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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 Yoga daily in a studio in the cloud forests alongside a rushing river. Our week together will weave a daily mindfulness practice with two hours of Yoga, 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.
We have added an extra day as well as a stay in Quito and some other great new activities since last we did this. We will begin our week together 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. We have also added on an evening of live music, a frog concert, and a ride on Mindo’s new cable car, skirting about the rain forest canopy.
Your retreat guides are Yoga instructor, Susan Clarke, and EarthTreks’ founder, Alison Braun, who invites you into her home in the magical surroundings of Mindo for the retreat. Susan retired from a career in social services and then discovered Yoga. Now a certified Yoga Teacher, she guides others to discover the life enhancing benefits of Yoga, cultivating flexibility, strength, balance, focus, mindfulness, and inner peace. This is going to be a fabulous week of relaxation, learning, Yoga, and fun.
To find out about more about this retreat, we encourage you to please CONTACT US directly, so that we can answer your specific questions.
*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.
*Based on double occupancy. We are happy to find you a compatible roomie for the week, but if you would prefer your own private room, please add on an additional $200.00 CAD to the retreat price.
*If arriving earlier or departing later than the trip dates, please add on $120.00 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 at 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. The beautiful Mot-Mot bird (seen above) will likely be a frequent visitor to the Riverside Studio, where our daily Yoga lessons will take place, as the studio is very close to her nest. Everyone says the same thing about this place – ‘it’s paradise’.
Your flight will arrive in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, late afternoon. We will be at the airport to meet you and whisk you away from the city to the village of Mindo, which we will call home for the next week. This final leg of your journey will take about two hours. Fresh food will be available upon your arrival, as you get settled into the room you will be calling home for the next week.
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 and all of the activities we have planned. We will take some time to learn some theory and talk about what our daily Yoga practice will entail, followed by a shorter Yoga practice. Following lunch, you will have a little free time to allow you to settle in properly, with lots of options to fill your time if you feel up to it. Then our late afternoon Yoga practice will be followed by dinner and then we will learn how to make empenadas from scratch for dessert!
We will start the day, waking up with our morning Yoga practice. Then after breakfast, we will head out on an amazing walk through a private nature reserve with local naturalist Pedro Peňafiel, whose knowledge and appreciation for the natural world are astounding. You will be amazed by how fast trees grow, as you do a second hike through EarthTreks’ reforestation project to see some of the over 13,500 new trees now growing there. You will have an opportunity to plant a tree yourself too! Later in the afternoon we will again meet in the Riverside Studio for restorative and meditation practice, and some yoga for deep relaxation. Dinner has been left on your own this evening, as this can be a bit of a tiring day, so take it at your own pace.
We will start the day, waking up with our morning Yoga practice. 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. Those options are the reason this is the one lunch we left out of the plans. You can even choose to eat right at the butterfly gardens – they have an excellent restaurant. We will again meeting up later for our late afternoon restorative and meditation practice, followed by dinner. The after dinner we will head out to enjoy a Frog Concert. The Mindo area has as much diversity in amphibians as it does bird life, so you are in for a treat!
We will start the day, waking up with our morning Yoga practice. After breakfast, we will head to Mindo’s new “Teleferico” – a cable car that takes you gliding just above the forest canopy for twenty minutes, offering wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. Then you can choose to do another trip across a gorge if you feel up to hiking to some of the beautiful waterfalls Mindo is famous for. Let us know in advance so that we can have a picnic lunch packed for you to take with you. As with any day, you can also choose to take the day wherever you want, from a variety of adventure sports locally to a pulling up a hammock to enjoy your favourite book. We will meet up again for our late afternoon restorative and meditation practice, and some yoga for deep relaxation. Finally, we will treat ourselves to the local chocolate tour at our neighbours’ chocolate factory, 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. Then we will double up with a second tour that will give you the opportunity to make chocolate yourself, as we all take turns roasting the beans over a fire, as the Mayans once did.
We will start the day, waking up with our morning Yoga practice. Alternatively, a birding trip can be arranged for you this morning – 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 book one. You will be amazed at the birds found in this region. Mindo is on the list of the world’s top birding destinations for a reason. Then the day is yours to explore however you wish, whether that includes adventure sports, hiking in nature, relaxing with a book, or wandering through the streets doing shopping in one of the charming stores. We will help you make arrangements as needed. Later in the afternoon, there 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 (later in the day) is our last Yoga lesson together, 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. Their specialty is Salsa, so dancing is very much encouraged. If interested in learning some of the basic steps, we can arrange a quick lesson ahead of time.
This is your bonus day in Mindo, and no doubt there will be a list of things you have yet to fit in that you can now do – from a long birding trip, a beautiful nature hike, one of a variety of adventure sports (from rapelling through waterfalls to zip lining to more…), to laying in a hammock or doing some last-minute shopping in local shops. You will have time to plan what suits you best and we will help make it happen. We will figure out the best time for everyone to take in a last (bonus) yoga class too, based on everyone’s plans.
After packing up around midnight, 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 Yoga, mindfulness, culture and nature together!