It’s been a long year; hell, it’s been an agonizingly long two years! At this point, most of us are feeling stressed out as we try to adjust to the ever-changing “new normal.” To fully relax, make time for yourself, and let go of your everyday worries, a luxury yoga and/or wellness tour may well be just what you need and deserve.
Here in the remote and strikingly scenic Ecuador, we’ve vetted our country’s very best yoga and wellness retreats in each of the nation’s four regions. These are relaxing getaways that focus on the personal care and attention needed to give your body and mind the strength and peace you require.
In the following, we present the top five retreats that we include in our luxury Ecuador/Galapagos island tours:
Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands: Semilla Verde Boutique Hotel
If nature, science, or wildlife moves you as much as yoga, there’s no better place to visit than the unparalleled Galapagos Islands. You’ll find this legendary archipelago to be a truly unique UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers the perfect melding of yoga and an unblemished example of a wild and natural world.
Based at the Semilla Verde Boutique Hotel, seasoned yoga therapists and somatic educators will be your instructors as well as your island guides offering a daily class to balance your daily nature-centered activities – where the islands themselves will offer the inspiration!
Following your physically and spiritually rejuvenating sessions with a small, private group, you can enjoy the rich biodiversity of the islands’ protected native wildlife, many of whom are unafraid of humans. Swim with sea lions and benign sharks, spot tiny Galapagos penguins and elegant flamingos, and watch the dance of dragon-like marine iguanas and comical blue-footed boobies on volcanic rocks. Overall, this experience offers a chance to connect with yourself and nature like few others.
Andean Cloud Forest: Mashpi Lodge
Situated in a 40,000-acre subtropical reserve in the heart of the undulating hills of the Andean cloud forest, Mashpi Lodge is a unique hideaway. Regularly voted one of the best lodges of its kind in all of South America, this boutique lodge offers an unforgettable experience, combining cutting-edge luxury and immersion into nature.
In addition to practicing your favorite asana on the lodge’s welcoming yoga deck, indulge in the lodge’s Samay (“soul” in native Kichwa) Wellness Center, which is a space where care is highly personalized and life itself is celebrated. This area features a Jacuzzi framed by eye-catching carved wooden panels, open to the breezes and sounds of the forest, perfect for relaxing after hikes.
Specialized massages and treatments using natural local ingredients such as earth, stones, herbs, and leaves from the reserve are given in an adjoining room, from which guests are left refreshed and revived. This wellness area is accessible via a short path that winds through the lush foliage, offering great opportunities for viewing numerous species of birds, relaxing in the covered open-air hot tub, and reconnecting with the essence of life itself.
Andean Highlands: My SachaJi Wellness & Yoga Retreat
Situated beneath the looming Imbabura Volcano, yet nestled high on the Cusin Volcano, My SachaJi Wellness Retreat provides stunning views as it overlooks the village and Lake San Pablo below. The retreat is also located just minutes from the village of Otavalo, which is world-famous for its indigenous textile and craft markets, as well as its musicians and colorful festivals.
Sacha Ji’s wellness packages are a unique combination of traditional Andean healing techniques, contemporary therapies, yoga and meditation sessions. These are designed to offer an experience of inner healing, wellness and transformation that you will not find anywhere else. The lodge’s healing therapies include Andean cleansing, Kawsay Pacha (Andean reiki), relaxation massages, reflexology, Ayurveda, and Lomi lomi. Sacha Ji also provides Equine-Assisted Therapy.
Facilities at SachaJi lodge include the “Sweat Lodge,” a round space where you will literally sweat. While this is a form of physical, mental and spiritual healing developed over centuries by different tribes and communities around the world, here it represents the womb of the Mother and its feminine energy (groups only). In addition, you can enjoy a unique hot tub that overlooks San Pablo Lake, as well as an adjacent “polar pool” that can be used after the hot soak. The benefits of these two pools combined include increased energy, increased circulation, detoxification, and the clearing of negative energy.
The lodge’s physical design is contemporary yet environmentally sustainable, with as much attention paid to the importance of aesthetic sensibility and sublime comfort as to the world-class therapies on offer. All aspects of life at Sacha Ji Wellness Retreat are perfectly balanced, with their approach to the human body being suitably reflected in the style and ethical ethos of the property.
At My SachaJi, time, space and life take on new meaning. Experienced healers are there to accompany you on your quest for a clearer sense of self and a more perceptive understanding of your life’s purpose.
