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“Don't miss this one!”

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Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge
Ranked #6 of 29 Otavalo B&B and Inns
Chicago, IL
1 review
“Don't miss this one!”
Reviewed June 2, 2008

We just returned from a two week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. The Ali Shungu Lodge was our first stop after arriving in Ecuador. The accomodations were amazing. Frank is a gracious and a well informed host who takes obvious pride in his beautiful lodge and the surrounding community. His staff made us feel like royalty.

Frank helped plan every part of our stay including visiting the Otavalo market, horseback riding and hiking. His advice and local color made our experience very memorable.

The meals were delicious and a wonderful first introduction to Ecuadorian cuisine. Our family of four shared a two bedroom house. The wool blankets, fireplace and the full kitchen complete with ample drinking water and coffee made for an excellent stay.

Our only disappointment was having to leave after a very short two night visit.

  • Liked — The setting and the owner/staff
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank gogochicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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168 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (48)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Scotland, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2007

We arrived from Quito airport in a taxi organised by Ali Shungu. The driver was excellent. We did wonder where on earth we were going as the road turned into a track and we were going higher and higher along a ridge!

This place is wonderful. The guest houses are so large and feel like home. Frank and his wife have put so much into this even down to the choices of local handicrafts. Even though the lodge is 3km from the town you don't feel stranded at all, a car goes down in the morning and comes back in the afternoon. We used the taxi driver for several trips around- at $10 an hour it was great not to have to worry about directions and driving.

The staff from the local community are so charming, the food is delicious, maybe there was a little too much.

The scenery is breadth taking when the cloud lifts! There are all sorts of things to see and do, the market is only part of it.

There is 2 hours horse riding included in the price- we don't ride- just sit on and the horse will take you. I'm sure they would speed up if asked! It was a great experience to go thru villages, the people were so friendly.

We weren't going to go to Otavalo as my partner and son don't like shopping but after some advice on the forum we decided to- what good advice!

  • Liked — everything, especially the fires and hot water bottles at night!
  • Disliked — double beds could be bigger
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank arranka27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Catharines, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed July 26, 2007

This is absolutely one of the best places I have ever stayed in. The surrounding area is beautiful and the lodge is very relaxing and laid back. After a busy week in the Galapagos, this was exactly what we needed.

The houses are nicely decorated, clean and very spacious. It feels like a home away from home. Coffee, tea and soft drinks, as well as bottled water are in the house. The fire was lit for us every night and in the morning when it was cool.

The service here was excellent. All of the staff were very friendly and the owner was always available to help arrange day trips or to make sure we had anything we needed. Truly one of the nicest people we met in Ecuador.

After a busy day shopping at the market, the mountaintop lodge was a perfect place to come back to and relax. I highly recommend staying here (it is only a $5 taxi ride to the market but feels like a world away).

I would definitely stay here again and recommend my friends and family do as well.

Stayed July 2007
Helpful?
Thank agoraphobic1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maple Valley, Washington
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed June 14, 2007

We spent five nights in Otavalo recently. The first two at the Ali Shungu Hotel in town (because we wanted to experience the animal market early on Saturday), then transferred to the Mountaintop Lodge.
We loved the hotel: it was clean, simple, friendly and in a good location for repeated visits to the market. The food at the restaurant was excellent.
As good as the hotel was, the Lodge was even better. Our host, Francisco, made us feel really welcome and the staff was friendly and professional. Breakfast and dinner were included in the price ($54.00 p.p. cash, plus 22% taxes). The food was plentyful, delectable and beautifully served.
There are four cottages, tastefully decorated and spacious, in an exquisit setting, surounded by flowers and with a splendid view. A fire was lit for us in the early evening and hot water bottles were provided at night. There was plenty of hot water and an unlimited supply of drinking water.
Three friendly dogs, three llamas, and three horses plus a cat , at the moment with a newborn, added to the cozyness of our home away from home.
It was easy to have contact with the staff and the indigenous people in the area. We love to walk and were not disappointed. A five hour roundtrip hike to the rainforest was most rewarding.
On one day, Francisco arranged for us to be picked up and driven to neighboring villages and lake cuycocha, allowing us to meet local weavers and view more of the splendid country.
Not only do we recommend this retreat highly to anybody, but sincerely hope to be able to return some day.


