El Monte ecolodge

Review: EL Monte Ecolodge, Mindo, Ecuador

I was fortunate enough to be invited to El Monte Ecolodge for a weekend by the lovely owners because I was hoping to volunteer for them. Thank you Tom and Mariela for an unforgettable stay! Here is what I got up to in Mindo.

three meals a day are included and the food at El Monte was some of the best I’ve had in over 6 months abroad! Meals are served in the dining area

El Monte Ecolodge Mindo
dinner table – there are not many electric lights at El Monte

of the impressive main building


Breakfast was served at 8am and consisted of:
fruit salad, homemade bread with fantastic locally made guava jam, eggs, fresh fruit juice, coffee, mint or lemongrass tea from the garden, or black tea.

Lunch and dinner were served at 1pm and 7pm, and varied greatly. There was always a soup, a main dish, a plate of something to nibble on in the middle of the table – for example tuna carpaccio, a pudding, followed once again by coffee, mint or lemongrass tea from the garden, or black tea. The pumpkin gratin and the potato soup were particularly memorable.

All of the food served is sustainably sourced and the majority comes from the garden

El Monte ecolodge
vegetable garden

or from the local area. The chefs prepare all the meals in a beautiful open kitchen. Read more about the food here.

Location: the ecolodge is located about 4km outside of Mindo, nestled in lush forest that is the El Monte nature reserve. We took a taxi when we arrived but once we were without our luggage, we walked to and from the town

Accommodation: Six gorgeous wooden cabins are dotted about the El Monte site, far enough away from each other for you to feel undisturbed

El Monte cabana

We stayed in cabin 1, apparently the best one!


It is right by the river and I woke to the wonderful sound of the churning water every morning.   

The river separates the nature reserve from the road

El Monte Ecolodge

and the only way to cross the river and get to the ecolodge (other than swimming I guess) is to take a cable car!

Although unusual, it certainly gives a feeling of privacy from the outside world. The car remains chained up on the El Monte side of the river, and we knew nothing of this system when we arrived! I didn’t think our shouts would be heard over the sound of the fast-flowing water

tarabita el monte mindo
wondering how we were going to get across and without a phone to call with!

but someone appeared shortly to haul us over

Welcome: We were met at the other side of the river by Anders, a lovely Swedish man who is volunteering there. He showed us to our cabin, answered all our questions and was a very kind substitute host for us when the owners were busy

Wifi: no, the point here is to get away from your normal life and get in touch with nature

El monte nature reserve
nature all around – reflection from the bathroom mirror

Extras: Where to start! For someone who has lived in hostels for about 6 months, El Monte was paradise! The beautiful common area


the guides on hand to take you on birdwatching walks, a huge book collection, and the incredible setting.

Stars: ***** I award EL Monte 5/5 stars. It is fantastic!

Facebook: El Monte Sustainable Lodge

Contact: elmontelodge@gmail.com

Address: I can’t imagine that somewhere like this has an address, but just say “El Monte” to your taxi driver when you get to Mindo, and he’ll know where to take you. Everyone in Mindo knows where it is and can direct you.
Tip: Plan your activities around the meal times – you do not want to miss a meal at El Monte!

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