Sacha Amazon rainforest eco-lodge offers a fabulous wildlife holiday.

Excellence is the watchword at Sacha, starting with its fantastic guides and staff through its lovely rooms and delicious food.

You will see a lot of wildlife here – almost three decades of protection means that many animals roam this protected with little fear of humans.

Sacha Lodge is a wonderful introduction to one of the most wildlife-rich and biodiverse areas on the planet.

More on Sacha Lodge

The area is replete with animals, from monkeys to birds, to insects and bats, and the native staff work alongside guides to preserve nature.

Sacha’s famous canopy walkway takes you to the heights that the sloths live at, and gives magnificent views of birds atop 30m trees as you stand over the forest.

Don’t miss the wooden tower. Watch a glorious sunset, surrounded by a cacophony of sounds as the animals wake or bed down for the night.

 

Explore the rainforest

Perched on the black waters of Lake Pilchicocha, Sacha has relatively few mosquitoes and a very high standard of room and bathroom.

The butterfly farm may give you the chance to see a butterfly leaving its cacoon as well as spot tarantulas. The clay like in full display is a highlight for all.

In the rainforest, keep your eyes peeled for monkeys, birds, insects and more bigger animals like jaguar, puma, tapir and giant anteater.

Sacha Lodge is the Quichua Indian word to mean ‘forest’ and this is a trip into beautiful Amazonian canopy that you’ll never forget.



Trip Highlights

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  • Caiman, giant otters and monkeys all living close to the lodge.

  • Luxurious beds, hot water showers, ceiling fans and bug-proofed windows.

  • More than 600 species of birds to spot.

  • Top level guides to guide you around the rainforest.

A lovely 3 nights spent here.

A beautiful environment, friendly and welcoming staff and the accommodation was a perfect amount of rustic with clean and tidy rooms, flushing toilet and perfect shower.

Our guides were great, loved how they gave us information but gave us the time to think about it, experience it and then if necessary come back and ask more questions.

J. Gibbons, Sacha

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Fly Quito-Coca, transfer to 2-hour boat ride to Amazon, short hike to Lake Pilchicocha, canoe to lodge. Swim, night walk (L,D)

Depart Quito´s airport at 11.00 (approx.)

A 30-minute flight over the Andes Mountains leads you to a bustling oil town called Coca located in the Amazon Basin. A quick lunch in Sacha’s private house and then it’s off to the town docks where you board Sacha’s private canoes for the 2-hour journey down river to Sacha Lodge.

A 30-minute hike through the rainforest leads you to lake Pilchicocha. Here, you are met by native workers to paddle you across the lake to your final destination.

Arrive at Sacha Lodge around 15.30-16.00.

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 colours 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: AM: Canopy walkway, botanical walk. PM walk (B,L,D)

Begin morning activity between 06.00 and 07.00.

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 collared birds.

Designed to be a self-standing rigid suspension canopy walk. it is one of only a few in the world.

Located within Sacha’s private reserve, two 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 12m making towers accessible for everyone.

The canopy walkway is at 36m high and 275m long, giving guests a ‘bird’s eye 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 the canopy walk, Liana Grande through terra firma and Igapo forest habitats where native guides explain many different species of medicinal plants that have been being used in their culture for hundreds of years.

Liana Grande turns into the trail Higueron, which takes 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 trail Leoncillo to try and spot the elusive dusky titi monkey. Either way the trails lead you back to the main boardwalk for your final hike and canoe ride back to the lodge.

Day 3: AM: hike and canoe. PM: Fishing, canoe and canopy tower. (B,L,D)

Leaving the lodge after breakfast, you begin your hike on trail Lagartococha. 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 Largatococha 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 teaches you how to fish for the infamous razor-toothed piranha. Keep in mind that piranhas never attack a person and swimming at the same time is perfectly safe and fun.

Around 15.30 you begin what many think is the best trail at Sacha, a silent canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian forest. Where 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 arrive at Sacha’s 135-foot wooden tower built around an ancient Kapok tree. Get close up views of vibrantly collared 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 gives you an experience not soon forgotten.

A canoe ride back through the flooded forest at night is 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 mesmerising canoe trip through the Amazon, you arrive back at lake Pilchicocha and the welcoming lights of Sacha lodge.

