Sani Lodge is situated by the lagoon Challucocha. There are caimans in the lagoon but they are mostly active during night so we were told that it is safe to take a swim in the lagoon. As we saw a caimans swimming across the lagoon at daytime I think it is best to stay close to the jetty when you swim.
I wanted to take a swim but unfortunately I couldn’t as I had broken my wrist during my holiday in Ecuador.
During our walks in the rainforest we were shown many useful plants, plants used for making things or used as medicine. Here are some of them.
When we visited the Sani Isla community I bought a small bag made of fibers. In photo one Jorge is showing us how these fibers are taken out from the plant. Another time we were shown the fibers which are used when making Panama hats.
In photo 2 there are tall trees with large red fruits. From this tree comes a kind of cotton used in pillows and other things.
In photo 3 Nelson is showing us a plant which is used to stop bleedings of wounds. We saw many other medical plants during the walks, among others one which is used as medicine for stomach ache, diarrhea and vomits, and another one whose bitter leaves are used against pains after snake bites.
The red flower in photo 4 belongs to a plant whose bark is used as contraception for women. We were told that the women only have to take it twice a year.
In photo 5 we are shown a liana with lots of freshwater in it and we could all drink some of the water.
We had been told to use shoes and the flashlight when going on the boardwalk to the bathroom (at the camping) when it was dark, as there can be tarantellas and other creatures there. I never saw anything and was kind of disappointed that I didn’t see a big tarantella there. Another person staying at the camping saw a tarantella on the board walk when he walked down to the canoe, but when I came it was already gone. Anyway, we saw a tarantella while walking along the Monkey Trail and another one along Daniel’s Trail.
In the first photo there is a millipede, which we saw on the jetty at the starting point for the trail to the Tower. We saw several millipedes like this during our visit to Sani Lodge.
In photo 4 and 5 there are different snails, well the shell in photo 5 is empty, but the snail usually found in these shells can be eaten and are used in ceviches.
Of course we saw a lot of different insects while in the rain forest. I will only mention some of them here. In photo one there is a stick insect, an insect I would have had very difficult to spot if the guide hadn’t pointed it out. In photo 2 there is an Owl Butterfly. We saw many different butterfly species but one which I would have liked to catch in a photo is the big blue morpho, but they are always so quick, just flying by and then disappearing.
There are also lots of different ants, like the busy Army Ants, the big Conga Ants, who can be very painful to be bitten by, and the Leaf Cutting Ants who bring back leaves to their home for cultivation of fungus, fungus that is used for feeding ant larvae.
I didn’t find the mosquitoes to be such a big problem that I had thought it would be. I actually only used my mosquito repellant twice, but on the other hand I usually used long sleeves and had the trousers tucked into my socks.
We saw five different species of monkeys while visiting Sani Lodge (Squirrel Monkeys, Red Howler Monkeys, Woolly Monkeys, Common Night Monkey and small Tamarin Monkeys). I have written a separate tips about the monkeys.
In the garden of the lodge we saw a small deer. For some time this deer had come to the lodge. I can’t remember the story about it (should have written it down), maybe it had lost its mother and had been taken care of.
On a pole in the lagoon there were often some Long Nosed Bats hanging (photo 3).
Many of the mammals are more elusive and are usually not seen, but you can see the tracks of them. Along the Monkey trail we saw the tracks of a tapir and on the Eagle trail we saw the track of a big cat, a puma or jaguar.
In Ecuador around 460 species of amphibians can be found, but I don’t know how many of them that can be seen around Sani Lodge.
We saw several toads and they all blended in with the surrounding ground very good, but the guides were good to spot them anyway. We also saw Poison-Dart frogs. Among them it is usually the male that has a bright colour. We also saw rain frogs. The tree frog often has discs on their toes to give them a good grip on branches and leaves.
Other reptiles you might see when visiting Sani Lodge, beside snakes, are turtles, caimans, lizards and geckos.
By the lagoon Challuacocha, and even by the jetty, at Sani Lodge we saw turtles many times. The turtles you will see here are the Big-headed Amazon River Turtle and the South American Yellow-footed Tortoise.
In the lagoon there are also Black Caimans. We saw two swimming during daytime, but not very close. The caimans are more likely to be seen at night time, so one evening we went out to look for them. Unfortunately we only saw the eyes of two of them hiding in the reed. The day we arrived at Sani Lodge the water level was not so high, but the following days it got much higher, and apparently the chance to see caimans is higher when it is low tide. From the camping we could hear them though when they were hunting at night.
