WHY THIS TRIP
The Sani Lodge is located in an important protected wildlife corridor between two of Ecuador’s most important and diverse National Parks: Yasuní and Cuyabeno. This makes the birding and wildlife viewing opportunities almost unparalleled among rainforest lodges in Ecuador. Additionally, the lodge is operated and 100 percent-owned by the local Sani community, so you know the economic benefits of your trip will stay within the community and help them to maintain their land rights. The accommodations are not luxurious, but are comfortable, and the location of the lodge is spectacular.
The Sani Lodge community-owned ecolodge is committed to providing all visitors with an engaging and fascinating experience in the Ecuadorian rainforest. By opening up travelers’ eyes to the biodiversity of the forest and the unique culture of the indigenous Sani people, the trip is truly affecting and representative of the Amazon region’s uniqueness.
While the lodge isn’t luxurious, its cozy and natural accommodations blend in with the natural surroundings and provide a relaxing base for exploring the forest. The Sani Lodge is located within 100,000 hectares of protected rainforest that serves as a wildlife corridor between the Yasuní and Cuyabeno National Parks. From the well-traveled Napo River, you travel far into the forest by walkways and canoe until you reach the remote, peaceful Challuacocha lake. The Sani Lodge is perched right on the water, with several communal spaces and docks overlooking the lake. This dark, reflective lagoon is home to hundreds of species and from the lodge alone, you’ll have opportunities to see caimans, herons, butterflies, and frogs among other animals.
But you haven’t come here just to hang out at the Lodge and each day, you’ll travel with your guide to a new area of the rainforest. The excursions are distinct and designed to keep all travelers interested so you’re always finding or doing something new. Just like all the staff at the Lodge, your naturalist guide is a member of the Sani community so he or she can offer a unique blend of cultural knowledge and scientific training. Your guide will lead you rainforest walks to find monkeys swinging in the trees (there are 13 species in the area); on canoe rides through meandering rivers to hopefully spot pink river dolphins; and high into the canopy to look for toucans and parrots in the treetops at dawn. You will also visit members of the Sani community to learn about their traditions and how they thrive in this unusual environment.
Since the lodge’s focus is on quality experience, not on luxurious amenities, they cater to a widely selection of travelers who value a top quality guide and location most. While most travelers will stay in the thatch-roofed cabanas, there are also options for camping and for family-style rooms. The lodge is especially appealing to birders who come here to spot some of the 550 different species of birds present in the area. Private tours are available and recommended for true birders who can easily spend a week here exploring the reserve and nearby parrot clay licks.
LOCAL PROVIDER: SANI LODGE
The Sani Lodge is owned and operated by the Sani Isla Kichwa community, who control the largest area of privately help rainforest in all of Ecuador. The community created and operates the lodge to protect the land, plants, and animals of the area, and to meet the educational and health needs of the community. The profits from the lodge are used to support education, to provide social aid, and allow for a sustainable economy for the future generations of the Sani Isla community.
Anne B. –
Layna could not have arranged a better trip (Galapagos, Amazon & Peru). Everything went so well and we were very well looked after. Our guides match our excursions to our ability and we could not ask a question that wasn’t answered.
William G. –
A great trip of western South America and the Galapagos Islands
We (three of us) had a great trip over 4 or so weeks, with many thanks to Layna George of Detour for her suggestions, planning and organising. There were many highlights, including the Galapagos Islands cruise on Angelito I for 15 days, Sani Lodge on the Napo River in the Ecuador part of the Amazon for 4 days watching birds and other wildlife, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu and our Liberty train ride – all with great guides and all in good company
Courtney D –
What a great trip this was. Detour was a pleasure to work with and very knowledgeable I have recommended this to others and would definately use them in the future. We loved Sani and all of the people there it was and amazing submersion into another world.
Norm V –
Quite an adventure. From what we could tell from talking to people at other lodges, our lodge happened to be a smaller group – more personalized service ( there were only 8 guests). Operated by the Sani Quichoa, so more authentic / local. Cabins nice / beds comfortable. Would be nice to have ceiling fan, but no electricity after 10 PM ( apparently not unusual in some of these remote lodges.
Guide, Javier, was absolutely first class – encycylopedic knowledge about local flora and fauna. Any group would be very fortunate to get him as a local guide. Excellent English skills. Very organized and attentive. Lots of variety of wildlife, including birds, monkeys, giant sloth, Caymans. Saw peccary tracks but no peccary. Lots of insects with copious guide education about all of them. Reommend going to Parrot lick for all guests. Tried to see pink dolphins, but they did not cooperate and were missing in action.
Only one small issue – engine broke down way up by Panicocha preserve, long way from Sani. Guide did not appear to have an emergency radio to notify Sani for help, or have defined emergency procedures in place to explain to us, so that we would be assured that we would not get stuck in the bush at dark. Luckily we paddled / got towed to a local farm downriver, and boat driver was able to repair engine and we got home slightly after dark, none the worse for wear. Would recommend you give them feedback about having emergency radios and defined emergency procedures that are utilized if a problem like this occurs.
Excellent visit to the Sani community, where we had a tour of the womens’ garden and ate a meal of locally prepared foods – platanos, hearts of palm salad, roasted cocoa nuts, and a local delicacy, Beetle larvae. I ate one of the latter — “slimy, yet satisfying” ( as they say in Lion King. Would not recommend one of these for the faint of heart. They were quite proud that they were able to obtain grubs for us, so if they offer and you don’t want, just tell them you are a vegetarian….)
Food at lodge I rated at a “3”, not for lack of effort or service, but I recognize that it is hard to get / keep food at a remote lodge. Prepared by Sani cooks. Food was good but not gourmet. They may wish to consider importing an outside non-Sani chef.
I would give this trip an 8-9/10 for an outstanding eco-experience and opportunity to interact with the Quichoa.
Jeanette N –
The highlight was the excursion to see the river dolphins – saw them (in the distance) and 5 types of monkeys. One large group jumping from branch to branch. Had fun trying to catch pirahanas. – didn’t suceed but enjoyed eating the ones that the guides caught. Saw a sloth through the guides telescope when we were in the tree tower.
Could have used some cushioning on some of the canoe rides. With the longer trips they were provided.
I chose to camp. Overall my experience was very good. Only rained one night. The rest of the time quite sunny but guide told us we might have seen more if it was cloudy. Rest of people in group were very nice, but would have preferred 4-5 people instead of 7.
The woman was a bit late at the Quito airport but no trouble in catching the plane.