La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat
La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat is located 60 miles from Coca down the Napo River in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. La Selva (“the Jungle” in Spanish) has been in operation for over 25 years and is a highly respected jungle lodge in South America. Thatch-roofed cabanas, each with private bathrooms and hot water, are located one mile from the river on a hillside overlooking a lake.
La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat Review
AdventureSmith Explorations’ La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat review includes a detailed description and photo gallery. Our South America experts have stayed at La Selva Amazon EcoLodge firsthand and can help compare the La Selva Lodge with other adventure lodging and Ecuador land tours.
Choose the La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat if you’re seeking a quiet respite off the beaten path with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities and a focus on sustainability. Highlights of a remodel in 2021 included 12 state-of-the-art eco staterooms and a remodel of the four family and three scenic staterooms, bringing the lodge’s capacity to a total of 50 guests. La Selva Lodge has the largest accommodations of any Ecuador rainforest lodge. In addition, an updated restaurant and bar area provides incredible views of Garzacocha Lake. La Selva Ecuador offers 24-hour electricity and water, powered by solar energy.
Arrival at La Selva Lodge
A stay at La Selva Amazon EcoLodge & Spa is a special experience from the start, combining a flight from Quito, motorized canoe ride, short walk through the jungle and a ride in a non-motorized canoe. Luggage is handled by representatives throughout the journey. In Quito, a representative meets travelers at the airport (or arranges a hotel pick up) to provide boarding passes and make luggage arrangements for the next flight to Coca. Flights to Coca are available every day except Sunday. In Coca, a new representative ushers guests to the dock. A motorized canoe then takes travelers down the Napo River (approximately 2.5 hours). A short jungle walk follows this trip to finally board a paddle canoe to cross Garzacocha Lagoon before arriving at the lodge. Upon arrival to La Selva’s main dock, the staff will help carry luggage (carry-on baggage as well as camera gear will be the guest’s responsibility). A complimentary signature drink and introduction to the bilingual naturalist guide welcomes guests to the lodge.
Common Areas at La Selva Lodge
La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat offers many inviting spaces to relax. The sunny dock features lounge chairs, umbrellas for those who wish to recline and a jumping-off point for swimming and kayaking when a cool down is desired. Special spa treatments are also available as a private experience on the dock. Nature trails flow through the property, connecting cabanas, an open-air spa pavilion, the main lodge and various wildlife viewing areas. The lodge itself overlooks Lake Garzacocha, with open-air seating complete with instruments to watch for wildlife in and around the waters below. The lodge also offers a refurbished dining room with al fresco seating and a fully-stocked bar.
Here is the Observation Deck, offering views from directly above the dining room:
Sustainability at La Selva Lodge
La Selva EcoLodge strives to embody sustainable tourism. By employing members of the local Pilchi community, La Selva has reduced the amount of hunting, fishing and tree cutting that are common professions. New engines with low emissions and less fuel consumption are now used for La Selva Lodge’s boats on the rivers. On Lake Garzacocha the use of any engine is prohibited. The lodge staff aims to purchase 80% of the food served on site from local communities and ensures the majority of products used are natural and fresh from the surrounding area. Structures were consciously constructed using bamboo taken from sustainable plantations nearby. All-natural amenities and biodegradable products are provided for showers and baths, and waste water is cleaned and then conserved in a natural pond.
Dining at La Selva Lodge
The spacious and open dining room and lounge, with panoramic views of Lake Garzacocha, creates an inviting atmosphere. La Selva EcoLodge’s restaurant provides gourmet organic food using local ingredients from its on-site garden, such as herbs, fruits and vegetables. Dishes include exquisite international favorites as well as native flavors. The kitchen specializes in vegetarian and raw food and can accommodate special diets (including vegan, gluten free and kosher) upon request. Friendly bartenders serve guests’ requests and tropical drinks special to La Selva Lodge; all can be enjoyed at the fully-stocked bar overlooking the lake.
Here is the restaurant, lounge and bar on site:
Activities at La Selva Lodge
A variety of self-guided and naturalist-guided hikes by day and night reveal the vast biodiversity of the region. Seek out the thousands of plants and animals that may be within range of the lodge and lagoon, including orchids, ferns, monkeys, caimans, jaguars, turtles, marmosets, frogs and many birds. Kayaks, swimming, self-guided trails and a butterfly garden are also available. An optional visit to the Kichwa community provides the chance to interact with native people and learn about their way of life. La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat also features a guided jungle camping immersion with all equipment included. Guests are provided with a rain poncho and rubber boots for the duration of their stay.
Birdwatching is often a highlight of any stay at La Selva EcoLodge. The lodge is located in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, which has been shown by ornithological studies to contain more species of birds than any other region in Ecuador and more than both the entire USA and Canada combined. Clay licks that draw parrots and other birds create ground-level opportunities to watch birds. The spacious 125-foot rainforest canopy observation tower provides an eye-level view of possible tanagers, parrots, toucans, parakeets, woodpeckers, hoatzins and countless other species. Special birdwatching tours are available.
For rejuvenation, yoga classes on the dock are offered, complete with complimentary mats. La Selva’s Amazon spa offers innovative and traditionally-crafted treatments on-site, tailored to stimulate circulation and increase relaxation. Customized therapies include reflexology, exfoliation, hot stone massage and various types of baths and body massage, including children’s massage. Young visitors can take advantage of the Junior Naturalist Program, with activities like learning to paddle a canoe, practicing non-impactful wilderness travel and learning about rainforest protection practices from community members.
The spa at La Selva EcoLodge:
Community Service at La Selva Lodge
La Selva Amazon Lodge supports local native communities in various ways. The monthly stipend given to the Pilchi community lends support to their schools and community projects, including health care, transportation and sanitary facilities. The lodge staff, comprised of many community members, closely collaborates with locals on management issues like organic farming. La Selva Lodge in Ecuador helped purchase a motorized canoe with a low-emission engine for the local community to use. The nonprofit organization affiliated with La Selva, Fundación Bolivar Education, sends volunteers to the community to aid in conservation projects centered around health care and sanitation, among others. Guests of the lodge can participate in the Pack for a Purpose program, electing to bring and donate various supplies for distribution at the local schools.
Accommodations at La Selva EcoLodge & Retreat
Thatched staterooms offer varying sleeping configurations in a total of 19 staterooms. All staterooms welcome the surrounding rainforest atmosphere while ensuring comfort. Each cozy stateroom has a private bathroom equipped with L’Occitane products and hot showers; electricity; ceiling fans; and mosquito netting for each bed. In efforts to preserve the authentic Amazon experience and bolster conservation, staterooms are not air conditioned, but an open design allows for ample air circulation. Designed entirely of secondary growth rainforest materials, the staterooms perfectly blend into their Amazon setting.
Three Scenic Staterooms overlook Lake Garzacocha, twelve Superior Staterooms offer sweeping views and four Family Staterooms offer extra room. Scenic and Superior Staterooms are outfitted with rainforest showers, private balconies and panoramic views. Family Staterooms provide spacious bathrooms, hammocks and a tub on a private porch.