After landing in Quito post-Galapagos adventure, we thought a city would be great to catch up on work, but what we really wanted was a 72 hour escape to experience the real Ecuador.
One hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of Quito lies a lodge so quaint, desolate and remote it could be out of a dream. A brick lodge equipped with a grass roof, individual fireplaces, hot water, plush duvets and wool ponchos to keep warm when toasting s’mores in the evening. The Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge located in the highlands of the Andes lies at 3500 meters / 11,000 feet, and its location is like no other. It lies in the valley next to 3 volcanos, one of them being one of the highest most active volcanos on the planet.
We rented a car and made our way South towards Tambopaxi National Park. The road was relentless, brick pavers made of rocks made our Chevrolet Spark shake like an Earthquake but after a slow and steady climb she made it.
After arriving to the Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge, we were taken to our home where the fireplace was roaring and a warm welcome drink was served with the option of Gin. We reserved a table for dinner an hour later. The traditional 3 course meal was on the menu. Soup, Protein & Dessert in candle light.
As the dawn cracked along the horizon the following morning, the sky was clear enough to see the real view. I saw smoke escaping the top of a mountain like a steam engine, that is when I knew I was looking at the volcano everyone spoke about.
A simple, delicious breakfast was served (home-made muesli, yogurt, bread, and eggs) with fresh coffee. I miraculously booked a 2 hour horse riding session with the help of my made up sign language, google translate & patience skills.
Five kilometers up the road, one right, two lefts and about 400 potholes later we arrived at one of the most serene national parks I have ever seen. Wild horses galloped throughout the plains, when we saw our domesticated horses saddled up and ready to ride.
We rode through lava fields in the brisk, fresh air and this was by far one of the most relaxing experiences of the entire trip. It was very cool to go through rivers, lava fields with an active volcano in the foreground.
Afterwards we headed back to the lodge to work for a few hours (did I mention the wifi was lighting fast?). Robert and I warmed up in front of the fire before going outside for s'mores.
It had been ages since mushing a toasted marshmallow against chocolate and a crisp graham cracker. The taste brought me back to late nights at the stables, or bonfires with friends back in the US.
On the final day we took a different route home in order to stop at a series of waterfalls and canyons just a hike away from the road.
When we got there we realized we did not have enough time to hike the entire thing, but we made it past 2 suspension bridges before having to cross a river that had a chance of surging. We decided to go back and make our way back to Quito after a quick weekend work adventure.
It was the perfect stop before a late night flight back to Florida. I would recommend the Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge to anyone going to Quito, it was $80 per night with Breakfast included.