Day 4: AM: Clay lick & butterfly farm. PM: Forest walk (B,L,D)

A chance to view four different species of parrots at the same time is something that should not be missed.

Sacha is close enough to Yasuni National Park that a thirty minute motorized canoe ride down the Napo to the parrot lick is well worth it.

Leaving at six in the morning from Sacha and arriving at the lick around o7.30 gives you plenty of time to get close up views of the parrots eating the clay to neutralise the acids which they get from eating their many different types of fruits and leaves.

Arriving back at the lodge around 11.00 or so gives you plenty of time to swim or relax before lunch is served. Visit the butterfly house once again to photograph the beautifully coloured butterflies.

For your afternoon activity, Pantano is the trail to take. Pantano offers you several different types of rainforest habitats, from secondary to primary forests as well as flooded forest and swampy areas.

An excellent trail for monkeys and birds in the afternoon, your naturalist and native guides share with you with their knowledge of the jungle and its inhabitants as well as provide you with an everlasting experience and memory of the neotropical rainforest.

Day 5: Transfer to airport, fly to Quito, ends (B, BL)Day 5: Transfer to airport, fly to Quito, ends (B, BL)

Breakfast and a departure from the lodge at 07.30 for an easy walk on the boardwalk to watch monkeys one last time before your final departure.

Arrive in Coca and be escorted to the Coca airport where all plane tickets will be in the hands of Sacha employees waiting to help you board the plane and a final farewell. Scheduled arrival at Quito´s airport is at 12.30 (subject to change).


Prices From $1,640 / £1,391 per person

Enquire about booking

What's Included?

Meals and purified water from lunch days 1 to breakfast departure day, domestic flights, English-speaking guide, all transport and accommodation at lodge, excursions, national park entry fees, rain poncho and rubber boots when needed.

What's Not Included?

Insurance, international flights (we can look for these for you), personal expenses, alcoholic or soft drinks, tips, Wi-Fi fee


Accommodation

All of our cabins, with high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces with hammocks, are constructed with traditional materials and nestle subtly into the lush surroundings.

Each of the 26 rooms (single, double and triple accommodations) plus three family cabins, provides a spacious private bathroom with flushing toilet and hot shower – some even feature floor-to-ceiling windows for an immersive jungle shower experience.

All cabins are screened against insects, and contain ceiling fans above two comfortable double beds.

 

The Balsa

Named after the Spanish word for a “raft”, the Balsa is at the heart of the Sacha Lodge experience: a covered al fresco lounge area with a breath taking view over the shimmering Pilchicocha Lake. It is the perfect place to read a book with a glass of wine, spot birds, caiman and giant otters, or to watch the crimson sunsets and tremendous thunder storms.

 

The bar

The safari-lodge style bar is found above the restaurant and fitted with snuggly sofas and stools propping up the bamboo bar. Relax with an ice-cold beer or wine, or classic cocktails made by our master barman.

 

The shop

A small boutique selling essentials like sunblock, mosquito repellent and toiletries is open from 10.30 to 21.30. This is also the place to pick up Sacha Lodge souvenirs including logo t-shirts and baseball caps.

 

Wi-Fi

Internet connections are available in the open areas of the Lodge, at an additional daily rate.

 

Water

Purified, safe drinking water is available at multiple points around the Lodge – there’s no need to bring your own bottled water.

 

Electricity

Throughout the Lodge, 24-hour electricity is provided by a distant, nearly inaudible generator.

 

Laundry

Sacha Lodge provides laundry service (washing and drying) for guests.

Tour Staff

Friendly staff form the backbone of the Sacha Lodge experience, and are always available to cater to any special needs you may have.

On average, there are three staff members on duty for every two guests at the lodge.


Meals

The rustic, airy restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere for dinner with its windows open, allowing the cicadas evening song to circle.

An a la carte dinner is served in the restaurant, bringing fine dining to the jungle. Using fresh and sustainable products, our chef prepares meals to delight the tastes of a world traveler while satisfying the appetite of an adventurer.

Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for – contact us for more.

 

More information

Breakfast and lunch buffets mixing international cuisine with traditional Ecuadorian dishes are served in the Balsa. There are light, healthy options as well as more substantial pasta and meat dishes.

