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“Glad to have gone, but...” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Cuyabeno Lodge

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Cuyabeno Lodge
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Av. Los Shyris N36-188 and Naciones Unidas, Shyris Park, Office 608 | 100 Meters South of the Mall "Quicentro Shopping", Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador   |  
Hotel amenities
Tucson, Arizona
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
“Glad to have gone, but...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2009

Cuyabeno Lodge is located by the Laguna Grande on the Cuyabeno River in the northeast part of the country. The setting is much different from that of the Napo River as it is flooded forest; as such, there is less high ground and travel is by canoe or motor launch. I was looking forward to seeing species endemic to this area.

Getting there takes a while. It is a short flight from Quito to Lago Agrio, where an uncomfortable bus picks up guests and takes them to the bridge about 2 1/2 hours away along paved and gravel roads. There, you secure a permit from the officials to visit the reserve; take your passport or Ecuadorian i.d. (permits are $20 or $6, respectively). Then you wait for the lodge´s launch to arrive; the trip along the river takes another hour and a half or two hours.

At the lodge, you are greeted with glasses of fresh juice and shown your room. I found the cabin quite comfortable, though as a previous reviewer mentioned, the wall separating the two rooms does not go to the ceiling and you can overhear conversations, snoring, or... The cabins are indeed rustic, built in the local style, and are completely open-air. While there are blinds to block the sun, the door is a half-door and there were no blinds on some of the windows. I don´t have a problem sharing my space with the locals, but if the knowledge that frogs or lizards or insects can make themselves at home there bothers you, you might prefer staying in Quito. At the very least, use the mosquito net. I experienced no bites or even heard mosquitos, but I´ve slept under thatch roofs before and don´t care for their denizens falling on me during the night. The bathroom had running water, plenty of hot water, and a flush toilet. For now, cabins are lit by candles, but when I was there solar panels had been installed in the restaurant and were being readied to place on the cabins. Either way, a flashlight is a must.

The food was simple but good. As they prefer to keep the surroundings intact, they don´t have a garden, so yes, the food is brought in and some of it is canned. Meals are set with no choices, but they do serve seconds. Vegetarians should plan to ask the wait staff to bring out the meal without meat, or just eat around it.

Activities are planned for each group, and groups alternate early morning with later morning activities. Unfortunately, my guide, while very sweet and personable, was young and less experienced than guides I´ve had elsewhere, and I didn´t feel she was as attentive to bird or animal sightings as other guides. I´m a birder but was the only one in the group I was assigned to who had binoculars, and on occasion the guide didn´t even carry hers. I felt the activities were pretty canned without a lot of spontaneity, as would happen with sudden sightings of something interesting. As far as I could tell, there were no canoes with which you could explore on your own a little, although it would seem very difficult to find your way back to the lodge unless you´re a master navigator.

I was in serious pain from all the sitting. The motor launches have seat pads, but even those get uncomfortable after a while. The canoes had hard seats. However, it was a lot of fun to hop off the boats into the river for a swim, especially knowing there are piranhas in the water; contrary to popular belief, they don´t attack just anything that falls in unless there´s blood. We took a couple of slow short hikes, but there are no trails on the spit of land the lodge is located on, and I really missed being vertical.

As the title suggests, I´m glad I went--sighted numerous animals such as six species of monkey, birds, river dolphins, and a giant anaconda. If I were to visit the rainforest again, however, I would head back to the Napo. Napo lodges take a long time to reach as well, but there is more walking and I had an excellent guide.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CuayabenoLodge, Owner at Cuyabeno Lodge, responded to this review, July 4, 2014
I always take criticism very seriously, because every mediocre or bad experience in Cuyabeno is one two many. So let's look at the concerns of this reviewer.

First of all, at the end the reviewer mentions a very impressive list of fantastic wildlife observations. Most visitors to the jungle are thrilled with those observations. I hope that the memories of those wonderful observations over time dominate over the discomfort he experienced with some of our facilities and services.

