Lodge Review: Sachatamia, Mindo, Ecuador

When you are in one of the top birding spots in the world such as Mindo, Ecuador, you need a lodge that understands the need of birders and Sachatamia easily ticks all the boxes!

Beautiful birdy location – check!

Attractive cabins  rooms – check!

Friendly staff who can cater for birders, book good guides, early breakfasts, etc – check!

Full service restaurant with ala carte menu – check!

Easy to find location on main road but away from traffic, near birding reserve – check!

Let’s take a closer look.


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This statue always freaked me out at night, I think someone is standing there!DSCN1528

There are several nice porches where you can sit and relax and watch tanagers * hummingbirds coming to the feeders.DSCN1525 DSCN1526 DSCN1527

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The grounds are spacious and have paved walkways between cabins and facilities.  They are light at night but it’s still best to bring a torch.DSCN1530

I didn’t get a photo of the pool and jacuzzi as my battery was dead when we used it after the first day of birding.  See them on the website.  It was great to have a hot soak after a full day birding!DSCN1529 DSCN1531 DSCN1532 DSCN1533 DSCN1534

This was our cabin.  It’s a duplex but no one was in the room next door so we had it all to ourselves.DSCN1535 DSCN1536

Views to die for!DSCN1537 DSCN1538

We actually arrived at night so one of the staff had to show us how to get to the cabin.DSCN1072

Rooms are attractively furnished and have bird artwork.  Wifi doesn’t reach to the cabins but you can get online at the restaurant & front porch.DSCN1071 DSCN1070 DSCN1069 DSCN1073

This is the lobby which is next to the restaurant.  You can sit here and watch birds even when it’s raining.DSCN1516 DSCN1519 DSCN1521 DSCN1524 DSCN1515 DSCN1514

We like a window seat for meals so we can enjoy the view.  DSCN1509


Enjoying our breakfast while watching hummingbirds enjoy their breakfast!DSCN1512 DSCN1513 DSCN1510 DSCN1511

Sachatamia was my personal favourite out of all the accommodation on this trip and I hope these photos show you why.  They have also earned a Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor so others agree.  It’s reasonably priced and can be booked direct with them on their website or use a booking portal to get airline miles like Rocketmiles, Pointshound or Hotels.com via TopCashBack.  The staff here are lovely and always happy to help with anything you need.  We stayed 3 nights and wish it would have been longer!


16 Top Luxury Eco-lodges – Dream A Little!

This blog is designed to appeal more to budget eco-travelers as that is how I travel.  But it doesn’t hurt to dream a little with this glimpse into how the other half experiences nature courtesy of CNN!

All of them are probably out of my budget but it’s the last 3 that caught my eye, and if I had to choose only one I’d go with Sangha Lodge  because of the African Grey Parrots.  Now if only I could win the Lotto!

Where would you go if you won a trip to one of these 16 eco-lodges?

Lodge Review: Ndutu Safari Lodge, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

The first thing I saw on their home page was a photo of lots of vibrant Fischer’s Lovebirds – and I knew we had to stay there.  Ndutu Safari Lodge didn’t disappoint either in wildlife nor in facilities.  It was awesome!

Prices are very reasonable for this part of Tanzania, I think you save a bit by not actually entering Serengeti NP but by being on the border in the NCA with similar wildlife.  After seeing all the birds in the area, I wish we could have stayed longer than the one night.


As you enter, you see the reception area and the rear of some rooms as the rooms face a plain where you can watch wildlife.

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They have a shop but it was closed by the time we arrived.


They have an excellent display of informational boards about the wildlife to be found in the lodge surrounds.

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Nice to see which birds to look for!

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Here is our bungalow with the backpacks sitting outside.  Yes, that really is ALL we traveled for a month in Africa with!

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This room could hold up to 4 people but it was nice to have extra room to sort our stuff out.


Coffee & tea is provided but there are better varieties of both in the dining room.


The bathroom was huge!


Storage cabinet, thankfully we didn’t need the umbrella.


This bungalow is actually a duplex and the closest one to the dining room and the pond where the lovebirds come to drink, I had requested this.


Most people get at least a breakfast and dinner package as there is no where else to eat.  The food was really good.  Don’t forget to try some of the exotic teas!

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The garden was gorgeous and apparently this sunbird agrees!  I think it’s a female by the colour.


Caution not to go beyond a certain point, there are wild animals out there!


Fischer’s Lovebirds!  They were readily seen around the lodge and not afraid to pose for photos.

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Scarlet-breasted Sunbird


Caught in the headlights – now you know what it really looks like!


The resident Genet.  These guys are not cats as some people call them, you can tell by the face.  This one is a mother and I caught a glimpse of her baby but he wouldn’t come out for a photo.  Genets are very elegant and graceful and it was fun to watch her antics during dinner.  She caught and ate a large moth.

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A well-named Beautiful Sunbird


The best thing to do at Ndutu is to stake out this little pond and see who comes in for a drink.  It’s within sight of the dining room so have a leisurely breakfast and coffee and enjoy the show!

