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Sani Lodge
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Reviews (265)
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Reviewed March 31, 2013

You have read other reviews describing in detail what Sani is all about. We chose Sani because it is run and managed by the local tribe, plus appeared to be the best value for money. United mislaid one of our bags. We arrived in Quito at 11 pm and left for Sani at 7 am next day. We thought that we would not see the bag again. Sani staff took us to an inexpensive store to buy replacement clothing in Coca. Next day the Sani lodge staff picked the bag up at Quito international, took it to domestic, put it on the plane to Coca, by taxi to the dock, 2.5 hours down the uncharted, unmarked, Napo river, carried through the jungle, paddled in a canoe for 20 minutes, to the lodge, and then delivered to our cabin. For this alone they deserve a 5 star rating. So far in the jungle, but there is cell phone access and they have satellite internet. This place is not for the faint of heart, the infirm or the lazy. Up at 5 am in the dark, maybe raining as well, breakfast, excellent, into the canoes before dawn. A 2 hour+ hike in Wellington boots, bring insoles. Wellingtons and good ponchos provided. Back to the lodge for lunch or packed lunch in the canoe, again excellent, siesta, afternoon hike/activity. We caught no pirhana! Dinner, excellent. Night hike, to see the 6in tarantula, or canoe to see caiman. Lights out at 10pm. One employee bitten by a Fer de Lance viper, given antivenom by our guide, Daniel, and transported to Coca hospital by boat. He has now survived being bitten twice by this kind of snake! Surprisingly only a few mosquitoes. Unlike our northern varieties they were not particularly fond of me and left no welt. There has been no malaria reported in this area for over 3 years and no yellow fever for many. We took antimalarials but were assured that they are unnecessary on the Napo. Mosquito nets provided for your bed. Surprisingly comfortable. The cabins are not completely bug proof. "Palmetto" bugs can be found inside at night! When it rains it rains. One thunderstorm, lasting from 10pm to 6.30 am, dumped 8 ins of rain! Without the excellent guides, Daniel and Edwin, we would have identified very little. The Sani tribe has produced only three English speaking guides in 13 years. Edwin, a local, has no English, if he did he would be absolutely wonderful. Daniel is a free lance guide from another tribe. However, he is there frequently enough to be an expert on the area. Take quick dry clothes plus a hair dryer. Pack all your clothes in plastic bags so they remain dry until opened. Everything gets damp after a while. Apart from a few days in the Galapagos we felt damp the whole time in Ecuador. There is hot water in the rooms. Electricity from 4.30 am til 7am, then 4.30 pm until 10pm. Few outlets in the room. Avoid the double cabin, it is open above wall height so all conversation etc can be heard between the two rooms. Bring cash. The usual tips, expected from "rich" gringos, are $10 / day divided between the guides, $10 / day for the staff. We did not count the day we left. Large beers are $3, wine $5 a glass and $30 a bottle. US dollars are the currency in Ecuador. Be aware that there is only one flight from Coca to Quito on the weekend. Bring good flash lights and head lamps. Required for night hikes and reading in the room. Good binoculars essential. A camera with at least 10x optical magnification that can take 3 quick pictures to capture moving wild life. Do not expect to swim in the lagoon, it is where the Caiman live. 4 days 3 nights was fine. We also spent a week in the Galapagos, some time in Quito and the cloud forest. Coming and going through Quito. Try to stay in the same hotel for all nights in Quito so that you can leave a case there containing items unwanted at the different locations. Enjoy.

Room Tip: Avoid the double dorm room.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank marrack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 23, 2013

I can't imagine a better place for an Amazon Jungle experience. Everything was exceptional, staff was great, a very enjoyable and memorable experience.

The only issue we had, we didn't have hot water in our original room so we had to change. The room we were in first was nicer, but didn't matter w/o no hot showers. Other than that, the perfect experience.

People before had issues with the boots - our were new and comfortable. We even did a 17 km hike in them, so no issues. It was nice to have footbeds in them for cushion, but good either way.

Our guide was Freddy - he was terrific. Incredibly service oriented, very knowledgeable, and part of the Sani community, so he could share all the history as well as the lore. I can't imagine a more knowledgeable guide.

From Coca - it was a short ride to the dock, then a 2+ hr boat ride down river, a 15 minute walk across a wooden platform and a 15 minute canoe ride to the lodge. They provided us a sack lunch and even included a special vegetarian meal for the one of us who was a veggie. However, they seemed to forget once we got here - if you have a special dietary need, you should remind then.

When we arrived we were greeted with drinks and shown to our room. No electricity during the day, only at night during certain hours. We went for a boat ride and saw some bats on a log sticking out of the water, turkeys and other birds. We met “our group” for dinner which was fine and then went on a boat ride to cayman watch. The biggest one we saw was as we were getting of the boat. We also saw a baby and a frog.

