The Best Jungle Eco-Lodges in Ecuador
Mashpi Lodge is set in its own private reserve comprising rainforest and cloud forest | Courtesy of Mashpi Lodge / Expedia
In Ecuador, rich wildlife – from the elusive jaguar to the freshwater dolphin – meets its match in some incredible eco-friendly places to stay, all bookable with Culture Trip.
In Ecuador’s Amazon, which you can visit as part of Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Ecuador tour, led by our Local Insider, you’ll see the jungle in its untouched state. While small compared to the developments along the Brazilian Amazon, that’s part of the draw. Here, between small river communities just a few hours from the capital city Quito, you’ll find lodges, bungalows and villas hidden among the trees. Read on for our favorite jungle eco-lodges and resorts in Ecuador.
Courtesy of Hamadryade Lodge / Expedia
The churning waters of Ecuador’s High Andes region collide with the thick Amazonian rainforest at Hamadryade Lodge, which makes it the perfect place to go whitewater rafting, tubing and canoeing. The lodge’s five spacious bungalows, decked out with wall-to-wall windows, look out on the crystal-clear pool and river below. They are filled with luxurious details including Italian linen, waterfall showers and hand-woven hammocks. If you want to stay landlocked, check out the Hamadryade’s jungle hikes, visits to the AmaZOOnico animal rescue center, or Ecuadorian cooking classes.
Courtesy of Mashpi Lodge / Expedia
This all-inclusive luxury lodge is set deep amid a private reserve, which is part primary rainforest (meaning it’s practically untouched) and part cloud forest, making it one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. And despite its seemingly remote location, it’s actually not far from Quito, where Mashpi Lodge’s employees will pick you up. Suites are bright and airy and filled with modern touches such as bamboo walls and Philippe Starck’s free-standing tubs. Meanwhile, Mashpi’s restaurant focuses on native Ecuadorian ingredients like wild garlic, chillangua (cilantro) and Andean potato.
Courtesy of Grand Selva Lodge / Expedia
Deep in Ecuador’s Amazon River Reserve, about a four-hour drive from Quito, you’ll find the Grand Selva Lodge in the Yasuní National Park. Raft the river, hike up waterfalls or check out the lodge’s guided tours, where you’ll see unforgettable wildlife like squirrel monkeys, leaf cutter ants and pink toe tarantulas. The ecofriendly resort takes the environment seriously, with an on-site potable water plant and sustainably harvested wood furniture.
Courtesy of Cuyabeno Eco-Lodge / Booking.com
In northeast Ecuador’s Cuyabeno National Park, the Cuyabeno Eco-Lodge sits on the shores of the expansive Laguna Grande, home to neotropical wildlife such as river dolphins, the crocodile-like caiman, and the stinky, prehistoric-looking hoatzin bird. The solar-powered spot offers regular multi-day tours deep into the terra firma forest by canoe, where you’ll spot monkeys, make casabe (a tortilla-like, yuca-based flatbread) and swim in the lake at sunset.
On the north end of Laguna Grande, the Siona Lodge serves as a door to the Cuyabeno National Park. Here, you’ll spot native flora including orchids, bromeliads, and gardenias, and fauna such as toucans, kingfishers, and yellow-spotted Amazon turtles. The cozy, four-cabin lodge, complete with private decks and plenty of mosquito netting, serves as a base camp for four- and five-day tours into the park.
Courtesy of Tapir Lodge / Expedia
The Tapir Lodge, just down the river from Laguna Grande, was designed to respect its surroundings in the Cuyabeno National Park. Architects opted for a vertical design and, as you approach, you will see two towers jutting out among the flooded Igapó rainforest. Solar panels and an eco-friendly river water treatment system score this place extra points. The lodge plans a mix of flexible multi-day trips starting out of Quito, where hiking, canoeing, and camping are among the activities on the itinerary.
La Selva Amazon Eco-Lodge
Courtesy of La Selva Amazon Eco-Lodge / Expedia
La Selva Amazon Eco-Lodge, located on the north bank of the Napo River, is a top-rated destination for those wanting to visit the Yasuni National Park
. Pick from the resort’s 19 spacious suites built of bamboo, where you’ll bathe in a rainforest shower with L’Occitane en Provence products and hang on the patio in your own hammock. Regular activities include yoga retreats, stargazing, and trips across the Napo to watch parrots feed on the riverbank’s clay (the minerals are good for their digestion).
Courtesy of Sacha Lodge / Expedia
Just down the Napo, the Sacha Lodge is hidden on the shores of the blackwater Lake Pilchicocha. As you eat breakfast on the deck, you’ll spot otters diving into the water, monkeys howling in the treetops and caimans peeping their heads out of the cool waters. Each of the Sacha’s 26 rooms has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the jungle below, and some suites have direct views from the shower, too.
The Sani Isla community resides just off the Napo River, making the Sani Lodge the only eco-lodge in Ecuador completely owned and run by the area’s indigenous Kichwa people. Here, you’ll become familiar with Kichwa foods and fables, and visit the Sani Warmi women’s house, where you’ll find crafts for sale made of local vines, seeds, and fibers. Over your several-day stay, you can pick between adventurous activities ranging from adrenaline kayaking to chilled-out bird-watching along the Napo.
Napo Wildlife Center
Get lost along the south banks of the Napo River in the Yasuní National Forest, a vast rainforest stretching for miles. At the Napo Wildlife Center, you overlook the water from your cabin on stilts, but if you want an even better view, head up to the observation deck on top of the resort’s central tower. Explore the waters of Añangu Lake on kayak or canoe, or pick from the center’s photography, birding and adventure tours for a multi-day stay.
Kapawi Eco-Lodge & Reserve
© Andrew Linscott / Alamy Stock Photo
A stone’s throw from the Río Pastaza near the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border, the Kapawi Ecolodge is owned and run by the Achuar indigenous nation. You’ll stay in traditionally built Achuar bungalows, while other on-site huts serve as a meeting place, a dinner spot and a wellness sanctuary. The Kapawi cares for a wetland conservatory at the edge of the property, a launching point for the resort’s canoe trips along four nearby rivers.
This lodge in the shadow of the Sumaco Volcano in the Andean Eastern Foothills was built by birders for birders. More than 500 species have been spotted from the wildlife sanctuary so far, with the list growing every year. You’ll have no other distractions during your stay here: the hotel has no wifi, no swimming pools, and no “organized fun”. That’s because here, it’s birds all day every day. With that said, the hotel insists that plenty of non-birders enjoy the off-the-grid stay just as well!
This is an updated version of an article originally by Angela Drake.
These recommendations were updated on October 13, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.