Since its opening in 1991, Sacha has bought large expanses of pristine land around the Lodge and has so far accumulated a private reserve of 3200-acres of primary rainforest. In order to increase the buffer zone around this area, there are plans to purchase more land in the future. This area is being used exclusively for eco-tourism and scientific investigation:
All guests are led by both a biologist guide and a native guide, and activities are designed to educate guests on rainforest flora, fauna, ecosystems, cultures and their fragile balance. Several ornithologists have used our installations as a research base, and studies are also being done on several species of Lepidoptera at the Lodge's butterfly farm.
Jungle Walkway at Sacha Lodge:
Sacha Lodge's maximum capacity is 40 guests, and this number will not grow. During walks in the forest, groups are kept small (6-8 people) and follow several well-dispersed trails where very few guests pass each week. No motors are used on the Lodge's lakes or creeks, and the building materials necessary for maintenance are brought in from the town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana, located at a distance of 50 miles. Drinking water is treated with filters and heat (rather than chemicals), and plastic garbage and dead batteries are sent out the way visitors come in.
The journey to Sacha Lodge begins in Quito, Ecuador's capital city. From here, a 45-minute flight takes you over the Andes Mountains' majestic snow-covered peaks and down over 8500 feet (2600 meters) into the town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana. Here, a covered motorized canoe will be awaiting you for a 21/2-hour, 50-mile (80-kilometer) trip down the Napo, the largest river in Ecuadorian Amazonia. Along the way, you will feast your eyes upon the numerous shore birds, including herons, kingfishers, spoonbills and ospreys. Upon arrival to Sacha Lodge's 3200-acre (1300-hectare) private reserve, guests will take their first walk along a raised boardwalk through dense flooded palm forest to Pilchicocha lake, a blackwater paradise where dugout canoes (and even paddlers!) await to carry you to the Lodge.
Sacha Lodge takes pride in the international quality of its meals, and the lodge's chefs will be happy to prepare special dishes for vegetarians.
* The lodging at Sacha was carefully designed to offer comfort to the traveler yet preserve the environment and rainforest ambiance.
* Each of the 10 double cabins, with high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces, is constructed with traditional materials and nestles well concealed in the lush surroundings.
* Guests may use free time to enjoy a raised lookout above our bar and lounge, which offers a scenic view of Pilchicocha Lake and excellent opportunities to birdwatch.
* Electricity is provided by a distant, nearly inaudible generator.
* Private, modern bathrooms provide hot showers.
* All cabins are screened against insects and contain two comfortable double beds.
A typical day at Sacha begins at sunrise or earlier, in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest's animals are most active. Each group may decide on its own wake-up and breakfast time, as well as the difficulty and duration of their morning outings. In the afternoon, visits begin at around 3:00 and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins.
Wherever the destination, excursions proceed slowly in order to appreciate the fascinating details that guides point out around you.
Activities are spread out over a wide area and allow visitors to explore several distinct but equally fascinating habitats. Several trails lead through pristine terra firme forest, where 150 foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support. Others follow strategically raised boardwalks in seasonally flooded forests, where walking on the ground would be nearly impossible during most of the year due to groundwater. One trail many choose to follow even leads across fallen tree trunks and a steel cable zip-line through rich swampland!
A favorite activity of guests is to paddle dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, orchids, bromeliads and palm trees thrive. And wherever an outing may lead the possibilities of spotting animals, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the feared ocelot or puma, are endless.
During free time at the lodge, swimming and piranha fishing are also activities not to be missed - but don't worry! Piranhas are scavengers and the guides will prove that swimming is perfectly safe.
For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset - Do you dare search for them?
* Several trails lead through pristine terra firme forest, where 150 foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support.
* Others follow strategically raised boardwalks in seasonally flooded forests, where walking on the ground would be nearly impossible during most of the year due to groundwater.
* One trail many choose to follow even leads across fallen tree trunks and a steel cable zip-line through rich swampland!
* A favorite activity of guests is to paddle dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, bromeliads and palm trees thrive.
* Swimming and piranha fishing are also activities not to be missed... but don't worry! Piranhas are scavengers and the guides will prove that swimming is perfectly safe!
* For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset... Do you dare search for them?
Anyone who has ever planned to visit the rainforest has at least once asked: "What animals will I see there?" There is an incredibly high diversity of species found around Sacha Lodge, and you are sure that to have the opportunity to see many fascinating creatures here. However, the wild is unpredictable and no two visits are ever the same! Monkeys are seen quite frequently, but how many of the 8 species found here will cross your path? They range in size from the tiny half pound pygmy marmoset to the noisy 17 pound red howler monkey, and night monkeys can be found in groups as small as 2 while squirrel monkeys can travel in groups of more than 150. And besides monkeys, there may be as many as 60 other species of mammals within our reserve (not including up to 50 species of bats)! So keep your eyes open, and maybe you'll spot an anteater, a 3-toed sloth, or even an ocelot as you explore their natural habitat.
