Review: Sani Lodge in the Amazon

When we decided to go to the Amazon, I knew I wanted to stay in an eco-lodge. I wanted a place that cared about its surroundings because with the Amazon being destroyed at a rate of knots thanks to oil exploration, it was important to me that we stayed somewhere that wasn’t damaging the environment.

Sani Lodge reflections on the lake Double-Barrelled Travel

Sani Lodge casts reflections on the lake

I contacted Sani Lodge after we discovered it’s run by the local Quechua people. The native people were gifted the lodge after allowing an oil company to explore its land for resources. I’m aware that this is a catch-22 situation. The Quechua people probably wouldn’t have been able to build the lodge without the oil company but if the company had discovered oil in the area they could have possibly ruined it with their exploration.

Thankfully this didn’t happen because the oil company didn’t find any resources in the area, so they left the Quechua people, and their newly built lodge, in peace.

Watch our video below for an insight into the Sani Lodge

Location

You really feel like you’re getting to the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon as you make your way to the Sani Lodge. After catching a night bus to the small rural town called Coca, on the outskirts of the Amazon, we were met by our Sani Lodge guide.

She escorted us, and the other couple who’d be on the trip, up the river in a motorised canoe for a more than a two hour journey, just past the entrance to the Yasuni National Park.

We docked the canoe and then walked on a boardwalk for around 15 minutes through the jungle. Next, our guides ushered us into another canoe – not motorised this time – and paddled us up a narrow river through the trees and onto a lake.

Sani Lodge boardwalk Double-Barrelled Travel

The boardwalk through the jungle leading to Sani Lodge

It’s on this lake that the Sani Lodge is housed.

It was such a magical way to reach our lodgings and I can’t ever remember feeling so excited to arrive somewhere as I did then.

As we docked at the Sani Lodge we were greeted with a welcome cocktail before making our way to the bar and lounge area which is open to the elements. The sounds of the jungle were all around us and I truely felt as though we’d stepped into a rainforest paradise.

Sani Lodge lake Double-Barrelled Travel

Arriving, via canoe, at Sani Lodge

Rooms

The rooms were fairly basic but very comfortable. We didn’t have any air-conditioning but I didn’t see this as a problem, rather I enjoyed it.

It cooled down enough in the evenings that you didn’t need air conditioning with the large windows wide open. It gave you a chance to fall asleep with the jungle as a lullaby each night. They have mosquito wire on them so you don’t have to worry. You also have mosquito nets around your bed for further protection.

Our room was in a hut that was built from local materials – wood for the walls and a thatched roof made from palm trees found in the jungle.

The shower didn’t have much hot water but after sweaty hikes through the jungle I didn’t mind.

Sani Lodge traditional thatching Double-Barrelled Travel

Traditional thatching in used for the roofs of the huts / cabins that make up Sani Lodge

Food

The food was simple but delicious. Dave and I weren’t eating any meat except for fish and they easily accommodated us. Each meal for lunch and dinner normally consisted of a soup to start, a main dish of vegetables, meat (or fish) and rice, and then a dessert using fresh fruits found from the local area. One time it was chocolate cake which I’m sure was made from the local cacao.

The packed lunches weren’t as tasty, unfortunately, as they were normally made up of white bread and jam and cheese for us vegetarians. I passed mine to Dave and just ate the snacks which were fruit and biscuits for lunch instead.

Sani Lodge hammock in bar Double-Barrelled Travel

Relaxing in the hammock in the bar at Sani Lodge

Other amenities

There’s a bar that’s open every evening, located in the aforementioned lounge. The drinks are very reasonably priced and Dave was drinking Johnny Walker black label each night for just US$7 a glass which he thought was pretty reasonable!

Surprisingly, Sani Lodge has wi-fi in the bar area which was great for any important emails we had to send while we were there. The lodge turns off the power to preserve the generator fuel at certain times of the day though. Most of these times we were out exploring so we didn’t even notice.

The only amenity missing was a pool! It would’ve been lovely to dip off each evening and rid ourselves briefly from the humidity. We weren’t allowed to swim in the river because of the caimans so a pool would’ve been welcome. But I’m sure building a swimming pool in the middle of the Amazon isn’t the easiest of projects.

Sani Lodge bar Double-Barrelled Travel

The perfect place to work (not that we worked much while we were at Sani Lodge!)

What we liked about Sani Lodge

Your stay at the Sani Lodge is completely guided and they don’t let you go off hiking in the jungle on your own. I think that’s a good thing because it’d be seriously easy to get lost. The great thing about guided walks is that you learn so much about your surroundings and it’s a lot easier to spot animals.

We had two guides for each walk, even though there was only four of us. Our main guide spoke English and the other guide was a local Quechuan who found most of the animals for us. He didn’t speak English but our guide translated easily.

What we didn’t like about Sani Lodge

Our rooms didn’t have keys so we weren’t allowed to lock them. We were told that if we had any valuables we could put them in the hotel safe at reception. I felt very safe at the lodge so this didn’t bother me but it could bother some guests.

Sani Lodge Carmen and Dave  Double-Barrelled Travel

Me and Dave in the canoe

What you need to know:

Cost: A four day and three night stay in a double room costs US$780. This includes accommodation, three meals a day, a native guide, a bilingual guide, rubber boots for the walks, excursions and transportation from Coca’s airport to the lodge and back again. Just be aware that on the fourth day you don’t do anything except head back to Coca early in the morning.

Booking: You can book easily through the Sani Lodge website. They’ll answer any questions you might have via email prior to departure.

Address: In the heart of the Amazon jungle.

Disclosure: Sani Lodge hosted our stay but as always our opinions are our own.

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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