So you’re thinking about staying at an Amazonian lodge, are you? Good for you! It will be a fantastic experience and an adventure….assuming you carefully consider at which lodge you’d like to stay. There are quite a few lodges within the Amazon so it can be a difficult choice to make. Here are a few things you should think about when doing your research and final selection.
Remember, it’s the Amazon
It can be alarmingly easy to get caught up in the excitement of adventure and exploration. This can be a good thing as it pushes you to try things outside your normal comfort zone. But it can also blind you from remembering what you can actually tolerate. Remember, this place is hot, humid, and full of creepy crawlies. If you’re not sure if you will like it there, go for a couple days so you get a taste of it. If you’re certain you want the adventure, go for at least four days.
How do you plan to get to the lodge?
Make sure that your lodge includes transportation in the overall price. Also double check ahead of time with the main office if they include picking you up and/or taking you back to the airport. Could save yourself some money that way!
Party time? Quiet time?
Simply put, we wanted a place that was quiet. No party lodge. As such, we researched lodges further away from Iquitos. The logic was that those who would spend the extra amount of time and effort required getting to a lodge, were less likely to be party-type folks. And it was true – a basic check of sites like Trip Advisor show that the lodges deeper into the rainforest tend to be less busy and have less of a party atmosphere. Lodges closer to Iquitos sound more like hostels, to me.
What will the space be like at the lodge?
We’re both fairly private people so having private space was important to us. If it is important to you as well, look for lodges that have standalone rooms. Also check to see if your room has private outdoor space such as a deck with hammocks. But for times where you want to socialize, don’t forget to see what the common areas are like. For example, are there common lounging areas or a pool?
Location, location, location
As mentioned, location is important to factor in when deciding if you want a quieter lodge experience or more of a social atmosphere. But don’t forget to consider the lodge’s actual surroundings. Would your room have a view of some sort? Are the rooms on the ground or up in trees? Is the lodge it deep in the jungle or on the water? If on the water, is it on the Amazon itself or on a tributary (this determines the amount of water traffic going by – the former can have a lot).
It is important to note that location also plays a huge factor in what animals you may be able to see. If the lodge is closer to Iquitos, the less likely you’ll see animals in their natural habitat. The further away from Iquitos, the likelihood increases dramatically.
You’re going to be at a lodge for at least a couple of days so you want to ensure that food is included in the price. Are they flexible about what they serve? For example, I have a fresh pork allergy so I needed to make sure our lodge choice would take that into consideration. If soda and/or alcoholic drinks are important to you, find out in advance what they charge for it as it generally is not included in the price.
Ensure that you pay close attention to the activities offered by lodges. Are there ample opportunities to see wildlife in the rainforest or is it visiting animals in captivity? Does the lodge provide you with the necessary rubber boots to tromp about in the rainforest? How much downtime a day do you have? Are there activities available at the lodge for your downtime (i.e. stand-up paddle boards, board games, etc)? Will there be visits to a local village and if yes, what is the exact relationship between the lodge and the village?
One thing to remember is that looking for animals in the wild tends to be by boat. Each trip generally lasts two to three hours, twice a day. If the experience of being out there is not enough to outweigh that amount of time sitting exposed to the elements, you may want to factor that into your decision.
The lodge that we ended up choosing was Muyuna Lodge. Ultimately, we loved that it was located three hours up the Amazon River from Iquitos. This promised to give us an ‘authentic’ experience. Muyuna also promised to be a quiet, small, and fairly isolated lodge. And it was, excluding the small village of San Juan de Yanayacu that was nearby. Fun fact – a number of people who work for Muyuna Lodge, live in this village. This enables a symbiotic relationship based on ecotourism.
Muyuna’s location meant that we had great success in seeing seasonal birds and animals. We saw a several species of monkeys, tons of birds, many sloths, dolphins (both pink and grey), and a caiman. The lodge provides each guest party with their own little cottage complete with en-suite bathroom and terrace with hammocks. It was a very comfortable room, almost luxurious considering where we were. What I also liked about the lodge was its commitment to being environmentally friendly; they do things such as no hot water (why would you need it anyway) and no electrical fans.
My sister says: It doesn’t matter which [lodge] you choose, you will still get bitten and small bugs will fall into your bed.