As you may have noticed, Mockingbird is dedicated to traveling sustainably. Fortunately, thanks to increasing demand for sustainable lodgings, “sustainable” no longer means “roughing it.” Today’s post highlights one of the hotels where we’ll be staying on our upcoming tour of Ecuador.
During my reconnaissance mission to Ecuador last fall, I reported briefly about my weekend in Otavalo. Many people day-trip to Otavalo, less than two hours north of Quito, for its (justifiably) famous indigenous market. But if you only visit Otavalo for a day, you miss out on the chance to stay at Casa Mojanda, and what a shame that would be.
I was thrilled to discover this hacienda-style hotel just outside of Otavalo. Casa Mojanda represents exactly the kind of lodging I seek out for Mockingbird tours. First, it hits the mark on sustainability. Its buildings were designed to minimize their impact on the environment; they have a large organic garden, from which they harvest most of the food that they prepare for their guests; and they contribute to local conservation projects. Casa Mojanda is also committed to the wellbeing of its community. They provide stable employment for locals, and they can connect travelers with local health, education and environmental projects.
Equally important for Mockingbird tours, Casa Mojanda offers comfort and character. Situated on a hill overlooking the Andes, it’s a welcome respite from the frenetic energy of Quito. While the rooms are a bit more “rustic” than the urban hotels we stay in, they are clean and comfortable, and the views from the windows more than make up for the lack of a fancy bathtub. All of the rooms have private bathrooms, and some of them have wood-burning fireplaces.
There’s also a personal touch to Casa Mojanda that’s hard to find in most hotels. Meals are served family style in the main lodge; some of the best meals I had in Ecuador came from the Casa Mojanda kitchen. Even though I was the only guest when I first arrived there, they didn’t hesitate to whip up lunch for me and even brewed some fresh coffee when I was desperate for a cup in the afternoon. You’re welcome to roam the grounds, check out the garden, and say hello to the resident llama and dogs. Or you can soak in the Japanese hot tub while admiring the volcanoes in the distance. They can arrange horseback riding and hiking in the area as well.
At Casa Mojanda, I found an authentic taste of rural Ecuador. On my first night there, I returned to my room after dinner to find a fire blazing in the fireplace. It’s chilly at night, up in the northern Andes. But the cool, crisp air, far from the city lights, also makes for outstanding stargazing. When I stepped out onto the private grass patio behind my room to admire the clear night sky, I was rewarded with a shooting star. I fell asleep to the soft crackling of the fire. Sustainable perfection.