Favorite Amazon Lodges
Mystical, unique and larger than life, there are few places in the world as captivating as the Amazon. Covering more than 2 million square miles in South America and spanning nine countries, the Amazon tropical rainforest is the largest and most biodiverse of its kind in the world. In fact, it’s estimated that at least 10 percent of the world’s species can be found here, but perhaps as many as 30 percent. And, that’s just the rainforest!
The larger Amazon River Basin is roughly the size of the lower 48 U.S. states and, although it often is discussed as one cohesive ecosystem, it actually is incredibly variable with highly complex and diverse rainforest networks, as well as savannas, flooded forests, seasonal forests and even deciduous forests situated around the world’s second longest and most voluminous river— the mighty Amazon.
This river system, with more than 1,000 tributaries, is the lifeblood of the basin, but the whole fragile and interdependent ecosystem has been threatened for years due to deforestation and global climate change. Fortunately, the rate of deforestation has slowed and many Amazon lodges have joined the fight to preserve this spectacular region, which scientists believe has existed more than 55 million years. But, it’s still never too soon to experience this idiosyncratic and beguiling destination.
Each one of our ten favorite Amazon lodges (in no particular order but grouped by country) will give you an eco-friendly immersive experience that will get you up close and personal with many of the basin’s nearly 65,000 species before sending you back stateside with stories to tell and memories to share.
Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Peru
Inspired by native Amazonian design, the 35 private thatch roof cabanas of Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica exude a rustic elegance combining natural materials with modern amenities. Although the cabanas are certainly some of the most distinctive in the Peruvian Amazon, with screened porches, hammocks, tropical ceiling fans, low-impact electricity, warm water showers, organic bath products and robes and slippers, it is the personalized service and naturalist guide expertise that make this property shine. You’ll start your trip meeting with hotel staff to develop your custom itinerary based on interests, activity level, weather and length of stay.
Hacienda Concepcion by Inkaterra, Peru
Nestled within walking distance of Lake Sandoval, Hacienda Concepcion is one of the more recent Inkaterra properties in the Peruvian Amazon. In this relaxing rustic chic wilderness, guests will find 19 cabanas featuring 100 percent cotton sheets, bathrooms with hot water, natural essence toiletries, sitting areas, ceiling fans and either forest or lake views. Like its sister properties, Hacienda Concepcion is known for its wide array of family-oriented excursions surrounded by teeming wildlife and tropical plants. It begins with a 25 minute scenic boat ride down the pristine Madre de Dios River to this remote and wonderful property.
Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, Brazil
Named for the world’s largest fresh water archipelago, the Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge offers up the perfect balance between international class comfort and a sustainable Amazonian adventure. Here, on the banks of the black water Rio Negro, guests will find a vast stretch of untouched rainforest full of excitement and wonder, yet remarkably mosquito free. Anavilhanas is an intimate and exclusive affair with only 16 cottages, four superior bungalows and two panoramic bungalows offering spectacular views of the surrounding forest and Anavilhanas National Park. Whether you’re looking for pink river dolphins, a nocturnal hike through the jungle or just some early morning contemplation, you’ll find it here.
Cristalino Lodge, Brazil
Situated at 1,000-1,500 feet above sea level in southern Brazil and accessible only via the River Cristalino, this ecolodge has been named one of the Top 25 Ecolodges in the World by National Geographic and is truly unique to the Amazon. The accommodations are designed in a way that brings the outside in, allowing visitors here to really commune with nature. And this part of the Amazon has some very unique natural characteristics. Not only are there several species found only here, but this location is one of the few where rivers don’t generally flood the forest, creating a space for evergreen forests with tall, old growth trees you don’t want to miss.
Juma Lodge, Brazil
Constructed on treetop-level stilts roughly 60 miles southeast of Manaus, the eco-friendly Juma Lodge is nestled into the lush igapo of the rainforest. Here, guests will find 20 cozy bungalows handcrafted in the native style and reflecting a reverence for nature. Rustic yet beautiful, Juma Lodge boasts a minimalist footprint, authentic local flair and a simple elegance sure to please any adventurous yet refined traveler. All bungalows have porches with hammocks, private bathrooms and ceiling fans. Plus, getting there is part of the fun, as you stop to see the “meeting of the waters” at the confluence of the black water Rio Negro and sandy upper Amazon.
Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, Ecuador
Considered by many to be the first luxury lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Napo Wildlife Center was conceived and constructed by the indigenous Anangu Community with support from national and international organizations. Situated on the banks of Anangucocha Lake in the heart of Yasuni National Park, Napo is a fine example of community-based tourism, protecting 82 square miles of rainforest and providing a way for the community to support itself. Cabins are clean, comfortable and spacious and include private baths with hot water, private balconies, solar electricity and more, but it is the excursions led by native Anangu guides that are unmatched in this part of the world.
La Selva Amazon Ecolodge & Spa, Ecuador
Renovated in early 2013, the La Selva Amazon Ecolodge & Spa, today, offers 19 luxuriously appointed suites with views of Lake Garzacocha on the border of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve and Yasuni National Park. Each of the newly restored open-air suites boasts environmentally-friendly construction, exclusive rainforest showers, luxury bed linens and private balconies that provide a great vantage point to observe wildlife in what some say is the most biologically rich area of the Amazon. When you’re ready to venture out from your spacious suite, native naturalist guides will be waiting to take you on up-close wildlife encounters, as well as canoe rides, jungle expeditions and night excursions.
Sacha Lodge, Ecuador
Hidden away on the largest private reserve in the Ecuadorian rainforest, Sacha Lodge enjoys 5,000 acres of pristine rainforest, much of which has been reclaimed from colonists and saved from deforestation. The adventure begins as you leave Coca en route to Sacha— a journey that will take you on a two-hour motorized canoe ride, a short trek through the jungle on a raised boardwalk and a dug out canoe ride across the black water Pilchicocha lake to arrive at your destination. But, don’t worry, the Sacha staff is there to help you the whole way. Once on-site and settled into your traditional thatch roof cottage, head out to enjoy the rainforest ambiance with one of the numerous native naturalist guides.
Chalalan Ecolodge, Bolivia
In the heart of Madidi National Park on the banks of the remote Chalalan Lagoon lies an otherworldly ecolodge that is the result of a local’s dream come true. Here, the jungle is your host and the staff is your guide to an incredible story fueled by magic and allure. The simple yet elegant lodge was built with local materials in the traditional style of the native communities. Outside, the luxury cabins with private baths are surrounded by virgin forest of incomparable beauty, and guests can enjoy them from verandas with hammocks or on a number of excursions guided by local Uchupiamonas. The trek to get here is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it!
Calanoa Jungle Lodge, Colombia
More than merely a jungle lodge, Calanoa also is a 125-acre conservation project focused on sustainable rainforest living. This private natural reserve is located near Amacayacu Natural Park on the banks of the Amazon River. At Calanoa, everything is done in partnership with the surrounding indigenous villages and their people, including the initial planning and construction of the lodge. A place to encounter authentic native art, design, architecture and science, Calanoa provides simple, yet well appointed, open air cabins with a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor and a loft above. They’re fully covered with mosquito screens and connected to the main social pavilion and observation platform by a board path.
*Originally published on Journeys.