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Laughing Doves


Nubian Woodpecker


Beautiful Sunbird

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Inquisitive Fischer’s Lovebird


Bathing beauties!


Another educational poster at the lodge.



Lodge Review: Rainforest Lodge, Kakum National Park, Ghana

The Rainforest Lodge in the small village of Akrofrom, Ghana is about a 10 minute drive from Kakum National Park and is actually the closest lodge to the park.  Both individual birders like us and people on international organized birding trips stay here.

You can get here easily by tro-tro from Cape Coast.  Tell the driver where you are going, they should all know where it is but also keep an eye out on your left side as our driver forgot to stop and almost went past it!


IMG_6099Even before we entered the reception, we loved the African artwork on the building!


The rooms are in a circle with covered walkways to each one.  It does rain here sometimes!

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Here’s our room, it was gorgeous!  We really felt like we were in Ghana and not some cookie-cutter room that could be anywhere.

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If there was anything to complain about it would be the presence of a tv.  Who needs a tv when the grounds are full of birds?


The restaurant has wonderful murals of birds and the rainforest on all the walls and windows overlooking the garden where you can watch birds while waiting for your food.

IMG_5864 IMG_5865 IMG_5866 IMG_5868 IMG_5869 IMG_5870I probably should have taken photos of the food but you’ll just have to trust me, the pizza was to die for!  Forget Dominoes, Pizza Hut or whatever, Rainforest Lodge Pizza rules!

Rooms are very reasonably priced at around $60 a night and includes breakfast and free wifi.  Since most of the clientele are birders, they are well accustomed to providing early breakfasts or will pack one up for you.  There is a swimming pool but since we got there late and then spent the whole next day at Kakum we didn’t use it.

If you are on your own, it is pretty easy to get either a taxi or tro-tro on the road in front of the lodge to Kakum.

Did I mention there were birds here?  Tune in tomorrow!

Lodge Review: Blue Vanga Lodge, Andranofasika – Ampijoroa Madagascar

Blue Vanga Lodge is run by a friendly family in the village of Ampijoroa, about 5 km from Ankarafantsika NP.   They accept online bookings which will be replied to by their Majunga office. You must pay cash Ariary or Euros, no credit cards accepted either online or in person.

We arrived with barely enough light to see the track from the main road which was well-signposted.  It is a small lodge with 6 brick bungalows for tourists and a bunk room for drivers.  There is no parkland nearby and the only birds we saw here were chickens belonging to local farmers.  If you want to see Blue Vangas, you need to go to the park.  We saw a couple other tourists who also had a private car/driver so I am not sure how people using public transport would get to the park.  I did see some mini-buses (taxi-brousse) parked in the village you you could get one headed towards Majunga and just hop out at the park.  To get back to the lodge, you could try for a mini-bus with empty seats or walk.  A tasty breakfast is provided and they will have cold drinks if you ask after the generator has been running a couple hours.  They can also do other meals.  For lunch and dinner your choices are basically eat at the lodge, buy food at the market in the village or have lunch at the park.

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Beds have mosquito nets and there is a fan but electricity only runs from around 6-10pm.

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Nice large bathroom


There’s our jeep parked at the entrance.


Although there weren’t many mosquitoes, there were lots of moths that would get in and even get through the net.  They are attracted to laptop or tablet screens, especially after the generator is switched off.  The bungalows can get very hot once the fan turns off and I was dying to open a window, but then more moths came in.  The next morning, the staff fixed fly screens on the windows (which just happened to be laying around) and the problem was solved!  We had cross-ventilation and no moths!

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The village is very small.  You can see a mini-bus on the right of the red truck.

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Basic food supplies – drinks, fruit, veggies and canned food can be bought at the market.  We had to do this the 2nd night as I was running out of cash and no place to get any more and I needed to save enough for the petrol back to Tana.  We survived!

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Rough Guide’s 10 Best Jungle Lodges In The Amazon

I stumbled on this list while researching a trip for next year.

Rough Guide’s 10 Best Jungle Lodges In The Amazon

So far, I have only been to 2 of them – Cristalino & Refugio Amazonas.  I am surprised Tambopata Research Centre didn’t make the list.

Refugio Amazonas Room

Refugio Amazonas Room

Hopefully, next year I will be adding one more to my list of Amazon jungle lodges – in Ecuador!  The contenders are:

Napo Wildlife Centre

La Selva

Sani Lodge

I will be targeting a visit to the two major parrot clay licks in Ecuador which is located near all 3 of these.  Since I can’t use points for the stay, money will definitely be a consideration.  I’m still in the beginning research stage so if anyone has stayed at any of these lodges I would love to know about it!