An a la carte dinner is served in the restaurant, bringing fine dining to the jungle. Menus change daily, and will often include the popular paiche, a meaty white fish found in the Amazon region – with the all-important Green Seal of responsible fishing.

Vegetarians are more than welcome, and our chefs will be happy to cater for any special needs you may have upon request.

At least one evening during your stay we will hold a barbecue on the lakeside Balsa, with grilled fish, meat and vegetables.

Activity Level

This trip is open to everyone who has good mobility. You need to be able to get in and out of canoes and boats. Walks are 3-4km in total, but can be varied.

The Amazon is very hot between midday and early afternoon, so we rise early, between 0600 and 0700, to catch the animals at dawn when  they are very active. We leave the lodge early, go on an activity, and then relax when the sun is at its hottest.

As the day cools, we head off in the afternoon and in the evenings go on hikes or caiman spotting. Evening meals are usually around 1930-2000, after which we relax at the lodge and listen to the sounds of the Amazon.

You can pick and choose activities along with your guide and group, although the guide’s decision is final.

Enquire about booking

Practical Information

Introduction to Ecuador

Ecuador is the second smallest South American country, and one of the most varied.

It comprises three main geographical areas: the coast, highlands and Amazon plus is home to the Galapagos Islands.

Because of its relatively compact size, it makes a great holiday destination as you can move from highlight to highlight fairly easily and rapidly.

Geography of Ecuador

Landscapes vary from the drier south to the more humid north.

The Highlands, or sierra, encompass two Andean Cordilleras (the Central and Western), which run north to south through the country. Ecuador’s largest volcano is Chimborazo (6,310m) whose summit, because of its proximity to the equator, is the closest point on earth to the sun. Several of Ecuador’s volcanoes are still active, and it’s a great area for trekking.

Descending the steep, east-facing slopes of the eastern Cordillera, one passes through a transition zone comprising dense cloud forest and humid high jungle, before entering the Amazon lowlands.

This mainly primary rainforest covers a third of the country, accounts for 5% of the population and stretches across Ecuador, from its Colombian to its Peruvian borders.

The Galapagos Islands are simply unique. Lying 600 miles off the mainland, the archipelago comprises the summits of gigantic equatorial volcanoes.

The flora and fauna of the Galapagos, long separated from their continental cousins, have evolved differently. Charles Darwin used his observations there to develop his theory of Evolution.

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

You can also read our blog about a day in the Amazon rainforest of Peru.

 

Detailed kit list

  • The original and a photocopy of your passport.
  • Yellow fever inoculation certificate.
  • Good binoculars.
  • Tight-weave, light weight long trousers.
  • Quick dry socks.
  • Rain suit or long poncho (100% waterproof – test before you leave home).
  • Long-sleeved tight-weave shirts.
  • T-shirts.
  • A bottle or canteen to carry water on outings (1-2 litres).
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • A broad-brimmed hat that will not come off on windy boat-rides.
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts.
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • A pair of trainers.
  • Ankle high, hiking boots.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Cash (small denomination bills) for souvenirs at the lodge, alcoholic beverages, etc.
  • A small day pack, 30 litres.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!).
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other to help pass the time.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

 

Please note: Guests should arrive in clothes which they do not mind getting slightly dirty or wet, and should wear footwear that is suitable to walk on a rainforest trail. Sun cream, insect repellent, hat and waterproof clothing should be carried in hand luggage and kept accessible for the journey to the lodge.

You may want to keep your binoculars and camera handy, too.

All bedding, toilet paper etc. is provided at the lodge (or camp, if camping).

Weather in Ecuador

Ecuador lies between latitudes 4º south and 2º north. Overall, climate varies according to time of year, altitude and region.

 

The Sierra 

In the Ecuadorian highlands, there is little temperature variation by season as temperature depends largely on altitude.

In Quito, shade temperatures range from 6 to 10ºC in the morning and from 19 to 23ºC in the afternoon, with cool nights. In the lower basins between mountains, it gets significantly warmer.

Rainfall depends on whether an area lies closer to the eastern or western Andes. To the west, June-Sept is the dry period and Oct-May the wet (with often a short, dry spell in Dec or Jan).

The best period to visit Quito and trek and climb volcanoes such as Cotopaxi is the west Andean dry season of June-Sept and Dec/Jan. This is also Ecuador’s high season. During the Oct-May wet season, most rainfall is in the afternoons.

To the east, Oct to Feb are dry and Mar-Sept are wet. Overall, the southern highlands are drier than the northern highlands.

 

The Coast

On the Pacific coast, rainfall becomes less from north to south. The coast can be enjoyed year-round, although from June-Sept mornings are often grey with the garua mists.

Jan-May is the hottest and rainiest time of year.

 

The Amazon

In Ecuador’s Amazonian region, rain can fall at any time, but Dec-March is usually the driest season and Mar-Sept is usually the wettest period.

 

The Galapagos Islands

Galapagos can be visited at any time of year.

The warm season is Jan-Jun, bringing calm, warm waters (around 70°F) and sunny days (72-9°F or 22-32°C), February and March being the hottest and sunniest months with blue skies and sunshine.

The islands receive slightly more rainfall during these months, occasional heavy bursts in the afternoon. Great for snorkelling and you can spend a lot of time in the water without wetsuits, with great, clear waters.

The dry ‘garua’ season is Jun-Dec an it’s a great time for marine life. August and September are the coolest when you may need a jacket in the evenings and the sea can be choppy and temperature drops around 15-24ºC on average.

There can be mist on the islands in the mornings (garua) which usually burns off by midday leaving overcast skies or a sunny afternoon.

Sea temperatures may drop to 60°F- 72°F (15-22°C) during this time and snorkellers will want a wet suit for prolonged periods in the sea.

 

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.


Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest

Some 40% of Ecuador’s and is covered by Amazon rainforest.

As well as being rich in wild life, Ecuador’s rain forest is still home to a multitude of indigenous tribes, some of which have opened their communities to ecotourism.

A 4 or 5-day visit to one of the quality lodges will allow you to venture into beautiful primary forest.

Native guides lead you on verdant forest trails where you will see monkeys, tortoises, frogs and an array of birds including toucans and macaws.

Large mammals like jaguar, tapir and giant anteater have been spotted, but are elusive.

Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

Ecuador’s cloud forest covers its rolling hillsides as they descend from the high Andean plateaus into the rain forest or down to the Pacific coast.

Most of this tropical forest lies between 1,200-2,700m/3,937-8,858ft above sea level, an evergreen, lush and moist forest, teeming with bird  and insect life.

Much of the cloud forest is readily accessible from Quito making it perfect a 2 or 3-day stay.

There are many lodges with virgin forest, home to a dazzling variety of hummingbirds, refreshing waterfalls for swimming, zip lining and wildlife walks.

The humming birds, Cock of the Rock and the chance of spotting larger mammals such as the spectacled bears are just some of the attractions of spending some time in this amazing ecosystem.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Cotopaxi National Park is dominated by the almost perfect cone shape of Cotopaxi (5,897m/19,347ft), an active volcano and the second highest mountain in Ecuador after Chimborazo.

The national park is well worth a visit for trekking in the foothills, climbing smaller peaks like Ruminahui, downhill mountain biking, horse riding or just enjoying the National Park itself.

The surrounding páramo is good for bird watching – you may see condors soaring above.

There are lots of lovely hacienda and mountain refugios to stay at in and around the park, and from which there are a variety of walks, horse rides and bike rides for all levels.

 

Ingapirca Ecuador

Ingapirca (meaning wall of the Inca) is just an hour from Cuenca and is the most important Inca archaeological site in Ecuador.

The site is in good condition and consists of a main elliptical building thought to be a sun temple, with typical Inca features such as trapezoidal doorways and niches.

There are Inca trails leading to and from the site, so you can visit on a day trip or incorporate a visit as part of a trekking itinerary.

You can travel here from Cuenca, or make it part of a trip from Baños to Cuenca.

Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador’s vibrant capital Quito sits in a stunning location, surrounded by snow capped volcanoes and many of the  high peaks of the Andean sierra.

There is plenty to do for visitors of all ages and interests. The old town of Quito is a UNESCO world heritage site, with many beautiful churches and colonial facades, a wonderful range of museums and picturesque squares.

For an over view of the city and along the Avenue of volcanoes to north and south and to help with acclimatising  try taking the Teleferico (cable car) up the eastern slope of Pichincha volcano.

At night Quito is a lively city. Head to the modern Mariscal area where tourists and locals alike find a great range of restaurants, bars and night clubs.

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