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“Eco Lodge deep in the Cloud Forest”

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El Monte Sustainable Lodge
Ranked #9 of 46 Specialty Lodging in Mindo
Certificate of Excellence
scottsdale
Level Contributor
242 reviews
71 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 196 helpful votes
“Eco Lodge deep in the Cloud Forest”
Reviewed November 9, 2007

My husband I picked this place after seeing it on a travel channel show. It looked lovely on TV and in person the rooms were very attractive, however, this place comes with some forewarning that we were not aware of. It is not for everyone.
There is NO electricity here. You light your room by candle at night and we were supplied with only 2 candles and one match upon arrival. We were able to get some extra candles and a box of matches so we could at least use the restroom without running into things at night, but it was somewhat difficult in the evening. You are better to hang around the main lodge where they have some power (lights only) but they want you out of there by 8:30-9 p,m, as that is where the owners sleep.
Also the food is vegetarian only, and I wouldn't exactly say they give you a heaping serving-the portions are okay for women, but men will find them tiny and not too satisfying after a long day's hike. They do not provide any snacks between meals or beverages. There is only water in between meals and at meals there is lemonade, coffee and tea only. Because they have no refrigerator, there is no cold beer or sodas or ice. They have a limited amount of wine available for purchase, but I suggest you bring your own.
While the cabanas are very lovely, and the setting pristine, this place has a long, long way to go before it can be considered luxurious. The price we paid was astronomical compared to other places in Ecuador. It seemed reasonable compared to the USA, but for Ecuador it is way overpriced. Had I known how cheap the rest of Ecuador was before we went, I never would have paid this much for this place.
Additionally, even you are inclined to go into town, there is no transportation provided by the lodge and the hike is easily 45 minutes into town. There are virtually no cabs in the tiny town of Miindo and the townspeople speak no English at all. There isn't much reason to go into town unless you are dying for a cold beer or some extra food/beverages to bring back to your cabana.
Despite this, the hiking was lovely and the guides informative and helpful.
Do not forget to bring bugspray and apply it often. My husband and I got eaten alive by what they called "black flies." I left there 3 days ago and my skin is still itching with the worst bug bites I have ever had in my life. They are 10x's worse than mosquitos.

  • Liked — rooms
  • Disliked — lack of amenities
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank shendrix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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133 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (37)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Scotland, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2007

After a spectacular winding road from Quito we were greated by a small cable car across the river- any sign of travel sickness soon left my son's mind! Wilson the taxi driver- arranged by El Monte was really safe. It cost $100 for the round trip quito-mindo-quito (2hours each way).

What an adventure, the lodges were wonderfully comfortable and created a real adventure feel. The bathrooms were incredible with an almost open air bath and rain shower. The best shower we had in Ecuador.

The food was organic and it was a wonder that without electricity that we were able to eat at all. I loved the food but if you are a carnivore like my son and partner it may get a bit too much if you stay for long! Mealtimes were enjoyable as we had some great company.

We had a guide who soon realised after a day in the forest that we weren't good at bird watching, unlike most guests, so we went tubing, on the zip wires, to a coffee plantation and had end of day beers in Mindo town watching the world go by- excellent.

Very friendly - people and eco wise- a great balanced has been achieved.

  • Liked — the beautiful lodges
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank arranka27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Socorro, New Mexico
Level Contributor
16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed September 2, 2007

I stayed here with my family for three nights. It is a beautiful and tranquil spot. The "big house" is a lovely place to relax, with couches, hammocks, board games, etc. The hiking is excellent and can be tailored to your interests and abilities, and the included tubing trip on the river was great fun. Our guide was a genius at spotting and identifying birds, and we saw many, including a quetzal at the cock-of-the-rock lek. She spoke very little English, but my Spanish was more or less adequate, helped by a couple of other guests as well. (We found speaking reasonable Spanish to be a very useful ability everywhere we went in Ecuador.)

The food was delicious and was well-prepared with fresh ingredients. If you have digestive issues, be aware that it relies heavily on beans and lentils. The beautiful wooden cabanas are close to the river, nicely furnished, airy, and comfortable, and the lodge is reached by a fun little hand-pulled cable seat over the river. The toilet was temperamental to say the least, but the shower was great. Insects were not a problem in the cabanas, even though the windows have no screens; in fact, by far the worst of them were little black flies that hung around under the dining table and attacked our ankles. So be sure to bring good repellent.

My one complaint is with regard to housekeeping. It would have been nice had they replenished toilet paper, drinking water, and candles, and emptied the garbage (especially since, as in many places in Ecuador, the toilets can't handle paper). The only sign of housekeeping we did see was the day they "waxed" the wooden floors. We came back at lunch the second day to find our cabana filled with the reek of what we thought was kerosene. It turns out the "wax" is actually petroleum-based - a bit surprising for an eco-sensitive operation but maybe it's the only effective product - and they are supposed to mop it off as soon as they've applied it. But they didn't, and although they came and dry-mopped the floor after I found the owner in the evening and asked about the smell, by then it had pretty much been absorbed. We had to stick it out another 24 hours, including a really restless night, before the odor dissipated enough to be comfortable again. I can't imagine the stuff is healthy either to breathe or to walk on with bare feet (which is how everyone is supposed to walk inside the buildings).

