In terms of bucket list destinations, the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest is right up there with the Galapagos Islands. In contrast to the Islands, however, the Amazon covers a vast area and, as a traveler, it’s hard to know where to start. In the following blog, we’ll provide information on high caliber Ecuador Amazon lodges to help you plan your trip.
Have you ever dreamed of spending a few days in the Amazon?
If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to guess that the answer to this is YES. If you’re planning a trip to Ecuador, you should really try to block off a few days (3-4) to stay at an Ecuadorian Amazon lodge and experience this incredible, and quickly disappearing, region of the world.
Our Top Ecuador Amazon Lodges
As a B Corporation, we are big proponents of balancing purpose and profit. For this reason, we include remote communities along our Wanderbus routes that wouldn’t otherwise benefit from tourism. In fact, we highlight community-led, ecotourism projects across the country.
In the Amazon, you’ll find numerous luxury lodges, but only a handful of these Ecuador Amazon lodges are owned by locals and prioritize the conservation of the surrounding environment.
Without further ado, here’s a refreshing list of Ecuador Amazon lodges for you:
Sacha Runa Lodge – Sacha Runa Lodge is located midway between Tena and Puyo on a private 36-hectare rainforest reserve located on an island in the Anzu River. Sounds pretty magical, right? To get there, you have to cross on a cable car and, once you’re there, you won’t want to leave!
Activities include night and day walks, stargazing, shamanism, swimming, a chocolate tour, a local gastronomic tour, a handicraft workshop, and canoe rides. Rooms have private bathrooms with hot water. There is a restaurant, hammock area, and Jacuzzi. The lodge is committed to conserving endemic flora and fauna and has a water treatment plant.
Shayari – Shayari is a prime example of indigenous community-led eco-tourism. Its name means “rise up” and it’s run by 12 Kichwa families on the edge of the Napo-Galeras Biosphere Reserve outside of Lago Agrio.
The community here protects 500 hectares of rainforest, the majority of which has been declared a community reserve. Over the years, they managed to turn oil companies away until it was proven that oil didn’t exist in their area – what a relief.
Accommodation here is limited, which makes it feel exclusive. There are three attractive, rustic cabins with private bathrooms, and a dorm as well. Activities include hikes to a waterfall, lake and to enormous trees; dug-out canoe rides on the lake; and demonstrations of handicrafts and dancing. The food here is exceptional and offers vegetarian options with advance notice.
Napo Cultural Center – In the Yasuní, the Napo Cultural Center is a first-class jungle lodge that is slightly less deluxe than its other half, Napo Wildlife Center. However, the same Kichwa women own and operate both, #RESPECT!
The cozy cabins here have private balconies and hammocks. Activities include hiking, kayaking, climbing the canopy tower, a dawn guayusa ceremony, a visit to a Kichwa cultural center, a sunset ride in an ancestral catamaran accompanied by magical stories and legends, paddle canoe rides, night walks, and a visit to the parrot and clay licks.
Sani Lodge – Also in the Yasuní area, Sani Lodge, located on the banks of a beautiful lagoon is owned and managed by the Kichwa community of Sani Isla, who reinvests the proceeds from the lodge into education and healthcare.
At Sani Lodge, you’ll have access to 42,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, and if you like birdwatching, this is one of the best locations to spot the harpy eagle and 550 other bird species. The lodge boasts a 37-meter observation tower, built around a giant kapok tree, and daily canoe rides to spot other types of wildlife.
Sani Lodge even offers a family-focused tour, where the guide shares Amazonian stories and legends in the evenings, suitable for (and very much enjoyed by) children.
If you’d like to visit Sani Lodge but are on a tighter budget, they also offer a campsite.
Shiripuno Lodge – Shiripuno Lodge is led, in part, by the Waorani people. It is particularly remote and therefore one of the best lodges to spot wildlife. It’s located on Rio Shiripuno and, to get there, visitors are driven 2.5 hours from Coca and then taken by canoe 4 hours downstream. Private tours are also offered, including birding, herping and photography tours. Our favorite: the kayaking tour which takes you to various locations in the park.
Do you want even more options? Check out our Wanderbus Amazon rainforest packages at the end of this blog.
Our tips and recommendations for choosing an Amazon lodge
You don’t have to go deep into the Amazon to experience its wonders, but if you have the budget and time, try to spend as many days as you can in the rainforest. This will significantly increase your chances of spotting wildlife and really detoxing (did you know that forest bathing is a thing?).
As you select your lodge, make sure you read reviews and hear some personal recommendations. Once you’re out there, it may not be easy to ask for a refund and find another spot nearby!
If you’re traveling with a family, try to choose a lodge with activities for children. Depending on the season, there are days when it downpours and it’s impossible to do any outdoor activities. Some lodges, like Sani Lodge, offer activities for our younger companions that might tend to get bored easily.
The Wanderbus offers extra tours to two areas of the Amazon rainforest at an exceptional rate.
Our Amazon rainforest tour takes you to a lodge on the Napo River and is available for 2-3 nights, for as low as $240 per person total (not per day), all-inclusive. The 2 night /3-day package option is convenient for those of you with limited time, and you’ll still get to experience the rainforest in its full splendor.
If you prefer to explore Cuyabeno, check out our 3-5 nights package options at the Cuyabeno Reserve, for as low as $262 per person, total. This includes a jungle expedition to spot wildlife (the reserve is teeming with anacondas, just so you know!), a visit to a Siona indigenous community and, in some of the packages, bird-watching from a quilla, or dugout canoe.
Question or comments? Share them below in the comments section.