Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve (Ecuador)

Kapawi  Ecolodge & Reserve is located in one of the most remote and well protected parts of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Deep in the nearly two million acres of the Achuar people’s territory, Kapawi is accessible only by air — flying in small planes over an unbroken green expanse of rainforest near the Peruvian border.

Kapawi is an award winning eco-lodge* noted for its comfort and quality of service, for its ecological design and sensitivity, and for its abundance of wildlife and rich biodiversity. Located in the territorial lands of an indigenous nation (6,000 people in 64 communities) still living as they have for generations and in intimate harmony with nature, Kapawi provides guests a range and depth of cultural experiences unmatched by any other rainforest lodges.

At Kapawi you have a variety of experiences and excursions available. For 4, 5, or 8 days you choose the type of hike, canoe excursion, cultural visit that suits you and your group, each led by 2 guides: an Achuar guide along with a bi-lingual naturalist guide.

* A sampling of Kapawi’s many awards:

– 2010: nomination in the 17th Annual World Travel Awards (equivalent to the Oscar!)

– Top 5 Ecolodges 2010. Special recognition of outstanding work in biodiversity conservation, poverty reductioin and adaptation to climate change.

– 2009: Designated as one of the top 50 EcoLodges by the editors of National Geographic ADVENTURE Magazine.

The Achuar

The Achuar are historically a nation of warriors with a firm commitment to preserve their territory and way of life, and to resist the encroachment of extractive industries and a western style of development. Kapawi Lodge is an example of an alternative development path and is a key element in the Achuar strategy for protecting their lands. It brings revenue, training and a connection with potential allies from the outside world. A visit to Kapawi is a truly authentic and unique experience but authenticity need not come at the expense of comfort! 19 fully screened cabins built in traditional Achuar style sit atop stilts over a lagoon full of stunning plant, bird and insect life. Fine dining, fusing international and Ecuadorian cuisine, and a well stocked bar and social area are enjoyed by guests supported by a staff eager to make your stay in Kapawi an unforgettable experience. An Achuar guide and a bi-lingual naturalist guide accompany each group on a wide variety of activities designed to reveal the mysteries and majesty of the rainforest and Achuar culture.

Some History

The Kapawi project opened in 1996 as a unique partnership between an Ecuadorian tourism company, and the Achuar people. Each partner shared a vision of building an economically sustainable project that would contribute to the preservation of the cultural and environmental riches of Ecuador’s Amazon region. The goal of the original Ecuadorian company, who provided the Initial funding, management and technical expertise, was to create this internationally recognized eco-tourism project that would eventually transfer total ownership and responsibility to the Achuar people.  As planned, January 1, 2008 marked the official transfer of Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve to the Achuar people, who own, manage and operate it to this day.

Departures Monday & Friday, 4, 5, or 8 Days — year-round

2017 Rates, per person

 3 Nights/4 DaysFriday to Monday4 Nights/5 DaysMonday to Friday7 Nights/8 DaysMonday or Friday
Standard Double Cabin$969$1,209$1,749
Jr. Suite$1,129$1,379$2,019
Master Suite$1,169$1,419$2,119

Single Occupancy: add 40% to listed rates

Extra bed: deduct 40% from listed rates

Transportation to/from Kapawi

Land transportation Quito-Shell-Quito: $103

Air Transportation Shell-Kapawi-Shell: $215 (including 12% VAT)

Note: weather conditions are unpredictable in the tropical rain forest and occasional delays can be expected. We recommend you consider adding an extra day before booking any onward flights or tours after your kapawi stay as a buffer day to make sure you meet your connecting flights or plans to your next destination.

Transportation rates subject to change

Children’s Discount: under age 12, 50% discount of listed rates when accompanied by an adult in the same cabin. For children under 7 years of age, hiring a private guide is recommended.

Contribution to the Achuar Community (per person): $35

Included in the land cost:

Accommodation in private cabin with private shower/toilet; all meals at Kapawi; filtered drinkable water; daily guided excursions by resident naturalist guides, canoe transportation and village visit.