During my stay at Sani Lodge I saw four different snakes. The first one was an anaconda (photo 2) lying in the reed by the lagoon. It had eaten a porky pine a few days earlier and it was now digesting it and from its body spines of the porky pine was sticking out. Apparently it wasn’t dangerous as the spines would fall of eventually. I saw this anaconda a few days later as well and then it had moved a little further away.
The second snake (photo 1) we saw during the night walk. It was a small snake coiled up on a branch. It was not a nocturnal snake but it was just resting on the branch.
The third snake was a small green snake that a couple in our group found in their bathroom. It was not a poisonous snake so we could hold it for a while and take photos. To my surprise it was very soft.
The fourth snake I saw was a boa (photo 5) lying high up on a branch in a tree. It was near the parrot clay-lick by Río Napo and it was probably that snake that had scared the parrots. They took off shortly after we had arrived, but came back later, took off and came back. First I couldn’t see it as it just looked like a thick branch.
In the area around Sani lodge you can find around 550 different bird species. Some of them you will see around the lagoon where they are easier to spot. Others are in the forest and difficult to spot behind all the leaves and branches.
No one in our group was a birdwatcher (even if we all enjoyed seeing the birds we did see). There were two birdwatchers at the lodge at the same time as me and they went with their own guide. It is not easy to photograph the birds and for me it was extra difficult when I had only one hand to use, so many of my photos got blurry. It was not easy to take up a note book either to write down names so I often don’t have the specific species name.
Well, anyway, around the lagoon, small river and during the hikes we saw: Hoatzin, Great Ani, Smooth-billed Ani, voultures, kingfishers,flycatchers, mockingbirds, a woodpecker, hummingbirds, a Great Tinamon, a Tiger Heron, Capped Herons, flying macaws, a beautiful blue bird at the tower and more.
On my last full day I went with Danny and Guillermo to the parrot clay-lick by the Río Napo. At the clay-lick we saw Dosker-headed Parakit, Blue-headed Parakit and Mealy Amazon. When we left the clay-lick and drove slowely along the shore of Río Napo and a side branch we saw Cocoi Heron, Coloured Plower, Great Putoo, Black Caracara, Black-fronted Nunbird and Ladder-tailed Night-jar.
During my visit at Sani Lodge we saw five different species of monkeys. It was Squirrel Monkeys, Red Howler Monkeys, Woolly Monkeys, Common Night Monkey and Mono Negros (a Tamarin Monkey).
The Red Howler Monkeys we saw a few times high up in tree tops, where they sit eating leaves, fruits and nuts. We also heard the roaring of howler monkeys, especially in the mornings and evenings. Their roar can be heard for several kilometers.
We saw big groups of Squirrel Monkeys several times and especially one time it was amazing when they moved through the canopy from one side of the river to the other side while we were below in the canoe. They move very quickly and it was not easy to catch them in the photo.
One day we hiked along a trail called the Monkey trail. There we saw the small Mono Negro (a Tamarin Monkey), the Common Night Monkey and the Wooly Monkey. The night monkeys are active during night so when we saw them it was through a spotting scope and they were high up in a hollow of a tree trunk. To find the woolly monkeys we had the leave the trail and follow the sound of them.
The rainiest months in the Ecuadorian Amazonas region is March – July and the months with least rain is December – February. But whichever month you visit you must be prepared that it can rain a lot and there can be very heavy downpours.
I just hoped that it wouldn’t be overcast all the time, but that between the downpours there would be some chance to see blue sky. And yes, even though it was cloudy sometimes we also saw a lot of blue sky.
During daytime we just had one very heavy downpour, and luckily we were not out hiking or in the canoe at the time. Besides that we had a few small showers, and one day it didn’t rain at all. One night it rained the entire night and most other nights it rained only for a while.
The afternoon we got the very heavy downpour it was also a bit windy so our platform at the campsite got completely wet, even though it is under a roof. It was a bit wet inside some of the tents too, but we all got new dry sheets.
Sani Lodge will provide you with a rain poncho and rubber boots for the hikes. In photo five I’m on a hike with Guillermo and Danny, who didn’t bring their ponchos for this afternoon hike. When it started to rain they cut of large leaves that they could use as umbrellas. They called them “Poor man’s umbrella”.