Other than the waxing snafu, though, it was a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it.

One small suggestion for improvement would be to provide new arrivals with an information sheet. The young man who greeted us showed us the main building, explained about taking off shoes, and showed us where we would be eating. But no-one said anything about who to speak to if there were problems, what to expect in terms of housekeeping, how to arrange transport for special outings, which activities are available and how much they cost, etc. etc. It should take very little time to put something like this together and would answer a lot of questions we kind of muddled through with.

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
5 Thank nmgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford
Level Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed July 23, 2007

We stayed at El Monte for 2 nights in July 2007. It was enchanting. The main part of the lodge is beautifully designed and comfortable with a number of areas you can sit in, a dining area, a kitchen where they make some really wonderful non meat dishes, a small library of books, games etc, open fires here and there. Our Cabana was down by the river. It was well designed and built from "all sorts of wood" . Very simple and comfortable. There is no electricity, so we fell asleep at night listening to the river as it flowed by. The whole place has a restful sense of calm.

We were assigned a Guide who could speak English. We more or less designed what we wanted to do with him. He was ready, willing and able to do anything we wanted, and this included 4.30 in the morning walks to take my husband and daughter to a place to see the Cock of the Rock at dawn (lots of impressive mating behavior), and going with them to slide on ropes around the jungle canopy.

The wildlife was wonderful, especially the birds.
The secret for us was to relax into the lifestyle. Wake up and do things when it iwas light and then early to bed.
I would say to anyone considering going there, remember to bring a torch and plenty of insect repellent. It was quite dry when we were there, but it is clear that wellies are essential when it gets wet.
...and talking about "dry", there was no alcohol around, but that was maybe not such a bad thing..........

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Janbo53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
los angeles
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed June 27, 2007

we stayed at the lodge about 2 weeks ago, and it was really good. not knowing what to expect from an ecolodge, i can tell you that it was way beyond what i imagined it to be. The people at the lodge are very hospitable, interesting and engaging, and their enthousiasm is contagious, which is uncommon in this world. The cabins are beautifully sober, and even though there is no electricity, they are very comfortable. The whole experience had a very intimate and relaxed note to it. They offer a lot of things you can do -and it all is interesting and worthwhile doing-, and there is a variety of suggestions as to how you can plan your day, but you can basically spend it the way you want it, no obligations whatsoever, perfect place to reconnect with yourself, the people around you, and take in the overwhelming force and beauty of nature... it sure makes one realize how flooded we are these days with modern technology, information, consumerism, and it is VERY refreshing to experience that things don't have to be that way. that there is always "a way back", that it's never too late to realize that less is more. and last but not least: THE FOOD IS EXCELLENT.

  • Liked — everything
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank barbneefs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
120 reviews
99 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 236 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2005

El Monte Lodge was the best place I stayed during my 6 week trip in Ecuador.

It is located about 2 miles/3 kilometers outside of Mindo on the banks of the Rio Mindo. You can get there in about 3 hours from Quito. Mindo is a beautiful spot and one of the best places in South America to see tropical birds. I saw 5 different species of toucans and many varieties of hummingbirds. Also giant colorful butterflys, lush cloud forest and gorgeous waterfalls.

Guests stay in beautiful two-storey private cabins right next to the river. Downstairs is a comfortable sitting area with chairs and a hammock. Upstairs is a large bedroom and bathroom. The cabins have hot water and flush toilets but do not have electricity-- you are given an oil lamp at night. The sound of the roaring river next to your cabin lulls you to sleep.

The main lodge has a large sitting and dining area that look like something from a design magazine. Absolutely beautiful. At night the place is lit with dozens of candles and looks just magical.

Guest eat together with the owners and the food is wonderful. Three large and tasty meals every day.

Prices include extensive activities. Bird watching in the cloud forest, hikes and white water tubing (looks scary but is tremendous fun).

The owners are an American man and his Ecuadorian wife. The work incredibly hard to make sure that guests have a great time and they are devoted to preserving the wonderful environment around them.

El Monte Lodge gets my highest recommendation.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank MB747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Monte Sustainable Lodge

Property: El Monte Sustainable Lodge
Address: Roca E4-49 y Amazonas | Pasaje Chantilly, Mindo, Ecuador (Formerly El Monte Lodge)
Location: Ecuador > Pichincha Province > Mindo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Restaurant Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 46 Specialty Lodging in Mindo
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Monte Sustainable Lodge is an ecotourism destination in every sense of the word. We emphasize nature here at El Monte, in the form of birdwatching and observation of wildlife in general. Aside from the natural focus of our lodge, we also supply many of the vegetables, eggs and more from our organic garden. Most of our energy is supplied by a microhydro plant. We are located in a 110 acre reserve that is close to the Mindo-Nambillo Reserve of over 40,000 acres. At only 3 kilometers from the town of Mindo we are within access of many the activities, such as the Butterfly Garden, Ziplines, White-water Tubing, waterfalls and more. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
El Monte Hotel Mindo

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