As we winded our way up the mountains and Antigua faded away behind in the background, I suddenly felt a sense of relief. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my time in Antigua, Guatemala. Who could say otherwise when you spent a large portion of that time stuffing your face with some of the best organic chocolate, coffee and macadamias on offer. Not to mention, the luxurious stay at the Yellow House Hostel which I have the The Globetrotting Girls recommendation to thank for. On arrival at this hostel, I couldn’t help but childishly grin as the lady at the desk welcomed me and showed me around, making a point to emphasis the solar power panels on top of the terrace. It was like a little piece of jungle paradise in the middle of Antigua. But this post isn’t about the Yellow House. I’d recommend staying there anyway, even if it was just for the delicious breakfast, comfortable beds, impeccable bathrooms, hot showers, unbeatable ‘all day’ happy hour, and chilled terrace vibe.
This post is about my stay at the quaint eco-retreat otherwise known as ‘Earth Lodge‘ that’s nestled in the mountains, about 20 minutes outside of Antigua. I was feeling relief to escape the bustling town, the hoards of tourists and quite simply, to have some ‘me time’. Oh yes, wasn’t I in for a real treat. I just didn’t realize it yet.
To get to the Earth Lodge, you can arrange for their private driver to come pick you up from town. Depending on how many people you are will determine the price but they try and car-pool as many together that day to help reduce the number of runs into town. Admittedly, when you arrive, you’re faced with the infamous 300m walk down to the lodge and to maintain the integrity of the property, the owners made the decision not to build the road further down. So all credit too them. It really isn’t that hard so don’t worry, if I can do with 20kg worth of luggage strapped to me, then so can you. Arriving at the main lodge, I was cheerfully greeted by the array of volunteer staff who work there out of pure torture, I’m sure. (jokes jokes jokes… these guys have possibly the best job going around. They’ve tempted me to come work out there now!)
So what is it like?
Nothing short of amazing to be frank. Earth Lodge is the long standing brainchild of the well-traveled Canadian-American couple, Drew and Brianna. Since 2003, they’ve slowly but surely been expanding the accommodation offerings and the property operates as a full-fledged avocado farm with over 400 trees. It was an ambitious dream but one that has, clearly, panned out rather nicely. The lodge is perched 6000 feet in the mountains with quite possibly some of the best views in the whole of Guatemala. There, I said it. But when you can wake up from your cabin and sluggishly roll into a hammock with coffee in hand to watch the Volcano Fuego unleash it’s explosive charm, you aren’t going to hear any complaints from me.
Being the solo traveler that I am, I opted for the dormitory accommodation, which mind you, was the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. The beds are comfortable, the cabin is cute and the showers are right outside. Nice and hot as they come. There are plenty of other options though for those looking to have the full experience of the charming A-frame cabins or the treehouse adventure. Yes, you read correctly. You can splurge and stay in the prime and very popular treehouse if you so desire (it gets booked out though so be sure to book well in advance!)
Sneaky additions that satisfy the eco-conscious traveler that I am include a composting toilet (so yes, save your number twos please folks), community oriented, candle-lit vegetarian dinners made with, for the most part, fresh organic produce (and organic meat when available), and plenty of opportunities to experience the surrounding nature and support the local community through donations (and some of the money you spend at Earth Lodge goes back into those projects too).
The reputation of the food was one of the first things I had heard about Earth Lodge. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Their dinners are an opportunity for guests to mingle as you share in a home cooked, healthy and hearty meal. Don’t worry, there’s always plenty of leftovers to make sure you get value for your money AND to top it off, there’s always dessert. Some of the best desserts you’ll ever have too! BEG for the peanut butter and chocolate fudge if you go there. Do note, they cater for dietary requirements too, so just let that be known upon arrival.
In regards to how you wish to spend your day (or days, because you’ll be tempted to stay for DAYS), it’s totally dependent on the individual and there really is no measuring stick to judge you on. One thing you will come to find though, is that you’ll waste it away rather easily. Whether you find yourself playing the array of board games on offer, chatting with other travelers, reading book after book, sleeping in one of the numerous hammocks, taking walks around the mountains or simply drinking away your afternoon as the volcanoes are slowly swallowed by clouds as the day wears on. Chillaxing is the name of the game.
The view. Let’s just take a moment to talk about this. I highly recommend getting up early. It’s not uncommon for clouds to encroach on your view by late morning as per the trend in Central America and when you’re in the higher altitudes. So if you’re up early, you have a high chance of catching the early worm, so to speak. Chances are, you’ll be treated to a completely unobstructed view of the 3, yes THREE, volcanoes, including the exploding Volcano Fuego. The divine view on the morning of my departure had me absolutely riddled. Yes, consider me mind-blown.
So if you’re looking for a little eco-getaway that’s not too far off the beaten track, but far enough, and with relaxation in mind, then Earth Lodge certainly gets a gold star from me. It’s probably not for the budget conscious though, as you’ll be quickly tempted to sample the diverse menu offerings and splurge on a few drinks here and there. But to splurge on the odd occasion, relatively guilt free, is fine by me once in a while.
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