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“Unique and amazing!”

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Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge
Ranked #8 of 35 Otavalo B&B and Inns
Reviewed 21 December 2013

Our three nights at Ali Shunga were exceptional, and a perfect end to our South America trip. The drive up (even with a 4x4) was a challenge, but Frank and Margaret were welcoming. Frank was very helpful and offered lots of ideas and tips about local sightseeing. We particularly liked hearing Frank's stories about acquiring and building the lodge and his work with the locals. Meals were excellent. Our casita was outfitted with everything we could need; I loved that the staff stoked the fire morning and evening and the after-dinner hot water bottles were a special treat!

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Alan K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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71 - 77 of 169 reviews

Reviewed 19 December 2013

Although it has been six weeks since my wife and I stayed at Ali Shungu Lodge, the memories of our experience are as fresh and warm as if it had been only yesterday. From the moment that we were picked up at our Quito hotel by our driver, Fabian, the professional care and concern of Ali Shungu for its clients was obvious. Despite traffic challenges resulting from weekend street closures in the city, Fabian was at the door at the promised time and conveyed us in efficient and friendly style to Otavalo and the nearby Lodge, which would be our home away from home for the next four nights. On arrival, we were most warmly greeted by the owner, Frank, and shown to our luxurious bungalow. We were amazed that this entire two bedroom, self-contained and very well-appointed unit was to be for our exclusive use during our stay. The guesthouse was one of several on the extensive and scenic (both natural mountain vistas and well-tended gardens) property, which also contained a small gift shop, and a large common building where we had our breakfasts and dinners - as noted by other reviewers, generous in quantity and excellent in quality with fresh ingredients, plenty of variety and unfailingly attractive presentations by gracious kitchen and serving staff - and included in the package price! Frank's (and his partner, Margaret) hospitality went well beyond the usual level anticipated of owners of first-rate establishments - from arranging for the safe retrieval of my computer that I had inadvertently left in our Quito hotel, to inviting us along on a grocery shopping trip to Otavalo, to encouraging us to have free rein of the property (and free reins - my wife enjoyed an afternoon horseback ride with Jose Maria), to spend our time just relaxing if we wished, to presenting numerous suggestions for daily activities, to facilitating our exploration of these choices, to freely chatting with us about the local area and its inhabitants, to graciously arranging our delayed checkout and transportation (again with Fabian) to the airport on our last (too soon!) day - we felt more like welcome friends or family members than paying guests. We otherwise echo the detailed descriptions and positive sentiments expressed by other reviewers and have no hesitation in recommending Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge to anyone who is lucky enough to find themselves in this vicinity.
Roger and Cheryl Moses

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Roger M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 December 2013

While nestled within the forest atop a mountain, it’s difficult to imagine a place finer than Ali Shungu to appreciate the beauty of Ecuador.

Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge owners Frank and Margaret are outstanding souls who go out of their way to make your stay at their retreat seamlessly enjoyable. This was my third visit to this enchanting locale with undoubtedly many more to follow. It is truly one of my favorite places on the planet.

The lodging consists of four clean, smartly appointed cottages that afford extraordinary privacy and comfort. Each house boasts a large front porch where you can spend time chilling and watching the ever-changing sky. Inside a wood burning stove keeps you warm while you enjoy the magnificent views from the large windows.

The provided meals (breakfast and dinner) are outstanding and always made with fresh, local ingredients. The portions are so large that it’s difficult to clean your plate.

With the ambience of the main lodge and doting personal service, you may never want to leave the grounds. But, away from the lodge there are many activities: The famous markets of Otavalo, including the Animal Market on Saturday, are a “must see.” (Frank makes a point of taking his guests where they can get a peek into the indigenous Ecuadorian culture.) Also nearby are the small town of Cotacatchi known for its leather products, a beautiful park complete with a waterfall, a condor park and Cuicocha Lake, a crater lake surrounded by mountains. There are hikes of various lengths and difficulty and artisan workshops to visit in the area.