The next day we had breakfast at 5:30 Took a canoe to the trail to the boat to the clay lick. Only green parrots were there, but pretty interesting. Stopped and saw a nocturnal bird sleeping (child – saw an adult the next day). Continued down the coat and went to the Sani community, saw a coffee plantation, pineapple, bananas, yucca root, cocoa. Not a plantation in our sense = more like plants in a jungle.

Had a snack – fish cooked in banana leaves w/hearts of palm, grilled grubs (the women like them raw, especially the heads); grilled cocoa beans, plaintains, fermented yucca drink, grilled yucca. Bought some jewelry. Also heard stories about how the Sani people started, clearing the jungle and the ever feared, powerful, Anaconda.

We had a lunch and then went on a hike and saw a tapir, birds, etc. We were pretty lucky to see a tapir. Few people get to see them - they are called jungle cows.

Day 3, breakfast at 5:30, then for a 17km hike which they did specifically for us since we are hikers. We saw the Tapir again - much better view this time, howler monkeys (red), wooly monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and a gekko in our room. Lots of mud and trees over little streams we had to balance on. WE got muddy and pretty sweaty, but it was a very enjoyable hike and flat. One of the workers met us at the end and we had a nice hot lunch. Then onto the canopy tower. Pretty dead there. Then, on the way back when we passed under the monkey bridge one in our party was actually pooped on by a howler monkey (snicker snicker).

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Lisa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 16, 2013

After a 2.5 hr boat ride down river in the rain, we hiked 0.5 km to a canoe and were paddled to the lodge by our guide for the duration, Domingo and his sidekick. A most magical place with birds everywhere - many more Hoatzins than we'd every expected. There is a nice bar and restaurant with very good food. Also a 90 foot canopy tower in a 400 yr old kapok tree. Tower is simple to access with metal stairs and the platform is roomy enough for 15 people without crowding. Domingo is a top notch birding guide, the best we had in the country. Knows all the songs and English bird names and speaks good enough English himself. This is definitely a great destination!!

Room Tip: Our cabin was near the kitchen and we had noise at night as they cleaned up and then noise in the morning around 4 am as they began to prepare breakfast. You might want to ask for one further away. If you are a tough camper type, there is a shelter building with space for your own tent or use one of theirs. Just be prepared for the walk to and from the restaurant in the dark.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank nhraven
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2013

I live in Quito and my sister and her boyfriend were coming to visit in early January, so we wanted to take them on an Amazon tour, not too rustic. I wanted to take them to the Yasuni area as well, because I had never been and I wanted to visit before the oil companies destroy it :-(

I found Sani Lodge after searching on the Internet, along with Napo Wildlife Center and other lodges in the same area, but money and availability made Sani the best option. I was a little worried because I wasn't sure how nice it would be, but I was assured we would have a small group and they were very accommodating with our schedule. And, our tour was SO GOOD.

Our guide, Javier, was one of the best guides I've ever had in Ecuador and maybe ever. He is so knowledgeable about the forest, and his English is great. Edwin, our other guide, is still in training but was also super nice and knowledgeable, but only spoke Spanish so that would be limiting for some tourists. The visit to the Sarayaku community was nice, but it's not really the community you're visiting, but a sort of communal zone with a medical building, schools, soccer field, etc so people aren't there all the time. All of the community members live very spread out and it takes hours for some to walk to the communal area. But you still have the opportunity for a traditional lunch, artesanias and seeing the garden.

The rooms, which most are individual cabins, are really nice. We had hot water in the bathroom actually, but I would say that maybe it's not necessary. The whole hotel was really nice and clean and the staff was very friendly. The food was also really good, especially breakfast. The only sad thing was that you can't swim in the lake because of the caimanes, and it would be nice to have a hammock outside of the rooms.

Also, we had paid $200 extra so the four of us could take the canoe back to Coca on a different day than scheduled, but were told that if there were more than 6 or 7 people (I can't remember) we wouldn't have to pay extra, and that's what happened. It was easy to get a refund from their Quito office, which is not always the case in this country.

We only had 5 days for our tour (really only 3 full days), and I would say if you're coming all the way to Yasuni, spend as much time as you can there. If possible, try to go kayaking, I think you will see a lot of animals that way, even more than we saw. And go to the parrot salt lick for sure!

All in all an amazing trip! Definitely would recommend this tour to everyone who comes to visit.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank chrisf29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2013

This was my second trip to Sani and it was just as wonderful. I went with a middle school class. The guides are wonderful and the kids all had a blast!!!!!! The staff go above and beyond to make your stay a pleasant one. Food was wonderful, the cabins comfortable, our guides and naturalists never let us down. If the guides and naturalists can keep about 30 8th graders safe rest assured you are in good hands! the activities were fun, community day AMAZING. I can't say enough about Sani and can't wait to go back next year

Room Tip: who needs a fitness center with all of the walking you do:)
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Nancy T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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