Stayed May 2007
Helpful?
3 Thank liloandwaldo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
san francisco
Level 6 Contributor
126 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 121 helpful votes
Reviewed June 2, 2007

Located on 10 acres near the top of a mountain overlooking Otavalo, this retreat has five separate spacious casitas, each with a wonderful view of volcanoes. This is not a spa with lots of bells and whistles. But it is very comfortable and clean, with good, hearty, tasty food. There's lots to do, e.g. a 5 km walk around the edge of the mountain with to-die-for views of the fertile valleys climbing the volcanos, local Indians riding horseback or tending their fields, photogenic kids playing.. The host, Frank, is engaging, knowledgeable, and caters to your every whim, whether it's going to the big animal market in town on Sat morning, copying your photos to a CD, or recounting the history of the area. He will also let you use their fairly decent mountain bikes for a 7 km descent to town, thru local villages, cobblestone roads, etc. Bring your camera. Rancho Ali Shungu is the perfect blend of comfort and ambience. Its out-of-town location is optimal; there's not much in town for a tourist other than the markets. So this is the best of both worlds.

Stayed May 2007
Helpful?
1 Thank bouchee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chapel Hill, NC
Level 4 Contributor
18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed May 10, 2007

This place was our break for three days between the Oriente and the Galapagos (April, 2007), and it fit the bill perfectly.

The villas are unexpectedly spacious, and wonderfully outfitted. Huge LR, DR, Kitchen, and bedroom, enormous shower. The views of the valley and volcanoes from your wrap-around front windows are stunning, and not done justice by the website. It took us a half-hour after arrival just to stop saying “wow”.

To add to the charm, we had a pair of llamas in the lawn outside our villa.

Do be aware that access is by a steep cobbled (& then dirt) road up from town; 4WD seems recommended, if not required.

Heat during the delightfully cool evenings is provided by a woodstove, which is regularly stocked and serviced by the staff.

Breakfast and dinner are served at the main building (a short uphill walk from the villas), and are thoroughly satisfying. Entrees included lamb curry, vegetarian lasagna, chicken and rice, and were always accompanied by good soup, organic salad (washed from local tested spring and friendly to sensitive tourist stomachs), and dessert. Alcohol is available at a reasonable supplement.

The property is a long walk to Otavalo – really, you’ll want a ride down – perhaps with the always amiable owner, Frank. He took us down every morning, or at least met our taxi half-way if we were planning more distant destinations. We highly recommend touring the local weaving villages – Agato & Cotacachi. Woodworking at San Antonio de Ibarra was less inspiring.

Of course the main attraction is the craft market in Otavalo. We went first on Thursday, when the activity and scale is ratcheted back a lot, and again on Saturday for the cultural and photo-op experience. This strategy worked great for us, and we made a majority of our purchases Thursday at lower prices and then felt less pressure during the crazier and more crowded Saturday market. One note, on Thursday the vendors are waiting around for customers, and are aggressive – almost every one of them will verbally solicit your business, but a polite smile and “no, gracias” suffices. On Saturday they are so busy that you will not have to deal with this factor nearly as much.

Frank will drive you down early Saturday morning to the large animal market (talk about a cultural experience!), and then to his other Otavalo downtown hotel, Ali Shungu, for breakfast and a home base during the day. Also, don’t miss the produce market – lots of local color and photo opportunities.

This is a beautiful spot to unwind and enjoy the local culture, at a very reasonable price – highly recommended!

  • Liked — Villa and the view!
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank browdl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 9, 2006

We LOVED our experience at Rancho Ali Shungu! Went with a group of 10, so we had 3 of the 4 guest houses...the houses are huge, with very comfortable sleeping and living quarters. The wood stove was constantly re-fueled, which I welcomed -- 4 of our group had gotten food poisoning BEFORE arriving at the Rancho (some bad bizcochos in Cayambe)...we spent lots of time in the house, but with enormous glass windows and the beautiful view, what a wonderful place to recuperate! Those who rode horses were very pleased with their tour. My 3 year old son loved the docile llamas, the resident guard dogs (with puppies), and all the open space to explore. Nice bonus: HOT hot water bottles placed under the covers at night to warm your toes--we all raved about this trick! Will visit again, and would recommend to all.

  • Liked — Comfortable, clean, attractive guesthouses, excellent service!
  • Disliked — bumpy ride up the hill from Otavalo -- but the road should be paved soon!
  • Tips/Secrets — Don't eat in Cayambe!!!!
  • Stayed June 2006
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Wenecua
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge

Property: Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge
Address: Imbabura, Otavalo 100450, Ecuador (Formerly Rancho Ali Shungu)
Location: Ecuador > Imbabura Province > Otavalo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 29 B&Bs / Inns in Otavalo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Travelers enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Andean Mountains and Culture in our warm and spacious guesthouses, surrounded by 40 acres of private gardens and forests ...all just a few minutes from the world famous markets of Otavalo. ... more   less 

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