The journey to Sacha Jungle Lodge begins in Quito, Ecuador's capital city. From here, a 25-minute flight takes you over the Andes Mountains majestic snow-covered peaks and down over 8.500 feet (2.600 meters) into the Amazon Region. The flight destination is the port town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana, locally known as Coca, where you will be met by a bilingual guide and taken to a private dock. Here we will pause for a snack and to use the rest rooms before boarding our covered motorized canoe for a 2-hour, 50-mile (80-kilometer) trip down the sediment-rich waters of the Napo, the largest river in Ecuadorian Amazonia.
During the ride it is easy to spot handsome shore birds such as herons, kingfishers, spoonbills and ospreys between the scattered native huts as you travel steadily away from civilization. Upon arrival to Sacha Lodge's 5.000-acre (2.000-hectare) private reserve, our guests will take their first walk along a raised boardwalk through dense flooded palm forest where several species of monkeys are often sighted. But don't worry... we will carry your luggage for you!
The path leads to Pilchicocha Lake, a blackwater paradise where you'd least expect to find any sign of people, but dugout canoes (and even paddlers) await to carry you even farther. As you cross the lake, the cries of tropical birds lead you to your final destination and home base for an exciting jungle experience.
Wherever the destination, our excursions proceed slowly in order to appreciate the fascinating details that our guides point out around you.
Activities are spread out over a wide area and allow visitors to explore several distinct but equally fascinating habitats. Several trails lead through pristine terra firme forest, where 150 foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support. Others follow strategically raised boardwalks in seasonally flooded forests, where walking on the ground would be nearly impossible during most of the year due to groundwater. One trail many choose to follow even leads across fallen tree trunks and a steel cable zip-line through rich swampland!
A favorite activity of our guests is to paddle dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, orchids, bromeliads and palm trees thrive. And wherever an outing may lead the possibilities of spotting animals, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the feared ocelot or puma, are endless.
During free time at the lodge, swimming and piranha fishing are also activities not to be missed, but don't worry! Piranhas are scavengers and the guides will prove that swimming is perfectly safe.
For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset. ¿Do you dare search for them?
There is an incredibly high diversity of species found around Sacha Lodge, and we are sure that you will have the opportunity to see many fascinating creatures here. However, the wild is unpredictable and no two visits are ever the same! Monkeys are seen quite frequently, but how many of the 8 species found here will cross your path? They range in size from the tiny half pound pygmy marmosetto the noisy 17 pound red howler monkey, and night monkeys can be found in groups as small as 2 while squirrel monkeys can travel in groups of more than 150. And besides monkeys, there may be as many as 60 other species of mammals within our reserve (not including up to 50 species of bats) So keep your eyes open, and maybe you'll spot an anteater, a 3-toed sloth, or even an ocelot as you explore their natural habitat.
As for reptiles, be sure take advantage of our night activities to look for one of Pilchicocha's resident spectacled caimans. Members of the alligator family, caimans are often seen from canoes out on the lake, and sometimes the babies even come to hide under our dining room! A variety of lizards and snakes can also be found along our trails, if you move quietly and keep your eyes peeled. Several different boas, vine snakes and even the giant anaconda have been seen during many of our excursions. There are a few poisonous snakes as well, but not to worry – they try to stay out of peoples' way and no one has ever been bitten here.
Frogs, on the other hand, are much more common to see, from bulgy-eyed tree frogs to camouflaged leaf frogs to tiny colorful poison-dart frogs. So watch your step, day or night! And then, of course, there are birds.
In recent years Sacha Lodge has become a favorite destination of both professional and amateur ornithologists.
So far there have been an incredible 587 different species of birds found here! This is a staggering number, especially if you consider that approximately 900 species have been registered in the entire continental United States and Canada. In only 4 or 5 days, it is not uncommon for even the most casual birder to see over 250 species here. With only minimal effort you can expect to see dozens of colorful parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, tanagers, hawks and oropendolas, and of course there are plenty of elusive "LBJs" (little brown jobs, of course) to keep the avid bird enthusiasts occupied for days. Our guides will carry telescopes along to bring your birdwatching experience close-up, and be sure to keep your binoculars handy at all times!
The Canopy Walk
A new and much anticipated addition to Sacha's activities is our 940-foot (275-meter) long canopy walkway. At approximately 94 feet (30 meters) above the ground, imagine exploring the rainforest up in the treetops! This sturdy walkway is fixed to the ground by three metal towers for stability, and offers an unbelievable opportunity to spot dozens of animals and epiphytes seldom seen from the ground. Thousands of colorful birds await to be spotted, and with some luck you might even follow along with troops of monkeys as they forage through the forest canopy. Taking a leisurely walk above the trees on this incredible structure, to emerge even higher on the top of the towers surrounded by an endless sea of rainforest, is an experience not to be missed, and as far as we know found nowhere else in the world.
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