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Amarongachi Jungle Eco-Lodge
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Reviews (22)
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Reviewed 20 September 2009

Having already spent four wonderful days deep in the jungle four hours down the Napo River from Coca, I did not expect too much from the Shangri La and its programme of activities, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. The best thing is the location on a bluff overlooking a bend in the Anzu River. The lodge itself is ramshackle and a bit dilapidated, not especially attractive and I don´t think it´s particularly eco conscious. Rooms, as has been said, are very basic, but those with a river view have a hammock slung outside them, which makes for pleasant relaxing in between the activities. These have shared bathrooms, which could be kept cleaner. Cold water only, but that´s not a problem. The rooms without a view have en suite bathrooms. Personally I was glad of the view. Food mediocre but filling, fruit drinks watered down, cocktails OK. Coffee undrinkable.
Staff very friendly and willing and the programme of activities was varied if unexciting. During the jungle walks you are only going to see and hear about the plants, medicinal and otherwise, since wildlife is either not very prevalent or the guides not adept enough at finding. The canyon walk was a nice challenge and the tubing was fun. Visit to the nearby village a waste of time.
Jungle experience it aint. But for those without the time or money to go further into the wild, it´s enjoyable enough.
The majority of the guests seem to be in tour groups.

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled solo
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3  Thank Londinense
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 July 2009

We recently spent 3 nights at Shangri-La, arriving in Tena after a long bus ride from Quito. Julio at Amagaronchi was very helpful in advance and very easy to deal with, but we arrived to find that our schedule had changed dramatically. Instead of canoe trips to villages, journeys to wildlife preserves, and the opportunity to go rafting, each day was filled with jungle hikes. Totally fine, but not what we signed up for. We paid extra to arrange a rafting trip on our final day, but we found out the next day they’d scheduled it too late for us to make our bus back to Quito. Originally they refused to refund our money, but after we firmly stated our case and held our ground, they relented and refunded the extra money.

We took a 15 minute truck ride from town to the lodge. Keep in mind, Shangri-La is at the edge of the jungle, not deep in the middle of nowhere. We were a little dismayed at the state of the room, which was much more like a mid-range hostel than a lodge. While we didn’t expect anything too luxurious for $100 a night between the two of us, we didn’t anticipate bunk beds and crumbling bathrooms. A musty smell permeated every part of the room, which I guess is part of the price of being in the jungle. The mattresses were wafer-thin, the sheets and towels were stained, and we generally tried to avoid the room except to sleep.

The point of the experience wasn’t to spend time in our rooms, though, and the common areas were quite pleasant, especially the lovely and relaxing hammock lounge area perched 300 feet above the river. There’s also a small bar area with a friendly bartender who plays meringue and flamenco dance music via a tiny transistor radio.

And apart from the previous complaint about a feeling of bait-and-switch with our activities, we really appreciated the staff. Our primary guide was 60-year old Matildo, who was entertaining and engaging as he told us about growing up in the jungle before roads or electricity came to the area. We also spent a lot of time chatting and drinking beers with guide Alex, who was fantastic: gregarious, helpful, and always laughing. Roberto was another extremely knowledgeable guide who showed us the medicinal uses of various jungle plants. Note: do NOT expect much English to be spoken at Shangri-La. We were fortunate in that there was a Swiss volunteer translator who helped us interact with the guides, but in general, you will have a hard time if you do not have at least an intermediate knowledge of Spanish. Shangri-La does offer the option of an English interpreter at a cost of about $25 per day.

Speaking of cost, we chose Shangri-La because it was more affordable than some of the other jungle lodges. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you pay per DAY, not per night. Therefore, our four days/three nights ended up costing us $400, even though we spent less than 72 hours at the lodge.

Food: rice, rice, rice. Not much in the way of protein or greens. Jello for dessert. Watered-down juice. Skimpy portions. Vegetarian entrees were a piece of cheese or a fried egg. Food here is for sustenance, not for enjoyment, so don’t expect a gourmet experience. Meals are served outside communally, with chow time signaled by the blowing of a conch shell.

Activities: As mentioned, the jungle hikes were great, if a bit repetitive. Slightly disconcerting: the occasional sight of power lines and the sound of highway noise next to us. Canyoning was a highlight: ample tourists, beware, there are some NARROW spaces to slither through! Tubing was also a lot of fun. Hiking to the local village of Santa Maria was an eye-opening glimpse at a different way of life, but also a bit sad that they are so desperate for money that they have recently started encouraging tourists to come visit their one-room shack to purchase their necklaces. Worth seeing, but sensitive souls beware: think dozens of babies toddling around with soiled underwear, starving dogs, and garbage heaps.

Tip: Be prepared to be wet, wet, wet. The jungle stench doesn’t easily wash out of your clothes, but if you’re nice (and if you give them a few dollars), the cleaning/cooking women will kindly hand-wash your clothes for you. We very much appreciated this kindness.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Kels246
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 April 2009

The Quichua people who own and work here are amazing tour guides, and after our visit, we are proud to call them friends, too. Shangri-La, where we stayed, is perched atop a river bluff overlooking an Amazon tributary. It's romantic, exciting, and perfect to view from the many open-air hammocks.

The bungalo lodging gives it a Swiss Family Robin style feel. I felt about 10 years younger just being about to run about here.

We had an exhilerating canyoning expedition, as well as a tubing adverture, all guided and quite educational.

The best part of meals was meeting laid-back people from around the world, and playing cards (cuarenta) with the staff. They have a full bar (awesome margaritas). Typical meals were fresh fruit juice, rice or plantains, and chicken or eggs.

I can't wait to go back someday. It was a memorable, once in a lifetime experience.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank ktimene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 March 2009

I warmly recommend Amarongachi as a tour company. It is local, authentic, they own 2 lodges, Amarongachi and Shangri-la. Shangri-la might be a little bit more comfortable and the views are astonishing.
If you feel like being completely disconnected from the rest of the world, it is the place to be, you won't regret the experience.
Our tour guide, Alex a Quishua Indian was very nice and knowledgeable. 2 years later, I still remember our stay there being a highlight of our vacation.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled with family
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1  Thank juniperususa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 May 2008

Last month we went on a 3 day jungle trip to the beautiful situated Sangrila lodge, owned by the Amarongachi company. It was the best organised trip during our three months journey in South America. The office in Tena described in detail the accommodation and we could choose the content of our trip. We decided to go for adventurous activities, like tubing on the river, swimming against or with the current, hiking through the jungle, and of course the unforgettable climbing of the waterfalls. We really enjoyed our stay (and my birthday celebration) in the Ecuadorian jungle!

Thanks to all of you, and especially to our guide Darwin .

Suzan and Leo
Amsterdam
The Netherlands

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Suzan-Leo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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