Indulge in the ultimate luxury South American escape amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Ecuadorian rainforest - home to the world's greatest biodiversity, and some of the most spectacular luxury lodges. Surrounded by lush greenery and teeming with life, these stunning lodges are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and put you deep into the heart of the real Ecuador.
Here you'll find a world unlike any other, where the air is thick with the sweet scent of nature and the sounds of exotic creatures fill the air. Ecuador is home to more than 1,600 bird species - twice as many as in all of North America! In the Ecuadorian Amazon region, toucans, macaws and tanagers soar overhead, painting the sky with their brilliant colours.
Take your Ecuadorian jungle experience to the next level by staying in one of these three incredible luxury lodges - each one a favourite of ours for different reasons. Whether you're looking for a relaxing spa experience, or dream of watching a troop of playful monkeys swinging overhead, the unforgettable experiences on offer at these luxury Ecuadorian lodges will have you never wanting to leave your jungle sanctuary.
Three incredible luxury lodges in Ecuador and why we love them
1. Mashpi Lodge - Best for bird watching, relaxation and easiest to travel to
Mashpi Lodge is every nature lover's fantasy. Set amongst the treetops of Ecuador's magical cloud forest, Mashpi Lodge is the place to see 400 different types of birds, trees, frogs, and endemic species that are unique to this part of the world. The luxurious rooms at Mashpi Lodge feature stunning panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows that immerse you in nature - you'll wake up to the most amazing views of Ecuadorian forest life! Prepare to travel down secret paths, wade through rivers, rise early to see rare birds, or for a truly breathtaking experience you can ride the Dragonfly Canopy Gondola to the top of the world.
Best for bird watching
Mashpi Lodge is perfect for bird lovers. The lodge's own Hummingbird Garden is an outdoor viewing area with numerous well-stocked feeders for hummingbirds and other species and located not far from Mashpi Lodge. The Hummingbird Garden will be one of the highlights of your vacation to Mashpi because of the incredible variety of birds you'll see there as well as the chance to observe some of Mashpi's rarer animal species.
Best for accessibility
Being only about 100km from the city of Quito, Mashpi Lodge is easily accessible with transfers from Quito included. You'll be collected from one of the city’s main hotels and transferred directly to the Lodge. The scenic and comfortable car trip takes around 3.5 - 4.5 hours.
Best for relaxation
The award-winning Spa at Mashpi Lodge is the ideal setting for finding mental peace, providing for your physical needs, and nourishing your soul. The spa offers a variety of massage types, and it also has a sizable open-air hot tub that visitors may use. This hot tub is the ideal place to relax while taking in views of the lush rainforest canopy and the clear blue sky. A large, outdoor yoga terrace next to the hot tub is surrounded by a verdant forest and chirping birds, making it an indisputably perfect location for stretching, meditation, and inner-battery recharging.
"What I love about Mashpi, is their focus and commitment to the environment. The lodge is on the site of a former mill, but now the forest is protected by Mashpi as a private reserve. They have employed biologist to learn and study the unique ecosystem - they have even contributed to the discovery of some new species. So not only do you get to stay in an amazing 5 star luxury lodge, you can be sure in the fact the forest is being protected for the future" - Tara, Viva Operations Manager
Read more about responsible tourism in the Amazon Rainforest here.
2. Sacha Lodge
Imagine traversing a bridge suspended above a rainforest canopy, exploring creeks in search of monkeys and river otters, scaling the highest kapok tree, swimming in a lake of black water, or weaving between trees in search of the tiniest monkey in the world. Only at Sacha Lodge, situated amid the pristine 5,000-acre (2,000-hectare) biological reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon, will you find these unique experiences, along with many more. Getting here is an adventure – unlike the quick car journey to Mashpi Lodge, travelling to Sacha Lodge involves, taking a flight from Quito to Coca, then taking a two-hour motorized canoe ride from Coca, followed by a leisurely walk through the forest on an elevated boardwalk. You’re then taken on a 15-minute paddle up a blackwater canal and across a lake in a dugout canoe.
Best for luxury
The finest level of traveller comfort is offered at Sacha together with environmental protection and a rainforest setting. All of the cabins are built with traditional materials, blending in gently with the lush surroundings, and have high thatched roofs and individual patios with hammocks. The restaurant offers a la carte evening service, bringing fine dining to the wild. Menus are always changing, but they frequently feature the well-known paiche, a meaty white fish from the Amazon region that carries the crucial Green Seal of ethical fishing.
Best variety of activities
Imagine walking across a 94-foot (36-meter) high bridge suspended above the treetops to cross a rainforest. Three metal towers hold this 940-foot (275-meter) long, robust walkway to the ground. It provides an incredible opportunity to view several creatures and epiphytes that are hidden away in the canopy and are rarely visible from the ground. Monkey groups may even let you tag along as they explore through the forest canopy. Howler monkeys howling through the sunset like genuine monarchs of the forest are also something you'll almost likely hear even if you can't see them.