Not included:

bottled water, alcoholic beverages and boutique purchases.


Since there are no set itineraries, Kapawi Lodge offers a multitude of activities, so that with your guides and your group you can design a flexible program to suit your interests and activity level. Activities include bird watching, a choice of forest hikes (from easy to difficult), canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and self-guided hikes. Most itineraries include a visit to an Achuar community.

The Achuar Community.

Most groups are invited into a home to experience Achuar hospitality and taste the famous manioc beer. Depending on your fitness level there are a variety of rainforest hikes to learn about the flora, fauna and Achuar cosmology and culture. Your Achuar guide will delight and amaze you with all the different uses of plants, from food to medicine, to building materials. If you are lucky enough to come across traditional Achuar foods you will have the opportunity to taste lemon ants or palm larvae — not for the faint-hearted!

Bird Watching.

Kapawi lodge is a paradise for bird watchers and amateurs alike with more species of birds in the Kapawi area alone than in all of North America. Kapawi has specific Achuar guides who are birding specialists. These guides are not always available so you need to advise us in advance to request one.

Fish, canoe, kayak, swim, or float.

Located on the banks of the Capahuari river, you can fish for piranha, or take a traditional Achuar canoe or kayak to explore sleepy streams, thick with jungle foliage, where you will feel a million miles from western civilization. For those who prefer less effort, slip into a rubber ring or swim and let the current carry you downstream; no need to worry, the only wildlife you’re likely to encounter are the magical pink dolphins.

Dining in the forest.

Don’t miss the alfresco dining experience in the forest: after a beautiful walk your guides will set up a delicious hot lunch in the forest beneath the jungle canopy.

A Typical Day.

6:00AM. Early risers can start their day as early as 6:00AM to catch the animals and birds at their most active. Hot drinks and light snacks are available before heading off for your early morning activities — nothing too strenuous for first thing in the morning, just relax in the canoe as you’re taken upstream bird watching or downstream to the clay lick where the parrots and macaws gather most mornings. The dawn light and the symphony of insect, bird and animal calls at this time of the morning will be etched into your memory forever. The canoes will return you to the lodge in time for a big breakfast at 8:00 AM.

9:30 AM – 1:00PM. Morning activities. Choose the type of hike that appeals to you:

Easy path: Short hikes in the rainforest (up to 2½ hours) on well-defined trails, visits to the Achuar communities, trips in canoes and excursions on raft and kayaks.

Moderate path: Medium distance hikes in the rain forest (up to 4 hours) which sometimes cross flooded areas.

Difficult path: Demanding hikes of over 4 hours and in some cases all day or more, in poorly defined, hilly, and often flooded trails. Porters will carry food and supplies for longer expeditions. Excellent physical condition is required!

Depending on what you have arranged with your guides you will either return to the lodge at 1:00 for another delectable dining experience or you may stay in the forest and lunch beneath the trees.

3:00PM – 5:00PM afternoon activities

5:00PM. Return to the lodge. Relax in your hammock with a glass of something delicious.

7:00 PM. Guides briefing. Each evening in the bar, the guides give a briefing detailing the activities for the next day.

7:30PM. Dinner. A delicious dinner will be served in the dining room at 7:30pm where you will be once more serenaded by the sounds of the forest and frogs in the lagoon as you dine.

8:30PM. Optional night activities.  Take a gentle night hike along the self guided trail, spotting unbelievably stunning insects, frog, reptiles, and with luck a nocturnal monkey. Watch for night Caiman by canoe –a real highlight — keep your eyes peeled for their orange eyes just above the surface of the water. Alternatively you can sit or by the fire in the hammock hut and hear talks on the rainforest and Achaur life.


