Before coming to San Cristóbal I had read in my guidebook about Hostal Casa de Laura and it seemed to be a very nice place. That is where I went first, but unfortunately it was fully booked for the night, but there was a group leaving the next morning so I just had to find another place for one night and then came back to stay at Hostal Casa de Laura for four nights.
I got a room on the second floor, a room with two beds, a bedside table with a lamp, a shelf and hangers. The bathroom was clean and there was hot water in the shower. And as always in Ecuadorian hotels a towel and soap was provided. Outside the room there was a chair and a nice view towards Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
In the courtyard there is a small garden and in the front there are some hammocks where you can lay and relax. Laura who owns Casa de Laura is a very nice lady.
I paid $20 per night (July 2013).
Before coming to San Cristóbal I had read about Casa de Laura Hostal in my guidebook and it sounded to be a nice place, so that is where I went when I arrived. Unfortunately it was fully booked for the night, but there was a tour group leaving the next day. I neede somewhere to stay for a night and therefore went to Hostal León Dormido.
At Hostal León Dormido I got a room for $25 (July 2013). It was a room with two beds, a bedside table, a table, a chair, a wardrobe, a TV, an A/C (which I never use) and a bathroom. Sounds from the corridor could easily be heard through the door, but luckily it got quiet early. If it will be quiet or not of course depends on the other guests.
Hostal León Dormido has a good location, only half a block away from the malecón. What I miss though is a place where it is possible to sit outside and relax.
Excellent facilities (also in coming ones: meeting area, pool area)
Clean beds, bathrooms, rooms, areas
Very friendly service in both English and Spanish
The quietest most relaxing part of Puerto Lopez
Nice international and national restaurant and bar
El Jardín is a lovely place to stay in. It is situated near Río Puyo in a lush garden. When I went here to eat the first evening in Puyo I just knew I wanted to move to this hotel, instead of staying in town, even though it was $40 (July 2013). I made a reservation and came back the next morning.
I got room number 11 and I was happy to see that it was situated in a small cabin, separated from the large main building where the other rooms are. My room was next to the big barrel baths.
My room was pleasant with a comfortable bed and plenty of warm water in the shower. I liked the coloured glass on both sides of the door. It was a bit dark in the room though and the light from the reading light besides the bed was not good.
There are several hammocks and I took the chance to lay here reading in the afternoon. It was very relaxing, and in the trees beside there were a couple of macaws.
I wanted to take a warm bath in the barrel baths (they heat the water to 40 degrees C) so I asked for it to be ready till 19:30. That would give me time to go jogging along Paseo Turístico and eat dinner first. However, at 19:30 the water was not warm at all and they said I needed to wait another 1-1.5 hours for it to be warm, because there were some problems. I was very tired and wanted to go to bed early, but went to a small cabin where there is a computer with Internet instead. When the barrel was ready it was very nice to take a bath.
The food is very good in the restaurant at El Jardín and I have written a separate tip about it.You can read it here. A good breakfast was included in the price. In the morning they had laid the tables for six persons, so I guess that is how many we were who had stayed at El Jardín that night.
Hostal Los Yutzos
When I came to the hotel I was shown a room on the ground floor, in a smaller building on the side. The room was quite dark and damp, and there was a mouldy smell. It didn’t feel like it was a room I would feel comfortable in and didn’t want to stay there for four nights. I had a look at the two terasses, but still felt the room was not good.
The man in the reception said that besides that room they only had much more expensive rooms facing the river, and with A/C. I didn’t want that and sat down to have a look in my guidebook to see where else I could go. Another man came and he said there would be a room with fan available later, it was just not cleaned jet.
I had a look at the room, which was situated on the second floor (1st to some) in the main building. The room had a large window and a lot of light. I liked that room, so I went to eat lunch while it was cleaned.
The bed was comfortable and there was a lamp above the bed, there were bedside tables and another table, a chair, a TV and hangers. In the bathroom there was a large mirror and a long bench in front of it to put things on.
Breakfast was served at 7:15 – 9:00. It included fruits, bread, butter, jam, juice and coffee, tea or chocolate.
For four nights I paid $87 (August 2013).
I was first shown a room with a small balcony facing the street Marín. I was afraid there would be a lot of noise from the street during the night, and as I had slept quite bad during this trip I asked for another room. I then got a room without windows, but as I brought my bags there I felt it was to warm and the air poor. The woman in the reception had said there was practically no traffic during night so I changed to the room with balcony. It was much lighter and it was good to be able to open the balcony door.
