Hidden Places in Ecuador:  
Arasha, Rainforest Resort and Spa

Photo by Anita Hughes

Arasha (pronounced “are uh SHAW”) is one of those hidden places in Ecuador that after you find it, you want to share it with all your friends. But the official website doesn’t give the greatest directions. I couldn’t get their website map to open either. Our book club arranged transportation with one of Arasha’s van drivers, so I didn’t have to worry about directions or missing turns.

Five of my book club members plus Gary and I, (because it was my birthday and this is a very romantic place to celebrate such things), took 3 days off to explore what Arasha has to offer, and it offers a lot. The drive from Quito took about 2 ½ hours, past Mindo and deeper into the Ecuador rainforest.

Arasha is in an extremely bio-diverse area of Ecuador. According to its website, there are over 35,000 plant species, 664 amphibian species and 500 bird species in this rich area, with 176 bird species at the resort itself.

The turnoff to the retreat is to the left off the main highway. We followed a gravel road to reception, an impressive building with an intricately-woven reed and bamboo ceiling.

Further down is the exotic round thatched restaurant and dining area with outdoor bar for happy hour and pool lounging.

A wooden covered bridge led to a private theater complete with plush seats and air conditioning.  There are other buildings for conferences, receptions and a terrace where chocolate making demonstrations are held.

Rooms were not as luxurious as they appeared on the website or at least ours weren’t.  Towels are plentiful and umbrellas were handy for inclement weather but there was no hammock to wile away the hours on the deck.

Our room was basic Ecuadorian style with 2 twin beds pushed together to make a king and a bathroom with a tub.  Our hut contained two rooms joined by a shared covered porch.

There are a number of different accommodations available at the resort, including self-contained units with kitchens and larger dorm-style multi-storied houses.

Gary and I chose to relax and unwind from our hectic workload.

Photo by Phyllis Cooper

Photo by Phyllis Cooper

Photo by Phyllis Cooper

Photo by Phyllis Cooper

Swimming, hot tub soaking, happy hour sipping and a hike to the river were about all we could manage.  I’m not counting trips to the dining room 3 times a day for meals. Although the food was very good and so was the service, the menu was limited and by the second evening I was craving something different.

We joined the others for a chocolate-making demo, but only because there was a chance to sample the chocolate results.  We each took our turn at peeling, grinding and stirring, transforming dusty beans into a sweet edible concoction.  Sure enough, we were rewarded with bananas slathered with rich dark chocolate sauce.

See my chocolate blog for more pictures and details.

My book club buddies kept busy with evening wildlife hikes and early morning bird-watching with a guide. They reported only a few bird sightings, the same species as are seen around the buildings. 

Gary with a new feathered friend.  Here's a link to some of the birds and butterflies we spotted.

Photo by Phyllis Cooper

The resort is lush with flowers and flowering trees. There are species I recognized from my years in Hawaii, like heliconia and ginger.

Here’s a link to the flowers at Arasha.

The spa has plenty of choices for pampering yourself: massage, steam room and Jacuzzi.  It’s housed in a separate building for privacy and quiet.

Our midweek adventure at the resort was perfect.  It was empty except for a very few people and we practically had the place to ourselves.  Staff told us that on weekends there are often no vacancies.

This rustic retreat is well worth a visit to enjoy a taste of Ecuador jungle-style with plenty of choices for either rest and relaxation or jungle eco-biological activities. There’s also karaoke, a coffee demonstration and mini-golf on site.  Rafting, orchid tours and other tours can be arranged off-location.

The resort's website gives this information about the location of the resort- Km. 121 by way of Quito - Calacalí - La Independencia.  Pedro Vicente Maldonado.


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