Napo Wildlife Ecolodge

While you might think of another country immediately if you hear “Amazon lodge,” there are actually more high-end places to stay in Ecuador, where getting there is not such a slog either. We’ve just added our third jungle lodge in the Amazon Basin region there, Napo Wildlife Center.

Napo Ecuador wildlifeWhile this one might be a tad less luxurious than La Selva, people who know the region well will tell you it makes up for this in a greater variety of wildlife. That’s because it’s on the Yasuni National Park side of the Napo River, with a few hundred miles of jungle beyond its borders.

Getting here is more an investment in time than trouble. You fly into El Coca from Quito, travel two or two and a half hours down the main river, then transfer to paddled boats for another hour and a half down a creek that leads to the lake and lodge. This part is more interesting, however, as you’ll likely start seeing a good bit of wildlife on the way and be greeted by some monkeys.

The setting here is gorgeous, with guests staying in very comfortable thatched small houses, 9 of them overlooking the lake.

The 16 rooms at the lodge all have wood floors, good private bathrooms with hot water showers, great beds, ceiling fans, 24–hour electricity, window screens, mosquito nets, and private porches with hammocks and furniture. The four larger suites have king beds, an indoor sitting area, plus a furnished porch and outdoor Jacuzzi. There’s even Wi-Fi, albeit through a satellite link which means speeds are slow and bad weather can knock it out entirely.

You don’t come here to watch YouTube anyway, of course, and there’s a seven-story observation tower on site that gets you up into the canopy to spot flying macaws and other birds. Lots of excursions and nature walks are part of the package, including a trip to the clay lick to see swarms of parrots.

There are plenty of eco-conscious initiatives in place, such as solar power and a “bio digester” for kitchen waste. This is no project where the profits are all leaving either: the lodge is owned and operated by the local Kichwa Añangu community. Eighty percent of the staff comes from the community and 30 percent of profits are distributed to the  families in the area. The lodge also uses part of its profits to pay for better teachers and better doctors for their community.

If your goal is to see as much Amazon jungle wildlife as possible but have very comfortable lodging at night, this is a good choice in South America.

See our detailed review of Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge.