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“Yachana is a very special place and unforgettable experience.”
Review of Yachana Lodge

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Yachana Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 18, 2011

We chose Yachana because we wanted to learn more about the Amazon rainforest, its people, and its significance to our world and ecosystem. Yachana is unique among rainforest based lodges in that its mission is around education, sustainability, and eco-tourism. Yachana is a foundation and supports a vocational high school / boarding school for Amazonian youth. We found that other lodges focused on the animals and flora and bird-watching, all wonderful activities, but we wanted to learn about the people and the environment.

Let me start by saying that I hate the heat, the humidity, and bugs. The Amazon rainforest was the last of several destinations we visited in Peru and Ecuador, and I thought I would not enjoy it. Instead, Yachana became the highlight of our trip for me and my four kids (ages 17, 15, 13, and 8). We had the most incredible guide, Juan, who comes from the southern part of the Amazon rainforest, and whose experience and life story has been featured in the New York Times. It was such an honor to have him as our guide -- we all learned so much about the rainforest, about his culture, about the issues facing the Amazon rainforest and its people today. We also met Doug, an American, who founded the lodge and foundation. We were happy to be able to be a small part of this vision for the Amazon rainforest and the Yachana foundation.

The lodge itself is beautiful landscaped with lush gardens and is right on the Napo River, where we went tubing one day. It is also walking distance to a small town, where we went one day to watch a very competitive 3x3 volleyball match and then joined the whole town in the evening for a high school graduation dancing celebration. We hiked a lot through the primary forest and saw many interesting things -- plants, trees, animals, insects, frogs, bats, and a GIANT tarantula. The highlight for us was visiting a healer and participating in a cleansing ceremony and trying our hand at blow darts and spear throwing. That day, we came across tulcans and a giant wasp nest. All in a day's adventure!

Meals are served in the open air, thatch roofed dining hall overlooking the Napo River. The drunken parrot bar offered many memorable discussions. The workers at the lodge are also the high school students, or graduates of, and my kids made life long friends. You realize, teens around the world have so much in common......

The rooms are basic but very clean. Potable water is readily accessible. There is a small gift shop. Yachana was very reasonable -- once there I found we did not need to spend much as all meals and excursions were included. The only place to really spend money is in the gift shop and the bar, and you can settle via credit card. I even put the staff tips on my credit card.

Yachana does not have mosquitoes, but they do have sand flies. Rubber boats are supplied for jungle treks, so don't forget to bring long light weight socks to wear with them.

Overall, a memorable experience with lasting impressions. We learned so much.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
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5  Thank celiawu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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141 - 147 of 170 reviews

Reviewed July 2, 2011

Yachana gets 20 Oat tours (elderly escorted travelers) per month. These groups roll in one on top of the other, easily 15+ people per tour. This is a great money maker for Yachana, and it seems that the learning experiences have been put on the back burner.
You will not get a motorized canoe ride to or from the lodge, instead either they will rent a public bus or send you via taxi. You won't get peace and quiet due to the large groups of very, very noisy tourists who are not so respectful of their neighbors and surroundings. They will complain about not seeing any wildlife, shouting to one another about...oh sheesh, who knows, they never stop talking!
The day trips include bird watching on top of a work truck across the river - everyday, tubing once for 30 minutes, and then some more bird watching. Years ago it was a bit more adventurous in the trekking department. I'd now only recommend Yachana for my elderly grandmother and her friends due to the demure, staged activities. Actually after my experience there, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, and would say to try somewhere else.
But the grounds are gorgeous, the cabins are very nice and the food is outstanding Just bring earplugs if you decide to go. Also, talk to the kitchen/help staff about their volunteer activities at the lodge, and notice that females only work as maids- I had a bad feeling about all the free help they get ("training purposes") and the lack of advancement opportunities for the girls int he community, but that was just my take.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled solo
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11  Thank Formilesandmiles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2011

As part of a small group, we stayed at the remote Yachana Lodge. Our modest accommodations were very clean and comfortable. The staff, many of whom were serving internships from the nearby high school, were polite, friendly, and provided excellent service. Our guide, Juan, was outstanding, extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of nature and life in the Amazon.

