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Reconnect with mind, body and spirit in the lush natural surroundings of Mindo, Ecuador located almost right on the Equator. Imagine yourself practising meditation and mindfulness daily in a studio in the cloud forests alongside a rushing river. Our week together will begin with a guided walking tour of the historic centre of UNESCO World Heritage Site, capital city Quito. Then while en route to Mindo – our home for the week – we will make a stop at an inhabited volcano crater called Pululahua and at the Equator to do some fun experiments at a museum there.
The retreat in Mindo will weave a daily mindfulness practice with meditation, morning and evening. We will also include daily activities to explore authentic small village Ecuadorian culture with local friends and family, and other activities to reconnect with nature in this beautiful environment. We will tour an artisanal chocolate factory, a butterfly garden, and take guided nature hikes through some of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Your home for the week is a quick walk away from the Riverside Studio, where outside of instruction time, you can choose to build upon your lessons or to pull up a hammock to read a book. You have the option to take advantage of more Mindo-area activities or even extending your trip to explore more of the region.
Your retreat guides will be Dr. Gerald (Jerry) and Elizabeth (Liz) Levine. With over 10 years of mindfulness facilitator experience, Elizabeth brings her musical training and deep embodied wisdom to her teachings. Dr. Jerry is passionate about sharing his medical knowledge, meditation techniques and music to promote stress management and health. Please visit their website www.managestress.ca for further information.
Your host for the week is EarthTreks’ founder, Alison Braun, who invites you into her home in the magical surroundings of Mindo for the retreat. It will be her pleasure to take care of everyone’s needs and spoil you at every opportunity. To find out about more about this retreat, we encourage you to please CONTACT US.
*Includes almost everything – your return international airfare from Toronto*, all taxes, all daily activities, entrances and guides, all meals listed in the itinerary, all accommodations, daily Meditation & Mindfulness practice, bilingual retreat leader, laundry service, carbon offsets, and transportation, including airport transfers. Does not include a few meals (built into the itinerary to allow you some independence at the right times).
*Please ask us for a quote if you would like to book your own airfare or if flying from anywhere other than Toronto.
*A deposit of $500.00 CAD is required to hold your spot at time of booking, which we recommend doing as soon as you are decided, to ensure you have a spot.
*Add $200.00 CAD if you require a private room (available on a first-come-first-served basis). Otherwise, we will do our best to match you up with someone suitable.
*If arriving earlier or departing later than the trip dates, please add on $120 CAD per airport transfer, which we are happy to arrange on both ends for you. Otherwise, they are included.
Mindo is a small village of approximately 3,000 people, located in a valley in the foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes. This was the first Important Bird Area (IBA) established in all of South America, and has built its reputation as an ecotourism destination greatly upon its notoriety for excellent birding and biodiversity more broadly. There exists a tremendous amount of fresh water in the area, from a few major rivers to endless numbers of streams and waterfalls.
Mindo is a safe, small village that boasts what many describe as the ‘perfect climate’ – a subtropical climate that is warm year-found and rarely climbs above the mid-20s (C) or below the mid-teens (at night). The rainfall is significant, with precipitation throughout the year and an average annual rainfall of well over 2,000 mm, which is more highly concentrated during rainy season (January to May). The rain is quite predictable, however, generally not starting until mid to late afternoon, so it is easy to plan our daily activities around staying dry. Mindo is located in a cloud forest, and as such, is green and lush, offering the ideal climate for mosses, orchids, and ferns to thrive. As it is located right on the Equator (which we will cross a few times), the sun sets and rises just after 6:00 a.m & p.m. all year round.
Our accommodations are in Alison’s bed and breakfast tucked away just behind the Casa de Cecilia, simple yet beautiful lodgings located on the banks of the Canchupi River. The three cabins that make up the Casa de Cecilia are quite removed from the village’s hustle and bustle, even though it is only a short walk (just a few minutes) to the village’s main square. Cecilia Perez was the first person in Mindo to host international guests – right in the house we will be staying in – starting early in the 1980s. Cecilia has since passed away, and her daughter, Paola Peňafiel is now the Owner and Host of Casa de Cecilia. It remains one of the tourist favourites for accommodations in the village. Cecilia was Alison’s mother-in-law and Paola is her sister-in-law. Everyone says the same thing about this place – ‘it’s paradise’.
Alison will be at Quito’s airport awaiting your arrival. Depending on what time you check into the hotel, located in the heart of the historical centre, you may have the opportunity to catch your first glimpses of the capital city. Quito is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the western hemisphere, separated into the old colonial centre, where our hotel is located, and the newer more commercial centre. The long, skinny city sits almost directly on the equatorial line, nestled among volcanoes, at over 2,850 meters (almost 10,000 feet) above sea level. You may feel the altitude a little right away, so take the opportunity to acclimatize. The natural remedy of coca tea is at your disposal in the hotel lobby, as needed. The old city is full of beautiful historical buildings, squares, and churches, many of which are a very short walk from the hotel. Accommodations: Casa Montero (Quito).