Another highlight is one of Ecuador's biggest butterfly farms that is located at Sacha Lodge. The Butterfly House, which was intended to be a live exhibition conservatory, is currently successfully producing close to 40 different local butterfly species. Visitors can wander into "the flying room," where hundreds of vibrant butterflies flutter from blossom to flower and see how these lovely insects are grown and raised. Only a handful of the species you'll see here up close and personal include transparent glass-wing butterflies, amazing blue variants, startling tiger longwings, vivid yellow swallowtails, and enormous nocturnal owl butterflies.
A fantastic adventure in and of itself, creek paddling in dug-out canoes provides your mode of transportation between trips and has the added benefit of requiring minimal physical effort. The streams are like tunnels leading to hidden worlds, and paddling down them is like entering one. Large groups of monkeys leap from branches above as birds call in surround sound, putting on a display as the sun sets.
3. Napo Lodge
Napo is the perfect lodge for guests that would like to escape the city and dive into the ancestral culture and diverse flora and fauna of the Ecuadorian rainforest. You'll enjoy stunning panoramic views from the many observation decks and common areas created for visitors' leisure time. For the ultimate luxury retreat, Napo Lodge offers four brand-new boutique rooms with a romantic jacuzzi in your ensuite bathroom and a panoramic glass floor in the living area that allows you to walk on water.
Best for Wildlife viewing
The most breathtaking sight to see while you're staying at Napo Lodge are parrot clay licks. These are vast natural mineral deposits that provide food for various animals and birds. This action begins early in the day when a large number of colourful birds stop by the licks. If you are a wildlife lover and want to spend your visit in the outdoors and watching birds and other rare species than this lodge is the one for you since it offers you many different tours with a knowledgeable guide and responsible wildlife viewings.
Best for cultural experience
Learn first hand about the Kichwa A'angu community since the lodge is operated by locals! At the Cultural Center, engaging interactions will introduce you to the local area, ancestors' traditions, traditional rituals, and much more. You will sample their cuisine, take in their music and storytelling, and learn how they go about their daily lives.
Best for getting off the beaten track
Leave city life behind and escape to this eco-community for a life-altering experience you will cherish. Spanning nearly 2.5 million acres of lush Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Napo Wildlife Centre is nestled on a small ridge at the edge of a great jungle lake surrounded by beautiful pristine Amazon rainforest. Designed for nature lovers who want to experience the Amazon’s unique landscapes and observe beautiful wildlife right outside your doorstep. Getting to the lodge is an adventure on its own.
From Quito, fly to the remote town of Coca, from here you can get to the Coca port in about 5 minutes, from where you may board a nice-covered motorboat and go along the Napo River. Arrive at the Napo Wildlife Center's first welcoming area with restrooms around two hours later and after spotting birds along the route. Upon reaching the Napo Wildlife Center's welcome area, you'll change boats and embark on a serene 2-hour dugout-canoe trip through a constrained waterway where motorised vehicles are not permitted. Along the trip, you'll want to keep a look out for hoatzins, rufescent tiger-herons, sungrebes, red-bellied macaws, and green-and-rufous kingfishers, among other species of birds.
Our destination specialist Pia Knarston visited the Napo Wildlife Center and shared her thoughts with us.
"To get to Napo, you get on a long boat in Coca and cruise along the Napo River for ca. 2 hours. It was a short walk to the Napo Cultural Lodge, where we stayed the first night. This is the village of the Kichwa Añangu people who mostly work at Napo.
There is a little school, a medical centre and you visit the local people who live there. The local ladies did a traditional dance for us and then were selling little handmade bracelets, earrings, bags etc. All handmade in the village and help supporting the families. You also do a little walk in the forest and there is a tower from where you have a fantastic view and hear all the birds and monkeys.
The next day we got transferred by boat a bit further up the Napo River and then at the Añangu Boat Stop we changed into a small canoe. Our guide was then paddling us up the Añangu Creek for ca. 2 hours before we arrived at Añangu Lake. The Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge is situated at the edge of the lake in the Yasuni National Park.
I loved the fact that we were in the middle of what felt nowhere but of course is the Ecuadorian Amazon. You are surrounded by lush rainforest, the sound of birds and other screeching animals. The main building consists of a tower you can walk up from where have a great view. We spotted birds, monkeys and even the otters from up there. It’s a very peaceful place where you can enjoy all the sounds and also sunrise and sunsets. Right there were lots of little Golden-mantled Tamarins, it was fun watching them eat pawpaw’s, chasing each other and jumping around trees. So you don’t have to go far to see animals.
The guide was really good and found many animals for us, some of them so tiny we would have missed them, like the Poison Dart Frog. I loved just listening to all the different sounds while we were paddling trough all these water ways .. and then I spotted a sloth. The trip was amazing, peaceful and relaxing.
Napo is different from other resorts, it is operated and owed by the local tribe. All proceeds are reinvested into community projects, like the school, health centre etc which we visited on the first day."