What I don't quite understand is the rather lengthy elaboration of getting to the jungle. It takes a 30 minute flight from Quito to LagoAgrio and 1,5 - 2 hours by bus to get to the entrance of one of the best pristine jungles in the whole world! I have been in all amazon countries, and only Manaus offers you a quicker access to the jungle. Mentioning that it takes another hour or two on the Cuyabeno River makes no sense. The Cuyabeno River is pure virgin jungle and the jungle experience has started the moment you enter the canoe.

Yes, the cabins are open, but many people experience that as an essential part of the jungle experience. The cabins are very clean and have decent beds with mosquito netting. These cabins have been designed for a jungle experience, not for hoteling in the capital. However, we now also have luxury cabins, so that people who like a bit more privacy have such option.

The reviewer mentions the lack of experience of the guide and with that he was right. While we are very selective with our guides, the problem is that they are government regulated and sometimes we end up with an inexperienced guide. All Cuyabeno lodges draw from the same pool of guides. A poor guide is the result of certain government policies that restrict the availability of guides. This is a problem in all protected areas of Ecuador. What does draw the attention is that the reviewer is raving about the wildlife he has seen, so the guide did succeed in getting him to right places. But again, every once in a while, we end up with a mediocre guide, just like all other lodges.

It is illegal to go on excursion without a guide, which makes it impossible to venture out on yourself. Moreover, this is the tropical jungle. Unless one is a very experiences jungle traveler, one should not want to do that anyway.

The reviewer seems very pleased with the Napo Lodges, which by the way are some 5 hours down stream of the town of Coca and many located in SECONDARY forest. It is true that in Cuyabeno, observing wildlife happens from the river, but........... THAT IS WHY YOU SEE SO MUCH WILDLIFE!!!! There just is more wildlife along the narrow rivers as there is in the well drained forest.

What happens is that in the well drained jungle - like in the Yasuni National Park - you have to spot wildlife in the crowns of 35m high trees, looking up. There the contrast of the light of the sky is so strong that the leaves almost seem black. You simply don't get to see as much wildlife in Yasuni as in Cuyabeno.

I don't know what is more fatiguing, walking through the jungle for many hours or sitting comfortably at thick plastic pillows in a canoe, with your camera equipment, binoculars and bird books comfortably at hand........... My experience as a wildlife ecologist with 4 decades of professional experience, is that you can get twice the amount of excursion time in while in canoes as on foot. You just cant walk for so long and be attentive of wildlife.

Since this review, our food has improved even further. Since the entire road LagoAgrio - Cuyabeno has been paved, we are now able to bring in all food fresh. So we no longer serve any canned food. Most other reviewers are raving over the quality of the food. There is a different menu of home cooking for every meal every day!

I hope that the good memories of this reviewer will prevail of his disappointment, because some of his mediocre - negative experiences, actually have been rated very positive by the vast majority of the other reviewers. Cuyabeno is one of the best jungle parks in the world, and in Tripadvisor, the Cuyabeno Lodge is rated the best lodge in the reserve. It is our mission to give every visitor a fantastic experience so that he/she becomes a supporter for the conservation of the reserve.
Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil, wildlife ecologist and founding shareholder.
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76 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Baldwin, Wisconsin
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2008

A group of 6 friends age range 23-65 with no whiners. The food was simple and the beer was chilled most of the time. The lodge provided boots and ponchos which were used daily. We were the only group at the lodge so we got an extra trip, to the village up the river. The lodge was clean and even hot water, which was not expected. Not much electricity, (candles bedside and coleman lanterns light for dinner and cards. Our guide (Luis)was the best and the boat driver helped spot the wildlife, 7 types of monkeys, camins, anacondas, leaf cutter ants, macaws, hoatzins,oropendula, and piranhas. Great place to stay but not if you cannot handle mud and bugs.

  • Liked — Hot water
  • Disliked — limited electricity
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North West
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2008

We were a group of 11 and had an enjoyable stay while at Cuyabeno. However, upon returning from our trip were dismayed and angered to find that all of our credit/debit cards had been copied and used (throughout the world) while they were in the "safe" at the lodge. We were not shown the safe but were assured that it was better than leaving our valuables in the cabins. Very disappointing and as a result I would never recommend this lodge to anyone else.

