FAQ

What is the climate?

Located at 850 m above sea level, the temperature is perfect all year round (21°C).
But you have to be prepared for rain. The rainfall is about 4 meters/year, which is about 6 times more than in Europe/USA.
Due to the high humidity (on average 90%), your clothes and other items get wet quickly. Keep them in the provided plastic boxes in your room.

Average monthly rainfall at the reserve

What’s the best time to visit? And how long do you advise us to stay in the reserve?

Any time of the year is a good time to visit us. The “driest” months are August-September and January-February. The wettest months are April to June. Most rain however falls at night.
But these are only averages. We had wet months in january and dry months in april.
On the other hand in the wetter periods, there is more animal activity.
Because there is so much to see and to walk, and also taking in account the unpredictable weather, we recommend staying a week.

How do I get to the lodge?

On the page “Location & contact”, you can find how to get to the lodge.
It is about 2 hours walking to the lodge. Horses can bring up your luggage. Note that this is only possible in the morning (up to 1 pm). In case you arrive late, you can still walk to the lodge. But your luggage will be brought up early next day.

Where can I leave my car?

In case you come with your own car, you can leave it at the start of the trail. That is what most visitors do. It is safe because you have just passed a military checkpoint, so it cannot be stolen. But you can also leave your car in Orito and take a taxi to the reserve. In that case, we recommend staying at the Tayrona Internacional hotel. They have a closed parking.

What to bring?

The most important are rubber boots up to your knees. You can get up to size 43 in Orito (26.000 $). Further we recommend a good umbrella, which is better than a rain cape. Do not forget a hat or cap.
Warm clothes are not really necessary. Recommended are T-shirts with long and short sleeves and light (quick drying) long trousers. Walking in your rubber boots is easier with thick socks.
Don’t bring too many clothes. We have a washing machine in the reserve.
Leave valuable objects, such as jewellery behind. Don’t bring large amounts of money. And definitely do not bring Euros or US dollars. You only need Colombian pesos to pay for guides, horses and beverages (soft drinks, beer and wine). There are ATM’s in Orito.
Bring along sufficient repellent. On hot days, there are often harmless sweat bees, especially on the canopy platforms. So additionally bring a mosquito hat.
(Telescopic) hiking sticks are useful walking up the main trail.
Plastic sandals are recommended for swimming.

Is there electricity? Is there mobile coverage? Internet?

There is 24/7 electricity (120 V, 60 Hz) provided by 2 kW solar panels. However the battery capacity is limited. Therefore always switch off lights you do not use and do not charge heavy batteries (like drone batteries) between 4 pm and 8 am.
On some days, there is coverage from the Claro operator. We are trying to improve the signal (with an amplifier).
On most days, there is reasonable signal from the Avantel operator.
On both platforms, there is usual good signal from both operators and sometimes Tigo and Movistar.
Since 26/01/2019, we have satelite internet.

Are there hot showers?

At the moment there are only “cold” showers. In the evenings and in the mornings, the water is 21°C. But if you take a shower on a sunny afternoon, the water is usually warm.
The sanitary block has a sunboiler and even when there is only a bit of sun, the water is usually warm.

Is the reserve safe?

Putumayo did not have a good reputation. The illegal coca cultivation, the presence of oil and the nearby border made it an ideal base for the FARC guerrilla movement. The guerrilla has now disappeared and the peace has returned to most parts of Putumayo.
The reserve has always remained safe because it’s vicinity to a military base. Moreover, it is enclosed between 2 mayor rivers with only 1 access road, which deters people with bad intentions.
To increase safety, many visible and invisible cameras have been placed.

Health? Are vaccinations required?

There are no diseases, such as yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, zika, malaria or Leishmaniasis in the reserve (due to the height).
But a yellow fever vaccination is required when travelling to the Putumayo department. Sometimes they ask for your vaccination card at the airport.

Can we visit the canopy platforms (even if we are scared of heights)?

The platforms are built in the canopy at about 20 meters above the ground. These are accessible with ladders. The ladders are safe and in addition you are always connected to a lifeline.
However, if you have a fear of heights, this can be difficult. In that case we can hoist you onto the 2nd platform. This is also with a safety line and a rope grab.
In any case, we always hoist your personal items, such as photo material, telescope etc.
You can also stay overnight on the 2nd platform. Costs are the same as in the lodge.

Are there other interesting destinations closeby?

There are many other fabulous destinations close to the reserve, as well in the highlands as in the deeper lowlands.
We are happy to help you create a travel plan, so that you can see a huge diversity without too much travel.

How is the access trail? Is it suitable for the elderly?

What refrains some people from coming, is that the lodge is not located along a roadside. This is a pity, because the access trail is only 4 km and is very beautiful. It normally takes 2 hours to arrive at the lodge. We recommend walking slowly and enjoying the nature. There are among others some look-outs and a lek of Cock-of-the-Rocks. At the beginning of the trail, there are annoying loose stones and on the second half, the wooden logs can be dangerously slippery on wet days. We therefore recommend walking with (telescopic) hiking sticks for a better balance.
We recommend that elderly people start early and walk even slower.
Birders even take 4 hours to walk up.
Of course there are horses that can bring up everyone to the lodge.

Do I need a local guide?

All trails are well marked and as long as you stay on the trails, you do not need a guide.
However a guide can bring you to remote areas off the trails.

What are the reserve rules?

We have a few important rules to make it safe and environmental friendly for all of us.
Because the lodge is wood built, open fires are prohibited. Smoking is only allowed on the first (open) floor.
It is only allowed to go to the canopy platforms with the appropriate safety devices, such as a harness and a rope grab connected to the safety line.
The use of cocaine and other illegal substances is strictly forbidden in the reserve. Did you know that 1 gr of cocaine is responsible for the destruction of 4 m² Amazonian rainforest? It is responsible for 25% of the yearly deforestation in Colombia. And consider also the number of lives it takes yearly in Colombia.
Read “The carbon cost of your cocaine”.
Putumayo is unfortunately known among backpackers as the place to try Yagé (Ayahuasca). This commercialized practise is neither allowed in the reserve. There are plenty of places in and around Orito, where you can try it.
Our rooms are not sound proof and all guests come to listen to the sounds of nature. Use headphones if you want to listen to music.
The reserve is dedicated to conservation, research and teaching. For this reason it is forbidden to catch or collect fauna or flora in the reserve. As in most reserves, pets are not allowed. This is to protect the local wildlife and to not disturb other guests.
The toilets are designed for biodegradable waste. Therefore throw only toilet paper in the toilets.
Please keep the lodge clean and remove your boots when entering the lodge.

Is playback allowed?

It is not forbidden as this rule is difficult to enforce. But we ask not to use playback for sensitive species such as raptors (especially Micrastur) and Quetzals (Pharomachrus) and never close to the lodge. Visitors after you also want to enjoy waking up with the sounds of these birds.
To not stress birds unnecessary, use it only for the species you really need to see.

How can I make a reservation?

Send us an email (la.isla.escondida.lodge@hotmail.com) mentioning the following:
* The period you like to come (the date of arrival and # nights),
* The number of visitors and type of room (double bed or 2 individual beds),
* The need of a horse to bring your gear to the lodge,
* Your special needs (diet, allergies, etc).
We will reply with the further details how to complete the reservation ( incl. the total amount and account number).