In the room, besides the bed, there was a TV, a desk, a mirror, a cupboard with hangers and bedside tables, but unfortunately no reading light. In the bathroom there was hot water in the shower.
For breakfast I got two breads, butter, jam and cheese, a fruit juice and coffee. I can’t remember if eggs were served too, or not, but I think so.
For one night I paid $17 including breakfast (July 2013).
Hostería Pampallacta Termales is situated above Papallacta village on the road to Termas de Papallacta (the Balneario and the Spa). Before coming to Papallacta I thought it was difficult to know where I should stay. Why I chose Hostería Pampallacta Termales was because I had read they had fireplaces in each room and I didn’t want to stay in a very cold place. Coming there it was nice to find out that the Balneario was not very far away.
The best in my room was the fireplace. When it was time to go to bed I got a fire lit and it kept the room warm during the night. Besides the fireplace and bed there were two small tables in the room (but no bedside table) and a few hangers. It would have been good with some more hangers to hang wet swimwear and towels on after visiting the baths.
In the bathroom there is thermal spring water in the tap, shower and toilet. There is also a large stone bath tube that can be filled with warm water for a relaxing bath.
In the hotel there are a few small pools with thermal water. There is a restaurant and in the restaurant there is also Wi-Fi (which I didn’t try as I am not travelling with phone or computer).
For the room I paid $35 (August 2013). Breakfast is included.
I arrived to Hostería Pampallacta Termales in the afternoon. I had eaten snacks and a fruit salad on the bus but definitely wanted to eat something more before going to the thermal baths. So I ordered a chicken soup and a strawberry batido. I was told to take the seat were there was a heater, and that was good because it is cold in Papallacta.
In the evening I ordered the Menu especial, which included caldo de pollo, trout (a small one), desert and a juice. I also ordered a glass of red wine.
The food I ate here was good and when I checked out I paid $14 for it. It was only I in the restaurant and at one occasion a family also staying at the hotel. However, on the sign outside Hostería Pampallacta Termales it says that the restaurant is open until 11:30pm.
Breakfast is included in the price and I was very surprised to see on a sign that they don’t start serving it until 8.30. That is very late. There is not much to do in Papallacta at night so I guess many people go to bed early, then wake up early and are ready for an early breakfast. Well, at least I was so I went to the restaurant and sat down to wait. A man working at the hotel went to ask the family if I could have breakfast earlier and luckily it was okay.
The breakfast was good with bread, cheese, jam, scrambled eggs, papaya, juice and coffee. But it was cold and I wore my mittens while eating.
I didn’t decide until lunchtime that I was going to Baños. Then I called Hostal Chimenea (where I had stayed two years previously) and they told me they had a room. When I arrived to Hostal Chimenea it turned out that the room was next to the reception area and computers (I thought they only had dorms there). That would not be a quiet room so I decide to look for another place.
La Petite Auberge was situated only a few blocks away so that is where I went. I was shown a room at the back. It seemed to be a bit cold and damp with a moldy smell, but I was tired and hungry and didn’t want to look further so I accepted the room. Besides the smell the room was good.
In the room there were two beds with reading light above the beds, a chair, a bookcase to put things in, a TV, a bathroom and there was also a small balcony.
For the room I paid $16 (July 2013).
At La Petite Auberge there are rooms in different sizes and some of the rooms have a fireplace.
There is also a restaurant but it didn’t seem to be open when I was there.
I decided to stay at Hotel Montecarlo in Riobamba. The hotel has a central location, it seemed to be nice and I hoped it would be a quiet place where it was easy to sleep.
Hotel Montecarlo is situated in a restored building from the beginning of the 20th century. The 22 rooms are situated around a nice indoor patio. My room was on the second floor (first for some) and was not facing the street. In the room there was a desk with chair, shelves and hangers and a comfortable bed. There was also a small table that I moved so it was close to the bed (to put things on). There was a lamp above the bed which was good for reading. In the room there was a large window facing the indoor patio, but luckily it had thick curtains. However, there was a small window above the door without curtains, and outside there was a lamp. It was too light in the room for sleeping, but when I went down to the reception to tell them about it they turned off the light that was right outside my room.
Most of the time the hotel was quiet but it will depend on the other guests. The first night I woke up around midnight when two guests came back to the hotel. They were not noisy but you hear every noise through the door. The second night there was someone in the room next to mine, I didn’t hear that person through the wall, but when I was in the bathroom I could hear someone brushing the teeth in the bathroom next doors.
