Unprompted, our waiter Jorge served us a hot, fruity canelazo with a splash of puntas to help take away the chill that comes with sundown in the high paramo of Ecuador. He explained that puntas is local white-lightning, a liquor made from sugar cane in the nearby community of Pintag, about an hour away from Hostería Guaytara. It provided just enough kick to reach our cold fingers and toes. We all visibly relaxed into our chairs.

The custom of serving canelazo, a hot drink made with fruit juice and often spiked with the local tipple is not uncommon in Ecuador. But when a lodge offers a free canelazo on your first night, it’s a sign that the stay will be a good one.

The fireplace in the dining room at Guayatra Lodge ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
The weather vane at Guaytara Lodge. ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Fireplace in our suite, Guaytara Lodge, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American

The comfortable basics 

I liked everything about Hostería Guaytara. We were the only visitors during our two-night, mid-week stay. The staff was attentive, the rooms were comfortable, and the food was delicious. I have a checklist of musts which include great coffee, a locally inspired breakfast, and a well-prepared dinner. After all, lunches in the mountains are often thrown together affairs of trail mix and dried fruit so dinner is our main meal of the day. Hostería Guaytara checked every box. And I have to give them extra credit for serving some of the best trout I have ever eaten in Ecuador… it was so good, I asked for it two nights in a row.

Our suite was simple: three small bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and a sitting area with a wood burning stove. Mats made of totora straw decorated the walls, providing insulation and a warm glow. The shower provided plenty of hot water for three women, a feat not often matched in Ecuadorian lodges. And a small bench on the front porch provided a vista of the farm in the foreground and the wild high paramo in the distance. The hotel dogs just added to the welcome… especially the rambunctious pups.

A small Virgin Mary at the fountain, Guaytara Lodge, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
A Black-billed Shrike Tyrant (Agriornis montanus) | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American

Culturally Ecuadorian 

When you arrive at Guaytara Lodge, don’t expect to find a birding lodge. While there is excellent access to both the Antisanilla Reserve and the Antisana Conservation Area, this lodge serves to introduce Ecuadorian tourists to a working farm in the high paramo. The size of the restaurant and the grounds suggest that holiday weekends make for a very different kind of place, with loud children in the playground, parents finishing good country-style meals at the tables, and everyone taking their turn trying on the gaucho-style ponchos and hats waiting at the entry. The small one lane road approaching the lodge is likely a nightmare on days like these.

But otherwise, there is hardly anyone to run into. As we left in the wee hours of the morning to meet our birding guide, a pick-up truck would drive through the gates to collect fresh milk. We wondered how the milk didn’t arrive at its final destination as butter. The road in many places is mere cobblestone or dirt and even a truck with great suspension makes for a bumpy ride. But for those looking for adventure, the road is part of the trip.

All in all, I would head back to Guaytara Lodge in a heartbeat. Does anyone want to join me on my next trip?

Reserva Antisanilla

Reserva Antisanilla - the platform viewing spot next to Tambo Condor.

Hosteria Guaytara

Hosteria Guaytara

Area de Conservación Antisana

The Antisana Conservation Area (also called the Antisanilla Wildlife Reserve)

Laguna de Mica, Ecuador

Laguna Mica

Tambo Condor

We recommend eating either breakfast or lunch at Tambo Condor. This is a great place to see hummingbirds. They also have a spotting scope to make it easier to see nesting Andean Condors.

Information For Your Trip

While this is a possible day trip, we do not recommend driving this road in the dark. Sunrise and sunset are approximately at 6:15 am and pm year round. Since you are likely to lose coverage on these roads, consider downloading an app like Map.Me to keep you on the right track.

  • Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Reserva Antisanilla, Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador.
  • Direction by Public Transportation It is possible to arrive by bus to Pintag but past that point, you would need to hire a driver. Please consider contacting the Jocotoco Foundation to arrange for an affordable guided tour instead.