If you have the right expectations of what visiting the Amazon is like (no electricity, hot & humid, lots of spiders and bugs, and no phones/internet) then the Siona Lodge is the place for you. Located on the edge of the beautiful Lago Grande it is the perfect location to get to see what an unique place the Amazon is. I recommend going during the rainy season (May to the beginning of October).
From Quito we flew to Lago Agrio and the driver from the lodge met us there. There was then a hot and windy two hour van ride to "el puente". Along the way the driver told us how just 20 years ago the virgin rain forest ran almost all the way to the airport and in just the last 3 years, since the road was paved the rate of development had sped up exponentially. At the bridge you get a quick lunch and the opportunity to pay obscene prices for anything you have forgotten, in our case sunscreen ($14). You then get on a motorized canoe and the adventure really begins. Our canoe driver had some of the most amazing boat driving skills I have ever seen. The river is winds back and forth and is filled with fallen trees and floating branches but somehow he weaved through it all.
When you get to the lodge you meet your guide, in our case Luis and he tells you about the lodge and the schedule. Luis is a wonderful guide who has led an amazing life. He is from the Napo region of Ecuador and served in the Ecuadorian Special Jungle forces. He most endearing quality is his infectious laugh that makes you smile every time you hear it. He speaks 5 languages and knows pretty much everything there is to know about the region.
It seems like all the lodges in the Cuyabeno have the same set schedule for your trip, catch and release piranha fishing, sunset on the lake, night hikes where you see some crazy critters, a trip to the local shaman and Puerto Bolivar (Siona community), a hike in the jungle, sunrise birdwatching, canoe trips around the lake, and caiman watching at night. As Luis says, this isn't a zoo, he can't guarantee what you will see, but you will see some amazing things! My husband and I saw countless birds, 3 species of monkeys, a sloth, giant fish, caimans, a baby giant river otter, butterflies, snakes, spiders, and frogs. We didn't get to see a pink dolphin because they had just migrated down river the week before due to the coming dry season.
The lodge itself is very nice.The cabins are rustic with 2 single beds in each with MUCH needed mosquito nets, not so much for the mosquitoes there aren't that many near the lodge but for all the other critters. All have private bathrooms.
The food is amazing, three course meals with fresh veggies and fruit. I am not sure how the kitchen staff was able to produce such amazing stuff with such a small kitchen.
At the end of 4 days you will leave, hot, sunburned, dirty and bug bitten, but completely amazed at the Amazon is and how fortunate you are to have been able to experience it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Siona Lodge is an eco hotel located in Cuyabeno reserve. We have 11 double rooms with private bathroom, hot water, and balcony with lake view. 110v electrical outlets with solar energy, dining area, lounge and bar, freshly cooked meals using local ingredients. Our activities are jungle trekking, bird, caiman and pink dolphins watching, visits to siona community all guided with an English naturalist guide. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Siona Hotel Cuyabeno