A world of wildlife

Encounter the creatures that prowl through your dreams


Perhaps the greatest pull of the Amazon is its wildlife, the opportunity to encounter those strange and exotic creatures prowling through your dreams.

The species


All around Sacha Lodge, diversity of species is extraordinarily high. Monkeys are seen quite frequently, but how many of the eight species found here will cross your path?

They range in size from the tiny half-pound pygmy marmoset to the cacophonous 17-pound red howler monkey. Night monkeys huddle in groups as small as two while squirrel monkeys can travel in groups of more than 150. Besides monkeys, there may be as many as 60 other species of mammals within our Reserve (not including up to 50 species of bats). With your eyes peeled you might spot an anteater, a three-toed sloth, or even an ocelot as you infiltrate their natural habitat.
A variety of lizards and snakes can also be found along our trails, if you move quietly and stay alert. 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 and camouflaged leaf frogs to tiny colourful poison-dart frogs. So watch your step, day or night.

And then, of course, there are birds. When night falls a new world opens up, where the nocturnal spectacled caimans are rulers of the black lake and giant insects the aristocracy of the jungle.

In recent years Sacha Lodge has become a favourite destination of both professional and amateur ornithologists.

Of the incredible 1,600 bird species registered in EcuadoThis 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 four or five 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 colourful 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. Our guides will carry telescopes along to bring your birdwatching experience close-up, and be sure to keep your binoculars handy at all times!r, 587 (37 percent) have been seen at Sacha Lodge. That’s almost 7 percent of the species found in the entire world.

Conservation


Since its foundation in 1992, Sacha Lodge has proven that it is possible to sustain a healthy balance between economic development, rainforest conservation, local human advancement and respect to local culture. We pride ourselves on maintaining this social and ecological responsibility, which is the basis of true Ecotourism.

In 2017 we began a collaboration with the University of San Francisco in Quito and Manchester University in the United Kingdom in a project observing the behaviour of pygmy marmosets, a species of tiny monkeys that feed off sap by making tiny holes in trees, now endangered by deforestation and poachers stealing them as pets.

Sacha Lodge is an Ecuadorian company that generates employment for over 60 families who form a part of our team.

Most Lodge employees come from local communities (the few exceptions being the administrator, chef and bilingual guides), making Sacha the largest tourism-sector employer in Ecuador’s Amazon region. This not only brings direct economic benefits to these communities, but also provides them with a practical alternative to harmful activities such as logging and oil exploration. In addition, having employees work as native guides offers them the opportunity to share their ancestral knowledge with others plus an incentive to continue passing it on to their children in a changing world.
Since 1995 Sacha has also invested heavily in acquiring land from neighbouring colonists. Not to be confused with rainforest natives, these colonists came from cities and would have relied on heavy farming and hunting to survive. Thanks to such efforts, we have saved over 5,000 acres from deforestation and are now the largest private reserve in the Ecuadorian rainforest.
It’s no accident that the animals in the Reserve and around the Lodge are so plentiful and unafraid of humans – the land is protected by a team of guards, who prevent poachers from entering.
As is fitting for a Lodge that thrives on the conservation of the environment, Sacha Lodge strives to make its practices as eco-friendly as possible, issuing guests with reusable water bottles and separating its waste, sending it inland to be recycled.
Through our efforts, we hope to help ensure that future generations of both natives and visitors have the opportunity to continue enjoying the wonders of the tropical rainforest.

Community Encounters


In a world so removed from our own understanding it is difficult to comprehend that human beings could thrive in the Amazon, yet for centuries communities have done just that, in harmony with nature.

However, with deforestation, oil exploration and modern pressures threatening their way of life, some of these groups have turned to eco-tourism as a means of sustainable income.

Our visit takes us to Shipati Warmi project, an initiative run by and benefiting the women of the Providencia community of Yasuní, giving them emotional and financial empowerment.

On the site of the project, a short ride from the Lodge in motorized canoe along the Napo River, are a series of buildings constructed in the traditional Huaorani style: a high, pointed thatched roof on top of an open wooden structure on stilts. Although no one from the community lives here, this very architecture is replicated in the contemporary homes of families across the region. In fact, when modern concrete buildings were introduced for schools, they were soon abandoned in favour of the customary version: far superior in keeping cool, dry and bug-free.
Through an unobtrusive dialogue, we learn about the women’s day-to-day lives: how they dry clothes in the jungle, the challenges of getting to school, and the crops they grow to sell.
Then there’s the food and drink: chicha, a drink prepared with yucca, a kind of potato, fermented until it becomes sweet and alcoholic; fish wrapped in a leaf and steamed on the open fire; and even bugs grilled to a crisp.
We learn about their traditional hunting techniques – the intrepid can try their hand at the devilishly difficult blow gun.

Another side of the project is the turtle rescue program. The community members collect eggs that others may steal or destroy, and even swap them for chickens, and protect and hatch them onsite. Visitors then have the chance to adopt and name a baby turtle and release it into the wild. An intimate, unique experience, the Shipati Warmi project allows us to discover both the differences and similarities between our own and another culture. The Shipati Warmi project asks that each guest donates $5.

Our History


Sacha Lodge (“Sacha” is the Quechua Indian word meaning “forest”) was dreamt up by founder Arnold Ammeter, or ‚”Benny” as he is more commonly known. Born in Interlaken, Switzerland, Benny boarded a ship and headed for Chile in 1963. After spending only three months there, his thirst for adventure and the forests of South America had been awakened.

After a short time in Chile he decided to set off for Bolivia, where he remained until 1967. Later, his travels took him further North into Peru, where he worked in the gold business. Towards the end of 1979 Benny packed his bags and this time headed for Ecuador, where he still lives today. Here, he once again worked with gold, but also began distributing Coca Cola to isolated communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon along the Napo River.

In 1985, Benny opened his first tourist lodge, La Casa del Suizo, on the Upper Napo at the village of Ahuano.

As civilization slowly approached Ahuano, Benny, who was captivated by the wilderness, decided to search for a location to construct a lodge deeper in the forest. By 1989, his search had taken him through the entire Ecuadorian Amazon region, more commonly known as “El Oriente.” He visited Huaorani Indian territory, the Yasuní National Park and the Aguarico River region. While he liked many of the sights he visited, he found that they weren’ suitable for his vision of a rainforest lodge, as all of the land was government owned. One day after leaving Pañacocha (located two hours downstream from Sacha Lodge) he stopped to speak with one of the locals living on the bank of the lower Napo. Benny spoke of his dream and the man told him that he knew of the perfect place for a lodge. Together they hiked through a swamp, along the trail that would soon become Sacha’s present day boardwalk (“El Anden”), and arrived at an isolated lagoon. Benny immediately fell in love with this lake, called Pilchicocha, and decided that it was the site he had been looking for. He then met with ten local landowners in nearby Coca, and purchased 500 hectares of their properties surrounding Pilchicocha. In October of 1991, 170 employees began construction of Sacha Lodge and its famous wooden tower (“La Torre”).

Six months later, the initial construction of Sacha was complete. In April of 1992, Sacha Lodge was officially opened with six guest rooms, a dining room, and housing for guides and other staff. During the first six months, Benny lived at and managed the lodge himself.
As time went on Benny continued to improve the facilities while purchasing more land around the lodge, and to date he has incredibly acquired 5,000 acres. This beautiful property offers a safe refuge for a tremendous variety of plants and animals native to the Ecuadorian Amazon, and a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience them for themselves.