessed by the local communities and park rangers. The Big Lagoon (2.5 km / 1.5 miles in length) is open to visitors.
The rivers and lakes of the Cuyabeno National Park depend on the rain to maintain their water levels. The rainy season is clearly marked from April to July, followed by a dry season from December to March and a mixed season of rain and dry from August to November.
The upper part of the Cuyabeno National Park is distinguished by its flooded forest or Igapo, which is submerged in black waters. The coloration of the water is caused by the decomposition of organic matter and the tannins from the leaves. This forest, which is submitted to constant inundations is found in the surroundings of the lakes, containing species of plants that have adapted to survive in water such as: Macro lobium acacifolium and Genipa Americana, as well as palms from the genus Bactris and Astro caryum.