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“Relaxing and fascinating visit at Refugio de Intag”

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El Refugio de Intag Cloud Forest Lodge
Ranked #8 of 28 Otavalo B&B and Inns
Ecuador
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
“Relaxing and fascinating visit at Refugio de Intag”
Reviewed 11 August 2013

My mom and I truly enjoyed the two days we spent at the Refugio de Intag Lodge. Oswaldo, the driver, carpenter and father of adorable twins living at the Refugio met us in Otavalo. We made the 2 hour drive past Laguna Cuicocha and through cloud forest, descending into the lush "sacred valley" of Intag. We were greeted at the Refugio by Peter, the kind and helpful American owner. That afternoon, we hiked an hour with Peter and Sandra to see the Andean cock of the rock, a beautiful red bird native to the area. Sandra, the manager, invited us for tea and shared some of her knowledge from 30+ years living in Intag. The biodiversity and human communities in Intag are incredible. Later that evening, Oswaldos wife Lupe prepared a delicious dinner of fresh ingredients from her garden. The next day we went farther down the valley to visit Gualiman, an archaeological site of the pre-Colombian inhabitants of Intag. It was a fascinating guided tour of medicinal plants, healing springs and pyramids. We highly recommend Refugio de Intag to all travelers, for a comfortable, relaxing and friendly visit to one of the most beautiful parts of Ecuador.

Room Tip: The newly completed 4-room cabin we stayed in was lovely, with great attention to detail and interes...
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
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Thank laurenkehau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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55 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
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English first
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 21 June 2013

I am back in NYC, sipping a cup of El Refugio coffee as I write this, reminiscing about my enchanting two-week stay at El Refugio De Intag in March.

The location is incredible, a secluded valley set in rolling farmland and steep, jungle-covered hills. Wildlife abounds, especially an amazing diversity of birds.

The accommodations are rustic yet clean and comfortable: locally made furniture, beautiful artwork, hot water, WiFi. Little thoughtful conveniences like extra rain boots and ponchos (it does rain quite a bit in the cloud forest in winter).

The only challenging aspect was the remote location: visitors should be prepared for a sometimes vertigo-inducing trip through the mountains from Otavalo over dirt roads (soon to be paved though I heard).

The food was superb! I was especially enamored of the selection of fresh-squeezed juices from delectable fruits I'd never heard of, like Tomate de arbol and Naranjillo.

Peter helped arrange day-trips to local attractions and knows the area very well, having lived there for around 20 years.

I look forward to future visits, spending more time watching birds from the balcony and listening to the river rushing nearby. A magical place!

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Gabriel W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Memphis
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 June 2013

We stayed for 3 days/2 nights at Intag and had a wonderful time. Oswaldo picked us up from Hacienda Cusin at around 9 am and by 11 we were at Intag. We were lucky enough to be able to stay at the Green House (the owner was out of town). It is a very nice 2 story house next to a small river. (We slept at night with the windows open to listen to the rushing water). Our first afternoon we went with Sandy out to the the Intag Cloud Forest Reserve where, in spite of the pouring rain, we saw the famous cock-of-the-rock. It was very cool. The next day we went on an am and pm hike through the forest, learning about birds and medicinal plants from Oswaldo. He is a wealth of knowledge! We were well fed.........full breakfast,lunch and dinner, with a different menu at each meal. Lupe, Oswaldo's wife, is a great cook. The beauty of the area is simply wonderful and I hightly recommend as a place to get away from it all and enjoy nature.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank tripsofalifetime
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Calgary, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
Reviewed 1 June 2013

My friend and I stayed at El Refugio in March. It was a wonderful experience. We stayed in the 4 plex cabin that has been newly constructed.The front and the back of the cabin are divided. Each half has an entry way and sitting area with private rooms off of the foyer. This would be private if the other room was occupied by strangers but also ideal when travelling with kids or friends as you can have your door open to the foyer - or visit in this area as there are chairs.

Each room is decorated nicely and has a bathroom with shower. The only somewhat negative thing I can say is that the rooms were cold in the evenings/ nights. This could be easily rectified with having a hot water bottled placed in your bed. (there is a kettle in the room). The views when waking up are beautiful and you can hear the water flowing by in the river.

Peter was a great host. He is an avid birder and very educated. I cannot recognize a sparrow from a flamingo but Peter still had the patience to point out birds and lead us on hikes.

The meals are fantastic - great to have "home cooking" while travelling. Breakfasts consist of coffee, fresh juice and fruit, pancakes, eggs, etc. Each day was different. Lunches and suppers (cost $12 each) consisted of freshly made bread/buns, soup, and an entree. There is the option to opt out of the meal plan and make your own in the kitchen but I would not recommend this - you will kick yourself when you see what Lupe is created!

For a minimal fee, Oswaldo, will drive you to local sites. The views are stunning. Oswaldo is a very careful driver and a very kind man.

This was a fantastic getaway. Great charm. Beautiful Environment. Friendly people. Rubber boots on loan if you happen to forget yours!

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank calgarytraveler686
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 March 2013 via mobile

I visited El Refugio for five days in March 2013 with two others in my party, and stayed in the newly constructed Garden House. It was an amazing visit, and I highly recommend El Refugio to anyone looking for time off the beaten path and a chance to explore the amazing natural beauty of Intag. El Refugio provides first-rate creature comforts, including: Lupe's delicious food, piping-hot showers, spacious and well-appointed accommodations, and board games, books, binoculars, and wi-fi in the common dining area. The Garden House was perfect for our group of three. The house is beautifully designed into two halves with separate entrances, each half with two bedrooms with bathrooms en suite and a large entry/sitting area.

