Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to stay in and pray in where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul alike.
We are located in the lush sub-tropical cloud forest just 2.5 hours away from Quito and Mariscal International Airport.
Although we are quite accessible by bus and car, our pristine, fertile land is peacefully tucked into a vast protected nature reserve and one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. Temperatures are between 65-85 degrees F all the time. Nearby are several rivers with stunning cascades and clear pools for swimming as well as trails for hiking and observing the incredible flora and fauna—toucans, parakeets, hummingbirds, butterflies, colorful frogs, electric blue lizards, and even ocelots.
Our accommodations are rustic and comfy. Rejuvenate by waking up to the real sounds of nature--not the "nature sounds" on your alarm clock for a change!
- Lovely bamboo, wood, and clay constructed community kitchen and cafe with gas stove, earthen baking oven, manual juice press and coffee/cocoa bean grinder. Features large screened windows with carved wood frames and fresh herbs on the sills, clay-sculpted artwork, colored glass accents, and a view of the flower gardens. Our favorite place to chill, chat, play cards, and watch the colorful birds and butterflies flying patterns just a few feet away.
- Simple sleeping rooms in our guesthouse constructed of native and natural materials such as bamboo, wood, stone, clay plaster, and palm leaves. We also use recycled and repurposed materials like grain and rice bags, wood pallets, crates, and glass bottles. All rooms are single occupancy and outfitted with a twin bed, nightstand, LED lamp, and large screened windows. Sheets, pillow, and blanket are provided.
- Outdoor showers with filtered rainwater and a view of the palm trees. Soap and shampoo provided.
- Cute, clean, creative bathroom constructed completely from natural and recycled materials with sink/running water and composting toilets The compost is mixed with sawdust, shredded palm leaves, and other carbon-rich organic material, allowed to age for a year, and then used to fertilize trees and plants.
- Plant-filled bamboo gazebo-style yoga practice/meditation/workshop space.
- And of course, hammocks for relaxing/napping in during the day.
Our food is fresh, local, natural, and nourishing.
Fruits and vegetables in Ecuador are truly special, simply bursting with flavor and nutrition. Some of the food you eat here--like sweet potatoes, pumpkin squash, yuca, lemons, fresh spinach, and herbs--will be harvested and prepared from our own gardens, the rest supplied by growers less than 10 miles away. Kristen is known for her especially zingy ahí (hot sauce) from cayenne peppers, garlic, green onions, and parsley from her garden and her delicious banana bread--not to mention her homemade fruit wines. We also have access to wonderful products grown in our immediate area like delectable hearts of palm, coffee, and cacao. If you haven’t tasted the sweet and creamy fruit of the cacao pod surrounding the beans that eventually become chocolate, you are in for a treat. And the fruit has many of the same anti-oxidant properties as the bean!
The land embracing Sueño de Vida is indeed something out of a dream. We now encompass over twenty acres of lush forest, clear spring waters, green pasture, and fertile farmland you are free to explore.
There are many attractions close by highlighting the natural beauty and wildlife of the area. We love taking our visitors on excursions!
Cost of excursion is per person and includes entry/tour fees, transport to and from Sueño de Vida, and lunch.