As for reptiles, be sure take advantage of night activities to look for one of Pilchicocha's resident spectacled caimans. Members of the alligator family, caimans are often seen from canoes out on the lake, and sometimes the babies even come to hide under our dining room! A variety of lizards and snakes can also be found along our trails, if you move quietly and keep your eyes peeled. Several different boas, vine snakes and even the giant anaconda have been seen during many of our excursions. There are a few poisonous snakes as well, but not to worry - they try to stay out of peoples' way and no one has ever been bitten here.
Frogs, on the other hand, are much more common to see, from bulgy-eyed tree frogs to camouflaged leaf frogs to tiny colorful poison-dart frogs. So watch your step, day or night! And then, of course, there are birds.
In recent years Sacha Lodge has become a favorite destination of both professional and amateur ornithologists.
So far there have been an incredible 587 different species of birds found here! This is a staggering number, especially if you consider that approximately 900 species have been registered in the entire continental United States and Canada . In only 4 or 5 days, it is not uncommon for even the most casual birder to see over 250 species here. With only minimal effort you can expect to see dozens of colorful parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, tanagers, hawks and oropendolas, and of course there are plenty of elusive "LBJs" (little brown jobs, of course) to keep the avid bird enthusiasts occupied for days. Your guides will carry telescopes along to bring your birdwatching experience close-up, and be sure to keep your binoculars handy at all times!
One of Sacha Lodge's highlights is the 130-foot (40-meter) observation tower, which allows guests to climb into and above the rainforest canopy for a magnificent view of the surrounding area. From the tower's ample platform it is possible to observe toucans, parrots, and dozens of other colorful bird species in the treetops. With some luck, noisy howler monkeys or the gentle three-toed sloth may also be seen, especially with the aid of a powerful telescope provided by your guides.
The tower may be reached on foot via a half-hour walk through terra firme forest, although no one can miss out on at least a one-way trip to or from the tower along Orchid Creek, Pilchicocha Lake's natural black water runoff to the Napo River. In a dugout canoe guests may follow this winding stream through untamed palm forest for about an hour, a trip that many choose to repeat.
In recent years Sacha Lodge has become a favorite destination of both professional and amateur ornithologists. Over 500 species of birds have been registered in the area, and from the tower platform our bird specialist guides have on several occasions reported seeing over 80 species in a single morning!
Sacha Lodge is home to one of the largest butterfly farms in Ecuador. Designed as a live exhibition conservatory, the Butterfly House is now successfully breeding nearly 40 local butterfly species! Guests will be shown how these beautiful insects are bred and raised, and later be free to wander through "the flying room", where hundreds of colorful butterflies flutter from flower to flower. Transparent glass-wing butterflies, spectacular blue morphs, striking tiger longwings, bright yellow swallowtails and giant nocturnal owl butterflies are only a few of the species you'll encounter here, up close and personal.
Asuni Parrot Lick
At a short distance from Sacha Lodge is Ecuador's most accessible parrot lick, an exposed clay bank where Parrots at clay bank near Sacha Lodge brightly colored parrots of several different species gather in the early morning. In ideal conditions (sunny and dry), the parrots will often perch on and eat the exposed clay. On an ideal morning hundreds of parrots can be seen gathering around this bank between 7:00 and 8:00 for a spectacular show of sound and color.
The lick is located on the edge of Yasuni National Park, which may be reached from Sacha by a one half-hour motorized canoe trip down the Napo River.
Of the incredible 1600 bird species registered in Ecuador , 587 (37%) have been seen at Sacha Lodge. That's almost 7% of the species found in the entire world!
Here are just a few of the highlights that our bird guides have frequently spotted during our programs:
For avid birdwatchers, Sacha Lodge provides bird specialist guides upon request. These guides know the best spots for the hard-to-find species, and can easily identify species by both sight and sound. Oscar Tapuy, a local expert who has been with at Sacha since 1995, estimates 60 species per day (sighted, of course) to be his average tally!
Your guide will lead you through a variety of habitats where mixed flocks are common, and generally begin before sunrise to take full advantage of the morning peak. You may even take a box lunch along if you wish to stay out all day, and return only for dinner before heading out again in search of owls and other nocturnal species. We will keep groups as small as possible (considering 5-6 people ideal), and recommend a minimum of 5 days to cover as much ground as possible. However, stays of a week or more are easily arranged in order to take full advantage of the local diversity!
If ornithology is to be the focus of your trip, please request your bird specialist guide in advance to make sure he is there when you arrive. Sacha Lodge provides each of its bird guides with a telescope to use for the duration of your stay.
The Canopy Walk
A new and much anticipated addition to Sacha's activities is our 940-foot (275-meter) long canopy walkway. At approximately 94 feet (30 meters) above the ground, imagine exploring the rainforest up in the treetops! This sturdy walkway is fixed to the ground by three metal towers for stability, and offers an unbelievable opportunity to spot dozens of animals and epiphytes seldom seen from the ground. Thousands of colorful birds await to be spotted, and with some luck you might even follow along with troops of monkeys as they forage through the forest canopy. Taking a leisurely walk above the trees on this incredible structure, to emerge even higher on the top of the towers surrounded by an endless sea of rainforest, is an experience not to be missed on your Amazon tour.