I visited here on April 11, 2011. I had been to the Intag Cloud Forest some 13 years ago and wanted to take my Dutch husband to see all the orchids! We LOVED El Refugio!! The resident care-taker/guide, Oswaldo, was the best! He knows all the orchids and where to see them. He also found the elusive Cock of the Rock, which everyone comes to see, and very few actually see it! Oswaldo knew exactly where it was nesting and we saw it on TWO different occasions! The meals, prepared by his wife Lupe, were DELICIOUS and all fresh ingredients grown right there on the property! Hiking here can be muddy as we were there during the rainy season, but boots are provided [up to a size 10 or so] and the little rain that we had was not a deterrant to our jungle walks. We also had wonderful, sunshine and saw lots of birds and butterflies. DO remember to take insect repellent for your walks in the jungle and a hat and sunscreen are also good to have. Our room was really comfortable, and we slept each night with the sound of the river running right behind our house. Oswaldo built us a roaring fire in the evening and my husband STILL cannot stop talking about the beauty of the flowers and how green everything was! We were lucky enough to have a glimpse of the volcano, Cotacachi from our front porch one morning. Hummingbirds visited the feeder by the porch of the main house where we ate our breakfast each day! We are back in Holland now and having serious"Ecuador Withdrawl!" If you love nature and want a remote place, but one that has beautiful rooms and lots of HOT water...this is the place for you! The Ecuadorian people are very gracious and kind, the manager of the property, Sandy, is great, and I think you will find this a truly almost spiritual place to relax! The drive in from Otavalo takes about 2 hours over some very rugged terrain, so you MUST go with a local driver who has a 4x4 vehicle andknows the roads, especially if it is the rainy season. Sandy, at El Refugio can arrange this for you. If you are looking for a wide-screen TV and a sports bar, this is not for you. If you are a true nature lover, and crazy about orchids and wild beauty, then don't miss El Refugio!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This cloud forest Lodge is located just 33 miles from the market town of Otavalo along the Toabunchi River in northwestern Ecuador. The brick-and-stucco house and the wooden cabin are surrounded by gardens that attract the 200-plus species of birds from the retreat's 60 acres of forest. The often snow-capped 17,000' Cotacachi mountain is in view. Mild temperatures are the norm: an average of 75 to 80 F. Guests can hike along the river or up the mountain to view birds and orchids and other strikingly beautiful wildflowers. The area is free of tropical diseases. Meals are available from the resident caretakers who are also the cook and guide. A thirty-minute drive takes you to the small town of Apuela, with stores, a health clinic and the Coffee Cooperative of ACRI, to witness the way the coffee process works--from farm to roasted beans. Not far away are the hot baths of Nangulvi. These natural hot springs are set in a deep valley, the mountains rising straight from the valley floor. The best part of El Refugio is the closeness to nature it provides. The refuge is off the main road, so the sounds you hear are the birds and the river, and the clouds that frequently cloak the forested mountains make for a dramatic setting. ... more less
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