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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 Yoga practice, both morning and again late afternoon with 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 begin our week together with a guided walking tour of the historic centre of UNESCO World Heritage Site, capital city Quito, where we will stay overnight upon arrival in the country. Then while en route to Mindo – our home for the week – we will make a stop at the Equator to do some fun experiments at a open-air museum there. Our week together will also include an evening of live music, a frog concert, an empenada-making class, tours of an artisanal chocolate factory, a butterfly garden, and orchid garden, and guided nature hikes to waterfalls and through some of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
EarthTreks’ founder, Alison Braun, invites you into her home in the magical surroundings of Mindo for the retreat, where she has the pleasure of spoiling retreat participants in her corner of paradise, surrounded by local friends and family. Cat O’Connor will be our Yoga teacher for the week, blending her primary style of teaching – Vinyasa – with Yin and other more restorative forms of Yogal. A mom, writer, and lover of life in general, Cat has been practising Yoga for the past 20 years, teaching for 10, and offering retreats for 5, and is beyond grateful to be able to share her gifts and passions with others. All with the intention of bringing Yoga, creative expression and a higher level of joy & awareness to as many people as possible.
This is going to be a fabulous week of relaxation, learning, Yoga, nature, culture, 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.
*A second deposit of $1,000.00 CAD is required by November 15, 2019.
*Please take off $200.00 CAD if you are willing to share a bedroom and/or bathroom.
*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. Tagging on a trip to the Galapagos is also something we can do for you.
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.
Because Mindo’s livelihood is centered on tourism, there exists an abundance of great souvenir shops, excellent restaurants, tourist activities, health services, ATMs, and a great pharmacy for anything you may have forgotten at home.
Our accommodations are at Alison’s home, Casa Canchupi, named after the river that rushes beside the property. The simple yet comfortable lodgings 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 central park. Wildlife abounds on the property, including varieties of hummingbirds at the feeders, different species of tanagers hanging out in the fruit trees, occasional Mountain Toucans, geckos, and a resident family of guatusas (beaver-like mammals with a tiny tail). The outdoor yoga studio is right on site, as well as the restaurant where we will eat a delicious breakfast daily. Everyone says the same thing about this place – ‘it’s paradise’.
We will be at the airport to meet you upon arrival at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport. Then we will get you settled into your rooms at Hotel Casa Montero in the heart of the city’s historic centre.
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 us 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 open-air 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. We 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 we 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 on our way 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 for our afternoon Yoga practice.
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.
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.
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. Dinner has also been left on your own this evening, as the Frog Concert starts at 6:15, so based on how you’re feeling (and how much you ate at lunch), you may want to eat before or afterwards. The Frog Concert begins with a glass of wine that you can take with you on the leisurely walk through ponds to see a variety of different species of frogs and toads. The Mindo area has as much diversity in amphibians as it does bird life, so you are in for a treat! Hint: bring your own flashlight.
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 many 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. Then after this afternoon’s Yoga lesson, 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 traditional Andean music, and dancing is very much encouraged if the mood strikes.
We will make the two-hour trip to the airport with lots of time to make your flight back home, after a enjoying 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!