The Sani Lode is one of many choices when it comes to visiting the jungle. We did a lot of research in making the choice. There were cheaper alternatives and by far more expensive ones but it sounded like when it comes to visiting the jungle, cutting corners can lead to disappointing results. The key is your guide. Will you have an English speaking guide? One that knows about the diverse fauna and flora you'll hopefully be seeing. Will you have interaction with indigenous people? These are the important things with regard to seeing the jungle properly. Now, you have to consider your level of comfort. This is an area you can cut corners and still experience the jungle but you have to decide how rustic an experience you want to have.
Sani Lodge was kind of in the upper part of the middle with regard to price but from descriptions from guidebooks and former customers it did not lack when it came to wildlife viewing or the quality of their guiding. As for the accommodation, there were two options. You could stay in the lodge proper which were individual cabins with private bath and even a small balcony or you could camp. This is not self-camping where you bring and pitch your own tent. There is a separate area across the lake from the lodge where tents are erected on wooden platforms with thatched roofs. The under cover portion of the platform is quite big. You could put a few tents on there. This makes for a dry experience which if you camp is something you appreciate! There are some hammocks under cover too and it makes for a very pleasant afternoon hanging out at your campsite looking out at your view of the lake through the lush jungle framing it.
The bathrooms are very primitive: pit toilets and a dip bucket. They had tried to rig up a shower of sorts but believe me, use the bucket. It works better and since its' warm, hot water really isn't a big factor here. Still, this was the only downside to camping compared to the lodge proper. Perhaps the biggest hassle of showering was bug encounters. We learned after a day it was best to take a shower in the afternoon before dinner. If you waited till later you had problems with mosquitoes and also huge flies that flew incessantly around you until the sun finally set. Once the sun was down, peace ensued. It's funny how the most beautiful time of day turned out to be one of the most unpleasant when confronted with nature. I guess the bugs like sunset too! Shower sandals are a must too. I'm not a clean freak who worries about picking up fungi from other travelers but there were centipedes in the campground and my wife spotted one in the shower once. Just be careful and you'll be fine.
The price for for five days and four nights is $400 per person. You can do as little as three nights and up to seven and it's basically tiered at $100 a night. This includes three meals per day, your transfer from Coca airport to the lodge, a native as well as English speaking naturalist, rubber boots/rain gear, and all of your excursions. So, while it's not cheap, it is all inclusive and of very good quality. The same four night package in the lodge proper using a cabin would have been $680 per person.
This is a fantastic place, though getting here is tough. For an ideal experience, plan on three days at the main lodge La Selva and then three days hiking with "the Light Bragde" deep into the heart of the jungle. Below are some of the many activities that can be done at the main lodge site alone. Please see my Light Brigage trip for an idea of what happens when you venture out on the three day hike!
* Mandicocha Trail: An easy trail close to the lodge which is filled with wildlife no matter what hour of the day.
* Mandicocha-Mandiyacu: Following the trail to Mandicocha Lake with a completely different eco-system than Garzacocha Lake. Board paddle canoes for 1 1/2 hour glide down the stream with myriad of wildlife.
* El Salado: trips across the Napo to visit a site with a little luck parrots, parakeets and macaws can be seen in great quantities.
* High Forest Trail: Crosses the Napo River and uses a challenging trail to explore an eco-system with a chance to see birds and other wildlife. Also a chance to eat lemon ants.
* Pedro's Trail: Cross Garzacocha Lake for walk through the virgin forest to the observation tower (4 hours)
* Little Chawamango: Short trip by foot around the edge of Garzacocha Lake with return to the lodge by canoe.
* Challuacocha Lake: A motorized canoe trip down the Napo River followed by a walk and paddle canoe trip to Challuacocha for a picnic at a shelter overlooking the lake with time to relax, canoe, fish before return two hour walk through yet another unique forest.
* Pilche Trail: Gross Garzacocha Lake for a walk along the trail to see whatever wildlife happens along, and a huge colony of leafcutter ants.
* Observation Tower: Not far from the lodge is the 135 tall observation tower which you can visit as often as you wish for a true bird's-eye view of the forest canopy.
* Butterfly Farm: Just 5 minutes from the lodge, the farm breeds 30,000-35,000 butterflies each year from egg to caterpillar to pupa (or chrysalis and cocoons as they are commonly known) and sells them all over the world.
* Chawamango's Trail: Take the Mandicocha trail and walk parallel to the lake to arrive at the Napo River and then return by elevated walkway and paddle across the lake.
La Selva offers a unique jungle program: the "Light Brigade". This special camping adventure uses the lodge as its base of operations andis for people with a passion, for people who want to explore their personal frontiers as well as those of the rain forest. It should be for everyone, but it probably is not - in any case our slogan for the Light Brigade is "The only equipment you need is passion."
There is walking, hiking, trekking, canoeing, camping in tents and yet, the gourmet food and service as normally given at the lodge itself.
All campsites have rustic kitchen/dining area in the traditional style of the jungle, but provisions come form the lodge itself. The toilet facilities are latrines.
Each tent is placed on a bamboo platform with a thatched roof and has a camping mattress (one inch thick with a built in pillow) with clean sheets. Clean towels are provided daily. Kerosene lamps light the campsite.
A logistical team of 15 makes all of this possible - taking a different route, they arrive before you do to set up camp. They carry your belongings and all the provisions so you are unburdened to discover the jungle in all its glory.
We stayed three nights and were quite pleased with this lodge . It was a little more rustic than we expected but we had never stayed in a Rainforest Jungle lodge before !!.
The food was very good with delicious tropical juice at every meal .
The guides were first rate!!
Lots of hot water for showers....even though it was actually lake water , it seemed pretty clean.
A great base for exploring the wonders of the Amazon rainforest. Ser deep in the rainforest you really feel a world away .....days become divided between adventures and there were three a day . Morning, noon and night hikes.
The best place to stay in Ahuano. Great food and service. They also prepares all the visits to the jungle and the river.
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