  • Stayed: March 2011
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2  Thank traveler06032
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2011

My daughter and I feel so privileged to have visited Yachana Lodge and been able to experience the Amazon jungle as we did. I chose this lodge based on Trip Advisor reviews and couldn't have been more pleased.
We were so lucky that we and 2 others were the only guests that our guide was responsible for. Juan was impressive--so knowledgeable, attentive and pleasant. Because the other two people were working with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism, they spent much of their time with the founder of Yachana--Douglas, leaving us with Juan all to ourselves. This meant he was able to coordinate activities to our preferences. He even roasted cocoa seeds so we could make chocolate from scratch (peeling, grinding and making into a paste--then the best part--dipping small bananas into the fresh, dark chocolate) and he helped us weave baskets. My daughter enjoyed preparing a meal of tilapia cooked in leaves and hearts of palm and stinging nettle side dishes with the chef. We even ate cooked larvae--reluctant to try them alive and wriggling.
The night walk was a favourite activity--frogs, bats, a boa constrictor, a possum....
The visit to a local healer was also amazing. He performed a cleansing ritual then Juan challenged us to use the spear and blow guns to hit targets. May I say I did quite well with the latter.
Loved to see the world's tiniest monkeys and all of the other fauna and flora too.
We went on a trek into the jungle to find the prehistoric bird: the Hoatzin--got great video too.
Another day we took a double-decker type vehicle to do some bird-watching and visited a market frequented by the people from the jungle and surrounding areas.
One of my best memories is lying in bed after 10 pm (when the generator is turned off) in the absolute blackness of our comfortable cabin and listening to the cacophony of insect sounds (especially cicadas) outside of our screened windows. One night the drumming of rain on our roof drowned out all sounds but lulled us into a relaxing sleep.
It only rained that one night and a brief time one morning, otherwise the weather was great. It is very humid (after all, it is the rainforest) and hot but we managed to keep up with our guide. Be sure to drink a lot of water to remain hydrated!
Before we left for this vacation I contacted others who had posted on Trip Advisor re: questions that I had. Questions like: are there snakes, were you afraid to swim in the river, how was the canoe ride? I would like to allay the fears of anyone who is a bit concerned about potential dangers or would like to know what to expect. Here goes:
-we saw only 1 snake, a boa who resided in the thatched roof of one of the lodge huts (uninhabited)--he became active at night hunting the bats in the roof--no threat to us
-hats and sunblock are a must
-bring along your own light poncho (cheap at any Dollar store) if it rains but they do supply them in case you don't have one (we brought rain coats that we only needed for less than an hour) --they supply a pair of boots for your jungle treks
-definitely bring DEET insect repellent--my daughter was bitten many times when she fell asleep in the hammock on the balcony without spraying repellent first (lesson learned)
-the canoe ride in/out of the lodge was very pleasant--the seats are comfortable (see their Yachan video) and there is a lovely breeze as you traverse the mighty Napo RIver, in fact, we wore jackets for part of the ride--such lovely scenery
-the stairs where the canoe docks are steep and long so if you are not fit now, you will be after your stay (I lost 9 lbs by the time I returned home)
-there is always time to rest up/clean up between activities and before meals
-we chose not to swim/tube in the river although Juan said it was safe
-the food is locally harvested, fished, caught, made. It was reflective of the Ecuadorian culture and was delicious! It was served by the students from the Yachana high school--sweet boys with limited English but very eager to please
-be sure to sit on the deck and watch the sunset at least one night
Special mention should go to Douglas, the founder of the Yachana Foundation. It is his vision that we are allowing to flourish. The money we tourists bring in goes toward the running of the high school and land is being prepared for a university that should be ready by September of this year. Outstanding!
Douglas also encourages a friendly, open atmosphere. We were able to meet Jaun's wife and she joined us for a couple of meals. This really added to our overall enjoyment of this wonderful place. We felt at home and welcome--like a part of the Yachana family.
We hope to one day to return.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled with family
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6  Thank MomDtr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 7, 2011

I recently stayed at the Yachana Lodge with a large student group from California. Our stay was amazing in this jungle paradise. The staff at the lodge are comprised of student from the Yachana Technical School which is operated by the same gentleman who runs the lodge. We were provided with an extremely knowledgable guide, Robert, who was a treasure. Robert is a kind and gentle soul that has dedicated his existence to preserving his home lands along with sharing his knowledge of the local flora and fauna. If you have the opportunity to request a guide for your stay, Robert is the choice to make. He made the whole trip...

