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Best cloud forest lodges in Ecuador

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Visitors, El Monte Cloud Forest Lodge, Ecuador

 

Ecuador’s Cloudforest is a magnet for those in search of wildlife, bird watching and the elusive Spectacled Bear. Sustainable eco-lodges in the cloud forest  are a fantastic base to explore the flora and fauna and are so easily reached from Quito, being only a 2 hour car journey away.

Here’s Andean Trails’ low down on the best cloud forest lodges…

Humming bird closeup with feeder, Santa Lucia, Ecuador

Humming bird

El Monte

El Monte Eco Lodge  is a truly inspiring set up, run by a highly enthusiastic couple. They may have been running the lodge for over 27 years, but will still treat you as if you are first to visit their lodge – so we give full points for warm  hospitality! They run a hydro-scheme,  their own vegetable garden and will serve you fantastic food.

El Monte Cloud Forest Lodge, Ecuador

Cabin at El Monte

Their enthusiasm is endless and you can either self-guide around Mindo (the nearest town) or get help from the lodge in setting up tours (which are run locally, not by the lodge). Mindo itself is very easy to get to and offers a myriad of options to those seeking wildlife and thrills such as zip-lining.

On  top of all their good work at El Monte they are also lending a helping hand to other start up eco-tourism businesses in the country , such as Eden Lodge which we mentioned in our blog on the Best Rainforest Lodges in Ecuador.

River crossing

Bellavista

Bellavista Lodge is a quirky lodge and has been a firm favourite for a long time.  It was set up in the mid 1990s by a couple of very special people –  an British naturalist and a Colombian entrepreneur, who bought a piece of land destined to become a cattle ranch and built a lodge, as the best way to ensure both protection of the land and generate an income.

Bellavista dome, Ecuador

Bellavista Lodge

They now protect nearly 2000 acres of cloud forest, and your stay here will take  you along a beautiful network of trails, with absolutely fantastic bird watching options.

Humming birds will come close to the lodge, and you can watch them over breakfast. Accommodation is a little more basic but you will find ensuite rooms. Or you can stay at the top of the “dome”, dormitory-style with shared bathroom but 360 degree view of stunning cloudforest.

Bellavista Cloudforest Ecuador

Cloud forest

 

 

Maquipucuna

Maquipucuna Cloudforest Lodge is a little further afield than Bellavista, and lies within its own area of Cloudforest paradise. It boasts a great variety of species, many of them endangered and/or endemic. Besides more than 349 bird species (there is an active Cock-of-the-Rock Lick!), a great draw is the Spectacled Bear which makes a regular appearance on the trails and in the trees around the lodge in bear season.

The accommodation is not luxurious but lovely (again, different choices are available) and when you want a change from hiking, why not take a dip in pristine rivers and under waterfalls instead.

Main house Maquipucuna Ecuador

Maquipucuna Lodge

The lodge is heavily involved in conservation and community projects. It’s a base for research work and has initiated the Choco Andean corridor conservation project – here they preserve the land as well as producing some fantastic coffee and cocoa beans… so your tours here aren’t just with a wildlife focus but can have a coffee /chocolate element, too.

Did we mention you can get a chocolate massage?

Maquipucuna Waterfall Ecuador

Waterfall at Maquipucuna

 

Santa Lucia

Last in order, but not in our opinion, is community owned Santa Lucia Cloudforest Lodge. In fact we are quite charmed with this place, especially since you are going even further off the beaten track . Going off the beaten track means walking into the lodge – with mules carrying your luggage.

The lodge is situated on a mountain with fabulous vista, and the varied altitudes mean that the bio diversity is incredible. The protected area around the lodge is set up by, cared for and worked by the thirteen families of the Santa Lucia community.

Santa Lucia cabins at sunset, Ecuador

Santa Lucia Lodge

Here you will find a small, intimate lodge and experience with comfortable accommodation. The views are wonderful, as are the wildlife and birding experiences. To find out more, read Tom’s blog about his visit there.

Santa Lucia Brown Inca Humming Bird Chicks Nest Ecuador

Brown Inca Hummingbird

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