On vacation, time flies. It seems one moment you’re standing on the tarmac of your long dreamed of destination and the next, you’re back where you started, only now, you’re facing home. Hopefully, you have some amazing memories to temper the bittersweet feeling of return but, regardless, it’s over. The best you can do is try to be as present as possible in each moment. Yoga is one of the best ways to achieve that presence, so here is a list of the top 5 destinations to travel to in Ecuador (on any budget) AND get your yoga on.
1. Hostería Izhcayluma – Vilcabamba
One of my personal favorite spots in Ecuador, Hostería Izhcayluma is the ideal place to relax and find your balance again, whether you’ve been working tirelessly or traveling ceaselessly. Set in a small valley in the Andean foothills (known as the Valley of Longevity due to the rumored lengthy lifespans of its residents), Izhcayluma affords vistas simultaneously breathtaking and peaceful from practically any point on its extensive property. They offer accommodation ranging from dorms ($8.50/night) to private cabins that can sleep up to four ($79/night). But the star in its crown is its yoga studio, which is open on three sides so that you can take in the view even while perfecting your Warrior pose, or from a different angle (upside down) in Chandelier pose during one of their Air Yoga classes. They offer free yoga classes every morning and in the afternoon they offer other varieties of yoga, including Vinyasa and Air, for five dollars a person. They also sometimes offer yoga workshops.
2. Casa del Sol – Montañita
Montañita is known primarily for its party scene. Alcohol practically flows through the streets on weekends and many find themselves squinting uncomprehendingly into the sunrise as a new day catches them unawares after a long and sleepless night. But this happens in downtown Montañita, and for the traveler more interested in relaxation and a general absorption of the sense of well-being exuded by the locals, all one has to do is walk ten minutes up the beach to Casa del Sol. Only a few yards from the shore, this good-sized hostel, with dorms at $15 and private rooms starting at $20 (breakfast included), boasts a beautiful yoga studio that connects to the hostel by raised wooden walkways, making it look like a tree house. Daily classes in a variety of disciplines, including acroyoga, cost $8 each, or you can buy them in packages: 5 classes for $35 or 10 for $65 (local rates also available). Annual yoga teacher certification courses are also offered.
3. Black Sheep Inn – Chugchilán (near Quilotoa)
The Quilotoa Loop is one of the most popular Ecuadorian attractions for tourists. It is possible to do by bus, but the hike from town to town is worth the effort. Chugchilán is one of the towns on the loop, and if you were to ask someone where to stay, it is very likely they would recommend the Black Sheep Inn. Prices here range from $35 to $100, but that price includes three vegetarian meals and unlimited coffee and tea. They have a beautiful yoga studio and they try to have a teacher there as often as possible, but it is a good idea to call ahead to make sure classes are available. However, the yoga studio is open to guests regardless so you can always do your own practice while taking in the magnificent Andean landscapes.
4. Sacha Ji – Imbabura Province (60 miles north of Quito)
For those looking for a more luxurious setting from which to enjoy the bewildering diversity of Ecuador’s landscape, Sacha Ji is ideal. Here you can gaze at your leisure upon Pablo del Lago, Ecuador’s largest lake, and both the Cotocachi and Imbabura volcanoes. Rooms run higher here, starting at about $190, which includes breakfast and dinner. They offer Kundalini yoga classes, as well as a variety of other wellness techniques, such as reiki and massage. Also available are Wellness Packages, starting around $399, which include accommodation, all meals, and a number of yoga classes, as well as a few options for massage and other treatments.
5. Semilla Verde – Santa Cruz, Galápagos
Possibly the culmination of a dream for all yoga/travel enthusiasts–a yoga retreat in the fabled Galápagos Islands. The Semilla Verde estate is located on the slopes of a verdant and extinct volcano about 15 minutes from the Santa Cruz airport. There is an abundance of birds on the property, as well as the mammoth land tortoise. The price for the retreat starts at about $3,300, which includes your accommodation and food for the entirety of the 8-day stay, all meals, various excursions to different islands, and of course daily yoga, among other things. Obviously on the pricey side, regardless a trip to the Galápagos and a chance to show off your Crow pose while a tortoise eyes you warily is an experience you will never forget.
Feature Photo Credit: Epik Travel
Have you had any wonderful yoga-related experiences in Ecuador? If so, please share so that the rest of us can get in on the fun!