Strolling Through The Jungle

We’re not big on guided tours for a number of reasons, but we were invited to join some friends on a South American packaged tour* that seemed a good value. It included a number of destinations that we were interested in and maybe one or two we would have never considered. One of those was a stay at an Amazon Jungle Eco Lodge. Visits to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos were still on our bucket list so we quickly agreed.

Visiting An Amazon Jungle Eco Lodge

After two days spent visiting Quito, Ecuador it was time for our group to head out to Suchi Pakari (Suchipakari) Eco Lodge near the town of Tena in the Amazon rain forest. This part of the trip had us on a tour bus climbing up from the central Ecuadoran Andes city of Quito heading east. From the cities 9,300 feet we climbed up to 13,000 feet as we headed to our destination in the rain forest. With a few city traffic delays getting out of Quito we soon picked up a good highway for the first hour of the trip. As we began to descend the eastern slopes the road often dropped to two lanes with numerous switchbacks and curves. Heavy trucks often kept our speed below 40 mph and pot holes became increasingly uncomfortable. Numerous bridges seemed questionable regarding the weight of our bus and one two-lane bridge had one lane closed and was being disassembled for repair. It was made of 2.5′ x 4′ steel plates resting on steel girders. Looking through the missing plates there was way to much exposed rust on those support beams. The bus ride ended up being a seven and a half hour drive with us arriving at the lodge just at dinner time.

Suchipakari Eco Lodge

The lodge was located a few miles down a dirt road and was composed of about a dozen buildings that included guest rooms (mostly four units to a building) covered patios for the restaurant and bar, a spa and a swimming pool. The buildings are well maintained, the staff is welcoming, helpful and friendly and the grounds are beautiful with lots of flowering bushes.

The lodge offers a number of excursions around the local area including a wildlife rescue center, kayaking, chocolate making and guided nature walks in the nearby primary jungle (boots are provided). Included are three meals a day but with limited selections. The rooms have no air conditioning but with a fan the nights were actually pretty comfortable. The bar and dining areas are outdoors on thatched-roof patios.

We were told that there are a number of similar eco-lodges around the wider area similar in make up and operation and are often included as part of the various organized regional package tours. As we were leaving a National Geographic tour group was arriving.

In my opinion the three day experience wasn’t worth the fifteen hours on a bus going and coming back. My wife and our travel companions however found the experience interesting and worthwhile. Let’s call this a recommendation with a caution…

*The packaged tour we selected with our friends was through Exoticca and included Machu Picchu, a couple of days each in 2 cities in Peru, 2 cities in Ecuador, 3 nights on San Cristobal, Galapagos and the eco-lodge at a really good price. More on Exoticca, our experiences and online reviews in a later article.

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