Sani Lodge is set on the banks of the beguiling Challuacocha black water lagoon around which sit ten traditionally thatched cabins. They are comfortably appointed, and all have private bathrooms, solar powered electric lighting, private decks or balconies and are all screened against insects. The comfortable open-air lounge bar and dining room look out over the lagoon and make for an agreeable perch from which to watch the impressive birds and other wildlife that visits the lake.
Founded, owned and run entirely by the local Kichwa community of Sani Isla, the lodge is a fine example of eco-tourism at its best. Profits are either reinvested in the lodge or used to fund a number of additional projects that help the community manage the difficult balance between the impact of the modern world while maintaining the culture and traditions of their past. These include an education and scholarship program, a women’s project that develops the production of fine handicrafts for sale at the lodge and further afield, and a cacao project that helps the community collectively farm and prepare cacao for the production of chocolate.
As the profits are reinvested in environmental conservation and community development, your visit to Sani Lodge makes a direct contribution to rainforest conservation and to sustaining this inspiring community.
Over 100,000 acres of prime rainforest, spreading over both sides of the Napo River and extending into the Yasuní National Park, make up the Sani territory and is under the community’s guardianship. Yasuní is held to be one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, which makes for excellent wildlife spotting opportunities at Sani Lodge. Primates, including the red howler monkey, squirrel monkey and the tiny pigmy marmoset are regularly spotted, as are black caiman, sloths and collared peccaries. Sightings of more elusive animals, such as tapir, puma, ocelot and the very rare jaguar have been known.
The 37-meter observation tower offers a unique view over the rainforest canopy and affords a great vantage point from which to look out for the 570 or more species of birds that have been recorded at the lodge including the magnificent Harpy eagle.
The extensive network of trails at Sani is explored with both a bi-lingual naturalist guide and a local indigenous guide, who are keen to share with visitors their extensive knowledge and respect for the jungle. From leisurely strolls to adventurous hikes, much will be learned about the flora and fauna including the medicinal benefits of many plants found in the rainforest.
Nighttime trails offer a different perspective by revealing the strange world of nocturnal animals and insects. Valuable also is the interaction with the members of the local Sani Isla community who enjoy sharing their culture and customs such as cuisine and traditional dance with visitors and demonstrating how the lodge plays a vital part in helping maintain a sustainable economy.