While many might think the Galapagos Islands, located 620 miles off the coast of South America, are the only place to visit when planning a trip to the country of Ecuador, there is really so much more to see and do in this small gem of a country that lies among the more familiar countries in South America. That’s not to say that you should not visit the Galapagos, but perhaps consider extending your trip or returning to this magnificent country for a second time to experience the Ecuador’s mainland, which has bustling indigenous markets, rugged Andean landscapes, the Amazon rainforest and exquisite cuisine. There is much to see in the country’s three mainland regions of the Pacific Coast, Andes and the Amazon, from historical attractions, local villages to a bio-diverse ecosystem and jungle wildlife. Throughout the country there are an estimated 1600 species of birds, many found in the Amazon region of the country.
Specifically, the Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s natural geographic wonders, is about a 2-hour drive from Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, accessing just the edge of the rainforest. Or, if you prefer to travel deeper into the Amazon, a 30-minute flight will get into a section of the rainforest with fewer tourists where you’ll encounter monkeys, toucans, lizards and local indigenous communities. While in the rainforest, book a stay at the Le Selva Amazon Eco Lodge, located in the center of the rainforest and adjacent to the Yasuni National Park. The proximity of the lodge to the park itself is reason enough to book a room here, as the Yasuni sits at the intersection of the Andes, the Equator and the Amazon region, where extremely rich communities of plants, amphibians, birds, and mammals in South America converge. This part of the Amazon is also home to two indigenous nations, the Kichwa and the Waorani, who live in settlements scattered along the roads and rivers.
Accessing the Le Selva Amazon Eco Lodge is quite the adventure in itself as there are no roads leading to the property. After arriving in Quito you’ll have to hop on a connecting flight to the city of Coca. From there, a two hour motorized canoe down the Napo River will lead you a handle-paddled canoe, eventually leading you to the lodge… 5 hours after you arrived in Quito! Along the way, you’ll get a chance to acclimate to the surroundings of the Amazon and see the local people living in villages dotted along the riverbanks.
The lodge offers you “jungle living” at its best. There are nineteen thatched roof bungalows made from locally sourced bamboo. You’ll enjoy tiled bathrooms, rainforest showers, hammocks, private balconies and panoramic views of Lake Garzacocha.The main area of the lodge offer an open-air bar and dining area where you’ll mingle with like-minded travelers from around the globe. Meals are gourmet style here and you’ll enjoy delicious healthy dishes with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
The location of the Le Selva Amazon Eco Lodge is ideal for rainforest excursions and discovery. Included in the price of your stay are daily activities that will keep you active and energized throughout the day. From hiking the nearby trails to canoe rides, English-speaking guides along with a native guide will inform you on all the flora, fauna and wildlife located along in the area. A highly recommended tour is the Rainforest Canopy Observation Tower where you’ll hike either a 20-minute express route or a 2-hour scenic route to the tower. There, you’ll reach a 120 foot observation platform from which a 360° view of world-class bird watching awaits you. Also exciting is the night walk through the jungle that allows you to understand the nocturnal nature of the rainforest. A visit to the indigenous communities living nearby to the lodge is also a highly recommended excursion. You’ll visit a school and interact with the school children, meet with villagers, and perhaps even try some of the local foods (if you dare).
When it’s time for bedtime back at the lodge, the sounds of the rainforest create a symphony like no other to lull you to sleep. La Selva Eco lodge provided the perfect base camp from which to explore the Amazon rainforest, and one you will never forget.
HACIENDA DE SAN AGUSTIN