Overview

Sacha Lodge is a beautifully pristine jungle lodge located within a 2,023 hectres (5,000 acres) private ecological reserve in Ecuador’s Amazon Jungle.

Since its foundation in 1992, Sacha Lodge has proven that it is possible to sustain a healthy balance between economic development, rainforest conservation, local human advancement and respect to local culture. They are very proud of maintaining this social and ecological responsibility, which is the basis of true Ecotourism.

Sacha Lodge is an Ecuadorian company, which generates employment to about a 100 families who form a part of our team. Most Lodge employees come from local communities (the few exceptions being the administrator, chef and bilingual guides), making Sacha the largest tourism-sector employer in Ecuador’s Amazon region. This not only brings direct economic benefits to these communities, but also provides them with a practical alternative to harmful activities such as logging and oil exploration. In addition, having employees work as native guides offers them the opportunity to share their ancestral knowledge with others plus an incentive to continue passing it on to their children in a changing world.

Since 1995, Sacha has also invested heavily in acquiring land from neighboring colonists. Not to be confused with rainforest natives, these colonists came from cities and would have relied on heavy farming and hunting to survive. Thanks to such efforts, over 5000 acres have been saved from deforestation and are now the largest private reserve in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Through these efforts, future generations of both natives and visitors have the opportunity to continue enjoying the wonders of the tropical rainforest.

 

Sample Itinerary

At Sacha Lodge, there are a wide variety of activities catering to all interests and physical abilities, making each day a new adventure!

Here are just a few options:

  • Wake up early and go birdwatching on the canopy walk, or enjoy a wonderful sunset from 120 feet above the forest floor.
  • Discover unique rainforest creatures from a platform on a giant 100 ft high kapok tree.
  • Paddle around streams and the lake in indigenous dug out canoes.
  • Visit the live exhibition area of the butterfly farm in your free time, located a 10 minute walk from the lodge.
  • Go swimming or fishing for piranha off of the dock
  • At night go on the lake looking for caymans
  • And much more!

The Wildlife

Anyone who has ever planned to visit the rainforest has at least once asked: “What animals will I see there?”

There is an incredibly high diversity of species found around Sacha Lodge, and we are sure that you will have the opportunity to see many fascinating creatures here. However, the wild is unpredictable and no two visits are ever the same! Monkeys are seen quite frequently, but how many of the 8 species found here will cross your path? They range in size from the tiny half pound pygmy marmoset to the noisy 17 pound red howler monkey, and night monkeys can be found in groups as small as 2 while squirrel monkeys can travel in groups of more than 150. And besides monkeys, there may be as many as 60 other species of mammals within our reserve (not including up to 50 species of bats)! So keep your eyes open, and maybe you’ll spot an anteater, a 3-toed sloth, or even an ocelot as you explore their natural habitat.

As for reptiles, be sure to take advantage of our night activities to look for one of Pilchicocha’s resident spectacled caimans. Members of the alligator family, caimans are often seen from canoes out on the lake, and sometimes the babies even come to hide under our dining room! A variety of lizards and snakes can also be found along our trails, if you move quietly and keep your eyes peeled. Several different boas, vine snakes and even the giant anaconda have been seen during many of our excursions. There are a few poisonous snakes as well, but not to worry – they try to stay out of peoples’ way and no one has ever been bitten here.

Frogs, on the other hand, are much more common to see, from bulgy-eyed tree frogs to camouflaged leaf frogs to tiny colorful poison-dart frogs. So watch your step, day or night! And then, of course, there are birds.

In recent years Sacha Lodge has become a favorite destination of both professional and amateur ornithologists.

So far there have been an incredible 587 different species of birds found here! This is a staggering number, especially if you consider that approximately 900 species have been registered in the entire continental United States and Canada. In only 4 or 5 days, it is not uncommon for even the most casual birder to see over 250 species here. With only minimal effort you can expect to see dozens of colorful parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, tanagers, hawks and oropendolas, and of course there are plenty of elusive “LBJs” (little brown jobs, of course) to keep the avid bird enthusiasts occupied for days. Our guides will carry telescopes along to bring your birdwatching experience close-up, and be sure to keep your binoculars handy at all times!

The Canopy Walk

A wonderful addition to Sacha’s activities is our 940-foot (275-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 by three metal towers for stability, and offers an unbelievable opportunity to spot dozens of animals and epiphytes seldom seen from the ground. Thousands of colorful birds await to be spotted, and with some luck you might even follow along with troops of monkeys as they forage through the forest canopy.

