Latin America’s abundant nature and fascinating wildlife is one of the continent’s most alluring attractions. From the marine life of Belize and the Galapagos, to the diverse fauna in the tropical forests of Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Costa Rica: wildlife lovers cannot help but be enchanted by the variety of species present in these breath-taking eco-systems. These days, enjoying a remote wildlife experience in Latin America does not have to mean roughing it in a sweaty forest campsite. Here are five of our favourite lodges where you can see the best of what Latin American wildlife has to offer in ultimate luxury:
Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Alta Floresta, Brazil
Ensconced in the southern Amazon rainforest, away from the industry and pollution of the northern tropical city of Manaus, Cristalino Lodge is accessed via a small remote airport called Alta Floresta. This boutique wildlife lodge is perched on the banks of the Cristalino River, an Amazon tributary known for its populations of secretive Amazonian River Otters.
Other wildlife highlights include a variety of primate species and a huge diversity of tropical birds. Guests of Cristalino can enjoy light and airy rooms, designed with local materials and the utmost respect for the local environment. At the end of the day, sip a chic cocktail on the lodge’s floating deck, taking in sublime views of the river and jungle.
Mashpi Lodge, Chocó Andean Forest, Ecuador
Mashpi Lodge’s private reserve tucked away in the wild forests of the Chocó, where the cloud forests meet the tropical rainforests, is privy to a biodiversity seen in few other places on earth. The lodge’s fabulous wildlife observation activities, its crucial conversation projects and its chic accommodations offering the best of modern luxury have earned this green haven the privilege of being one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, as well as being widely regarded as one of the finest wildlife lodges not only in South America, but in the whole world.
Slick, modern rooms have floor to ceiling windows, allowing the outside in, and giving guests maximum exposure to the beauty of the region’s nature. Take a ride on the lodge’s ‘Dragonfly’ and glide through the canopy of this exuberant rainforest, enjoying unique access to the species whose treetop lives rarely take them to ground level; hike forest trails with Mashpi’s expert guides, or alternatively enjoy the panoramic views from the lodge with a premium glass of wine in hand.
Caiman Ecological Refuge, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
Without doubt our favourite hotel in the Brazilian Pantanal, Caiman Lodge gives guests one of the best wildlife experiences available in the region, with the best accommodation. This luxurious lodge places environmental responsibility at the core of its operations and runs its own jaguar conservation project, meaning that during the dry season (June-October) guests are given the best chance possible of seeing the majestic jaguar in the wild.
The expansive Pantanal wetlands are one of the best places in South America to see some of the continent’s most unusual large mammals, along with a plethora of endangered and endemic bird species. Caiman’s high-class service in a remote region and devotion to its conservation efforts make it stand out from the competition.
Tambopata Research Center, Tambopata, Peru
So remote that a stopover night is required on the way in, the unique Tambopata Research Center is hidden away in the Tambopata Reserve of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Guests travel along the Tambopata river, stopping one night at a sister-lodge of the property, before completing their journey into the property on the second day.
This hidden gem is so remote and unspoiled that it is one of the few Amazonian lodges where jaguars are habitually spotted by guests. The lodge offers chic and characterful accommodations tucked away in the verdant rainforests and guests can enjoy a hugely varied programme of activities during their luxury stay. Far from the hustle and bustle of human civilisation, this lodge offers the most exclusive and engaging wildlife experience in Peru.
Corocora Camp, Yopal, Colombia
Inspired by the luxury safari camps popular on the African continent, Corocora Camp brings this exciting concept to the Eastern Llanos of Colombia. One of Latin America’s up and coming wildlife destinations, the llanos attract wildlife lovers seeking sightings of capybara, giant anteaters, water deer and the rare Orinoco crocodiles.
This exclusive tented camp offers an exciting range of activities designed for guests to experience the best of the region’s wildlife alongside the fascinating and distinctive local culture. During the stay, expertly prepared gourmet meals and unlimited beverages are offered. Enjoy the convivial atmosphere around the open-air fire pit and admire the stunning sunsets over the wetlands to complete this unique experience in one of Colombia’s most remote natural paradises.
Simon Williams is Director of Humboldt Travel. Humboldt Travel is a luxury travel company specialising in tailor made holidays to Latin America.