Staying in an Ecolodge Doesn’t Mean Lack of Comfort

Ecolodges are environmentally friendly places to stay and we have had the opportunity to stay in two different ones, both in South America. Since both of these were in isolated locations in the jungle, there were practical reasons for being self-sufficient other than just reducing their impact to the earth. Whether it is through the use of solar panels, rain water collection systems, or wastewater treatment systems, these lodges make sure that they make the most efficient use of every consumable resource. As eco tourism grows in popularity, these lodges will likely spread to more places than just remote locations like the Amazon jungle.

Napo Wildlife Center in Ecuador
Eco Lodge Room in Bolivia
Sunset from the Eco Lodge in Ecuador
Restaurant in the Napo Wildlife Center

Just because a lodge is eco friendly doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice all luxury though. There is usually electricity and internet connectivity, although it may not work all of the time. There is also hot water, although we have had mixed results as to how hot or how long it stays hot, but it is good enough. They also have full service kitchens and we had wonderful meals in both of the lodges that we stayed at. Considering how long our days were in the jungle and how tired we were, having any hot meal was a welcome end to the day. And for those of us who like to unwind with a glass of wine at the end of the day, they also offer a limited bar selection.

Grounds of the Eco Lodge in Bolivia with the Rain Barrel
Room in the Lodge in Ecuador
View from the Top of the Lodge Deck in Ecuador
Front Porch of our Hut in Ecuador

What you gain by staying in these remote locations is a level of serenity that you just don’t find in too many places these days. Instead of hearing the sounds of cars, televisions, or even other people for the most part, you are rewarded with the true sounds of nature. As the lights go out, it is a darkness that you can usually only imagine. Especially at night, you quickly realize that you are just a guest in the homes of the wildlife that surround you. The animals will wander through the manicured landscape with little regard to the fact that you are sleeping inside of the huts on the grounds. Since the lodges are open, you need to be aware that you might share your bedroom with all sorts of bugs and spiders, but that is just part of the experience.

Standing on the Porch in Bolivia
Relaxation Deck at the Lodge in Ecuador
Large Caiman by the Lodge in Ecuador
Keeping the Bugs Out

Staying in an ecolodge is not only a wonderful experience, but one that will make you feel good about yourself for not impacting the environment. We wish that we would have had time to just sit on the porch of our huts and just relax while watching all of the nature that surrounded us, but we were there to explore the amazing environment. If you have never stayed at an ecolodge, we would highly recommend that at some point you take the opportunity to do so. It is an experience that you will treasure forever and might even enjoy more than staying at a five-star resort.

Arriving Back to the Lodge at Dusk
Lodge with Rain Barrel in Bolivia
Standing on the Shore of the Lake
Decorations in the Main Lodge

Getting Above It All in the Amazon Rainforest

We have been fortunate enough to take several trips into the Amazon Rainforest and to say that it is amazing is certainly an understatement. One of the most obvious things about visiting a rainforest is that you are likely to get rained on. Even when it isn’t raining, you are going to experience heat and humidity, so having proper clothing, what we refer to as our “jungle clothes”, is an absolute necessity. The other interesting thing is that the humidity will often cause the clouds to wrap themselves around the treetops and settle into the jungle itself while above them it is more clear.

Heading Down Towards the Rainforest
Eerie Views
Clouds Hanging on the Hillsides
Barely Able to See the Bird on the Tree

Because of the pockets of humidity, clouds, and changes in altitude, the views can be both ominous and beautiful. We obviously take lots of photographs during our trips and some of the pictures where we are actually above the clouds and not in an airplane are eerie, yet calming. Whether driving through the mountains or climbing to the top of the canopy, seeing the clouds floating below you is quite fascinating.

Above the Clouds
Standing with Our Guide, Clouds More Visible than Us
Clouds Drifting Downward Towards the Rainforest
Above the Scarlet Macaws as the Clouds Lift

At the time, of course, the clouds seemed like a bit of nuisance as we’re trying to scan the trees for birds, monkeys, sloths, or other wildlife. Looking back, however, the photographs seem interesting as the clouds contrast the dark jungle foliage. We have shared just a few of our pictures that we took from above the clouds during our time in the Amazon Rainforest.

Clouds Blanketing a Village
Contrasting Views
Colorful Scenery if You Could See It
View Driving Down Death Road

Making the Most of a Short Stay in Lima, Peru

We didn’t have a lot of time during our visit to Lima, the capital of Peru, but we certainly made the most of the time that we did have. Our hotel was located next to the beaches on the coastline of the city, but we also took time to get into the historic district as well. The two locations couldn’t be more different, but they were definitely equally interesting for their own reasons. It was also our first experience in South America and we really enjoyed seeing some of the indigenous Quechua people in their traditional clothing, something that we would learn even more about during our time in Bolivia. Regardless of how much time you have when visiting Lima, these should certainly be on your itinerary when visiting this wonderful city.

Detailed Façade in Old Town
Looking Up at the Cathedral
Walking the Crowded Streets of the Historical Center
Plaza Mayor

The Historical Center of Lima – Old town in Lima, also referred to as the Historical Center, is probably most known for its colorful colonial buildings with their fascinating balconies, but there is certainly much more to see than just the architecture. To make the most of your time in the downtown area we would suggest starting out at the Plaza Mayor or the Main Square and then exploring out from there. There are palaces, the cathedral, official buildings, and other churches in the area, each uniquely beautiful. It is very walk-able and you will also find stores carrying tourist items as well as many different restaurants and cafés in the area.

Resorts along the Pacific Coast
Beachside Restaurants and Shops
Gentle Waves
It was a Beautiful Day

The Upscale Miraflores District – If you visit Lima, Peru, we would suggest staying in the Miraflores district. Miraflores is an upscale district that sits along the Pacific coastline with beautiful beaches, excellent restaurant choices, nice hotels, and it isn’t far from downtown Lima. Obviously, many people visiting Lima come specifically to enjoy the beaches and take advantage of the festive nightlife that is found in the area. Although we weren’t in Lima for a beach vacation, we did enjoy walking down to the beach, soaking up some sun, and grabbing a meal at one of the many outdoor restaurant patios.

Ceviche in Peru
Our First Pisco Sours
Steak and Avocado Sandwich
Beef Stir-Fry

Enjoying the Fusion Food and a Traditional Pisco Sour – Lima has become a “foodies” destination because of its reputation for wonderful food and celebrated chefs. One of the reasons that the food has become so popular is because many of the restaurants have taken traditional food of the region and blended it with food from around the world. There are so many options of restaurants to visit that we’d recommend talking to the locals and finding out where they’d recommend you eat. In addition to the food, having a traditional pisco sour is a perfect way to end your day or to start your evening festivities.

Peruvian Quechua Woman in Traditional Clothing
Intricate Balcony
Church Bell Tower
Church and Convent of San Francisco

Many people fly into Lima as they begin their adventure into Peru and make their way down to visit Machu Picchu. It is definitely worth taking the time to see the capital city of Lima, especially the wonderful architecture of the historical center. Although we didn’t have a lot of time in Lima, we certainly used our opportunity to see as much as we possibly could.