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“Peace on Eden”

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El Refugio de Intag Cloud Forest Lodge
Ranked #5 of 33 Otavalo B&B and Inns
Reviewed September 27, 2012

First of all the food was amazing ! Served in an spectacular setting and the staff was so helpfull attentive to all of us, they where great with the kids too! We travelled with our two sons and they still are talking about the birds, the trees and the trekking! El Refugio is one of does places you want to return, it has a lot of love and peace! And you can feel the energy anjd love all involved are putting in saving the environment.

Thank you for great stay , we will return!

Fernando Polanco

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Fernando P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 - 53 of 58 reviews

Reviewed April 18, 2012

I had an absolutely fabulous time at El Refugio. We were picked up by our amazing guide Osvaldo from Hacienda Cusin and we headed stright for the countryside. A breathtaking drive of the Ecuadorian landscape, once we got there we immidiately got involved in the action. Osvaldo took us for a walk in the woods of the property where we spotted many different insects and wandered over streams, bridges and past towering trees. I wasn't feeling well that day, but I completely forgot about that when I was there because the family were so warm, welcoming and friendly and made me special teas to aid my stomach pains. I loved the fact that we sat down to have our delicious homecooked meals with Osvaldo, his wife Lupe and their gorgeous two twins. Not only was it brilliant for my Spanish but I also felt that I was living the Ecuadorian lifestyle which is always hard to come across staying in more touristic places. In the afternoon we went to the cloud forest lodge and got to see the owner Sandra's fantastic wooden house and we were treated to her juicy oranges straight from the tree!We spotted some magnificent red birds called "cock of the rock" as well as catching a glimpse of a quaint little waterfall which we had all to ourselves. We concluded the day with a lovely hot soup and home cooked bread and a great sleep!
The next day we had the choice of either walking through the cloud forest to view more birds, or to climb up the mountain to see the locals making the famous, sweet delight "panella", this was an easy decision to make, climbing up the mountain to be rewarded with tasty hot sugar cane was far too tempting to refuse. It was brilliant because we got to see the huge amount of effort that goes into making every little bit of this panella and chat to the locals about the process and their lifestyle. Back for another tasty meal and then unfortunately it was time to leave.
Such good memories, and such a wonderful time!The only thing I would change is next time I would stay for 2 nights rather than one, to be able to spend an entire day there!

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Hanne G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2012

Peggy (my wife) and I had such a wonderful time at El Refugio. We are so grateful that Nick (the owner of Hacienda Cusin) encouraged us to change our plans and go to Intag. It was a blast from the moment Oswaldo picked us up. Oswaldo was so warm and easy going it made it fun to HAVE to speak Spanish in order to communicate. My Spanish improved 3 times over in the course of the time we were there.

We loved the whole experience. El Refugio and the house were really beautiful; the house was really cool and so comfortable. We enjoyed getting to have home cooked meals in such an intimate environment. The food was great! We love to tell the story about Monty (the big yellow lab) rustling up a chicken and driving into our bathroom The chicken was mortally wounded; we ended up having it for dinner! I don’t think Oswaldo really liked that part very much! It was great fun (and interesting) getting to know Sandy, the manager, and her son Martin and to get to see some of their life as well. It was so nice to experience some real life and not to feel so much like a tourist while still being a tourist.

I am not sure that Peg or I will ever become birders but we did enjoy the experience and adventure of it. One can have a fine time at El Refugio without a full frontal Cock of the Rock experience. The zip line on the other hand may be mandatory; that was such a blast and I am so glad that I did it. That whole process of getting up there and finding that funky little place was a trip in itself and the view from the other side was truly spectacular. I wish I had not been such a wimp and had my camera with me but then we wouldn’t have a picture of any of us on the zip line. I was so nervous about going (or not going) on the zip line that I did not take a single picture of Martin or Peggy when they were actually in the air. Thankfully I left the camera with Sandy for fear of dropping and she actually did capture a picture me.

We really hated to leave as we felt like we had more to see and new friends as well.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Mel_Bellar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2011

A spectacular location managed by a friendly staff. I rented a room and got a house with all of the amenities. It is in a stunning valley framed by the Cotacachi mountain and a peaceful river lined with huge old trees. The forest was unbelievable, filled with spectacular orchids and birds like gems , they have kilometers of trails and very capable guides. Highly recommended!

Room Tip: Casa del Rio is the best house
See more room tips
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Tino299
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2011

We just returned from a trip to Ecuador and had the privilege of spending two nights at El Refugio. As soon as we met Oswaldo, the caretaker and guide, and he picked us up at Hacienda Cusin for the ride to El Refugio, we knew we were in good hands. From that point forward, we had an amazing experience, learned and saw so much, and enjoyed an extremely comfortable stay in absolutely beautiful surroundings.

The house/lodge is spacious and comes with everything you might need while you are there (a well-stocked library, full kitchen, binoculars, umbrellas, flashlights & boots). The area is stunning. However, the most special thing about staying at El Refugio was the care of Oswaldo and his wife, Lupe. Oswaldo could tell right away that we were not seasoned bird-watchers, or hikers, yet he still managed to make every walk/hike interesting, informative, and exhilarating. The food Lupe prepared (in abundance!) was the best we had during our ten days in Ecuador.

The birds, plants, mountains that surround El Refugio are spectacular. We feel very lucky that we had a chance to visit this area, to meet Oswaldo, Lupe & their family, and to stay at the lodge.

Stayed: September 2011, traveled with friends
1  Thank kt3404
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2011

We stayed at El Refugio for 2 days and wish it had been longer. We had a wonderful experience. Devoted birders will be enchanted. But so too will those who just enjoy seeing and hearing an incredible assortment of colorful, wonderful birds and butterflies. It's also the place for you if you just want to kick back and relax in a peaceful, gracious setting. The photos of the guest house on their website do not at all do it justice. It's beautifully appointed--the bones of the house are architecturally inviting and pleasing; the furnishings are commodious but evocative of local skill and crafts; the linens are delicious; and all of the little extras (binoculars, socks for indoors, umbrellas, local coffee, cool water) made us feel so welcome. Should anyone have time to read, the little library is well stocked. And the food! We're still talking about our meals. Vegetarians will feel right at home; and committed carnivores will savor the fresh, local and delicious home-cooked meals. The staff are fonts of local natural history knowledge and understand the mix of both good conversation or just walking quietly and soaking in the surroundings. It was the perfect mix of adventure and comfort!

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank LJinDC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2011

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!!

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Worldtgardener
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Refugio de Intag Cloud Forest Lodge

Address: Casilla 18 | Via Intag Km 53, Otavalo 100450, Ecuador
Location: Ecuador > Imbabura Province > Otavalo
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 33 B&Bs / Inns in Otavalo
Price Range: $107 - $109 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 9
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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