Sacha Lodge provides you with a unique opportunity to explore and experience one of the world’s last natural frontiers while being accommodated in total comfort. One moment, you might be totally absorbed in the tranquillity of the verdant panorama, the next instant your attention could be captured by the stark beauty of an exotic orchid, and then suddenly you might be startled and astonished by the appearance of a rare creature that you never before imagined seeing in real life.
The Amazon rainforest, with more diversity that any other ecosystem. Overwhelms the senses and challenges you to experience, comprehend and treasure all that this special place has to offer. Our remarkable forest tower puts you at a breathtaking place above the treetops where you can gaze across miles of intact rainforest. Here you also have the chance to observe up-close many wonderful plants and animals living in the forest canopy, which are other, wise extremely difficult to see from the ground. From the tower alone, we have identified nearly 200 bird species and our bird list from the Sacha Lodge area is fast approaching 500 species.
Scientist estimate that nearly half of all the species living on this planet, both plants and animals, dwell in the rainforests. Unfortunately, these tropical forests are disappearing worldwide at such a rate that only a few remnants are expected to survive intact into the next century. Your visit to the rainforest here at Sacha Lodge is an endorsement for the protection and conservation of this vital and precious part of the earth’s natural heritage.
Welcome to the Sacha Lodge !!
Following the Napo River down the eastern slope of the Andes brings you to the steamy tropical lowlands of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the Oriente. The rainforests of this region are the most complex biological communities that exist, and provide the single greatest reservoir of genetic diversity on Earth: a small area can boast 500 species of birds, 400 species of fish and over 100 species of mammals. Not surprisingly, this forest remain a focus for scientific investigation. Estimates suggest that a mere tenth of the insect species have been named, let alone studied. A short walk soon reveals the huge variety of forms: a monkey just bigger than a mouse; a liana as thick as a man’s waist, a striped frog with poisonous skin; a dry leaf that suddenly sprouts legs and starts walking. The wonders are there for all to see.
Sacha Lodge lies in the heart of this wilderness, 50 miles down the Napo River from Coca, a small jungle town. Blessed with a stunning lakeside location and experienced and enthusiastic personnel, the lodge provides a base from which to appreciate the raw beauty of the rainforest and a relaxing retreat in which to enjoy the comfort and services available.
Your journey to the lodge starts in Quito with a 40-minute flight to Coca. In the airport, you are met by a guide from the lodge and taken across town by bus to the dock. Here our covered motorised canoe will be waiting to take you two and half-hours down river.
Although the Napo River is a one kilometre wide in places, it is often surprisingly shallow. Pushing a large canoe full of people off a sandbar is not something the crew wants to do, so the canoe zigzags it’s way down the river following the deepest channels. The riverbanks are home to Quichua communities. Traditionally, their thatched roof houses are raised on stilts and surrounded by small gardens or chacras, where they grow coffee, bananas and yucca, among other things. In recent years, enormous oil reserves have been discovered in this region and signs of the oil industry are now a common sight along the river. Your guide will be there to explain the surroundings in more detail and answer any questions.
After docking, a short walk awaits you. At first this follows a village path next to the river and then a raised boardwalk through flooded palm forest. Giant electric blue morph butterflies, blue-and-yellow macaws, and squirrel monkeys are regularly seen here. From the end of the boardwalk, a dugout canoe takes you down a channel and across Pilchicocha Lake to the lodge. After a brief orientation, groups of 4-6 people are assigned their guides, a bilingual naturalist and a local Quichua guide. Before setting out on your first tour, you will be able to settle into your cabin. The accommodations at the Sacha Lodge are truly comfortable, verging on luxurious. While care has been taken to preserve the flavour of the jungle, a few extras have been added to make your stay more enjoyable. Our 14 double cabins have been constructed from wood and other natural materials to maintain a rustic feel. Electricity is available from dawn to 10 p.m. and the modern bathrooms have hot showers. Windows are screened against the insects. The cabins are linked together with elevated walkways to the main building where the dining room, bar and lounge are situated. Above the bar is a small lookout that offers views over the lake and lodge. Most of our day, however will be spent in the forest. Mornings start early; groups are usually on the trail by 6 am. Not only is it cooler at this hour, but animal and bird activity is at its peak. Most trails return you to the lodge for lunch with ample time after for a swim and an afternoon siesta before you hit the trails again. In the evening, a night walk through the rainforest is an experience not to be missed, -a sensual delight filled with new scents, sounds and shapes. The trails vary in length from an hour to a full day and there is scope for all abilities and interests. Sacha Lodge owns 3000 acres of rainforest covering a variety of different habitats, mostly in primary jungle; thy range from terra firme to swamp to rivers and lakes. Although most tours are on foot, some can be combined with river trips in a dugout canoe. Tours are not just limited to the ground either. The forest canopy has been made accessible by the construction of an observation tower that climbs 135 feet into the epiphyte-laden branch of a kapok tree. The jungle stretches to the horizon in all directions. On a clear day, the non snow-capped peak of Sumaco, an extinct volcano 100 miles away is often visible. From this vantage point, flora and fauna, invisible from the ground, can be studied at close quarters. Water-filled tank bromeliads stand by side with spray of orchids; hopping between them are a host of exotic birds with equally exotic names Paradise Tanager, Spangled Cotinga, Many-banded Aracari. The canopy is one of the least studied habitats and harbours thousands of still unknown plant and animal species. To be surrounded by such richness is a rare experience. Further down the Napo from Sacha, a parrot salt lick offers the opportunity to see hundreds of parrots and parakeets. They are attracted to an impressive red cliff on the riverbank early each morning in order to fulfil their daily mineral requirements. Whether clinging to the cliff or wheeling in circles above it, they provide an unforgettable spectacle of colour and noise.
Beni Ammeter, a Swiss entrepreneur, who has been in Ecuador for the last 25, bought the land in 1991 and Sacha Lodge received its first visitors in 1992. Because Sacha actually has title to the land, hunting and farming are not permitted. The adjacent Quichua villages benefit from employment and other services that the lodge provides.
Through tourism, Sacha has made the land economically competitive, and by educating the visitors and promoting the knowledge and culture of the indigenous people, it offers a way to protect the rainforest.
Tips to help you plan your trip
It is always advisable to consult your physician regarding health measures before travelling. For a short visit to the rainforest, the malaria risk is minimal.
Bar items and tips are not included. Drinks at the bar are put on a tab to be paid on the last night. The bill can be paid with US dollars cash, or traveller’s checks. For tips we recommend 5-10 dollars for each guide and 5 dollars for the staff, per person, per day.
Your luggage will be put into plastic bags for the trip down the river, but it is advisable to bring extra bags for valuables and wet clothes.
The canoe is covered to protect against sun and rain, but a light jacket or poncho is useful to protect against the wind and the spray.
Please remember that no laundry service is available at the lodge so be sure to pack extra T-shirt and socks.
Recommended packing list:
Passport, rain poncho, binoculars, flashlight, insect repellent, sun block, hat with brim, sunglasses, rubber boots if your size is bigger that us 13, lightweight long and short-sleeved shirts, lightweight pants and shorts - NOT JEANS. Comfortable shoes and long socks, camera, film and flash, bathing suit, daypack