In the reception area there are two computers that guests can use for free.
I paid $25 for the room (July 2013). Breakfast was included and was served from 7:30 in the morning. For breakfast there was coffee (or tea), juice, bread, butter and jam.
The brochure tauts an easy 3.5 hour drive from Quito. While very scenic, it took closer to 7 hours of very aggressive driving. Most guests do not do their own driving, but are members of large tour groups and arrive in large tourist buses. It was clear that they make up the bread and butter trade of the business. We were two couples on one's honeymoon. Guests like ourselves were few, almost all Ecuadoran, and labeled "Independents."
If you travel independently, be prepared for a few surprises. After an almost endless drive, you know you are close when your driver throws on the brakes while blurting out, "Roads gone!" Without a warning, while traveling at 50 mph on a good road, the pavement turns into a rocky field on the bank of the Napo river.
After assuring that your tires are intact, the only thing between you and the resort is the Napo river. There is no bridge. There is no car ferry. Luckily there was another vehicle and driver to advise us. River boats in Ecuador have a name , which translated into English is termed "canoe." They are not the same as the ones I remember from Boy Scout camp. They are big (accommodating up to 27 people with baggage, sitting two abreast) and motorized. Fortunately, an indigenous entrepreneur runs a ferry service. If he is on the other bank of the river, honk your horn to announce your presence and he will arrive shortly.
Arriving safely on the far shore of the Napo, the first thing that strikes you is that you are now back to a good road but have no vehicle. The ferry man has advised you that the Casa is only about one mile up the road, an impossible trek considering the extent that the other couple had over-packed. In retrospect, I am sure that a $10 bill would have convinced the ferryman to take us to the river-side dock of the resort, but at the time we did not realize that such a dock existed.
Our luck did not yet give out. After standing in the moonlight with luggage at our feet, staring in silence up the dark road, the head lights of a police car appeared. A police car in those parts is a small white pick-up trunk. While not able to accommodate us in the cab, they offered, and we accepted, a ride in the bed of the truck. Soon we had arrived at the back entrance to the resort, the entrance no guests ever see.
We stayed two nights (and did not linger after breakfast on our day of departure).
Excursions from the resort were informal for us "independents." I noticed that the large tour groups had more formal schedules. Guides soon identified us and suggested itineraries. The guides worked exclusively for tips. Among the possible adventures were tubing down the Napo, visiting a wild life refuge and hiking in a National Park.
The fauna of the wild life refuge consisted of caged animals which had wondered out of the jungle as civilization competed for their habitat. The hike though the National Park was a muddy trek (Wellington boots provided) along a well worn path (no machetes required). The only natural fauna that I saw was the occasional squirrel monkey. The flora appeared interesting, but the guide was not much interested in describing it to us.
Other excursions include a trip to town to see the tourist shops and a visit to the home of a guide's relative to see how the indigenous people might live, or possibly lived in the past, or maybe how we might have imagined that they lived.
All in all, Casa del Suizo, situated on the slummy edge of civilization, was a poor excuse for eco-tourism and was too remote and lacking in luxury to be considered a spa/resort. While my other experiences in Ecuador ranged from merely interesting to a once in a lifetime experience, my time at Casa del Suizo was my only regret and a big mistake.
Buffet meals are included. While breakfast is distinguishable from lunch which is distinguishable from dinner, breakfasts, lunches and dinners repeat themselves monotonously day after day.
The rooms were beautiful and comfortable. Screened windows were left open. Heating and air conditioning were neither available nor necessary. Be sure to request a room overlooking the river.
The pool was gorgeous, but generally not used by the guests. There were no chaises around the pool for lounging.
When I visited Sani Lodge I stayed at their camping. It is a very nice and much cheaper option to the more expensive cabins. For 6 days/5 nights I paid $680 (July 2012) and another $170 for the flight ticket Quito–Coca–Quito.
The tents are standing on wooden platforms under thatched roofs. We were only four people staying at the camping while I was there, a German family and I. We had a tent each and we all chose to sleep in a tent on the big platform where there is most light and a view towards the lagoon. In the tent there was a mattress, a pillow, sheets, a towel, a soap and shampoo. On a table on the platform there was a container with drinking water, some toilet paper and a candle.
There is a wooden path to the shared bathroom, where there are three showers and two toilets. As we were only four people staying at the camping there were never any queues. I must say that I was a bit disappointed not to see a tarantella on the boardwalk in the light of the torch (we had been told to look where we put our feet when walking in the dark).
