My boyfriend and I returned this week from a month in Ecuador and the Galapagos. The whole trip was incredible, by Maquipucuna was hands down my favorite part of our entire trip. Everything, and I mean everything, is incredible. The food was the best we had in all of Ecuador (which is saying something, we loved all the food everywhere), everyone who works is so friendly, the guides are so knowledgable and so willing to share their knowledge and passion with visitors, the lodge itself is absolutely gorgeous, the facilities inside the lodge are luxurious (including hot showers!), the trails are extensive with varying degrees of difficulty, and the wildlife is abundant. I have some funny food preferences, but everything that I usually don't like I LOVED when I ate it here, and the kitchen staff was very open to preparing alternate dishes if given some advance notice. The ride to Maqui was also great, since Rodrigo asked that the driver take us to a few spots along the way, including a beautiful volcano crater and Mitad del Mundo.
Our favorite part of our stay was our guide, Arsenio. We are hikers and explorers, and we feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from such an enthusiastic member of the Maqui crew. He greeted us with a smile every day, and would approach us a few times a day to see if we wanted to hike around. He hiked with us at least twice a day, sometimes starting at 5:30 or 6 AM for birding and going into the night to look for nocturnal mammals. I swear, this man knows literally every bird in the forest by sound and sight, and he can spot birds seriously miles off and get his scope on them to share with others. His English was excellent, and he helped us work on our Spanish on every hike. Now, back in the states, we think of him daily and take his as a great role model for living a positive and enthusiastic life.
Rebeca and Rodrigo, who organize reservations and run the facilities, are wonderful people and we feel they went above and beyond to help us take advantage of everything Maqui has to offer. Because I mentioned to Rebeca that we are very active, enjoy hiking, and birding, she made sure to mention to Arsenio what our choice activities were and because of that he made himself available to us very often. We also had requested to go to Tilupe to the Pre-Incan site, to Toucanopoy for ziplining, and to Sta. Lucia Lodge to see the Cock of the Rock lek. After we made our reservations, we found out the lodge was booked and we couldn't go. Instead, Rebeca and Rodrigo put together what was one of the best days of my life for us. We went to Tilupe, then to Toucanopy (both incredible experiences in themselves and I highly recommend them both), and then we went tubing at Mindo and toured the Mindo chocolate factory. All this happened to fall on my birthday, and when we returned to the lodge the staff had prepared the most amazing dinner, complete with a freshly baked cake and my very favorite Ecuadorian cocktail, canelazo!
I cannot recommend this lodge highly enough, and I feel that I can't do it justice in writing or in the few picturesmy boyfriend and I took that I included (to see more pictures and read more stories, please check out the travel blog post I wrote about Maqui. I think it covers better everything Maqui offered to us. http://seekmyownway.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/there-and-back-again/). Do yourself a favor and spend as much time there as you possibly can. I highly advise you not to spend one or two days there, but longer. We stayed for five nights and felt that we barely scratched the surface of what Maqui had to offer. We will be back in the future, perhaps as volunteers for such a worthy cause if they will have us.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The closest pristine rainforest reserve & ecolodge to Quito, Capital of Ecuador.Located 50 miles northwest of Quito, the Maquipucuna Eco lodge is an award winning Eco lodge and the official gateway to the Maquipucuna Nature Reserve. The Maquipucuna Reserves extends over close to 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) containing more than 375 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, 250 species of butterflies, and 1000 species of moths - amongst other species... In addition to hosting more than 2,000 species of plants, Maquipucuna harbors 4% of the world's bird diversity. Visitors can hike a system of 8 trails spanning 32 km of well maintained trails, dive into natural swimming holes, visit waterfalls, experience the only shade-grown, bird-friendly, beyond organic coffee-tour, bird-watch, visit our organic garden, visit a unique community-run in-vitro propagation lab and orchid tour,visit neighboring community ecolodges, learn about our conservation efforts in the Choco-Andean conservation & sustainable development corridor, or simply relax. ... more less