After hiking all day from Quilotoa, I found myself out of breath and knee deep in the middle of Ecuadorian Andes. But just around the bend lies one of the top eco lodges in Ecuador, the Black Sheep Inn.
Given that my daily budget is around $20, I hummed and hahhed over whether I should shell out the $35 per night. Included in the price were 3 delicious vegetarian meals. Would it be worth it? I doubted myself.
Then I found out that there was unlimited access to their yoga studio.
Located in the town of Chugchilan, the Black Sheep Inn was started in the 1990s by an environment-loving American couple. It is made with a mixture of recycled and locally produced materials. Overall the design feels well thought out and is eco-friendly without being purely utilitarian.
My favorite accent is the use of recycled bottles to create natural light in varying shades of gin & tonic blue and botella de vino green.
The views are amazing.
From the rooms, composting toilet bathrooms and in general, from pretty much everywhere on the hotel property. There are spectacular day hikes. You are surrounded by green hills with carefully terraced fields full of potatoes, corn and lupine. From far away you can see bright pink shawls the local women seem to adore. Of course, there are cows, pigs and lots of sheep. Locals emerge from winding roads with scrawny farm dogs and blankets full of grass on their backs. Everyone is wearing rubber boots.
The man in charge at the Black Sheep Inn is Edmundo. He is the Indiana Jones of Chugchilan. He is quick and spry with a body that would make a long distance runner jealous. (I swear his calves were made of steel.) He eagerly showed us guests one of his favorite hiking trails, leading us through bogs and sheep pastures before going straight up the mountain.
I struggled to keep up with him as he raced up the volcanic clay pathways while telling stories from his childhood. The stories all shared a similar plot line. “When I was a kid we did x, but NOW the kids today, they do y. Can you believe it?!” Followed by an exaggerated sigh and a disappointed head shake.
While Edmundo seems to think that the town is racing ahead into an unknown future, I feel like I am in a time warp, a place far far away from my current reality.
I love it. This is the perfect retreat from big city life. I spent three days here in total, more than planned, enjoying my daily routine of hiking/yoga/veggie diet. I highly recommend you do the same.