Few regions of the world offer so many opportunities to experience the rich world of the rain forest by staying in a jungle lodge. From Mexico’s Yucatan in the north to southern Brazil, rain forest composes a significant proportion of Latin America’s overall landmass, with the vast Amazon Basin alone encompassing eight countries.
Home to more species of plants and animals than any other ecosystem on the planet and home to nearly 30% of the world's species, The Amazon has a rightful place on every traveller’s Bucket List. Brazil, Peru and Ecuador in particular offer a wide choice of Amazon jungle lodges to suit most tastes, whether your primary focus is on the wildlife and ecology or perhaps tribal. While in Central America, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize can boast outstanding jungle lodges.
Deep in the heart of dense primary rainforests, often located on quiet tributaries or black water lakes, these jungle lodges provide a surprisingly comfortable base from which to explore the riches of the jungle flora and fauna. Typically of a modest size, built using locally sourced materials and very much sensitive to its surroundings, these lodges offer the full functionality of a modern hotel, in spite of the challenging environment and remoteness, however the luxury is unashamedly focused on the experience itself, rather than upscale facilities.
Any stay at a jungle lodge begins with a journey, often by river, the natural highways of the rainforest. This is very much part of the whole adventure - leaving the trappings of civilisation behind and plunging ever deeper into a humid world of every shade of green. Once ensconced in your jungle lodge, you quickly settle into the daily rhythm of early starts, guided jungle walks, down time during the heat of the day and then more exploring in the afternoon and evening when many of the jungle inhabitants are on the move.
Woken at dawn by the truly hair raising noise of the resident howler monkey troupe, there’s just time to dress quickly, slug some coffee before heading out with your guide and local spotter who’s sharp eyes and encyclopedic knowledge are essential. Threading your way along paths through the forest, mini lectures take place in situ covering botany, zoology, traditional medicines and many other fascinating topics.
Those arriving at a jungle lodge hoping to see a jaguar or tapir may be disappointed; while they are there chances are slim and expectations need to be realistic. The draw of the jungle and the focus of your stay are much more on understanding the richness of this environment, its biodiversity and how everything interacts.
However, your patience and perseverance will be rewarded with sightings of the rainforests rich birdlife and the smaller primates in particular, both of which are always thrilling to see in their natural setting. Clay licks, where parrots in particular congregate in significant numbers, offer brilliant opportunities for birding, while canopy towers and suspended walkways provide aerial platforms high in the tree canopy to experience the jungle from on high.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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