One of the most unique and attractive things about the Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve is its remoteness. This remoteness both adds complexity and challenges to the travel arrangements to reach Kapawi, and also provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a unique part of Ecuador and to see the tropical rainforest from the air, flying in small planes, low over a vast expanse of green. We will endeavour to make your journey to Kapawi as easy and rewarding as possible and to embrace you in Achuar hospitality from the moment your journey begins at Quito airport.

From Quito to Kapawi The standard travel route to Kapawi is to fly from Quito to a small airstrip at Shell, a town located on the frontier of the Amazon, or to Coca or Macas, depending on the number of guests travelling to Kapawi that day. If you fly to Shell, the southerly route from Quito heads down the valley of the volcanoes and on a clear day the view is breathtaking. Even on cloudy days you can often see the snow covered peaks of the volcanoes through the clouds.

Once in Shell (or Coca or Macas) you will be met by a Kapawi representative who will assist you as you change to smaller airplanes for short jog to the airstrip in Achuar territory. In either of the staging towns (Shell, Coca or Macas,) the waiting time is normally 1 to 3 hours. A representative will arrange a variety of activities and snacks or lunch depending on the anticipated waiting time.

The flight from Shell is a 50 minute flight over miles and miles of unbroken pristine rainforest, arriving at the Achuar community of Wachirpas, located on the banks of the Pastaza River. There you will be welcomed by your Kapawi guides who will escort you on the final leg of your journey, a beautiful 30 minute canoe ride into the majesty and tranquility of this remote part of the world. You will travel up the broad expanse of the Pastaza River, then into the smaller Capahuari River, and moments later arrive at your destination, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve.

Returning to Quito The travel process is reversed and you will normally leave the lodge mid-morning by canoe, then fly by small plane from Achuar territory to Shell (or Coca or Macas) where you transfer to the larger plane for the flight back to Quito. Please note: Our scheduled travel days to and from Kapawi are each Monday and Friday. If you are unable to travel on these days, we may be able to arrange special charter flights to accommodate you.

Please note: it’s important to schedule a buffer day for the return to Quito. If weather interferes, the flights will not go, and you would arrive in Quito a day late. You shouldn’t schedule any connections out unless you have a buffer day in between.

Kapawi’s naturalist guides are Spanish and English speaking. If you require a different language, you need to specify this once you confirm your reservation. With groups of 10 or more passengers, we will guarantee a bilingual guide. Groups of less than 10 passengers may have to join with another group of passengers in your language.  A translator can be provided (for groups with less than 10 passengers) at an additional cost of US$100.00 per day per reservation (not per passenger), this extra charge will be paid previous to the excursion departure date.


Air transportation to Kapawi is by private planes rather than commercial planes. The two types of airplanes capable of reaching Kapawi and landing safely on their airstrips are the 9-passenger BN-2 Islander and the 5-passenger Cessna. Flights are only on Mondays and Fridays, however, charter flights are available. Please contact Andean Treks for more information.

Additional information on flights and weather.

Note 1: Depending upon weather conditions and/or the availability of specific airplanes, the standard travel routes may be changed. You will be fully informed of the planned travel itineraries. However, weather conditions in the Amazon are unpredictable and can change quickly so please be patient and keep an open mind if there are lasta-minute changes even on the day of travel or en-route. Routings taken are based on the best conditions available, with passengers’ safety the foremost concern.

Note 2: In exceptional cases, usually due to weather conditions, we may have to take the overland route from Quito to Shell, or vice-versa, using a chartered bus, van or auto service.

Note 3: In the event that weather conditions prevent arrival into Kapawi on the scheduled day, accommodations at a comfortable hotel in Puyo ( a 10 minute drive from Shell) will be provided, and flights rescheduled as early as possible the next morning to Kapawi.

Quick Facts

  • Fly from Shell over expansive Amazon rainforest to remote Kapawi Lodge
  • 4, 5, or 8-day all-inclusive packages
  • Achuar and naturalist guides lead daily excursions
  • Cultural immersion on visit to Achuar community
  • Birdwatching, hiking, camping
  • Canoeing, kayaking, fishing
  • Self-guided trails