Los Cedros

Lodge in Intag Valley

This lodge is situated in a fantastic, remote reserve of 64 sq km, whose primary forest is contiguous with the Reserva Ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas. Facilities include a scientific-research station, dining and cooking facilities, accommodations in dorms or private rooms, hot water and electricity. Always contact the reserve in advance of your visit.

In 2017, the Ecuadorian government had sold mining rights beneath the reserve to a Canadian firm, which was due to begin initial exploration. The reserve was offering for volunteers to conduct non-confrontational surveys of the firm.

The reserve is one of the only access points to the Southern Chocó, a forest ecosystem considered to be one of the most diverse bioregions on the planet. Living treasures include more than 240 species of birds, 400 types of orchids and more than 960 nocturnal moths.

Guests of Los Cedros arrive at the village of Chontal where you can grab a camioneta to the trailhead – it's a rugged 1½-hour hike into the Cordillera de la Plata.

You can make it from Quito in a day if you catch the 6am bus from the La Ofelia terminal ($2.50, 3½ hours); there are also daily buses to Chontal from Apuela ($2, three hours) and Otavalo ($3.50, five hours). The new, mostly paved road between Mindo and Otavalo via Chontal and Nanegalito will make Los Cedros more accessible in the near future – sadly, to mining firms as well as everyone else.