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“Amazing place -- poor service”
Review of Jamu Lodge

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Jamu Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 7, 2013

How can a service oriented business screw up such a fantastic, awesome place?

The short answer is overall poor customer service.

For example; scheduling outings in the middle of the day when the animals are sleeping. Claiming to offer vegetarian dishes up front, but what that actually meant was just leaving out the main course of meat or chicken. So we ate only side dishes that were shared with all guests. We hadn't signed up for a weight reduction trip, but, it never hurts to loose a couple of pounds, I guess.

The canoes were in bad shape without adequate life jackets and several broken paddles. On one trip, a canoe sprang a leak and began taking on water during a torrential downpour. Luckily, there was a good outcome, but it had all the makings of a near disaster. Little mistakes will add up to a disaster.

We were there for five days and were told that we would be going on a fabulous hike for 3 hours in the rain forest while the others headed home. We ended up paddling a canoe for 4 hours in the middle of the day, sun beating down, eating lunch on an ant infested tiny beach, and unable to swim and cool off in the lake due to eels and stingrays. Thank goodness for a brief rain shower on the way back.

Finally, the main guide was a gigolo and was busy wooing a single female in our group, which, as any single female traveler knows, comes with the territory. And that is so tiring to be the victim (she has to off be on guard for dangerous animals and the guide!) and also for the rest of us to have to watch it! I suggest hiring some female naturalists. All the employees were male.

The price was right, but I would have gladly paid more for better service.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank MCruzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamucito, Gerente at Jamu Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 16, 2015

Hi MCruzz! Thanks for your comment. We agree, our lodge is located within a marvelous and fantastic place. However, we´re very sorry that your perception related to the services received by our staff was not the best, as you don´t deserve less. Before replying this message, we have thoroughly investigated the entire situation you described and have taken the necessary measures to correct the things that were not working appropriately as to the vegetarian food, the logistics among others to guarantee. Be assured that your comments help us become better are always welcome and that we take very seriously each of them.

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77 - 83 of 191 reviews

Reviewed December 5, 2013

We chose Jamu based purely on price and hearing that all tours in the Cuyabeno offer the same activities and differ only on food and lodging. The activities were incredible and provided by the greatest guide, David, and staff of the lodge. David knows his stuff and offers the information enthusiastically and with energy every time, even if you keep him up late chatting about that knowledge. The kitchen staff and boat drivers were professional and provided excellent food and boat sightseeing.

While I can't compare Jamu to other lodges on food or lodging, I and everyone there at the same time very much enjoyed the food at all meals. We were well-fed and with good variety! Coffee, tea, water all the time. The rooms were well-equipped, basic but had all you could need, including mosquito nets and toilets!

I will definitely highly recommend this place to family and friends going to the area!

Room Tip: Some of the private rooms have hot water, but the bigger-capacity rooms have just cold water, so be...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank kusloan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2013

I had mixed feelings after reading some of the reviews, but glad that I decided to go. The Cuyabeno area is just fantastic with lots of wildlife to see.
The lodge has a very friendly staff, the guide (David) was excellent, pointing out lots of animals on our tours.
The double rooms were clean, with mosquito nets, hot shower and even had electricity in the bathrooms.
Overall, great experience for the money you pay.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank Alex L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2013

I've read some mixed reviews and decided to share my view of the Jamu Lodge.

The housing infrastructure is steady and comfortable and our lodge was small but cozy with a decent mosquito net. I did not see any trash at all even though it's reported in other reviews. Someone spotted a plastic bottle in the river and it was picked up immediately.

My girlfriend got sick on arrival in the evening - probably side effects from the malaria tablets - and we skipped dinner. Our guide David was very hospitable and pro-active. He came by our lodge with ORS and soothing tea. All his interactions felt genuine.

Besides from that he was also a very good naturalist and spotter. Later on the trip we saw a lot of different wild life (too much to count). Every time we went out on the boat our guide was spotting animals relentlessly. The day and night walks were amazing as well and to call the lagoon beautiful is an understatement.

You get a whole lot in return for the small amount of dollars you will spend.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Guido G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2013

I have been to the rainforest in Ecuador twice before and both times the guides were amazing: patient, knowledgeable, more or less on time. They put their guests first. Our guide Miguel AKA Condor was rude, impatient, late, unprepared and spent more time flirting with one of the girls on our trip then trying to ensure that everone had a good time.

Specific examples:

After being asked for the second time about our daily itinerary he told one guest rudely "like I have already told you, we are going to hike for about an hour."