A word of caution: Ali Shungu is on top of a mountain, the air is thin and there are lots of steps to climb. But if you’re looking for a special experience at a special place, then a visit to Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge is just the ticket.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank GlobalAcuity
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 December 2013

If you are looking for a tranquil place to relax that is located in a mountainous equatorial region, this is for you. Sara and I were treated to the extremely warm hospitality of the Ali Shangu at the end of our Ecuadoran vacation and I am so glad it worked out that way. The four days and three nights were a a relief after the hourly activity planning of the Galapagos visit.
We were efficiently shuttled from Quito by Favian who graciously permitted a side tour to the Center of the Earth exhibit. The total trip was about three hours. Once in Otavalo we made our way out of the city up a cobble stone road to an unimproved dirt rode. We were warmly welcomed by Frank, Pablo and the three property dogs. Pablo shuttled our luggage to our guesthouse. As soon as I entered a feeling of tranquility overcame me.
The large common room contained several comfortable stuffed chairs and a love seat. A wood stove crackled with a fire and native music drifted from a CD player. The picture windows provided a gorgeous view of volcanos, the city of Otavalo and the local lake in the background. In foreground there was a magnificent view of the flower gardens and the farm.
The rooms were tastefully decorated with native pictures masks and crafts. Native tapestries adorned the walls. If you just want to relax indoors, there are numerous lights available for reading. I think the accommodations are outstanding, and an outstanding value.
The cuisine was the best I had in Ecuador. Eating is rather like being a guest in a home. There is no menu with numerous choices. You voice your tastes and let them take over. Meals are primarily breakfast and dinner, although arrangements can be made for lunch. Frank and Margaret specialize in catering to a variety of tastes. Sara and I are Vegan and this was no problem. All of the ingredients are fresh, many of which are grown on the property. We had marvelous fruit and lettuce salads, as well as stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini, home made bread and hearty vegetable soups. If you leave the table hungary, it is your own fault. Portion sizes are very generous, but don't worry if you can't finish as nothing goes to waste. In addition a tasteful selection of wines is available.
If you want to visit the local sites such as weavers, the Otavalo market place, or lakes, transportation is easily arranged and I thought the prices were reasonable considering the time an distances covered. In addition Margaret has a lovely gift shop stocked with high quality locally produced merchandise.
If you enjoy hiking, there are plenty of places to explore around the Lodge. A relatively short hike will take you into local villages and expose you to the local way of living. The terrain can be rugged, but the trails are easy to follow. If you get disoriented it is easy to locate a local road and navigate back to the lodge.
Although you probably will not want to, catching a flight is effortless thanks to the relationship Frank has with local transportation services. The drivers are prompt and polite. They will assuredly deliver you in time for your flight.
Should I be looking for a tranquil place where I can recover from a hectic and sometimes brutal world I would definitely consider a return trip.
I cannot end this review without mentioning Paco, Sarah and Sinbad, the property dogs. They are well trained and affectionate and, for me added to an outstanding experience.
Finally, it is gratifying to support a local business that does not take from the community, but gives back to it. Frank and Margaret have established a mutually beneficial relationship with the local community. They are not given special considerations, following the same business rules as an Ecuadoran native. In some respects they are teated more harshly. Still they feel the responsibility to help their adopted community by providing jobs, providing financial assistance for local children who want to go to school, building a community center and refurbishing the local water supply. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship with the community which you support when you visit the Ali Shangu Mountaintop Lodge.

Room Tip: I think you cannot have a "bad" room.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank ABORh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 November 2013

