Day 1 (Sat): Arrive in Quito (-/-/-)
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.
Day 2 (Sun): Tour Historic Quito, Pululahua, the Equator & Travel to Mindo (B/L/D))
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. After lunch and packing up, it’s onto 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 onto 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.
Day 3: Introduction to Retreat ~ Yoga ~ Empenada-making Class (B/L/D)3 (Mon): M&M ~ Empenada-making Lesson ~ M&M (B, L, D)
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!
Day 4: Yoga ~ Deep Nature Hike & Reforestation ~ Yoga (B/L/D)
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.
Day 5: Yoga ~ Butterfly Tour ~ Yoga (B/-/D)
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.
Day 6: Yoga ~ Cable Car & Waterfall Hike Option ~ Yoga ~ Chocolate Tour (B/L/D)
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.
Day 7: Yoga ~ Free Day ~ Yoga ~ Frog Concert (B/L/-)
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.
Day 8: Yoga ~ Orchid Tour ~ Yoga ~ Live Music (B/L/D)
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.
Day 9: Return to Quito for your Flight Home
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.
Preparing for the Week:
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!
About the Village of Mindo, its Climate & Our Accommodations
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’.