• I spent about three days at an all-inclusive lodge in the Amazon rainforest for $270.
  • I had to take a two-hour bus and a two-hour canoe ride to get to my overwater lodge
  • I spent my time spotting animals, hiking, swimming, and taking in the peaceful setting.

As a child, I dreamed of visiting the Amazon rainforest, but I always envisioned it being wildly inaccessible.

Traveling, especially internationally, is expensive. Looking at lodging alone, hotel prices shot up by 1.7% between April and May, according to NerdWallet's Travel Price Index.

So when I found a three-day, all-inclusive tour of the Amazon rainforest at Green Forest Ecolodge for just $270, I knew I had to go.

The package included all my meals, bus and canoe transfers, a private lodge, and up to four activities a day.

Here's what it was like.

It was a bit of a hike to get there

After landing in Ecuador, I hopped on an overnight shuttle from Quito to Lago Agrio. Still slightly sleepy, I splurged and spent a few dollars on a taxi from the bus station to Magic Hostal, the designated meeting spot.

From there, a driver met me for a complimentary transfer to the canoe launch. The drive took about two hours, winding through suburbs and navigating a mixture of tarmac and grit roads.

After jumping off the minibus, the real adventure started. I was ushered toward the river, where a guide placed my luggage in a thick plastic bag on a canoe to keep it dry.

He then helped me board the precariously wobbling vessel and gave me a green poncho (it's not called the rainforest for nothing).

With that, we were on our way to the lodge

A driver steered the vessel while a tour guide kept a sharp eye out for wildlife. They seemed to understand that time was of the essence in my short three-day stay.

The most exciting sighting was squirrel monkeys — sociable little primates that leaped along overwater branches. But by the time the two-hour canoe ride was over, I'd already seen multiple monkey species, birds, and a sloth.

It started raining as the canoe navigated the last few bends of the Cuyabeno River. I was dry under my fancy green poncho, but not wearing waterproof mascara was definitely a poor choice.

The overwater lodges were connected by a green boardwalk

I was ecstatic as we approached the wooden dock and I got my first glimpse of the lodge I'd be staying in.

I opted for a private overwater bungalow with a terrace and hammock. The double bed inside came equipped with a mosquito net, and the bathroom was semi-open and overlooked the jungle.

It was truly beautiful.

Meals were a sociable and elaborate occasion with the other guests

Lunch was served right away. Everyone staying here ate together three times a day in the main lodge, and a bell rang to announce each meal.

Meals consisted of three courses of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine.

There was a starter, main, and dessert at lunch and dinner, and breakfast was a mixture of fruit, toast, and a hot meal. Unlimited hot drinks and bottled water were also available 24/7.

I'm vegetarian, and I was a little worried about the food and drink situation, but I didn't have any issues during my stay. The staff were very conscious of food quality and water safety, so I wasn't worried about getting sick.

I experienced so many excursions as part of my all-inclusive package

On the first day alone, I saw caimans (alligatorid species) and took a guided night hike.

I spotted all kinds of nocturnal creatures like tarantulas.

The second day was busier, starting with a hike through the thick jungle.

While treading through the wet soil — that's almost orange from the high levels of clay — I saw a snake and owl monkeys before crossing some swamp terrain.

Along the way, our guide, Elvis, taught us about the rainforest. I learned poisonous snakes in the Amazon have a triangular head and that indigenous Cuyabeno communities believe copal resin wards off negativity.

I'd been nervous about swimming in the Amazon, but it was surprisingly warm

Later on the second day, I'd scheduled a sunset lagoon swim.

On the way, we saw pink dolphins and woolly monkeys and heard roaring howler monkeys.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was a little nervous about swimming (it wasn't exactly balmy). But after diving into the lagoon from the canoe, everything was peaceful.

It was a refreshing bit of solitude as Elvis played music from a speaker.

On the boat ride back, we spotted adult caimans that looked straight out of "Jurassic Park." Their unnerving yellow eyes were shuddering but impressive.

The third day was short and sweet but still amazing

My final morning started with a quick birdwatching excursion. I spotted toucans, macaws, and a nesting red heron.

But after breakfast, it was time to head back out on the canoe to transfer to Lago Agrio.

I couldn't believe the value I got for my money

Visiting the Amazon rainforest was the opposite of what I expected. It was budget-friendly and serene, not expensive and uncomfortable.

After my stay, I realized $270 for three days of food, lodging, and activities was a ridiculously good deal — especially since I got to see caimans, pink river dolphins, five species of monkeys, and hundreds of insects and birds.

I'd definitely recommend the experience, even for the squeamish or those who don't think they're outdoorsy.

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2024-06-23T12:41:03Z dg43tfdfdgfd