This charmingly rustic lodge is situated on the 60-sq-km Reserva Biológica Maquipucuna, north of Mindo. Guests enjoy great deck views from the hammocks and tasty, healthy meals at the restaurant, which serves its own shade-grown coffee. In addition to a variety of lodge rooms, there’s a family cabin with two bathrooms and a private deck.
The reserve, which includes a research station, covers a variety of premontane and montane cloud forests in the headwaters of Río Alambi at elevations ranging from 1200m to 2800m. It has 370 species of birds, including 30 species of hummingbirds; 240 species of butterflies; and 45 species of mammals, including the spectacled bear, which can regularly be seen here during the fruiting season of a small avocado-like fruit called aguacatillo.
The nonprofit Fundación Maquipucuna, which administers the reserve, began purchasing parcels piecemeal in the late 1980s. Run by Rodrigo Ontaneda and Rebecca Justicia, a passionate and committed couple, it's a driving force and leader in conservation in the region. A major focus has been to work with area communities, farmers especially, to develop sustainable livelihoods while conserving the environment.
Day guests pay a $10 entry fee and can hire a guide for $25, though it’s well worth taking the time to spend at least one night here. Trails range from an easy 1km walk to a demanding 5.5km hike, while specialized guided tours of the coffee-growing process or wild orchids are also available. The Fundación can arrange a private vehicle from Quito for $80. If you’re driving, you’ll need a 4WD for the 7km from the main road. You can take a public bus here from Quito to Nanegal ($2, 2 hours).