Right now, the last thing on your mind is travel. We are all experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis and must take all preventative measures to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t continue to spread. Our first priority is to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. However, even in these hard times, we must take hope and plan for a future after the pandemic. We all hope that this outbreak will soon be over and life will continue on. As such, we have prepared a list of options for you to consider once travel restrictions are lifted and you can continue with your plans of exploring the world.
If your travel plans include Ecuador, you should know that this country is the fourth smallest nation in South America and yet the most biodiverse country per square kilometer. It is said that in Ecuador, you can have breakfast in the Amazon, lunch in the Highlands, and dinner in the Coast. Of course, we recommend a much more laid back form of travel, but in many ways it’s true.
Because of Ecuador’s size, you can go from the capital city of Quito in the Andes toyou’re your meeting point for a peaceful getaway at an Amazon lodge in one hour. Ecuador makes it easier to enjoy as much as possible in a short period. If your type of adventure is about intimate experiences, learning new things every day, and enjoying magnificent landscapes then Ecuador is a perfect match. With that in mind, we have put together a shortlist of recommended places to enjoy an intimate experience for your vacation:
1. Hotel Otavalo – Otavalo
This historic hotel was recently refurbished, but its original name stayed along with some of the authentic essence. The materials that were used in this newly renovated hotel represent the history of the city and the culture of its inhabitants. Although the hotel is located in the center of the town of Otavalo, famous for its Market of Ponchos, it provides a feeling of privacy and warm hospitality, creating an unforgettable luxury experience for those who stay there.
Unique activities like cooking classes or music workshops involving the local people are included during your stay. Furthermore, you are less than a half-hour drive away from the beautiful Peguche waterfall or the awe-inspiring Cuicocha volcano lagoon. You can also experience the beautiful leather handicrafts of the town of Cotacahi and enjoy a traditional lunch at the unequaled La Marqueza restaurant.
2. Hacienda Piman – Ibarra
This oasis of peace and relaxation is located in an arid valley in the Northern part of Ecuador, known as Ambuquí. This luxurious former hacienda was built amid 10 acres of lush gardens. This discreet traditional colonial home is the true definition of an Andean retreat. Among its amenities, you will find separate villas with a balcony leading to a view of of your own private garden. You can also enjoy an outdoor pool, a spa with a professional masseur, and a modern gourmet restaurant where you can partake in their bespoke cocktails.
Its pleasant weather, typical of the valley, provides the perfect opportunity to wander around its gardens, visit the historic chapel and enjoy other activities in the nearby towns. For those looking for a more active retreat, Hacienda Piman also offers special birdwatching tours and well-conserved trailways for either hiking, trekking, or biking. They can also arrange a quick day-trip for you to enjoy the subtropical beauty of the Chota Valley by train or the otherworldly flora and fauna of the El Angel moorlands.
3. Luna Volcan – Baños
Luna Volcan is probably one of the most romantic getaways on this list. The hotel’s attention to detail, private location, and breathtaking views of the town of Baños are just some of the draws of this unique property. Its 310 acres of Andean forests are a part of the eastern side of the active Tungurahua volcano, which regularly fascinates locals and visitors with its ash flumes.
This hidden jewel offers a private restaurant, a spa, outdoor hot tubs with a view as well as private tubs in its suites which provide a magnificent view of the bustling city below. During your relaxing stay enjoying the quiet nights at Luna Volcan, you might not ever want to go back to the city. But, if you do, Baños is full of natural wonders to explore such as the Waterfall route, culminating in the breathtaking Pailón del Diablo. Adventureseekers will be at a loss of activities to pick, since Baños is the adventure sport capital of Ecuador. Guests can enjoy rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping, biking, and trekking, amongst many other thrilling experiences.
4. Cruz del Vado Hotel – Cuenca
When visiting Cuenca, every traveler should stop by El Vado neighborhood. El Vado offers a panoramic view of the Tomebamba River and the mountains that surround Cuenca.
These views are even more magical from your private balcony in Cruz del Vado Hotel, a luxury hotel with a pink marble façade that can be found right in the Historical downtown of Cuenca, making it an essential part of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.
This beautiful building was transformed into a luxurious hotel that has a rooftop bar with unique views of the city. From the hotel, it is easy to go to the most relevant touristic sites of this colonial city.
5. Pikaia Lodge – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
This stunning property is located on the edge of an extinct volcanic crater. Recognizing the vital importance of Galapagos’ endemic flora and fauna, its owners not only constructed an eco-friendly luxury retreat. They also rescued the native vegetation and the property is now a sanctuary for giant tortoises and numerous species of birds. In the hotel’s 31-hectare private reserve, Darwin’s finches jump on your feet, and giant tortoises can be seen from your window while they come and go as they please.
But, Pikaia Lodge is not only about environment and conservation, it is a haven where you can enjoy the gourmet cuisine of the Evolution Restaurant, which puts an Ecuadorian spin on your favorite international cuisine. After a day exploring the nearby islands, you can relax with unique cocktails from the Homo Sapiens Lounge while lounging in its infitinity pool. When you’re done for the day, go back to the comfort of your luxurious room, each with a beautiful terrace for you to continue to enjoy the natural wonders of Santa Cruz.
Carlos Beate is the Commercial Manager at Andando Tours. Andando Tours offers exclusive traveling experiences, specializing in sailing around the Galapagos Islands and overland along the magnificent Avenue of Volcanoes on the Ecuadorian Andes.