Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. Wildlife, landscape and climate vary greatly, primarily by altitude. Ecuador is also a bird-watchers paradise. Below are some of my favorite Ecuador wildlife lodges.
Only 3 hours from Quito, surrounded by misty cloud forest is National Geographic’s Top Unique Lodge in the world. Mashpi Lodge was once a logging camp and Franklin, my excellent naturalist guide, used to scout trees for logging. He and fellow guides now share their intimate knowledge of the primary and secondary rainforest to protect it. The grounds hold lots of fun and easy adventures such as visiting waterfalls, sky-biking, an observation tower, hiking, night exploration and a butterfly sanctuary. We saw so much nature, including many beautiful exotic birds! The lodge is a bit of a splurge, but the location is priceless and you have the reward of supporting such a great initiative. The lodge is all glass and minimalist – letting nature take center stage. Food is amazing. (I can recommend other wonderful places to experience the cloud forest at various price points.)
Ecuador is also one of the best places to visit the Amazon rain forest as you can easily get to very remote areas. In under an hour you can fly from Quito to Coca and from there board a motorized boat for a 2-hour journey down the Napo River. Great places to stay include the Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge, Sacha Lodge and La Selva Lodge & Spa, all of which offer amazing wildlife experiences and visits to local indigenous communities. You can also cruise the Napo River on the luxury Anakonda boat which takes you a bit more remotely down this major Amazon tributary. Have less time? The Casa del Suizo is less remote, with less wildlife, but has a gorgeous setting and a pool. For serous wildlife, I recommend flying to Coca.
And then there are the Galapagos Islands. Only an hour and a half flight from the mainland, the Galapagos fueled Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and wildlife remain uncannily fearless of humans, enabling amazing up-close experiences on land and in water. Cruising vessels range from small sailboats to larger ships; but in general you will have a very intimate experience with excellent naturalist guides. Contact us to determine the best ship and time to visit for you.
I’d love to share with you my love of this country and insider tips!