Taking a leisurely walk above the trees on this incredible structure, to emerge even higher on the top of the towers surrounded by an endless sea of rainforest, is an experience not to be missed.

Yasuni Parrot Lick

A short distance from Sacha Lodge is Ecuador’s most accessible parrot lick, an exposed clay riverbank where brightly colored parrots of several different species gather in the early morning. In ideal conditions (sunny and dry) hundreds of parrots will perch on and eat the exposed clay in a spectacular show of sound and color! The lick is located on the edge of Yasuní National Park, which may be reached from Sacha by a short 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 $15.00 per person for entrance into the National Park (subject to change, and to be paid at the Lodge).

The Kapok Tower

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, noisy howler monkeys, foraging squirrel monkeys or the gentle three-toed sloth may also be seen.

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!

Butterfly House

Sacha Lodge is home to 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 flutter from flower to flower.

Transparent glass-wing butterflies, spectacular blue morphs, striking tiger longwings, bright yellow swallowtails and giant nocturnal owl butterflies are only a few of the species you’ll encounter here, up close and personal.

Birdwatching

Of the incredible 1,600 bird species registered in Ecuador, 587 (37%) have been seen at Sacha Lodge. That’s almost 7% of the species found in the entire world!

For avid birdwatchers, we provide bird specialist guides upon request. These guides know the best spots for the hard-to-find species, and can easily identify species by both sight and sound. Oscar Tapuy, our local expert who has been with Sacha since 1995, estimates 60 species per day (sighted, of course) to be his average tally!

Your guide will lead you through a variety of habitats where mixed flocks are common, and generally begin before sunrise to take full advantage of the morning peak. You may even take a box lunch along if you wish to stay out all day, and return only for dinner before heading out again in search of owls and other nocturnal species. We will keep groups as small as possible (considering 5-6 people ideal), and recommend a minimum of 5 days to cover as much ground as possible. However, stays of a week or more are easily arranged in order to take full advantage of the local diversity!

If ornithology is to be the focus of your trip, please request your bird specialist guide in advance to make sure he is there when you arrive. We provide each of our bird guides with a telescope to use for the duration of your stay.

Sample Itinerary

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.

You will determine (with the help of your guide) your own wake-up and breakfast time, as well as the difficulty and duration of your morning outings. In the afternoon, visits begin at around 3:00 and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins.

Wherever the destination, our excursions proceed slowly in order to appreciate the fascinating details that our guides point out around you.

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, orchids, 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.

During free time at the lodge, swimming and piranha fishing are also activities not to be missed… but don’t worry! Piranhas are scavengers and the guides will prove that swimming is perfectly safe.

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… Do you dare search for them?

Day 1

Depart Quito and arrive Sacha Lodge around 15:30 or 16:00 pm.

Relax and enjoy a swim in Lake Pilchicocha, which is a black water lake home to many species of fish and animals. A refreshing swim after arriving may be just what you need after being in the equatorial heat all day.

Bird observing from the mini tower offers guests an excellent opportunity to view several species of birds common around the lodge. Also a great place to watch the sun set. Visit the butterfly house with your naturalist guide to view the beautiful colors of many different species of butterflies.

After dinner, accompany your naturalist guide on a night walk through the rainforest to view the hundreds of different species of animals that can only be found at night. Or maybe a canoe ride on the lake to view the spectacled and black caimans with their glowing orange eyes as you silently paddle across the lake to get a closer view

Day 2

Begin your morning activity between 6:00 and 7:00. Begin walking on trail Liana Chica and arrive at the canopy walk, for spectacular views of the rainforest canopy and the many different species of vibrantly colored birds.Designed to be a self-standing rigid suspension canopy walk, it is one of very few in the world!

Located within Sacha´s private reserve, 2 miles from the shores of the Rio Napo and 1 mile from the lodge, the bird walk gives guests the opportunity to get an up close and personal view of the rainforest canopy.Two of the three towers have observation decks every 12 meters making towers accessible for everyone. The canopy walkway is at 36 meters high and 275 meters long, giving guests a “birdseye view” of all the wonders and beauty the tropical rainforest has to offer.

The canopy walk is designed as a sturdy walkway enabling guests to casually move along while enjoying the spectacular views.

After your canopy adventure, take a casual hike the Liana Grande trail, through terra firma and igapo forest habitats where native guides will explain many different species of medicinal plants that have been being used in their culture for hundreds of years. The Liana Grande trail will turn into the Higueron trail, which will take you through pristine primary forest with huge Kapok and Fig trees towering hundreds of feet above your head.

