What a wonderful way to experience the Ecuadorian Amazon. We started with a long minibus drive on roads which got steadily rougher until, just as we thought they couldn't get worse, we turned off onto an even rougher road and wound our way to a small village. Here we loaded onto a canoe on the Napo River (a tributary of the Amazon) for the last part of the journey. It was late afternoon so we were treated to a wonderful sunset as we motored gently along the river, stopping to navigate the shallows as it was the end of the rainy season the river was low.
The lodge comprises a number of double and twin bedded bungalows on stilts. Very comfortable beds, mosquito nets and en suite bathrooms. Be warned though, despite the jungle heat the show water is cold although you can ask for hot to be provided. The lodge is eco friendly and runs on photovoltaic cells. A torch is handy at night as outside lights go out before midnight. Meals are taken in a communal dining room and are very good although all of a European style food apart from one more local dish. We'd have preferred to have all local: much more interesting!
The local is magical. Deep in the jungle and behind the bird and cricket noise, a deep silence. Treks through primary and secondary jungle are included as well as a visit to a local tribal family and instruction on how to greet them in the local language. We also had a go at blow pipes but would starve if we had to rely on them for our food. A night trek showed up tarantulas, geckos, crickets and an amazing range of other insects. Strangely enough we didn't hear a single mosquito and didn't get bitten but wouldn't recommend risking going without repellent and anti malaria's. Not worth the risk.
We also had a canoe trip included which included a demonstration on panning for gold which actually turned up some small specks but not enough to retire on.
Possibly our favourite activity though was making chocolate. Dried cocoa beans (some they prepared earlier!) were provided and roasted in a pan over an open fire. We then took turns to grind them, first on their own and then with added sugar. Milk was added and the mixture gently heated and stirred until a wonderful mass of dark chocolate was formed. We were given slices of banana to dip and it was heaven!
Couldn't recommend this highly enough. We would happily have stayed for another day or two.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Yacuma Ecolodge is located in a 300 hectares of primary rainforest of the Ecuadorean Amazon Jungle. It offers accommodations in 15 well-appointed bungalows/suites with private facilities, separate reception and kitchen areas. From here we make tours and excursions into the jungle and rivers of the area to observe the forest and fauna of the region. Our tours are leaded by experienced Quechua Indigenous guides. Lighting is provided by efficient solar panels. Yacuma is Rainforest Alliance and Smart Voyager certified. ... more less
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