The camping is a 3min canoe ride away from the lodge. We didn’t have our own canoe at the camping, but were picked up by Nelson when it was time to go to the lodge. At the camping there is no electricity, so a torch is a must. When we woke up in the morning it was still dark as breakfast was served at the lodge at 6am, and when we returned after dinner it was also dark. To take a shower was best in the late afternoon/early evening, but once it was dark when I showered and I relised that I could get some light if I put my torch on the wall above the shower.
Staying at the camping you will be very close to the surrounding jungle and it is very nice to hear the sounds during the night; frogs, cicadas and caimans hunting. I enjoyed the camping very much and if I would go to Sani Lodge again I would definitely chose to stay in a tent.
Everything was very well organized with the camping but the last night we had one problem. When we returned to the camping after dinner we relised there was no water in the bathroom, well we all went to bed and hoped it would be back in the morning. There was no water in the morning either and I used the drinking water in my water bottle for washing. It turned out that someone had forgotten to pump the water.
I had another problem and that was my broken wrist. With only one hand to use everything took much longer for me so I went up half an hour earlier than the others. For example it was not easy to put in the lenses in the morning using a small mirror and my head torch, with lots of insects flying around in the light of the torch. I also had to ask the other people staying at the camping for help as I couldn’t do simple things like putting up my hair in a pony tail. Luckily they were very nice and helpful.
One or two days after I left both the lodge and camping were going to be full. I’m glad it wasn’t when I visited.
I stayed one more night at Sani Lodge than the others that had been there at the same time as I. The new guide I had for the last day thought it would be very inconvenient for me to stay alone at the camping so he asked the manager if I could stay in one of the cabins instead, and of course without paying more. In one way I had looked forward to be all alone at the camping with only the jungle around, but on the other hand I had a broken wrist and things were quite complicated so it was very nice and good that I got a cabin. That night I and a family of three were the only tourists at the lodge.
In the cabin there were two beds with mosquito nets above them, a bedside table (but no bedside lamp), shelves and hangers. There were two big windows with mosquito nets, so during the night you can hear some of the sounds of the jungle, but not as much as in the camping. Both the room and the bathroom were clean. I can’t really remember but I think there isn’t electricity throughout the night in the cabins.
I visited Sani Lodge in July 2012 but as I stayed at the camping I don’t know how much it was to stay in a cabin, but I have looked up the price for 2013 and for a 5 days/4 nights stay it cost $915 per person if you are two in the cabin and if you are alone the price is $1270.
The bar/common room at Sani Lodge is an open-air room, under a thatched roof, where it is very nice to sit and relax after the hikes and activities of the day. In the bar you can buy drinks and snacks. In the bookcases you will find books and a few games. There are some tables with comfortable sofas and armchairs where you can sit and chat with the other visitors, and there are a few hammocks. The view over the lagoon is very nice and there are binoculars here that you can use to watch the birds that are out there.
The bar is open between 7 – 23.
Breakfast is usually served at 6am. Every morning (except my last morning at the lodge) it was a breakfast buffet. Among other things on the buffet table there were fresh fruits and fruit juices, yoghurt, milk, muesli, cereals, eggs as you liked them, cheese, butter, jam and different bread.
Lunch is served at 13 (the day we were going to the Sani community we ate at 12) and dinner is served at 19. Before each meal someone blows in a bamboo horn to tell that now food is ready. In the restaurant the different groups and their guide sit together at one table. That is very nice I think as it gives you the opportunity to talk about the day that has passed or the coming day.
I like Casa de Cecilia but I had slept very badly and really needed to sleep so after breakfast I went to look for another place. The people I had met when travelling to Mindo had recommended La Posada de Mindo so I went there.
Downstairs there is a restaurant and upstairs there are rooms. I was shown a room with private bathroom and it looked nice. For one night, including breakfast, it was $15 (July 2012). It is also a wooden building so if there are many people there might be some noise, but at the moment it was very empty and there didn’t seem to be anyone else staying there. I went back to Casa de Cecilia to get my things and when I came back to Posada de Mindo I was told that I could get a cabin in the back for $20 including breakfast. I had a look at the cabin and chose to stay there.
In the cabin, beside the bed, there were bedside tables with lamps. There was a TV, which didn’t work, and hangers. Up a ladder there was another bed. Outside the cabin there was a hammock, a good place to rest in with a book after the afternoon walk.
