By Tim van der Wurf, Marketing Assistant at Latin Frontiers
At the beginning of April, I went to visit Siona Lodge in the Amazon jungle. The lodge is marvelously located at the Big Lagoon in the Cuyabeno Reserve, making a visit a once in a lifetime experience.
The Cuyabeno reserve is one of the options one can visit in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Siona Lodge is the smallest of the lodges in the area, however, the quality of your Amazon experience does not suffer from its small size. To reach the lodge you will take a short flight to Lagro Agrio, where you will be picked up in a van to be transferred to the outskirts of the Cuyabeno reserve. After arriving at the outskirts, you will be to the lodge by boat.
Upon entering the reserve, I was already amazed by the remarkable diversity of the nature around me. The Cuyabeno reserve is located in the primary rainforest and is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Already during the transfer to the lodge I couldn’t help but to feel blessed. Sometimes you hear stories from people talking about the animals they saw during their Amazon trip and I thought I would never be this lucky. Already during the first boat trip I was proven wrong; in fact I was amazed how wrong I was and how many different animals we saw. From monkeys to sloths and from pink dolphins to Macau’s; it felt like walking right into a National Geographic magazine.
Siona Lodge is designed to give its guests everything they need. The cabins at the lodge are divided in two double rooms. The rooms are spacious and each room has a patio with a hammock and a private bathroom. The cabins have space for up to four persons and an extra bed can be added for children. This makes the lodge perfect for families, friends and couples. The main cabin, where you find a lounge area and a dining area, leads to the sunset patio from where you have an amazing view over the lagoon.
The lodge’s location gives you a great insight into the Amazon ecosystem. All the tours are guided by a naturalist, local guide. Our guide´s name was Neiser and we were a group of ten, two American families and one from The Netherlands. Upon arrival at the lodge we were taken to the middle of the lagoon, were we could swim and watch a beautiful sunset. The same evening, Neiser took us for a hike through the forest to observe the nocturnal reptiles and amphibians. Directly after the walk we had a delicious seafood dinner, after which we were ready for bed. The first night in the jungle you a feel a little bit different; the sounds of nature relax your mind and falling asleep becomes a completely different experience.
The next morning breakfast was served at 8:00 am, giving me some time to slowly wake up and get ready for the day. That morning we went for a walk through the jungle, getting to we experience the rainforest up close by daylight. Furthermore, the guide proved to be an unfathomable source of information about the different ecosystems in the Amazon. After this trek we returned to the lodge for a great lunch and had some time of our own before going to the lagoon again. Here we went through the rivers by canoe, trying to spot endemic species.
The third day was the most unique of them all. We went to the local Siona tribe and made ourselves a local lunch. The lady from the tribe taught us how to make Yucca bread and told us about their culture. During our stay at the tribe we also visited the local shaman. He taught us all about what he does and how to became a shaman. Our visit gave me great insight into how daily life is for the contemporary people who live there.
Pink dolphins, toucans, sloths, caimans an anaconda and even a manatee; I was lucky to observe a wide range of animals during my stay. However, one’s luck is dependent on many factors and guarantees cannot be given. Nevertheless, is it highly likely that you will encounter a range of species in Cuyabeno, as it is an area with amazing wildlife. Furthermore, it is very likely that you will have an amazing time at the Siona Lodge, like I did. The lodge has a very friendly and knowledgeable staff, delicious food and a great location. At Siona Lodge you will have a true Amazonian experience with the ability to fully disconnect from daily life.