1. Patio Andaluz
We thought this cute place in Quito, the capital of Ecuador could be your first accommodation when you arrive to Ecuador. This 4-star elegant boutique hotel in the heart of the Old Town. It is located in the historical part of Quito in walking distance from the main attractions, churches and museums. With its colonial atmosphere you feel you are back in the days while sitting in the courtyard of the Rincón De Cantuña restaurant surrounded by the Ecuadorian architecture, table cloths, decoration and arches.
The hotel also follow green best practices and it is Rainforest Alliance certified. They emphasize the importance of environmental, socio-cultural and economic impact of their operation. All their employees are local and most of their products are organic.
2. Sani Lodge
If you are looking for some unique, one-of-a-kind experience this is your place! Sani Lodge is located deep in the Amazon rainforest, in the middle of Yasuní National Park and the Cuyabeno Reserveon the bank of the Napo River. You need to take a short flight and then a 3-hour canoe ride to reach the property, which is run by indigenous people, the Sani Isla Tribal Community. If you have more time, less money and you are adventurous enough you can also take a 7-hour bus or van ride through the jungle.
It offers activities and immersions worth traveling for. You can sign up on various programs but we liked the cultural immersion for the reason that you can take part in artisan chocolate making, try the tribe’s hunting tool called blowgun, create some handicrafts and taste their traditional food from the Amazon Rainforest. They also have an Ayahuasca Ceremony where the Chaman lead a tribal ritual for spiritual rebirth.
The lodge is fully committed to preserve and protect their environment, while focusing on sustainable operations.
3. Mashpi Lodge
This 5-star Unique Lodges of the World hotel (also a research statin) is tucked away in the wilderness of Chocó forest inside the Mashpi Natural Reserve and was built with the purpose of protecting the surrounding biodiversity and natural habitat. For this reason its buildings was created in a sustainable way blending in with their natural environment perfectly. It has large wall-to-ceiling glass windows all around to get the nature closer as possible. Its architecture is modern with a luxury features and it has an open-air panoramic terrace for you to immerse in the deep lush jungle breathing the fresh air and listening to the birds chirping.
We really liked the aspect of the activities offered for children or youth. They have a special area designed for kids to learn about the wildlife and their projects. The Expedition Room is for those love reading or just interested in conservation and this habitat’s discoveries. Guests can help with volunteering with research at the lodge.
The lodge employees are also shareholders of the this company and collaboration with local community is essential part of the operations. They source almost everything locally. They combine ecotourism, research, education and community support to create an impact in the world.
4. Cotococha Lodge
This amazing place is also located in the Amazon Rainforest by the Napo River. It has 22 bungalows equipped with hammocks, private veranda and oil lamps. Yes, oil lamps. They do not use electricity to lower the impact on the environment creating a romantic atmosphere.
Do not forget to try the Guayusa which is the energy drink of Ecuador. It is a brewed leaf drink made in a similar way as tea and it is also available in cocktails. The restaurant offers traditional Ecuadorian dishes with international fusion made from local ingredients.
The Lodge has several tours including canoeing on the Napo River, visiting a Butterfly Farm, river tubing, cave hiking, jungle trekking, kayaking, white water rafting and engagement with the local community. The last two options are very exciting. Firstly, it is interesting if you have never done it. So yes, I would definitely try white water rafting in the Amazon rainforest. Secondly, any interaction with indigenous tribes lead to a unique experience. You actually will share their everyday activities with them, lear how to pan for gold, make household utensils and how to make ‘Chicha de Yuca’, their typical daily drink.
The hotel is certified by Smart Voyager therefore they practice full responsibility towards their local environment while they educate guests how to protect the area. Most of their employees are local, they support native communities and they source their handicrafts from local suppliers.
5. La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa
This beautiful sustainable lodge is also located in the Amazon jungle within the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve on the south bank of Napo River – a 5-hour trip from Quito by flight, motorized and normal canoe and on foot. For all your time at the lodge you will be accompanied by an expert naturalist and a native guide. You will get rainforest gear – ponchos and boots – on request. La Selva has amazing spa treatments full-body massage, Rejuvenating baths and natural Amazon masks all performed outside by the lake in a serene atmosphere. Make sure to taste their rainforest cuisine – they use local, fresh ingredients and a fusion of Ecuadorian and international dishes.
They also offer yoga and meditation classes. Children and adults both has the opportunities to experience cultural exchange, photography, nature walks, birdwatching, swimming in the lake, relaxation and even star gazing.
They continuously work on lowering their carbon footprint following social and environmental responsibilities.
Some of their employees are even born on the premises and raised there. They support the local Kichwa community by offering them training and work. They follow responsible management practices, they use resistant wood, bamboo and steel for construction due to humidity. In 2020 they plan to create an organic botanical garden they can utilize for their kitchen. They will change their equipments to energy efficient ones and will have solar panels to provide energy instead of fossil fuel. They limit air-conditioning use with fans and natural air. They have a mutual relationship with the Pilchi tribe in which the community does not hunt or fish in the lodge’s property and the La Selva lodge give them a monthly contribution and purchase their agricultural products for their cuisine.