  • Stayed: January 2011
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2  Thank studenttraveler2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 27, 2010

I can only say great things about Yachana Lodge.

The setting: in the rainforest with breathtaking views of the Napo River

The accommodation: My room was a very comfortable cabin with its own terrace complete with hammock overlooking the wonderful lush vegetation and exotic plants of Yachana’s grounds.

The food: deeelicioius. I had great food whilst taking in the wonderful views of the surrounding rainforest and river.

The staff: genuinely helpful and efficient. Really great people.

The activities: Our small group was assigned its own individual guide called Avel. Avel arranged plenty of varied activities for us during our stay. Trekking in the jungle, visiting a local market, spear throwing , visiting the college and students are some examples. All through our excursions Avel kept us smiling and interested with his wonderful humour and extensive knowledge. A brilliant guide.

Summary: I really felt at home here. The staff are welcoming and friendly – and it’s all very genuine. Thanks to the excursions we gained a great insight about the surrounding natural habitat and local community. And visiting the college whose students (from the local community) benefit from the profits made by Yachana was a great experience.

Moreover the team behind Yachana organized everything for our trip to Ecuador, including the second half of the trip to the Galapagos. Internal flights, transfers, hotels etc. All we had to do was get our return ticket to Ecuador and turn up.
I thoroughly recommend Yachana Lodge.

A very unique place offering a very enjoyable and memorable experience.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank PrincessMaria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 20, 2010

I met a great variety of employees (Douglas (founder), Hugh, Lars, Paola, Emanuel, my fantastic guides Delfin & Juan, and several attentive folks whose names I missed) and all of them provided excellent, attentive service. Their cause - educating locals and travelers about the importance of the amazon jungle ecosystem - was always present but never pushy. Rather than getting in the way, their cause adds to your personal experience so you know your experience is contributing in a positive way.

Other lodges may be 'deeper' in the jungle, but Yachana has access to large pieces of primary (untouched) jungle that provide tourists like me the amazing, life-changing experience we hope to enjoy when we travel, plus it gives back to the local people of all tribes as a whole -- not just helping a single, local community - through education and opportunity.

Additionally, Yachana only hires locals as guides. I enjoyed a freelance guide (Delfin) and a guide who serves on the Yachana board (Juan) -- both of whom come from communities where they still use blowguns to hunt, run barefoot through the jungle, and many of the people have never seen a car in their lives. Authentic. Real. I definitely recommend spending time with Yachana Lodge! Great cause. Great experience. Great service.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled solo
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1  Thank zFunTraveling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Yachana Lodge

Address: Community of Porto Rico, Ecuador
Location: Ecuador > Napo Province
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 62 Specialty Lodging in Napo Province
Price Range: $169 - $244 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Yachana Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
After 17 years of operating on the other side of the Napo River, we have built a new, stunningly beautiful Yachana Lodge within our 2,500-acre reserve. In our new location you will discover a hidden secret of the Amazon: a world class, award winning "Geotourism Lodge". There are 14 luxurious cabins built on a bluff overlooking the Napo River with spectacular views of the river and the Andes in the distance, surrounded by lush natural forests and beautiful gardens. All cabins have private bathrooms with hot water shower and large porches with hammocks. A major activity for our guests is our Lost Foods of the Amazon culinary program; visiting and harvesting on a local farm, then preparing your lunch and eating it in our beautiful, open dining area designed in the style of a typical Amazonian hut, with spectacular views of the Napo River. We also offer walks in the rainforest, incredible birding and other cultural activities. Yachana's accommodations and activities are targeted at the traveller who cares about sustaining and enhancing the geographical character of the Amazon - its rainforest environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. The Yachana Foundation for 23 years has created opportunities in ecotourism, education, conservation, income generation and health care throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Yachana Hotel Napo Province
Yachana Lodge Ecuador/Napo

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