Because it was my friends birthday after dinner they came out with an cake for her, it was very sweet and super special! While we waited for plates to arrive I continued to show some of the pictures I had taken that day to a guest who had asked about them. Miguel interrupted and told me I was being rude and disrespectful to my friend by not giving him the opportunity to thank the cooks who had made my friends very special cake and that they work very hard to feed us. He then pulled out a tip envelope and put it on the table.

While I was talking to other guests Miguel came to the table we were sitting at and plunked a book down in front of me and the girl he was trying to pick up. I continued to talk to the guest I had been talking to until I was told that he had brought the book to the table because he thought it would be interesting to us so could we pay attention.

He constantly waivered between being rude and aggressively cheerful.

They also tried very hard to chose where you could sit for dinner and who you could dine with based on length of tour. If you tried to sit with other people you were told you couldnt.

In addition Miguel planned a trip for the midday heat everyday... all of the animals were sleeping or hiding.

When we went to the indigenous village to visit he disappeared for at least an hour and did not tell us where the bathroom or drinking water was.

Later when a new group arrived we were put with Pedro who was FANTASTIC. Unlike Miguel, Pedro didn;t sound rehearsed or bored and he told us some very cool facts about some of the animals we looked at.

Additionally we were there for 5 days and only one day did they provide sufficient food for vegetarians.

The location it self is AMAZING and we saw so many animals however having an arrogant and ignorant guide definitely put a damper on the experience. I will not be returning.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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3  Thank AllieMine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamucito, Gerente at Jamu Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 16, 2015

Dear AllieMine, we appreciate you have taken some time to let us know about your stay in our lodge. First we want you to know that just like the other lodges you previously visited with, our goal is to provide you with the best experience in Cuyabeno and we wholeheartedly assure you that we won´t ever allow anyone in our staff to mare our guests´ experience, so we are glad to let you know that Miguel is no longer one of our guides. So, finally we just want to say thanks for informing us the Management Office about what is not working properly. Hope to have you soon again in our lodge so you can see by yourself the difference between your past experience and a current one.

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Reviewed September 12, 2013

but also wouldn't really recommend. The food was nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about, either. The guide was very knowledgeable and found a lot of wildlife for us, which was wonderful. The itinerary was exactly as described for our group. Our days were spent away from the lodge on the river or on hikes, which was wonderful. That part of the experience was truly great since we saw a lot of wildlife and our guide was very knowledgeable and chatty about things!

The staff was friendly, but were all very young and focused on the other young adults at the lodge. My 2 sons and I were mostly ignored. If we were a young couple or single, I would have had a very different experience. Traveling as a single mom, throughout South America, I found people went out of their way to be helpful, that was not the case at Jamu. At the lodge, I felt they seemed burdened that we were there. The guide was actually great with my kids, but there were no accommodations or helped offered to me when it was obvious I was repeatedly struggling to do things because I was helping my kids. No one was rude about it, but it was just odd that no one seemed to notice that it might take me a little bit longer to do things because I was trying to help 3 of us do it. Often other guest would offer to help, but never the staff.

Additionally, I confirmed 3 times beforehand that we had a matrimonial suite since I knew those were quieter rooms. When we arrived, we had 3 single beds in a tower with a group of very loud, young Germans. They were just having fun. I didn't expect them to be quiet for us. However, my kids didn't get much sleep and would have had we got the room I reserved and had confirmed for the trip.

The bus trip from Lago Agrio to the Reserve was not pleasant, but I didn't really expect much more than that. This is a budget trip, so my expectations were set for budget! I just would have expected to get the room that I reserved and an extra hand or moment here and there since I was alone with my kids.

Lastly, there was a lot of random trash strewn about the property. None of it was visible from the main dining area or the common areas, but looking out the windows of any of the rooms, there was a lot of trash. I don't mean a few pieces of paper. It looked like someone would have emptied a couple of 32 gallon trash bins out the window. That seemed very odd!

I would recommend this lodge for young travelers who want a good party. Not so much for an adult traveling alone with kids. If I had been with my husband, our experience would have been vastly different because he would have been able to help. If I were to do it again, I would have paid a bit more to get a bit more out of the experience.

Room Tip: Ask for the Tarantula or one of the other rooms that are not in one of the towers, which were very l...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Chariemcs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

After reading all the amazing reviews here, I feel like we stayed at some other Jamu Lodge. We did the 3n/4d trip.

Our trip started on a hot bus with windows that don't open and a bus driver who took many unnecessary risks while driving (which is the norm for Ecuador). We met then someone who sort of spoke English and gave us chicken and vegetables in a tupperware. If you're vegetarian, you just get a few more vegetables. Then we got on the canoe and it turned out the guy who gave us food was going to be our guide. He pointed out the birds and anything of interest while we rode down to the lodge, but if you weren't up front, you couldn't hear a word because of the engine noise. We then got to the lodge, had some juice, and got our rooms. Later, and every night after, we went to the lake to swim and watch the sunset. That was pretty much the only day that stuck to the itinerary they gave us when we bought the tickets in Quito.

