One traveller’s review of Uakari Lodge
When Nikki and her husband Tomás left their home in Colchester and jobs in the City of London to take a year-long honeymoon, they chose South America as their ideal destination. Here, Nikki speaks about the time she stayed in an eco-lodge deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, calling it ‘the most peaceful place on Earth’.
The Amazon jungle. Just hearing those words sends shivers down my spine. My imagination runs wild with all the adventures I could have in this lush tropical paradise. Like so many, it had always been a dream of mine to travel to this magnificent part of the world and get lost under the canopy surrounded by the gigantic leaves and mosquitoes. In April 2014 my dream became a reality.
After doing some research my husband Tomás and I decided to book a stay at the Uakari in the Mamirauá Reserve. The reviews on the web were outstanding and the description on their website was exactly what we were looking for; an authentic jungle stay with minimal impact to the environment that helped local communities. It ticked all the boxes.
We booked the 4 night package (they offer packages for 3, 4 and 7 nights) which coincided with the rainy season when the jungle floor is covered with water. Heavy rain makes the rivers burst their banks increasing water levels by 10 metres! Going during the rainy season means your feet won’t touch solid ground, and there isn’t the chance of hiking. Seeing a jaguar in the jungle is also heavily reduced.
Our trip started in the town of Téfe where we had arranged to meet the Uakari Lodge team. Téfe is a town in the heart of the Amazon jungle by the river – it can be reached by air and by boat. We chose the latter, sailing along the Amazon River from the city of Manaus. The journey took 36 hours and was uncomfortable, but a great experience.
During the boat transfer to the lodge we encountered the ‘meeting of the waters’, saw countless giant trees and had our first glimpse of the magical pink dolphin. After almost an hour, we made our way up a narrow river and the lodge came into view.
It’s spectacular. Five beautiful bungalows and a larger central house all floating in the heart of the Amazon jungle. We disembarked and were greeted by all the lodge’s employees and shown to our accommodation.
Tomas and I were given a room at the far end which had large windows on three sides that we threw open every morning to spy on the jungle. Each room has a private bathroom and balcony with hammocks to sit in and relax during free time. Given the lodge’s privileged location, the wildlife-spotting opportunities are endless. Small cayman crocodiles live in the surrounding waters, cruising by, keeping a beady eye on you while you sit in your hammock. Pink and grey river dolphins splash around while monkeys can be seen scrambling through the nearby treetops and dozens of birds of all shapes, sizes and colours fill the sky, diving down to drink from the river.
It’s the most peaceful place on earth – there’s no other sound besides the cry of nature. At night this noise reaches a deafening pitch, so much so I didn’t sleep a wink the first night!
Daily activities involved either a motor boat or a canoe for exploring the waters surrounding the lodge. We saw 5 types of monkeys, sloths, macaws, herons hawks, kingfishers, woodpeckers and hummingbirds, butterflies, owls, spiders, cayman, pink and grey river dolphins – the list is endless. Travelling by canoe is super relaxing and offers the best chance of seeing animals.
The service you receive is that of a five-star hotel. From the moment you send the first email to the moment you leave the staff strive to offer the best and all seem to love working there. The food is excellent – everyday a new local dish is delivered from the kitchen accompanied with mountains of veggies and salad. Fresh juice is served and there’s even a bar in case you fancy something stronger.
The lodge works with and supports eight villages within the reserve and a visit to one is included in the activities. During the visit you learn about the village and their connection to the lodge. All of the people working at the lodge are from the villages so it is really interesting to see where they live and grew up.
Our main guide was an extremely intelligent and knowledgeable young university graduate who had studied biology. The lodge takes on graduates for a 2 or 3 month period providing them with training and work experience.
There’s no end to the good this place does.
The past 12 months Nikki and Tomas have visited Colombia, Ecuador, Galapagos, Antigua and Barbuda (where they were married completely alone and barefoot on a beach), Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, The Amazon River, Peru and Bolivia. They are still on the road and plan to return to the UK next month.