How To Find Birder-Friendly Accomodation In South Africa

I stumbled on this website while searching for something else.  Since I didn’t go everywhere in South Africa to give personal recommendations it’s a nice little resource to keep on hand.  Kurisa Moya is listed under Limpopo.  The other lodge we stayed at – 2 Oaks in King William’s Town isn’t on the list but they really should be as they are definitely birder-friendly.

“Birder Friendly Establishments” are registered with BirdLife South Africa. They are committed to supporting BirdLife South Africa’s vision, which is to conserve South Africa’s birdlife and their habitats by promoting Avitourism.

These establishments will do their utmost to ensure that birding guests have the best possible “birder friendly” experience. They offer flexible meal times or packed meals when requested, information on birds in their area, and advice on where to pick up local bird guides.

There are certainly a number of other establishments in each area which offer excellent birding, but this section shows specifically those establishments registered with BirdLife South Africa.

Lodge Review: 2 Oaks Guesthouse, King William’s Town, South Africa

King William’s Town is not the easiest place in the world to get information on accommodations.  There aren’t even many places on Trip Advisor so we were just planning to drive there, drive around town and hope to find something.  Luckily, as I was discussing our birding plans on the Cape Parrot Project Facebook page, one of the members recommended this lovely little guesthouse that was run by one of their members – Joanne Stolk.

I immediately felt at home, this could have been a house in my home state of Queensland.  2 Oaks Guesthouse (and the trees it is named after) is located in a quiet neighborhood only a few minutes drove from town which was great as we didn’t have to listen to noise from traffic, only the noise from the Hadeda Ibises which were just about everywhere!  There’s a nice little picnic area on the porch where we ended up eating takeaway for dinner and just relaxing.

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The garden gets a lot of avian visitors, sometimes even Cape Parrots but they didn’t come while we were there.IMG_3123

The rooms are nice and large and have attached bathrooms.  Beds are very comfy and we got a good night’s sleep after our epic journey but still got up early enough to go birding.  Jet lag helped, our bodies never did figure out which time zone they were in!  I loved the bird artwork on the walls!IMG_2611 IMG_2612 IMG_2613

A big home-cooked breakfast is served in the main dining room – eggs, bacon, toast, yogurt, juice, coffee, can’t remember what else but we had plenty to eat!  They can do other meals as well, rates are on their website.  We didn’t know what time we would be getting in after birding so just went for bed & breakfast.  They can work the breakfast hours around birding.IMG_2614

A few birds we saw in and around the guesthouse during the 2 days we were there.IMG_2632 IMG_2617 IMG_2626 IMG_2630 IMG_2628 IMG_2619 IMG_2621 IMG_2623The property is very safe and has a secure parking area.  The rates are very reasonable, especially if your currency happens to be up against the rand!  2 Oaks Guesthouse is a fantastic deal and we really loved staying here.   Joanne and her staff are so friendly, you feel like one of the family!  And I am always happy to support someone who supports Cape Parrots!

Why I Am Generally Happy With Our Lodging

Hotel reviews are a hot topic today in the blogosphere and I thought I would chime in as I tend to get off the beaten track more than most travel bloggers in the miles & points world.  It was a thread on FlyerTalk that started it, then bloggers Kathy (Will Run For Miles) and Brian (The Gate) respectively blogged about their thoughts.

(Disclosure) I have no credit card affiliate links though I do get invited to publicly offered “member get a member” promos where existing cardmembers are given incentives to refer their friends to a card they have and get bonus points.  Chase does this often and has one active now.  But these promos are hardly enough incentives to give hotels false positive reviews.

There are two reasons I generally give positive reviews.  Firstly, I do HEAPS of research before booking a hotel or eco-lodge.  I spend hours reading reviews and in the case of eco-lodges trying to find bird lists in the vicinity of the property.  I know what I like and take care to book accommodation that I am pretty confident I will like and I usually get it right.

Secondly, I have realistic expectations.  I don’t expect an eco-lodge in the middle of the rainforest to have wifi, room service or even a swimming pool.  I know there will be bugs; hell it’s a RAINFOREST!  I’m prepared to bring my own mosquito coils and use them if the lodge doesn’t have mosquito nets.  I know that most rainforest lodges are off the grid,  will be using a generator and will probably switch it off at some point in the night.  So yeah, no fan or AC either!  But in this case, I do expect the rooms to have good ventilation so they don’t become sweat boxes!

I rarely use chain hotels other than in gateway cities before and after a flight and they will be booked using points gained from credit card promos.  We stay in a lot of chain hotels near airports and I don’t expect these to be as posh as the Hyatt Vendome.  All we need is an airport shuttle, shower and wifi so I can catch up on what I missed while I was in the rainforest.

I guess having had 30 years of backpacker travel experience helps, you should see some of the places I stayed in during the 80’s & 90’s!  My perspective is different than someone who started out as a young adult in the miles and points game and has only experienced 4 & 5 star hotels.

My reviews are never influenced by any special blogger consideration, eco-lodges don’t do that.  I give my honest opinion and I do mention ways the property can improve if I happen to think of any – just in case the management happens to read it.