As I was exhausted I wanted to go to bed early and just as I was going to turn off the light a car arrived. Two more people arrived and they also stayed in a cabin. Even if there was one empty cabin between ours I could hear them. They also went out to eat and I heard them when they came back. Just because I knew how badly I needed to sleep it was difficult.
In the morning I was ready for breakfast before 8am but the main building was empty. I thought of taking a short walk but the gates were locked (later I found out that one of the doors in the wall wasn’t locked). I started to look around for someone and when I didn’t want to wait any longer I went over to the house where the owners lived and called out. Eventually someone appeared and I was told that on Saturdays they don’t serve breakfast until 8.30 as that is how most people want to have it during weekends. Well, I got my breakfast and it consisted of fresh fruits, a fruit juice, bread, butter, jam, eggs and coffee.
Before coming to Mindo I had read that Casa de Cecilia was situated on the edge of town so I thought it might be too far from the centre. However, I realised when I was in Mindo that the town is very small and Casa de Cecilia is situated only a few hundred metres from the main square. I went to check it out and found very welcoming and helpful staff and a very nice place to have breakfast in (I have written about it in a separate tip on my Mindo page).
I had paid for two nights at Caskaffesu in advance, but after those two nights I moved to Casa de Cecilia. I got a simple room with my own bathroom, but to my horror I saw that there was a big opening between the ceiling and roof in my room, on the side facing the shared bathroom. I could hear every sound from there. So I just hoped people were going to sleep during night and that there were not many people who needed to use that bathroom. I was not lucky. Some of the people staying in the same house as me were up late sitting at the outdoor area by the river drinking beer. I didn’t hear them, but heard someone going out to tell them to be quiet. They must have drunken a lot of beer, because when they came in they started too run up and down the stairs to the bathroom. And as there are wooden stairs and floors it was noisy. Not until 1am it got quiet. But then the noise started again around 5am as they were going for an early bird watching tour.
I was exhausted in the morning, not only because of very little sleep the last night but because I had slept very badly the last few weeks. If it hadn’t been for my broken wrist I would have moved to the room at the top of the building, but I needed my own bathroom as I could not carry things back and forth up and down the stairs to a shared bathroom. So, for my last night in Mindo I moved to another place.
Casa de Cecilia have got rooms in two wooden buildings and if it is going to be quiet or not will depend on the room you get and which people are staying there at the moment. For a single room with bathroom I paid $10 (July 2012). A room with shared bathroom was $8. There is also a dorm.
The best with Casa de Cecilia is the nice staff and the lovely and tranquil outdoor area by the river, where the vegetation is lush and there are plenty of butterflies and birds to watch.
Before going to Mindo I wanted to stay in a place with a nice garden where you can see butterflies and birds, but I also wanted to stay in Mindo and not outside the town. Even though Caskaffesu didn’t seem to have the garden I wanted I read many good reviews about it. There was only one negative review made by someone who had been told, when he called, that he needed to pay in advance, and that there was only one room left (and it hadn’t been). Well, I called Caskaffesu the day before going to Mindo to make a reservation and I was told the same; I had to pay for two nights and there was only one room left. I didn’t like it but went to the bank and stood in line for over half an hour to pay.
Some people I met on the way to Mindo had not booked anything in advance but were going around looking for somewhere to stay. They came with me to Caskaffesu and they were told they could get a room. They decided not to stay in Caskaffesu, but because of what I had been told when I called (and because of what I had read in that negative review) I got a negative feeling about the place.
The room was quite nice and clean, with a good bed and in the bathroom the shower had plenty of warm water. There were lamps above the bed, but to turn off the light it was necessary to step out of bed. For the room I paid $16 (July 2012).
There is a courtyard and a table where you can sit, but it is all surrounded by the buildings and being in Mindo I would prefer a nice view of nature. I sat down for some minutes but didn’t like it.
I had dinner in the restaurant once. The trout and juice I had was good, but it was very dark in the restaurant, not only in the evening but also during daytime. I chose not to have breakfast here as I had found a lovely breakfast spot at La Casa de Cecilia.
When I arrived I was told that I could fill my water bottle during my stay for $1.50, at least I thought it would be for the whole stay, but when I checked out it turned out to be per day and as I hadn’t filled my small bottle many times it turned out to be a bad deal.
I left some clothes for laundry and it was $5.
After the two nights I had paid for I checked out and moved to another place in Mindo.
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