With sustainable tourism becoming more popular and more necessary than ever before to further ensure our place on this planet, Ecuador is more than prepared to rise to the occasion with some of the world’s best eco-lodges. Ecuador is one of the eight South American countries containing the great Amazon rainforest, in addition to the fascinating micro-climates layered between the Amazon and Andes Mountains, such as the captivating cloud forest.
Before we dive into six of the most exciting and innovative eco-lodges in Ecuador’s jungle, we should ask, what exactly is an eco-lodge, and why should you consider staying in one? An eco-lodge is a type of tourist lodging that adheres to the following three principles as laid out by architect Hitesh Mehta, a founding member of the International Tourism Society.
An eco-lodge must 1) benefit the local residents, 2) exist in a natural environment, 3) create awareness, and provide education to both staff and visitors to foster and protect a healthy ecosystem. Since Mehta’s original guidelines in 1999, many other addendums have been added to what can be considered an eco-lodge. By choosing to stay in an eco-lodge, you are directly contributing to the long-term care of local habitats and the sustainable development of the local economy and welfare.
What are the top amazon jungle lodges in Ecuador?
1. Mashpi Lodge
The Mashpi luxury eco-lodge is located in the heart of the Mashpi Reserve, a shockingly short trip from Quito, given the dramatic change in landscape. Less than a three hours’ drive from Ecuador’s bustling capital in the Andes Mountains, you will find Mashpi lodge in the Choco primary cloud forest. This world-renowned lodge is thoroughly committed to preserving and educating about this incredible pocket of biodiversity.
The Mashpi Lodge design was created as an integral part of its natural surroundings to not disturb the various ecosystems here. The panoramic windows in every room give you the most intimate glimpse into the homes of monkeys, peccaries, ocelots, pumas, and over 500 bird species, 36 of which are endemic to the Mashpi Reserve.
Something else worth noting is that 75% of Mashpi lodge employees are originally from this area in Ecuador, which ensures most of the proceeds go back into the community.
2. Napo Wildlife Center
One of Ecuador’s most coveted Amazon lodges, hands down, is the Napo Wildlife Center. You will find the Napo Wildlife Center in the astounding Yasuní National Park, covering almost 2.5 million acres of the Amazon Rainforest. The eco-lodge itself borders a jungle lake teeming with life and was built using entirely environmentally friendly infrastructure. And with a 40-person capacity, they are conscientious not to stress the local ecosystem in any way.
The Napo Wildlife Center also upholds a 100% sustainable and community-based business model, collaborating directly with the local Kichwa Añangu community. All of their proceeds are channeled back into local, sustainable projects highlighting renewable energy, health care, and education. And the best part? You can get there on a quick 25-minute flight from Quito.
3. Sacha Lodge
If you love butterflies, this is the eco-lodge for you! Sacha Lodge, another eco-lodge destination, is home to one of the largest butterfly farms in Ecuador. A quick boat ride up the Napo River, and you will arrive at the 5,000-acre Sacha Lodge bio reserve. The lodge’s Swiss founder was captivated with the Napo River in all its glory in the 1970s and has been a pioneer in conserving this corner of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
The minimalist room design ultimately aims to blend in with the lodge’s natural surroundings without sacrificing comfort in any way. And the lounge area is a covered stationary raft right on the Pilchicocha Lake, home to caiman, giant river otters, hundreds of birds. Even when you are not on their fascinating excursions into the forest, you can’t help but feel you are part of the forest.
4. Kapawi Ecolodge
From its beginning in 1993, the Kapawi Ecolodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon embarked on a unique partnership with the Achuar Nation to work collaboratively in a new eco-tourism project. And since 2008, the entire enterprise is now in the hands of the Achuar. This eco-lodge has immensely impacted the local Achuar communities in Kapawi, and primarily the Achuar children’s education. They are making history, and every guest who visits them contributes to their sustainable, award-winning legacy.
The lodge itself was built using Achuar architecture and expert craftsmanship, and every aspect of this lodging experience comes back to the Achuar way of living: being one with the forest. There are no set itineraries so that each and every guest can design their own combination of activities with their expert Achuar guide.
5. La Selva Amazon Ecolodge & Spa
Also located within the Yasuní National Bioreserve, La Selva Amazon Ecolodge & Spa claims the title of Ecuador’s first Amazon lodges. La Selva is located on Lake Garzacocha and includes a unique spa and wellness center, where you can book treatments designed to enhance your connection with nature.
The work to transform La Selva into the sustainable enterprise it is today began in 2002, refurbishing the infrastructure with eco-friendly materials such as high-strength steel and cultivated bamboo. And they are currently undergoing renovations to make the lodge a 100% fossil fuel-free environment. Their commitment to social sustainability is just as strong, working closely with the neighboring Pilchi community.
6. Sani Lodge
This final award-winning eco-lodge in the Peruvian Amazon is another example of a tourist enterprise that is entirely run and owned by an indigenous community, the Kichwa. The Sani Isla, also within the Yasuní National Bioreserve, is featured on the Green Destination Committee’s 100 Best Sustainable Destinations from 2019; and the primary rainforest here is incredibly protected with low-impact trails.
The Sani Lodge is also involved in supporting local education, healthcare, and cultural projects. A prime example of this social involvement is their partnership with the Sani Warmi program. Sani Warmi specifically empowers local women, providing equal access to economic freedom and jobs.
Suppose you are already thinking of visiting Ecuador to experience and explore the Galapagos Islands, the world’s most biodiverse archipelago. Why not consider adding an extra couple of days to experience an Ecuador jungle lodge? Contact us today with more information on how to incorporate one of these award-winning eco-lodges into your bespoke journey to Ecuador and become part of the sustainable tourism revolution!