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A two-hour journey north of Quito rewards travellers with the tropical Andes mountain range. Set amid Ecuador’s Mindo Cloud Forest, El Monte Sustainable Lodge is a divine resort to unplug, relax, immerse and explore the lush green utopian surroundings.
El Monte Sustainable Lodge is a must-visit for environmentally-conscious travellers to Ecuador who wish to feed their passion for bird-watching, nature walks and outdoor adventures.
Now, are you ready to read about my 2-night, 3-day experience at El Monte Sustainable Lodge?
Getting to El Monte Sustainable Lodge
How to reach Mindo
Quito to Mindo by bus – Go to La Ofelia bus station in north Quito, and take the Flor del Valle bus for $3-4. Bear in mind that La Ofelia can take up to 1 hour in a car from Centro Histórico, and a taxi will cost approximately $10.
Quito to Mindo by private car – Costs between $60 – $80. Can be organised by your accommodation in Quito or El Monte Sustainable Lodge. Alternatively, check the price of the car rental with Discover Cars.
How to reach El Monte Sustainable Lodge
So, you’ve made it to Mindo! If you take the bus, grab a taxi 10 minutes to the entrance of El Monte Sustainable Lodge. It is best to let them know you are close by so one of their team is ready to operate the pulley system for your first adventure at the eco-lodge.
Take a seat in the frame, make sure your bag is balanced, give them a nod, and let them work the ropes to guide you across the gushing Rio Mindo to the enclosed nature reserve.
Reasons to Stay at El Monte Sustainable Lodge
Have you ever felt so happy in nature that you feel all your stresses drift away? Well, I got this vibe as soon as I arrived at El Monte Sustainable Lodge, and did not want the experience to end. This is one cloud forest eco-lodge you will want to visit!
Relax in Riverside Cabañas
This Mindo eco-lodge has six individual wooden cabañas of different sizes with a traditional indigenous design. The designs of the cabañas are sustainably-led using natural materials. The rustic thatched roofs slope down blending seamlessly into the dense forest, next to the fast-flowing river.
The lodge works closely with the environment by using hydroelectricity and solar panels to power the resort.
As a nature-loving solo traveller, I was delighted with my two-storey cosy cabaña. Entering into the chilling space with a large sofa and coffee table, as well as a table and chairs, the stairs lead up to the sleeping space and bathroom.
The comfortable double bed was loaded with blankets, fresh water on the side with travel magazines to peruse. Best of all, the windows opened out to Rio Mindo, and dozing off to the hypnotic sound of running water was such a relaxing experience.
The bath is stylishly clad with stones, with refillable copper bottles with natural toiletries. It’s certainly blissful surroundings to enjoy a good soak!
There are larger cabañas to accommodate bigger groups and families. Guests can splash around in the natural pool in front of their accommodation.
Enjoy the Sustainable Dining Experience
You don’t need to be a foodie to know the cuisine at El Monte Eco Lodge can match any top-calibre restaurant. They produce quality and creative farm-to-fork dishes from the open kitchen using home-grown produce. It’s all in the fresh ingredients, and knowing what to do with them!
“Simple ingredients, treated with respect… put them together and you will always have a great dish.”
— Chef José Andrés, Restauranteur and Founder of World Central Kitchen (WCK)
The communal meals are served in the dining areas of the main lodge. It’s great to catch up with the other guests and hear of their adventures in Ecuador.
For breakfast, you can typically expect organic fruits, freshly baked bread, homemade jam, and eggs. Served with black tea, coffee or aromatic lemongrass tea from the garden.
The low-impact menus for lunch and dinner change every day. Expect to devour healthy foods such as delicious soups, succulent shrimp, tasty vegetables, and flavoursome sauces.
Chill at the Main Lodge
The open house at El Monte Sustainable Lodge is an idyllic viewpoint in the day staring at the mist-shrouded mountains, catching the array of tanagers tweeting, the toucan that visits each afternoon, or even the agouti roaming around.
The library of conservation and wildlife books and chats with knowledgeable guides kept me entertained between delicious food and nature excursions.
In preparation for nightfall, the open-fired pit is loaded with logs next to comfy chairs and swinging hammocks. The food is served, and chats happen under candlelight. With only one corner connecting to WiFi, expect to disconnect. Expect simple evenings with the cacophony of selva sounds echoing all around.
Adventures and Activities in Mindo cloud forest
El Monte Sustainable Lodge ensured I was well looked after with an itinerary that suited my passions. As the eco-lodge is in the heart of cloud forest, there is really no need to go far in search of wildlife. The enthusiastic and friendly guides led us around the trail through the moss-drenched trees on both day and night walks.
There is a plethora of activities to immerse yourself in when visiting Mindo. To experience the forest’s tranquil side, I took a peaceful ride on the Tarabita, a cable car system that crosses the lush ravines, and hiked to Cascada Reina.
An early morning visit to see the Andean Cock-Of-The-Rocks lekking was a must, and what a performance it was! To complete my bird fix, a trip to spot the iridescent hummingbirds and colourful tanagers.
Explore its rich biodiversity by embarking on guided birdwatching tours, where you can spot rare avian species like toucans and hummingbirds.
For adrenaline seekers, Mindo forest offers thrilling zip-lining adventures amidst the canopy, providing breathtaking views of the verdant landscape. Embark on an exhilarating white-water rafting tour, or enjoy the scenery on horseback.
El Monte lives up to their ‘sustainable’ name
I always love to know more about the people behind eco-projects. When you meet the owners, Tom and Mariela, you realise that conservation isn’t just a business buzzword, it’s a way of life.
This inspiring Ecuadorian-American couple combines sustainability and eco-tourism at every touchpoint possible in El Monte including facilitating Mindo Biological Station. This all provides the wonderful dream of living in Mindo whilst helping to preserve Ecuador’s cloud forest.
For many years, they have supported indigenous communities in the Amazon to create eco-lodges such as Eden Amazon Lodge and Sani Lodge. Their legacy continues to travel further afield making a difference by empowering communities to welcome guests to explore their culture and rainforest on their terms.
NOTE: My stay at El Monte Sustainable Lodge was gifted. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own.
PIN FOR LATER – READ MY REVIEW ON EL MONTE SUSTAINABLE LODGE
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