We just dropped any notion that the activities would follow the order in the itinerary, but we hoped we would still at least do the activities it mentioned. The itinerary said we'd visit two local communities, but we just went to one. We ended up paying $6 each instead of $4 for the yuca bread and shaman. I guess that made up for not paying the park entrance fee. I think groups from other lodges payed the entrance fee, but our group just skipped going in the park office. We pretty much did everything else mentioned, except the piranha fishing. Maybe it's prohibited now. No one mentioned it. I know other groups at Jamu got to hike more than we did, because we met them at the community after they had just finished a hike in the rain forest. We saw another group get to do some canoe paddling on the lake, which we didn't do. Not counting the night hike, we only got to walk in the rain forest once, for about 3 hours.

The lodge itself had no surprises. We didn't get the exact room we were told, but I've been in Ecuador long enough to not believe a word anyone tells me, so it wasn't surprising. No lights and cold showers were expected. Our room had a nice view of the forest, monkeys, and a trash covered tin roof. I'd be embarrassed if I owned this place and saw the amount of garbage accumulated on the roof, or piles of random construction equipment laying around.

The food was really good, served family style. The staff made a pretty good effort to cater to vegetarians. Instead of a meat dish, they served fried eggplant or stuffed peppers. One night there wasn't a main vegetarian dish, but when we asked if one was coming, they said that the side dishes everyone else got was the main vegetarian dish. They then offered to fry an egg.

I think the most disappointing was the rookie guide. He was a really nice guy, and I know he knew a lot about the rain forest, he just kept it to himself. I'm guessing it was due to a lack of English speaking confidence. We learned most of our information by eavesdropping on another group's guide. Our guide could have used some more training before actually taking on paying customers. I had to keep telling myself that this was one of the cheaper lodges, and we get what we paid for, but it was hard to convince myself this while watching another group at the same lodge have a totally different experience.

Room Tip: The Tarantula room was nice and I think had hot water. We stayed in the Piranha(matrimonial) which...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank QuitoJohn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamucito, Gerente at Jamu Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 16, 2015

Hello QuitoJohn! Firstly we want to say thanks for your remarks on your personal stay in JAMU LODGE. We are glad that you enjoyed the paradise-like landscape surrounding the lake as well as that you also had the chance to delight yourself by swimming in it. So it seems that your overall experience was good. As for your staying in a room that was not chosen by you, we are very sorry about that we want to inform you that some measures were taken so that such a kind of misunderstanding will not repeat ever again. We hope that this response and the measures taken will satisfy you in a next visit. As for the trash you saw on the roof, it was totally replaced by one of recycled Tetrapack. Also further measures have been passed so that neither workers nor clients may not throw trash on this blind point in our Hotel. As for the guide you refer to, his name is Pedro, he is a member of the local community that was getting started his career as guide. We have to say that he has evolved professionally and currently we are very satisfied with his performance. However, we are aware that in his professionalization process he might have made mistakes, for which we are sorry, but as you know mistakes are inherent to the learning process. And finally about our food some changes have been implemented to satisfy all our guests.

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Additional Information about Jamu Lodge

Address: Tamayo N24-96 y Foch, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador
Location: Ecuador > Sucumbios Province > Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 9 Specialty Lodging in Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
Price Range: $268 - $421 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Jamu Lodge is an Eco-Hotel located in the Cuyabeno Reserve, close to Laguna Grande.We have a total of 18 rooms for multiple or double accommodation, most with private bathroom and hot water, dining area, lounge area with hammocks and bar.The hotel employs different sustainability policies, like a sustainable waste management systems (e.g. we try to minimize waste by buying in bulks, using local ingredients in the kitchen), water saving measures, recycling organic and non-organic wastes were possible.Furthermore, we provide biodegradable shampoo and soap for guests, and use biodegradable products for housecleaning.For electricity we have solar energy to charge batteries from mobile devices, cameras and video cameras.Buildings are constructed with recycled materials where possible, and in harmony with the natural surroundings, reflecting the traditional design of the Amazon.We employ and train local staff where possible, and who are paid at fair wages, for example our river transport is handled by the local community. Our operation minimizes fossil fuels encouraging our visitors to do the activities rowing.We also protect the native fauna and flora and inform guests, staff and visitors of the importance and value of a healthy ecosystem and describe how to best enjoy the area without causing negative impacts. ... more   less 
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