Sacha Lodge History
Sacha Lodge (“Sacha” is the Quichua Indian word meaning “forest”) was a dream founded by Arnold Ammeter, or as he is more commonly known, “Benny.” Born in Interlaken , Switzerland , Benny boarded a ship and headed for Chile in 1963. After spending only three months there, his thirst for adventure and the forests of South America had been awaken.
After a short time in Chile he decided to set off for Bolivia , where he remained until 1967. Later, his travels took him farther North into Peru , where he worked in the gold business. Towards the end of 1979 Benny once again packed his bags and this time headed for Ecuador , where he still resides today. Here he once again worked with gold, but also began distributing Coca Cola to isolated communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon along the Napo River. In 1985, Benny opened his first tourist lodge, ” La Casa del Suizo,” on the Upper Napo at the village of Ahuano . Today, La Casa del Suizo is still functioning there as a successful tourist resort.
As civilization slowly approached Ahuano, Benny, who was captivated by the wilderness, decided to search for a location to construct a lodge deeper in the forest. By 1989, his search had taken him throughout the entire Ecuadorian Amazon region, more commonly known as “El Oriente.” He visited Huaorani Indian territory, the Yasuní National Park and the Aguarico River region. While he liked many of the sights he visited, he found that they weren’t suitable for his vision of a rainforest lodge, since all of the land was government owned. One day after leaving Pañacocha (Iocated two hours downstream from Sacha Lodge) he stopped to speak with one of the locals living on the bank of the lower Napo . Benny spoke of his dream and the gentleman told him that he knew of the perfect place for a lodge. Together they hiked through a swamp, not knowing that the trail would soon become Sacha’s present day boardwalk (“El Anden”), and arrived at an isolated lagoon. Benny immediately fell in love with this lake, called Pilchicocha, and decided that it was the site he had been looking for. He then met with ten local landowners in nearby Coca, and purchased 500 hectares of their properties surrounding Pilchicocha. In October of 1991, 170 employees began construction of Sacha Lodge and it’s famous wooden tower (” La Torre “).
Six months later, the initial construction of Sacha was complete. In April of 1992, Sacha Lodge was officially opened with six guest rooms, a dining room, and housing for guides and other staff. During the first six months, Benny lived at and managed the lodge himself.
As time went on Benny continued to improve the facilities while purchasing more land around the lodge, and to date he has incredibly acquired 5,000 acres . This beautiful property offers a safe refuge for a tremendous variety of plants and animals native to the Ecuadorian Amazon, and a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience them for themselves.