Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge is in a private reserve in the Tandayapa Valley, two hours drive from Quito. This is an excellent location if you are interested in natural history and eco-adventure.
Accommodation is in several different buildings, offering a wide choice of sizes and styles of room. A four-storey geodesic dome with panoramic views contains the dining hall and 5 double rooms. Most have private bathrooms but some have shared facilities. Some are located a little way from the main lodge area offering more secluded accommodation, ideal for hneymooners or families.
Food at the lodge is hearty and wholesome and vegetarian dishes are always available. Trout and chicken are regularly served, as well as beef, pork and seafood. Specific dietary requirements can be catered for.
The lodge is in montane or cloud forest, frequently bathed in cloud and is a humid, but not a hot, place. There are gnarled moss-clad trees with branches laden with orchids, bromeliads and other epiphytes. Within the reserve there are over 330 recorded species of birds, which reflects the fact that Bellavista and the surrounding region of northwestern Ecuador is a true biodiversity hotspot. Mammals present include the endangered Spectacled Bear (rarely seen, but protected by the Reserve), and Andean Coati.
Birding and natural history are the principal activities and specialist birding guides can be arranged. A cock-of-the-rock lek is located nearby in Tandayapa and a special early-morning visit can be arranged here at an additional cost. There is a self-guided trail for those wanting to explore on their own, and hiking is also a good way to spot the wildlife. Horseriding is offered, from short rides around the lodge to full day rides.
Open: All year.
Location: The accommodation is located in Bellavista Cloud Forest, a 700 hectare private reserve near Mindo. It is less than a 2 hour drive from Quito.
Rooms: There is a variety of accommodation including the 4-storey geodesic dome, the bamboo house, the half-timbered trailhead house and the secluded San Luis house. These different accommodations offer single, double/twin, triple and family rooms with balconies and private bathrooms with hot water. The dome has 5 rooms, each with a private balcony as well as a dorm room with 10 beds. The trailhead house has spacious verandas with hammocks and chairs. It has 2 double rooms in the ground floor and can accommodate a family if 6 on the upper floor. Nearby is the bamboo house. It has 3 rooms and can accommodate a small group or family. The San Luis house is a couple of miles from the centre of the lodge and ideal for those wanting more privacy.
Activities: Guided nature hikes, self-guided walks and bird watching walks. There are over 10kms of walking trails at Bellavista, leading to villages, waterfalls and look out points. These walks and treks are of varying duration and level of difficulty. The lodge can also arrange a range of half and full day excursions concentrating on birdlife, natural history and activity and adventure.
Facilities: There is a dining room where generous meals are served.
Dining: Meals are taken at individual tables in the restaurant.
Children: Can be accommodated, but many of the trails and activties are not suitable for younger children.
Communication:There is limited mobile phone signal in the area around Bellavista and no internet access.
Galapagos Islands, cloudforest, Andean scenery - 12 exciting days you'll never forget!
Bellavista helps with forest regeneration and protects 700 hectares of land. It also educates local people as regards conservation. Smart voyager certified through Rainforest Alliance.
"You get to see a lot of birdlife around the lodge - particularly hummingbirds - which is lovely, and the walks are well marked and rated according to ease or difficulty. Mealtimes in the restaurant, eating good food and looking out over the valley to the volcano and watching the clouds and mist rolling in, were enjoyable. However, the place has a tired feel to it and our room - Pichincha - while having a lovely view stank of damp, the bathroom was absolutely tiny and the tiles in the shower were cracked, making it very uninviting. Natalia was a lovely guide, taking us on a night walk and going through our photos to help us identify the wildlife, and the restaurant staff were very nice."