Salto de Tigre Cascade and Natural Lagoon. A beautiful thirty minute drive away on rustic roads through farms and villages, the Salto de Tigre Cascade (pictured in the header of this page) is one of the highest, widest, and most spectacular waterfalls in northwest Ecuador. Above the big falls is a smaller cascade falling into a deep, clear lagoon (easily accessible via a short path and smooth stone beach) surrounded by giant ferns, towering tropical plants, and vines you can swing from...go on, unleash your inner Tarzan. Best yet, the Salto de Tigre is something of a "secret"--usually we have the place to ourselves and perhaps a few locals in rare instances. Relax and renew in the invigorating waters in tranquil splendor. Cost: $20
Cascada Verde Forest Hike and Waterfalls. 45 minutes away from SdV and just a few minutes outside our "local town" of Pedro Vicente Maldonado, is another gorgeous cascade and emerald natural pool, this one at the end of an energizing hike through a protected forest featuring cathedral-like bamboo groves, enormous jackfruit trees, brilliantly hued flowers, and plank bridges over rivers. After the swim and hike, visitors get a special treat: fresh jugo de caña (sugar cane juice) squeezed in huge hundred-year old hand cranked wheel. Sometimes, the visitors have to help a little! Cost: $25
Tour of the Mangaloma Nature Reserve. This private 200 hectare reserve of primary forest has five self-guided hiking/walking paths and is home to approximately 290 species of birds, including the rarely seen banded cuckoo and ornate hawk eagle, and dozens, if not hundreds, more mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. The lush vegetation and pleasantly humid clean air makes for an especially tranquil and grounding experience. See more about the Mangaloma Reserve here http://www.imaymanaforestconservation.org/ENGMangaloma.html Cost: $30
Tour of the Mashpi Artisanal Chocolate Cacao Plantation. This comprehensive tour begins with a walk to the plantations while getting some background on the history of cacao, its true origin, legends, the “first” encounter with Europeans, and the different ways of growing it. While walking through the agroforestry systems, we'll learn more about the multiple benefits of diversified cropping and the benefits to plants and animals like the toucans, butterflies, tamandua, armadillos, and many more! In the forest, we’ll take a moment to enjoy the unique experience of opening and tasting the fresh fruit of the tree known as “the fruit of the gods”. Then, we’ll proceed to the artisanal workshop to see the different steps necessary for the production and manufacturing of excellent quality chocolate. We'll learn about the best time to harvest, fermenting, drying, and then watch the transformation of the toasted world famous Arriba Cacao beans to pure chocolate paste! We finish the visit with an unforgettable fondue made with the combination of Mashpi Artisanal Chocolate, fresh organic fruits grown in the farm, and home-made banana cake, all in a welcoming environment surrounded by a lush tropical garden. http://www.chocomashpi.com/index.php/en/about-the-farm/about-the-farm. Cost: $40 (includes a special Cuban lunch in the Mashpi Nature Reserve).
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Still thinking it over? Read these glowing reviews from recent guests...
Staying at Sueño de Vida for a week was the perfect getaway after a few weeks of more active traveling. Each day was a complete joy, started by waking to the sounds of birds and insects, or the sound of rain coming off of trees. Living by the daylight, watching the moon rise and the stars come out was just bliss and so good for the body and soul. The land is a paradise full of trees, plants, gardens and beautiful structures that add to the surroundings. The lagoon and river in the "backyard" is the perfect place for a relaxing swim, meditation or a refreshing bath. I went at least once each day and felt completely rejuvenated. I would be remiss to neglect to mention the sounds at SdV, mainly the immersion into the chorus of nature, but also the complete lack of other "human" sounds. I didn't see another person besides Juan and Kristen for a week, and I couldn't have been happier. Between the delicious meals that Kristen prepared, I spent my days reading, meditating, practicing yoga and perusing the property for hours at a time. I simply can't imagine a more peaceful, positive and energizing environment. By the time I left, I was already wanting to come back. Kristen and Juan were consummate and gracious hosts, and I would seriously recommend that you join them for some stretch of time soon!
--Jake Novick, New York, NY
Sueño de Vida is the place to feel life on simple mode. What surprised me most about Sueño de Vida is how well I slept: the best sleep I've had in years. I slept full and soundly, full of welcome vivid dreams. I woke in the morning refreshed and ready for the day. The days greeted me with the most alive, lush place I've ever seen. Flocks of wild parakeets and birds of paradise so beautiful I thought I was secretly in a Planet Earth episode. Everything here is teeming with life, and being there is the feeling of savoring aliveness. Swims in emerald lagoons, jumping Tarzan-style from vines. Sitting behind a waterfall, mesmerized. Enough time to swing in a hammock and read a book cover to cover. I could feel my nervous system recalibrating itself, adapting to a natural pace of life. Long walks with the puppies and feeding the baby horse and his mama. The food was so fresh, nourishing, rustic, and tasty that when I got back to the airport, all the prepackaged food seemed listless and about as appetizing as dirt -- which I thought was funny, since I'd just been eating such yummy food fresh out of the soil. Kristen and Juan have built a gorgeous space with deep respect for the land. I'm absolutely in awe of what they've built: a model for living in harmony with the natural world and all its luscious benefits.
--Clare Kelly, Washington DC