Unless you’re more inclined to opt for a luxury river cruise, the best way to explore the steamy sights of the Amazon is to check in to a specially designed jungle lodge. In these opulent retreats, guests can kick back in comfort before joining their elite jungle guide for a real-life demonstration of the most biodiverse region on earth. Here are some of the best options throughout the entire rainforest.
As one of the few lodges permitted to operate within Bolivia’s pristine Madidi National Park, this indigenous Quechua-Tacana community-run project is famous for providing the most immersive jungle experience in the country. Aside from daily canoe excursions to spot caimans, turtles, river dolphins and a stunning array of bird life, Chalalan’s expert staff are adept at explaining the medicinal qualities of the native fauna. Have you seen the new film Jungle starring Daniel Radcliffe? It’s protagonist, Yossi, is the real-life founder of the lodge.
Refugio Amazonas, Peru
Located some three and a half hours upriver from Puerto Maldonado on the edge of the Tambopata Nature Reserve, Refugio Amazonas offers a high level of luxury amidst an array of exotic flora and fauna. Particularly popular with families, kids love exploring the jungle through a treasure hunt while mum and dad can sink a few at the bar or indulge in a massage at their onsite spa.
Tambopata Research Center, Peru
Deep in the jungle downriver from Refugio Amazonas lies the more serious Tambopata Research Center, a must for true wildlife aficionados. Although it may not have as many creature comforts as the above option, it happens to reside just a short distance away from one of the biggest clay licks in the Amazon. Here, an abundance of birds – most notably the Macaw – feast on the mineral-rich clay deposit in a spectacular and colorful display.
Yachana Lodge, Ecuador
For the sweet-tooth among us, there is no better Amazon jungle experience than Ecuador’s Yachana Lodge. Aside from typical excursions like swimming with river dolphins and hiking to hidden waterfalls, guests can visit the nearby cocoa fields to learn how the gourmet Yachana brand is made; from planting the seeds to the final production process. Best of both worlds, really.
Sani Lodge, Ecuador
Built alongside a pristine lake near the Cuyabeno Reserve, this wildlife-rich region is a paradise for bird-watchers thanks to some 500 species that inhabit the area. At least 100 of these can typically be ticked off on any given stay, more than any other resort in the entire Amazon. Aside from our colorful feathered friends, there are giant otter and turtles to spot, as well as an insightful cultural excursion which allows for interaction with indigenous Amazonian locals.
Cristalino Lodge, Brazil
Cristalino Lodge offers beds with full-board and all activities for US$480 per person per night. Birds and butterflies are the main attraction here, best viewed from one of their two observation towers. Guests can also enjoy sightings of capybaras, agoutis, and for the lucky, maybe even a jaguar.
Amazonat Jungle Lodge, Brazil
Situated in the middle of a huge private reserve, the Amazonat Jungle Lodge is one of the more accessible Amazon lodges, being just a two hour drive from Manaus. But that’s about the only thing that’s easy in Amazonat, as this lodge specializes in grueling jungle survival courses deep into the unforgiving depths of the rainforest.
Amazonat Jungle Lodge, Pedreiras, Itacoatiara, Brazil +55 92 3238-1183