After lunch, you may choose to take a leisurely hike along the Rio Napo, or choose a little more challenging hike on the Leoncillo trail to try and spot the elusive dusky titi monkey. Either way the trails will lead you back to the main boardwalk for your final hike and canoe ride back to the lodge.

Day 3

Leaving the lodge after breakfast, you begin your hike on the Lagartococha trail. This trail offers you the chance to learn more about the native people and their relationship with the forest. Learn about the trees where native people believe the spirits of their ancestors live, and the mysterious “dwende” or devil-man of the forest. After arriving at Lake Lagartococha, take a tranquil canoe ride through a natural swamp, which is the home of anacondas, caimans, and capybaras.

After the canoe ride, a walk on the other side of the Largatococha trail may give you the opportunity to spot capuchin or squirrel monkeys playfully jumping through the trees. Return from the walk or canoe ride and head back to the lodge for a refreshing dip in the lake, or a nice relaxing nap in your personal hammock on your private balcony.

After lunch, your native guide will teach you how fish for the infamous razor-toothed piranha. Keep in mind that piranhas will never attack a person and swimming at the same time is perfectly safe and fun!

Around 15:30 you will begin what many think is the best trail at Sacha – a silent canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian forest. Here you have a good chance of being surrounded by troops of squirrel, capuchin, and howler monkeys. Keep your eyes peeled for the shy and elusive river otter as well as the incredibly well camouflaged three-toed sloth!

After your eye-popping ride through the flooded forest, you will arrive at Sacha’s 135-foot wooden tower built around an ancient Kapok tree. Get close-up views of vibrantly colored birds through Sacha’s powerful scopes, and watch the sun set with an amazing view of Mount Sumaco, a volcano, and possibly a view of the snow-covered caps of the Andes!

Leaving the tower just before or after sunset will give you an experience not soon forgotten. An evening canoe ride back through the flooded forest will be an awe-inspiring experience. Listen to the symphony of frogs and insects as you navigate through the narrow flooded forest trail, keeping your eyes open for caimans. Watch the several species of bats flying over your heads and listen to the many species of nocturnal birds making their eerie nighttime calls. Finally, after your mesmerizing canoe trip through the Amazon, you will arrive back at Lake Pilchicocha and and the welcoming lights of Sacha lodge.

Day 4

Return to Quito

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Dates/Pricing

Sacha Lodge is open year-round. A typical itinerary is 4 days/3 Nights, any day of the week. This makes it easy to use as an extension for your Galapagos cruise.

Please contact us for prices.

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Accommodations

Being far from civilization does not mean your comfort must be sacrificed!

Comfortable and ecologically friendly, Sacha’s cabins have high, thatched roofs, private shaded terraces, screens and ceiling fans. All were built with traditional materials that camouflage perfectly within the lush surroundings. Every cabin has spacious bathrooms with hot water and flushing toilets.

Service at Sacha is friendly and attentive. Sacha’s staff will take care of any special needs you may have. Sacha Lodge is without a doubt, a perfect place to comfortably experience Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest, whether you travel alone or with your entire family. The lodging at Sacha was carefully designed to offer comfort to the traveler yet preserve the environment and rainforest ambience. All of our cabins, with high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces, are constructed with traditional materials and nestle well concealed into the lush surroundings.

Each of the 26 rooms, which include single, double and (upon request) triple accommodations, provides a private bathroom with flushing toilet and hot shower. All cabins are screened against insects, and contain ceiling fans above two comfortable double beds.

Your own cabin is a a great spot to look for colorful jungle residents such as toucans and monkeys! During free time, visitors may overlook the jungle from hammocks and often report seeing wild fauna such as toucans, agoutis and monkeys right from their own cabin!

Guests may also enjoy a raised lookout above our main bar and lounge, which offers a scenic view of Pilchicocha Lake and excellent opportunities to birdwatch.

Meals are prepared to please the international traveler, and three bountiful and delicious buffets are served each day offering a wide variety of tastes to choose from. Vegetarians are more than welcome, and our chefs will be happy to cater any special needs you may have upon request.

During at least one evening we will even enjoy a barbecue at our outdoor dining area, right on the edge of the lake! And for those who would like a drink, our bar offers a wide variety of cocktails, liquors, wine and beer to enjoy after an active day.

And finally, there is 24-hour electricity throughout the lodge and full laundry service. Satellite telephone and radio communications are available.

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