Private luxury amazon lodge ideal for families
The Amazon rainforest is a destination for true adventurers. Travelers who fear the mighty mosquito may pass on excursions from Puerto Maldonado into the Tambopata National Reserve, no matter how spectacular the wildlife watching may be. That said, Posada Amazonas and Refugio Amazonas lodges both highlight the intrepid aspects of the Amazon without sacrificing the comfort of their guests.
I had the opportunity to stay at the two properties this April. They share many similarities, with roughly the same number of rooms; limited Internet access and electricity; fixed hours for dining; and, much to my delight, birdwatching towers with spectacular views. But there are some important distinctions to consider, which are especially essential when planning a trip to such a remote area.
My whirlwind tour through the Amazon was certainly unconventional. Because of the transportation times, guests normally choose one property or the other and stay for at least three nights; I stayed at each lodge only one night. Luckily, my quick run through the two properties allowed me to compare them while still fresh in my mind.
Posada Amazonas Lodge
The main advantage of Posada Amazonas is that it is closer to the main city. The lodge is approximately 2 hours from Puerto Maldonado. After a short transfer from the airport to the port, it’s about a 1 hour and 15 minutes journey by boat, followed by a 45-minute walk. The guides kept us well-fed during the journey. Snacks were provided during the walk — a little banana, water, and cookies in a sweet little basket — and in the boat, we received a boxed lunch with rice and chicken, juice, and an orange.
All the meals are served at fixed hours in the inn, with dinner served at 7:00 PM. After dinner, there was an explanation about the installations in the hotel, including a visit to the kitchen. The inn consists to 18 classic rooms, 12 superior rooms, and 2 premium rooms. All the beds have a mosquito net and openable windows. All the classic and superior rooms can be converted into triples. Only the superior and premium rooms have Internet access until 10:30 PM during set hours (early in the morning, noon, and from 5:00 PM onwards). The rooms include slippers, a personal security box, and umbrellas. After a certain hour, the rooms are lit with candles and kerosene lamps. The premium rooms have fans in the ceiling and a little room with a mini bar with drinks, at an extra cost. They also provide binoculars in the premium rooms.
In the common areas include a lobby, dining room, and kitchen, where you can access Internet and charge your electronics until 10:30 PM during fixed hours as well. Posada Amazonas also works with a native community, which make up a large portion of the staff and associates.
The lodge is situated next to the Tambopata National Reserve, so, naturally, there are a wealth of activities to enjoy during your stay. Posada Amazonas has a 35-meter tall bird observing tower, situated about a 20-minute walk away. The tower provides a view of the Tambopata River and the canopies of the trees in the distance. After eating an early breakfast, we visited Tres Chimbadas lake to experience some of the unique regional flora and fauna. The journey to the lake took 30 minutes boats and after 45 minutes walking to take a catamaran and drive around the lake to see the diverse types of monkeys, river seals, herons, birds, and animals. Before returning to the town, we practiced fishing for piranhas (catch and release, of course).
Refugio Amazonas Lodge
UK journalist Chris Moss provides an extensive Amazon travel guide, and recommends Aracari’s four day Amazon exploration based at Refugio Amazonas. After about two hours in at Tres Chimbadas lake, we began the 1 hours and 35 minutes boat journey to Refugio Amazonas. To return from Amazon Villa to the city Puerto Maldonado, it is approximately 2 and a half hours. Lunch at the lodge was at about 1:00 PM and the visit to the installations of the lodge counted 16 classic rooms, 14 superior rooms, 2 premium rooms. When I visited, they were just finishing 2 more premium rooms and 1 villa as well. All of the beds have a mosquito net and open windows. All the classic and superior rooms can be converted into triples. Only the superior and premium rooms have Internet access until 10:30 PM on a fixed schedules and they put slippers in the room and personal security boxes and umbrellas for the clients.
The premium rooms have ceiling fans, a small living room, a mini bar with drinks (all at extra cost), and binoculars. In the common areas like the lobby, kitchen, and dining room, there is access to the Internet and you can charge your batteries until 10:30 PM. Refugio Amazonas has tower that is about 30 meters away to observe birds, which has a view of the Tambopata, the top of the trees. The lodge also offers mountain biking, kayaking, tree climbing, stargazing from the tower, paddle boarding, and nut picking. After a brief lecture, we went to observe the caiman alligators on the river, which can be spotted by the red reflection in their eyes.
The Villa is one of the most unique things about this property that sets it apart from Posada Amazonas. The Villa is a precious bungalow in a quiet, private area of the property that includes a King bed and 1 sofa bed where a child could sleep. It has a dining room, a living room, Internet via satellite, 24 hours of electricity, a minibar, television, microwave, bathroom with shower and bath, and ceiling fan. The Villa also includes private transfers, a private guide, a chef, and a butler. Clients are in contact with the guide 24 hours a day via walkie talkie. Much to my delight, tired clients with heavy bags can take a golf cart to the Villa. The entire trip takes between 5 and 8 minutes by golf cart, 15 minutes walking.
Unlike Posada Amazonas, Refugio Amazonas has a clay lick on-site to view the spectacle of parrots ingesting their daily dose of detoxifying clay. For Posada Amazonas, you have to travel further into the forest to get to the clay lick, whereas it is easily accessible from the Refugio. The Refugio also has the distinct advantage of having programs and accommodations for children, whereas Posada Amazonas does not. If you are a family traveling, Refugio is definitely the best option.
All in all, both properties provide an opportunity to interact with the wonders of the Amazon in relative comfort. My experience in the jungle was punctuated by a number of great experiences, framed by the rustic yet elegant accommodations available. Those looking for more comfort and a taste of the Amazon (though reduced wildlife watching opportunities) could consider the two lodges by Inkaterra: Reserva Amazonica and Hacienda Concepcion, which are located much closer to Puerto Maldonado.