Stayed June 2008
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CuayabenoLodge, Owner at Cuyabeno Lodge, responded to this review, July 4, 2014
As a response to this very sad occurrence, we have thoroughly reviewed our safety procedures. This has been the only event of this nature in our history since 1986, when we had our first ecotour to Cuyabeno. For managers and owners it is never possible to totally protect their guests from petty crime, and particularly an open facility like the Cuyabeno Lodge is vulnerable to people with evil intentions.
However, we do have steel safety boxes, and putting one's valuables and travel documents in those is the best option for our guests. Our staff was very upset about the accusations and is convinced that this did not happen in Cuyabeno. They think it happened to the group right before visiting Cuyabeno. Such theory is not without some degree of possibility, since the owners report that the cards had been used worldwide. While it is always possible to that there is a thieve among the people living in the reserve, it is very unlikely that in 2008 this population of Indians or simple jungle dwellers are sophisticated users of credit cards that can abuse credit cards over the internet or otherwise. Nor was it likely that someone had left the reserve for some time with the credit cards, quickly make some expenses in Quito and then returned them into the reserve. There would hardly have been enough time to do so, as nearby use was impossible with at the time no credit card facilities being present in the Amazon Region.
Whatever the case, we still think that using the safety boxes is the best option, and we would like to observe that this the group qualifies the visit itself as "enjoyable".
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DC
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2008

We never though we could see primary Amazon jungle with such convenient access and low fares.

When we arrived, we were welcomed with drinks by a well trained staff at a most romantic thatched roof lodge that blends perfectly in the natural surroundings. The programme was very well prepaired and our guide was very knowledgeable about birds and wildlife in general. The scenery was fascinating. We only regretted one thing: that we did not have time to stay longer. When we go back to Ecuador, we most certainly will go back again to the Cuyabeno Lodge.

  • Liked — The fabulous jungle scenery and the abundance of jungle wildlife
  • Disliked — We liked it all, as we were prepared for a friendly accomodation in harmoney with nature. So we missed nothing at this models beautiful place.
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2008

- Great island location in centre of Grand Laguna
- Caymans, monkeys, snakes, birds all right on the island
- Easy access to secluded riverways
- Good, simple food
- Basic, but clean, toilets, showers etc
- Simple, but clean huts (nb, no windows - just an opening)
- Excellent library
- Good spot for chilling out, with hammocks etc
- Highly recommend!

  • Liked — Location
  • Stayed May 2005, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indiana
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2008

Of my four months in Ecuador, my trip to Cuyabeno lodge was by far my favorite activity. They provide transportation (bus and canoe) to the lodge from the Lago Agrio airport. All meals (nothing spectacular, but tasty) were provided and the guides were great. The accommodations are open air cabins with bunk beds covered by mosquito nets. The bathrooms are in a separate cabin a short walk away. But, most importantly, the wildlife was absolutely amazing. 8 kinds of monkeys, countless birds, caiman, piranhas...all the best of the Amazon. Truly a spectacular place. Expensive, but totally worth it.

  • Liked — location deep in the heart of the Amazon
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cuyabeno Lodge

Address: Av. Los Shyris N36-188 and Naciones Unidas, Shyris Park, Office 608 | 100 Meters South of the Mall "Quicentro Shopping", Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador
Location: Ecuador > Sucumbios Province > Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Built in 1989, the Cuyabeno Lodge was the first lodge in the park; the owners believed that the rainforest traveler should be accommodated in conditions which would be both in harmony with the surrounding environment and attuned to the needs of the modern visitor. At Neotropic Turis, we, the owners of the Cuyabeno Lodge, are the pioneers in the tourist operation and we built the first Eco friendly lodge in the Cuyabeno National Park. We are a group of conservation biologists with 4 decades of experience in national parks management in developing countries.The Cuyabeno Lodge one of two lodges located right on the lake and one of the few lodges that never is flooded. We recently built a canopy watch tower and 3 new deluxe rooms. We have 24 hours electricity from solar energy and hot showers are available for all our visitors. We are NOT the same as the Cuyabeno River Lodge, the latter being located at 2 hours travel from the Cuyabeno Lakes. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Cuyabeno Hotel Cuyabeno

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