Ali Shungu is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. My friend and I spent our last night there following a hectic business trip in Otavalo, and before heading to the jungle. The guesthouse we stayed in was exquisitely decorated, and even the most expensive camera in the world could not capture the beauty of the panoramic views from every window and around the grounds. The meals were delicious, as was the wine! Upon arrival, we were served homemade soup, and that was only the beginning of the the wonderful feast that followed later in the evening.
During our short stay, Frank and Margaret invited some of the local people from the area to the lodge. While drinking delicious coffee, we talked about life in the village and learned about local culture. While we chatted, we listened to regional folk music from Frank and Margaret's vast collection. The furnishings and the art in the lodge are amazing, and each piece has a unique story of its own. That evening will always be special to me, as I experienced so much of Ecuador in that special setting in such a short period of time. The next morning, Fabian, the driver, arrived at 0430 to take us to the airport to get to our next adventure in the jungle. But before going to the airport, he took us to a hotel near the airport where we would be able to store our luggage. We needed to leave it where we could retrieve it quickly for our flight back to the USA following our jungle adventure. This very important detail was pre-arranged by Frank and Margaret. Ali Shungu is a wonderful place to stay. The hosts will do everything possible to accommodate your needs to ensure you enjoy your stay. As I write this review and reflect on all that I experienced in less than 24 hours, I am amazed.

Stayed: October 2013, travelled with friends
Thank seurabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 November 2013

Ali Shungu is a great place to stay when in the Otavalo area. My wife, two-year-old daughter, and I stayed three nights and enjoyed every minute of it. Everything written in the other reviews is spot on. Each guesthouse is tastefully decorated and very spacious. The regional folk music added to the atmosphere, as did the wood burning stove.

You can tell a place has good service when the reviews on TripAdvisor mention the staff by name, as most people have here with Ali Shungu. Jose Maria did a great job of tending to our needs and my daughter loved the horseback ride through the village he took us on. Paulina was a great server and many thanks to the cook for the excellent food she prepared. And we are grateful for our driver Fabian.

Frank was definitely born to do what he does as we always had a full itinerary and he took care of all the logistics for us, allowing us to fully enjoy the time we had there. That we were able to visit with and learn about the local people of the area was the number one advantage of staying at the lodge. We visited the elementary school down the road and were warmly welcomed by the students there. Miguel Andrango showed us the absolutely fascinating process of weaving a blanket, from the clump of wool as shaved off the sheep to the woven finished product. And because our visit coincided with Dia de los Muertos, we were able to witness the masses of Kichwa families celebrating their deceased family members at the cemetery. Many thanks to Frank for pulling everything together for us, as well as showing us around the animal and craft markets.

If you are traveling with children, there is no better place to stay than here. The many different animals on the property entertained my daughter the entire time. Llamas, horses, chickens, cows, pigs…all very friendly and allowed my daughter to experience them up close and personal, bringing to life the things she only knew from her picture books. I have never seen two dogs with better temperaments than Sara and Paco. They were very patient with my extremely inquisitive daughter. And thanks again to Frank for the “Bread Doll” he gave to Sophie to take to the cemetery, just as the local families do.

I have nothing bad to say about Ali Shungu and can confirm it is well worth the price. We all hope we can return there one day in the future.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with family
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Thank hansi74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 October 2013

Ali Shungu is a beautiful, working farm outside Otavalo. Don Francisco is a terrific host who takes good care of his guests. We stayed in a large cabin that was beautifully decorated with art and crafts from the area and equipped with a wood stove. We stayed two nights and wished we had had more time to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Breakfasts and dinners were fantastic—large and delicious, often featuring produce from the farm. We took a horseback ride, included with our cabin, that allowed us to see the surrounding area. Our guide, Jose Maria, is the world’s hardest working man. He started a fire in our cabin first thing in the morning and came back again in the afternoon to make sure we’d be warm through the night. He also gave us hot water bottles after dinner—I hadn’t fully appreciated the comfort they provide until this trip. This lodge is a fair distance from town and requires a car (preferably four wheel drive). Don Francisco took us to the big market on Saturday morning and arranged a driver to take us to San Antonio de Ibarra.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Lillian W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge

Address: Imbabura, Otavalo 100450, Ecuador (Formerly Rancho Ali Shungu)
Region: Ecuador > Imbabura Province > Otavalo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 35 B&Bs / Inns in Otavalo
Price Range: £61 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Travelers enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Andean Mountains and Culture in our warm and spacious guesthouses, surrounded by 40 acres of private gardens and forests ...all just a few minutes from the world famous markets of Otavalo. ... more   less 

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