For our luxury hotel of the month for March we chose the isolated Sacha Lodge in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Perfect for wildlife lovers and adventurous souls looking to explore the great outdoors, Sacha makes for a wonderful nature escape.
Sacha Lodge is a 5000-acre private reserve located in Sucumbios province, northeast of Ecuador in the Amazon Basin, accessible only by river, offering an adventurous jungle programme for travellers who wish to view some of South America’s emblematic wildlife in its natural habitat and learn about the ecosystems of the neotropics from the lodge’s naturalist and native Quichua guides.
How to Get There
Sacha’s intrepid all-inclusive programmes, starting daily except Sundays, begin in Ecuador’s capital city Quito, where a 25-minute local flight whisks guests over the Andes and down into the Amazon. In the port town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana, also known as Coca, arriving guests are met by a bilingual guide and taken to a private dock to board a covered, motorised canoe for a 2-hour, 50-mile trip down the sediment-rich waters of the Napo, the largest river in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Guests continue their trip with a 30-minute walk on a raised boardwalk to Pilchicocha lake, where traditional dugout canoes take you a short final distance to the isolated Sacha Lodge.
Placing sustainable design at the core of the operation, all of Sacha’s cabins, with high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces, are constructed with traditional materials and nestle into the lush surroundings. Each of the twenty-six spacious rooms provide a private bathroom with hot showers. The cabins are screened against insects and have ceiling fans to keep guests cool in the sultry heat of the jungles. During downtime in between jungle explorations, lodge visitors can contemplate the beauty of the jungle landscapes from their hammocks and often report seeing wild fauna such as toucans, agoutis and monkeys from the comfort of their own cabin.
Food & Drink
Sacha’s comprehensive exploration programme is inclusive of all meals and mealtimes at the hotel are an exotic, tropical treat. The recently renovated open-air restaurant features full-size palm trees inside it and guests can enjoy a unique indoor/outdoor dining experience to the tune of the cicadas’ evening songs. Dinner is served a la carte with menus that change daily, bringing the freshest sustainable produce to fine dining in the jungle. Popular ingredients include the paiche – a huge meaty white fish found only in the Amazon – which comes with the all-important Green Seal for responsible fishing. Vegetarians are more than welcome, and the chefs can cater for any special needs upon request.
At least one evening a week, a barbecue is held on the lakeside balsa, offering grilled fish, meat and local vegetables. Every guest also gets the chance to try the ‘Tastes of the Amazon Menu,’ created by chef Julio Avendano using only local rainforest ingredients. Every Wednesday and Saturday lunchtime, a full Amazon gourmet experience is put on for the Lodge’s guests. The 3-course meal includes learning about and sampling the yuca plant in its different forms, a main course of smoked pork or Paiche fish, locally acquired from a farm which prides itself on their responsible fishing and a choice of three desserts made from sweet fruits of the surrounding forests. The main dishes are also accompanied by some hot and fragrant salsas all made with local ingredients – some from the lodge’s very own kitchen garden.
The wildlife! Guests of Sacha Lodge can expect to observe a mind-blowing variety of birds, mammals, fish, insects, reptiles and amphibians during their stay at the hotel. It is not uncommon for keen birders to spot over 250 species of birds at the lodge, alongside the other emblematic regional species such as troupes of red howler monkeys and the diminutive pygmy marmosets. By night, colourful poison dart frogs abound in the forest with jungle bats flitting between the trees and the statuesque caiman lurking in the waterways. With your eyes peeled during excursions you might spot an anteater, a three-toed sloth, ocelots, lizards and snake species.
Sacha Lodge is the perfect choice for those seeking an adventurous and authentic wildlife experience in the Amazon that can be easily incorporated into a wider trip. Travelling to the Amazon in Brazil often requires a three to four-hour flight from either Rio or São Paulo to arrive in Manaus. Coca, on the other hand, is barely 30 minutes from Quito by plane and thus your foray into the Amazon can easily be combined with an exploration of the Avenue of Volcanoes or the magnificent Galápagos Islands with minimal flying and often without the need for wasteful ‘stopover’ nights in large transport hubs.
Must Do Activity
Amongst Sacha Lodge’s highlights is the Canopy Walkway which is unique in Ecuador at 275 metres long and 36 metres high. This incredible construction allows guests to get closer than ever to the bustling life at the canopy level of the rainforest, seeing a wide variety of stunning exotic birdlife up close.
Are you planning a trip to Ecuador? Learn more about the Ecuadorian Amazon by clicking here and visit our Sacha Lodge page for more information on the hotel. Contact us today to begin designing your bespoke holiday with our dedicated travel specialists.