Andean Highlands: Luna Volcan Hotel & Spa
Hacienda Luna Volcan offers visitors opulent accommodations and a full-service spa in a unique setting. As for its location, the hotel/spa is surrounded by 300 acres of land within an Ecuadorian national park, while perched on an Andean hillside with a panoramic view of the valley that contains the adventure-sports town of Baños. What’s more, Luna Volcan enjoys spectacular views of the constantly active Tungurahua Volcano (reaching an elevation of 5,016 meters / 16,456 feet above sea level), while surrounded by mountains, and the area’s 70 waterfalls.
At the same time, the hotel itself has a gorgeous spa and four heated pools, all looking out to the stunning mountain range and the nearby national park. These swimming pools and plunge pools are filled with hot volcanic waters and are the perfect places for relaxing – as is the hotel’s “Volcanic Spa.”
Described as “The best spa in the region,” the hotel’s 500-square-meter Volcanic Spa is the place to head after enjoying any of Luna Volcan’s daily adventure tours. In the spa, you will relax your body and soul in any of its 11 rooms – each decorated with volcanic stones and artwork that’s hand-painted with colorful mineral pigments representing the orchids of the area. And don’t forget the Volcanic spa’s 25 treatments that are available upon request. All of this will allow you to deeply focus on connecting yourself with nature.
The Amazon: La Selva Jungle Lodge
La Selva Lodge was one of the first rainforest lodges of its kind in all of Ecuador, paving the way for the unique brand of high-end, sustainable ecotourism that has contributed so much to the preservation of the Amazon and many other delicate ecosystems throughout the region.
The lodge has been at the forefront of both preservation and rainforest luxury, making it the ideal place for being pampered and unwinding, while taking in everything the Amazon has to offer. The individual suites have been constructed using techniques adopted by native forest communities, with no expense spared on the level of comfort they provide. Panoramic views, thatched roofs, four-poster beds, and river-view balconies are just the beginning of the story.
In addition, La Selva Lodge has created a truly unique space in which to relax and connect with the natural world like few others on the planet. Towards this, the lodge invites you to experience its soulful yoga sessions. These yoga retreats are one of a kind and range from beginners to experts regardless of age, stamina or fitness level. La Selva’s experienced yoga instructor will lead the sessions, either in the morning or in the evening, before or after your excursions with your guide, or replacing an activity for longer sessions.
What’s more, inspired by the natural beauty and essence of the Amazon, this lodge situated in the middle of its protected rainforest reserve also provides spa treatments, while its highly-qualified massage therapists provide innovative and traditionally crafted treatments that are sure to delight.
All this, and more, cement La Selva Lodge’s rightful place as one of the leading luxury yoga retreats anywhere in Ecuador, and indeed South America.
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Ecuador’s Pacific Coast: Estudio Casa del Sol
Montañita is a village on Ecuador’s Santa Elena Peninsula, best known for its beaches with strong surf breaks and its bohemian vibe. Lively bars, nightclubs and thatch-roofed restaurants line the streets. Located a just short walk from town, you can find the first and only yoga studio in Montañita: Estudio Casa del Sol (“The Sun House Studio”), an organic bamboo space that hosts a full schedule of varied classes.
All the classes at Estudio Casa del Sol aim to incorporate some aspect of the eight limbs of yoga and may include pranayama (breathing techniques), guided meditations, inspiring themes and intentions, chanting, aromatherapy, mindful music selection, and more. Seriously focused on yoga, the studio provides daily 60-90 minute classes in all levels of Vinyasa Flow Yoga (including Strong Vinyasa Flow), Yin Yoga, Astanga Inspired Yoga, Beginner and Intermediate Yoga, and posture workshops.
The studio’s goal has been to introduce these practices to the locals while at the same time offering a place for travelers to reinvigorate their bodies and minds. A team of teachers from all over the world keeps weekly classes fresh and new. Meanwhile, incredible instructors who pass through here offer workshops and events, which also allow the permanent staff a chance to keep exploring the world of self-discovery. For you as a traveler, the aim is for you to leave feeling at peace with your mind, body, and spirit.
What makes yoga and wellness retreats in Ecuador so special is that they take you to the most strikingly beautiful places in nature; and — as countless studies have shown — when yoga is practiced in nature, this strengthens our ties to spirituality, improves our cognitive abilities, helps us de-stress in measurable ways, improves our mood, and helps us battles depression and anxiety. This all means that a yoga/wellness tour in Ecuador will help you recognize the negative effect that stress has on your body and mind, and will let you focus on the positive elements in front of you.
Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator. Surtrek Tour Operator is a well-established firm, specializing in custom-designed luxury tours in Ecuador, the Galapagos and throughout the rest of South America.
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