Top Five Wildlife Lodges in South America

Tristan Whitworth

19 Dec 2017

The best lodges for wildlife in brazil, peru, ecuador, chile & the Galapagos

Here at Natural World Safaris, we refuse to limit ourselves when dreaming of the perfect wildlife safari, and the accommodation that we use reflects this state of mind. Coming in all shapes and forms, here are my five favourite lodges spread across my beloved South America and with one focus only: to ensure guests are in the right place, at the right time, for the best wildlife sightings. 

Eco Camp Patagonia

If you want to see the elusive puma in the wild, then strap on your walking boots and head to Chilean Patagonia, which is undoubtedly the best spot in the world to observe this majestic big cat. I love Eco Camp as it is located right in the heart of Torres Del Paine National Park, which sets a picture that is hard to beat. Imagine waking at dawn and setting out with professional puma trackers into the beautiful immensity of this iconic Patagonian landscape. After about eight hours of walking in search of the puma, return to camp and enjoy the comfort of your own fully sustainable geodesic dome. 

I absolutely love this property for its’ position in the national park and strong focus on sustainability and conservation.

This accommodation is part of our Puma Tracking and Wildlife Photography itinerary. 

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

A former National Geographic Traveler award winner for setting the highest standard of expertise amongst eco-lodges, the luxurious Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica is all about the wildlife expertise and providing an educational Amazon experience, with a softer landing. As the early bird catches the worm (can you see a pattern here?), rise early and follow your certified “explorer guide” into the depths of the rainforest. Inkaterra guides have all lived for many years (some are even born in this jungle) in the Amazon and their knowledge and passion for this ecosystem knows no ceiling. Whether you are searching for primates, have a passion for birds (over 540 different species have been seen on the grounds of the reserve) or are simply a general wildlife enthusiast, the Tambopota Reserve has something for everyone.

My favourite feature here is the diversity of activities available to guests: there are 7.5km of nature trails, a vast network of hanging bridges towering above the canopy, possibilities for boat rides, night walks and more.

This accommodation is part of our Best of Peru itinerary.

Southwild Jaguar Suites

If you are looking to see the mighty jaguar in the wild, look no further than the Pantanal region of Brazil. The Southwild Jaguar Suites are built on a floating structure right on the banks of the highly jaguar-populated Piquiri river. While the rooms are spacious and all feature large bay windows and a balcony overlooking the water, the true luxury here is found in the unbeatable location. Caiman, capybara and giant river otters can be seen directly from your room, and you are in the region that boasts the highest concentration of wild jaguars on the planet. Take part in two jaguar excursions a day, navigating the murky waters of the area, return to your floating base for lectures with the resident biologist, and repeat the next day. The jaguar experts here are pioneering a vast jaguar identification project and are always involving guests, as any photo taken of a cat can lead to essential discoveries and go a long way in the conservation of this majestic predator.

While nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to wildlife, if you are a guest at the Jaguar Suites during the dry season, you will see jaguars in the wild.

You can stay at this lodge on our Southern Amazon and Pantanal Jaguar Safari

Pikaia Lodge

African safari destinations pride themselves on showing off their 'Big Five'. Well, the Galapagos raise the stakes to a Big 15! This term refers to the 15 iconic species one can find in this remote archipelago, the “poster boys” if you will, of the impressive variety of wildlife found here. While the distribution of this wildlife is spread across the islands, Santa Cruz – home to Pikaia Lodge – is a solid spot to check species off your list, particularly if you have a preference for land-based accommodation. On your daily foray in and around Santa Cruz, you can expect to see flamingos, frigate birds, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as giant tortoise, land and marine iguanas and sea lions. The lodge itself sits up in the highlands and the views from the infinity pool are breathtaking. All of the 16 spacious rooms feature a balcony or terrace, and the beauty of the landscapes that lie beneath are only equalled by the service and expertise of the nature guides.

Pikaia is proof that luxury and the natural world can indeed blend in harmony.

You can stay here as part of our Western Galapagos Lodge Safari

Mashpi Lodge

Mashpi Lodge’s most recent claim to fame is that it was named one of National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges of the World”, but it would not be accurate to summarise the lure of this lodge to that sole title. Located only two hours away from Quito, Mashpi Lodge is a tribute to the passion and respect Ecuador has for their wildlife, rainforest and biodiversity. Serenity and discovery are the key words here as minimalist luxury combines perfectly with wildlife adventure. Led by naturalist guides, you’ll venture into the rainforest with a chance to spot birds, primates and an abundance of animals, from the infinitely small to possibly the most elusive of felines. 

Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or not, be sure not to miss the 50 metre observation tower to gain a true appreciation for the beauty and vastness of the jungle you are visiting.

This accommodation is part of our Ultimate Ecuador and Galapagos Safari

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