Enjoy breakfast with a view of the city’s iconic statue, el Panecillo. Then we will be joined by our guide as we head out on foot to explore some of the city’s most beautiful sites – the reason this was the first city in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the city’s finest historical squares and churches are right in the area of the hotel, and our knowledgeable guide will be able to tell you all about them and other aspects of the culture. Next it’s on to Mindo with a stop off at the ‘Mitad del Mundo’ or ‘Middle of the World’ – the equatorial line and museum called Intiňan, where you will be able to take your picture with a foot in each hemisphere and do some interesting experiments that only work when you are right on the actual Equator line. You will also stop to see a village built in a volcanic crater, called Pululahua, which also offers wonderful souvenir shopping opportunities. Then it’s on to the picturesque valley of Mindo, where you will be staying for the remainder of the week. You will settle into your rooms before we sit down to talk about everything our week together will entail. Then we will set off on a brief walking tour of the village before heading out for dinner.
Start the morning as the birds are waking with breakfast by the river. Then we will gather in the Riverside Studio for an orientation and overview of what the week has in store related to our daily meditation and mindfulness practice. We will take some time to learn some theory followed by a shorter practice. After lunch, some free time has been built in to settle in properly, with lots of options of things to do if you already feel settled in. We will then meet in the Riverside Studio again later in the day for our meditation & mindfulness practice before heading out for a delicious dinner at a restaurant belonging to some of Alison’s extended family in town – all cooked in a wood-fired oven. After dinner, a few other family members will teach you how to make empanadas – for desert. Eat them while they’re hot! Mmmmmmm.
We will start the day, waking up with our morning meditation & mindfulness practice. After breakfast, we will head out on an amazing walk through a private reserve with local naturalist whose knowledge and appreciation for the natural world are astounding. You will be to learn the inner workings of a cloud forest. On a second hike through EarthTreks’ reforestation project, you will see some of the over 13,500 new trees now growing there and have an opportunity to plant a tree as part of the project. Then we will head back to the village for a healthy traditional meal, followed by our late afternoon meditation and mindfulness practice. The evening is yours to enjoy however you wish.
We will start the day, waking up with our morning meditation and mindfulness practice. Then after breakfast, we will head to the Mariposario (or Butterfly Gardens in English), where we will be able to see butterflies at every stage of life – from eggs to when they emerge as adults from their chrysalis to dry off their wings – including Monarchs, Morphos (the big, iridescent blue butterfly) and several other species. Afterwards, either take the ride back to the village, choose to walk (often offers fantastic bird watching) or continue on to hike the trails at the nearby Environmental Education Centre. Later in the afternoon we will again meet in the Riverside Studio for our meditation and mindfulness practice.
We will start the day, waking up with our morning meditation and mindfulness practice. By now, you will have a good feel of all that Mindo has to offer visitors and you can take the day wherever your heart desires, whether that is the rigorous hike down to the famous waterfalls, more adventurous options such as rappelling through waterfalls, hiking in nature, relaxing with a book, or visiting some of the shops lining the main streets of town. We won’t meet up again until our late afternoon mindfulness and meditation practice, followed by a tour of the local chocolate factory our at our neighbours, the Quetzal. During the tour, we will learn about how artisanal chocolate is made, from bean to bar, including a delicious sampling of chocolate and brownies at the end. We will stay there for what will sure to be a wonderful dinner!
You may choose to forego today’s early practice to take in a birding trip, which has to be arranged for you a day or two in advance (we’ll be sure to ask) – there are a few different options for outings and we will help you work through which best suits your budget and birding interests. The trip would require a very early start to the day (before the sun rises), so be sure to get to bed early the night before if you do choose to book one. Mindo is on the list of the world’s top birding destinations. Then the day is yours to explore until we meet up again later in the afternoon to here will be an opportunity to tour the local Orchid Garden to take in some of the over 4,000 species growing in Ecuador (more than anywhere in the world), from big colourful ones to others that require a magnifying glass to see.This afternoon’s class is our last meditation and mindfulness practice, so we will be sure to have something special in store, and will include how to integrate a daily practice into life back home. Then we will enjoy dinner while listening to a wonderful group of musicians take us around the world with a variety of genres and instruments. Dancing is encouraged.
Following our morning mindfulness and meditation practice this morning, the day is yours to explore. There are many options of things to see and do in Mindo that we were not able to fit into the itinerary, and today will allow you the opportunity to do any number of them, from reading in a hammock to more adventurous options such as zip lining or rappelling through waterfalls. There are also many good hikes in the area and other tours. We will help you to figure out a plan leading into the day, and will arrange the timing for our late day mindfulness and meditation practice around everyone’s plans accordingly.
After packing up and having breakfast, we will make the two-hour trip to the airport and see you off on your way, after a enjoying such a wonderful week together.
When trying to figure out what you may need to pack, please go to our TRAVEL TIPS or you can also feel free to CONTACT US at any time to answer questions you have. We want you to feel comfortable and prepared for an absolutely magical week of meditation, mindfulness, culture and nature together!