Ecuador: Sacha Lodge (4 - 5 days)
Sacha Lodge, located in the heart of Ecuador's Amazon Basin is a world renowned haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers.
Imagine yourself drifting down a narrow, winding creek surrounded on all sides by a lush, endless sea of tropical greenery, and all that separates you from the deep black Amazon waters is a canoe hand-carved out of a single tree trunk. As you maneuver around a bend something unidentified crashes off into the underbrush, and you catch a glimpse of two magnificent, colorful macaws startled into flight. Suddenly, the forest erupts with a roar so loud that all you can imagine is some giant, fierce predator on the prowl. But as you turn to face your destiny, the menace is revealed as a family of furry red howler monkeys huddled together in a treetop. With a sigh of relief you continue onward, deeper into the unknown. This is one of the many sensations you may experience at Sacha Lodge provides comfortable accommodations, first-class meals and expert guides in order for you to fully enjoy the wonders of the tropical rainforest.
2017 Departure Dates & Cost
5 DAY Monday - Friday: $1,360 USD includes domestic air from Quito - Single supplement $ 435 USD
4 DAY Friday - Monday: $ 1,175 USD includes domestic air from Quito - Single supplement $ 345 USD
Prices are based on twin and include domestic airfare from Quito
Your journey to the Amazon basin begins with a 45 minute flight over the Andes mountains from Quito, Ecuador's capital, to the port town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana. Here a shaded motorized canoe awaits for a 50-mile, 2 hour trip down the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon itself. Upon arrival to our 5,000-acre private reserve, you will take your first walk along a raised boardwalk through dense flooded palm forest where several species of monkeys are often sighted. The path leads to Pilchicocha Lake, where dugout canoes await to cross you over to the Lodge. After a welcome and orientation, you will be shown to your comfortable rooms, which provide electricity, private bathrooms with hot water showers, ceiling fans and balconies with hammocks overlooking the jungle. Later, there is usually time to talk a walk, swim, birdwatch or visit a small lookout with a scenic view of the lake and cabins before sunset.
Sacha Lodge's guests will be divided into small groups, each of which will be led by a native guide with expert knowledge of the rainforest's medicinal and other useful plants, and a bilingual naturalist guide educated in the biology and ecology of the area. A typical day at Sacha begins at sunrise or earlier, in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest's animals are most active. Each group may decide on its own wake-up and breakfast time, as well as the difficulty and duration of their morning outings. In the afternoon, visits begin between 3:00 and 4:00 and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins.
Activities are spread out over a wide area and allow visitors to explore several distinct but equally fascinating habitats. Several trails lead through pristine terra firme forest, where 150 foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support. Others follow strategically raised boardwalks in seasonally flooded forests, where walking on the ground would be nearly impossible during most of the year due to groundwater. One trail many choose to follow even leads across fallen tree trunks and a steel cable zip-line through rich swampland! A favorite activity of our guests is to paddle dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, bromeliads and palm trees thrive. And wherever an outing may lead the possibilities of spotting animals, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the feared ocelot or puma, are endless. For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset.
After breakfast we will walk back out to the Napo River for the trip to Puerto Francisco de Orellana, and the flight to Quito.
One of Sacha Lodge's highlights is our 135-foot (43-meter) observation tower. Situated on a hill and constructed around a giant kapok tree for stability, this tower allows guests to climb into and above the rainforest canopy for a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Be it shortly after sunrise or before sunset, from the tower's ample platform it is possible to observe toucans, parrots, and dozens of other colorful bird species in the treetops. With some luck, noisy howler monkeys, foraging squirrel monkeys or the gentle three-toed sloth may also be seen, especially with the aid of a powerful telescope provided by your guides. In recent years Sacha Lodge has become a favorite destination of both professional and amateur ornithologists. Over 500 species of birds have been registered in the area, and from the tower platform our bird specialist guides have on several occasions reported seeing over 80 species in a single morning! The tower may be reached on foot via a half-hour walk through terra firme forest, which is an easy way to get there at or before sunrise. However, no one can miss out on at least a one-way trip to or from the tower along Orchid Creek, Pilchicocha Lake's natural black water runoff to the Napo River. In a dugout canoe guests may follow this winding stream through untamed palm forest for about an hour, a trip that many choose to repeat.
A recent addition to Sacha's activities is our 940-foot (300-meter) long canopy walkway. At approximately 94 feet (30 meters) above the ground, imagine exploring the rainforest up in the treetops! This sturdy walkway is fixed to the ground with metal towers for stability, and offers an unbelievable opportunity to spot dozens of animals and epiphytes that are seldom seen from the ground.
Sacha Lodge is home of one of the largest butterfly farms in Ecuador. Designed as a live exhibition conservatory, the Butterfly House is now successfully breeding nearly 40 local butterfly species. Guests will be shown how these beautiful insects are bred and raised, and later be free to wander through "the flying room", where hundreds of colorful butterflies including spectacular blue morphs flutter from flower to flower.
Yasuni Parrot Lick
At a short distance from Sacha Lodge is Ecuador's most accessible parrot lick, an exposed clay bank where brightly colored parrots of several different species gather in the early morning. In ideal conditions (sunny and dry), the parrots will often perch on and eat the exposed clay. This acts as a sort of "antacid" for them: Parrots eat a variety of toxic and acid fruits, and the clay draws these toxins out of their bodies. On an ideal morning, hundreds of parrots can be seen gathering around this bank between 7am and 8am for a spectacular show of sound and color. The lick is located on the edge of Yasun National Park, which may be reached from Sacha by a one half-hour motorized canoe trip down the Napo River. Recently, the park service has set up blinds in order to watch the parrots from very close. If weather permits (the parrots won't be there in the rain!), and you would like to participate in this activity, the extra cost is only $3 per person (subject to change, and to be paid at the Lodge).
Please contact us for additional information.
What our clients are saying...
"The grand finale jungle adventure on the Napo River and stay at Sacha Lodge on a private ecological reserve was also a once in a lifetime experience, from early morning hikes to evening dugout paddles, poisonous critters included! And, our awe-inspiring Machu Pichu trip portion went off without a hitch." Melva & Gordon Bradshaw