El Refugio is well-situated for exploring the surrounding rainforest. Our outings included a bird walk to the nearby lookout and the waterfall at La Florida, a day trip to the pre-Incan ruins of Waiyman, and a day trip of birding and hiking at Siempre Verde. All are worth doing if you have the time. The best part of our stay was the people--our gracious hosts Peter and Sandra, Oswaldo, and Lupe.

For those looking to spend time in Otavalo, Las Palmeras and Hacienda Cusin (we stayed a both) are great options, with Cusin being the grander, more impressive option. Both are a short cab ride from downtown, which can be covered in a full or half day.

  • Stayed March 2013
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Helpful?
1 Thank Hermes2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 February 2013

Friends suggested that we spend some time at El Refugio before returning home after a month-long vacation in Ecuador. It was the perfect place for the last five days of our holiday! Tho the drive there is rough, Oswaldo (who lives with his wife and 2 children on the property) is a wonderful driver; he was also available to take us on excursions around the area. His wife, Lupe, is a fabulous cook. The meals we had at El Refugio were among the best we had on our whole trip! We had a large, lovely room with private bath; we were the only guests there during our visit but would have felt comfortable with our privacy even if there had been other guests as the house is so spacious. The grounds are beautiful! And the sound of the rushing river made for peaceful sleep. We are not hard-core birders (!) but did love the bird watching we did, the walking, the reading, the peace, the beauty. We were lucky to be there when Peter, the owner, was there but would have been very well taken care of by Sandy (his associate), Oswaldo and Lupe if he had not been there.

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank sweltwoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Munich, Germany
1 review
Reviewed 6 February 2013

The Refugio de Intag is a heavenly place not only for ornithologists but also for lovers of orchids and other wonderful plants. It is situated in the beautiful “Valle de Intag” and is the perfect place to (as we say in German) “let the soul dangle”, which means to unwind.
There are two guest houses at the Refugio. The one we rented was very spacious and beautiful, with a wonderful living room (with open kitchen which we never used) and two bedrooms each with an own bathroom. The other guest house has two very charming apartments. The breakfast/lunch/dining room is in this guest house and it is situated nearby Osvaldos house. Osvaldo is the caretaker of the place, he and his charming wife Lupe prepared all the great meals for us.
Oswaldo was great with our boys. Even though he did not have much English and our boys only had about ten words of Spanish, they got along great.
On our expeditions around the house Osvaldo always took a book with pictures of birds with him so that he could show us pictures of the birds that we got a glimpse of in the trees. We were given two pairs of binoculars for bird observation.
The two dogs at the Refugio are so friendly and our boys always wanted them to join us on our expeditions. There is a small river passing the Refugio. The boys loved to throw branches into a natural pond and one of the dogs would always fetch them and bring it back. Osvaldo took us fishing one day and that was a very nice activity for us, too. Luckily we caught some trouts and Lupe prepared them in the most delicious way for dinner.
Osvaldo also showed us how they harvest and process their own coffee. The greatest thing for our sons was to help Osvaldo for half a day to chop down plants and trees with the “macheta” (a long bush knife) to make his banana plantation more accessible. My husband and I relaxed in the hammock and read a book. Wonderful!
A memorable experience for all of us was a visit to the nearby school. Sandy Statz took us there and we joined one of her lessons. The children were really cute and our boys had fun with them, despite the language barrier. On a globe we showed them our home country Germany. Some of the children had their own horse “parked” in the backyard because otherwise the way to school would be too far for them.
When it was time to leave the Refugio, Osvaldo drove us back to Otavalo. On the way we stopped at Lago cuicocha, a very nice crater lake, and did a boat tour. It was very touristy, but nice.
We were lucky to spend four days at the Refugio and really enjoyed the silence, the nature, the good food and good company of Osvaldo and his family in such a safe and wonderful place on earth. Luckily we decided to see less places and rather spend more time at each of them, so we could really relax at the Refugio.

Room Tip: The two guest houses are quiet really cosy. Beautiful equipment.
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  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Coco102
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Refugio de Intag Cloud Forest Lodge

Property: El Refugio de Intag Cloud Forest Lodge
Address: Casilla 18 | Via Intag Km 53, Otavalo 100450, Ecuador
Region: Ecuador > Imbabura Province > Otavalo
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 28 B&Bs / Inns in Otavalo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This cloud forest Lodge is located just 33 miles from the market town of Otavalo along the Toabunchi River in northwestern Ecuador. The brick-and-stucco house and the wooden cabin are surrounded by gardens that attract the 200-plus species of birds from the retreat's 60 acres of forest. The often snow-capped 17,000' Cotacachi mountain is in view. Mild temperatures are the norm: an average of 75 to 80 F. Guests can hike along the river or up the mountain to view birds and orchids and other strikingly beautiful wildflowers. The area is free of tropical diseases. Meals are available from the resident caretakers who are also the cook and guide. A thirty-minute drive takes you to the small town of Apuela, with stores, a health clinic and the Coffee Cooperative of ACRI, to witness the way the coffee process works--from farm to roasted beans. Not far away are the hot baths of Nangulvi. These natural hot springs are set in a deep valley, the mountains rising straight from the valley floor. The best part of El Refugio is the closeness to nature it provides. The refuge is off the main road, so the sounds you hear are the birds and the river, and the clouds that frequently cloak the forested mountains make for a dramatic setting. ... more   less 
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