Caimans, Waterfalls and Chocolate-making – Amazon adventures at its best

Our lodge in the Amazon

After arriving in The Amazon we got our breakfast in the Gaia Lodge and started our first activity. We went for a boat ride in the Amazon River where we got to see a lot of animals and activity of people. For example the Amazon River is full of gold and there are a lot of locals who are digging and searching for gold in the Amazon River. After an hour of boat ride we arrived at a spot where we could stop and have a swim in the Amazon.

Boat ride

It was a nice swim. At some point while swimming you’ll realize just how special the Amazon is. You’re swimming in a river that is located in a rain-forest that covers almost a quarter of the South American continent. Lovely. After our swim in the river we got back on the boat and drove back to the Gaia Lodge. While driving back we stopped at some point where we could watch different species of monkeys playing, climbing, relaxing and eating in the trees.

The second day started really early. We started a hike through the Amazon Jungle to go to a waterfall. The road to the waterfall was beautiful and scary at the same time. We saw insects we never knew they exist for example one that looked like a spider, cockroach and a grasshopper in one. The bats were flying during the day in 30 degrees sunny weather. After a long hike in hot weather we arrived at the beautiful waterfall where we had a nice swim to cool off. The water was cool and clear. We had the opportunity to stand on a mini cliff to jump into the deep water. The swimming gave us the energy to hike back to the Lodge again for our lunch.

Swimming in the Amazon river
Firsthand experience of the Amazon tubing!

After lunch we had a workshop how to make chocolate of the famous cacao beans of the Amazon. We started from scratch cooking, peeling and melting the cacao for a nice delicious hot chocolate. After the chocolate workshop we had a Ceramic workshop where we saw the most skillful potter of Ahuano making a ceramic pot. After the workshop we got a look inside the workplace of the potter where we saw all of her work. We were lucky to have the sun all day long, because in the nights it rained like crazy. Though the Amazon rain is amazing. Never thought I would ever say these words, but I loved the rain.

On our last day we visited a family in the Amazon where they taught us a lot about their history and customs. After that we made a self-brewed alcohol made of Yuca. The custom is that this alcoholic drink gets drunk by everybody at ceremonies, celebrations and weddings. After visiting the family we went to a reserve where we could see Caimans swimming in the water. Having the same similar look of a crocodile and an alligator the Caimans looked actually pretty cute becauIMG_6998se of their small size. You almost want to step in the water and have a swim with them.

Our last activity was visiting the animal rescue center of the Amazon where you can visit jaguars, ocelots. A lot of monkeys and parrots. Hearing about this visit, made us really excited first to see the animals. However when we arrived and heard the sad story about the animals why and how they were rescued, the excitement disappeared and made room for sadness. Just to hear about the fact that some of these animals can’t cope in nature anymore and have to spend the rest of their lives in these cages is really horrible.

This has been by far the best trip of my life. Just being in the jungle for 4 days and being surrounded by so many different animals has been a wonderful experience. This made me decide to visit the Amazon in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, too.

Great Amazon Squad!






Vamos a Canoa!

Date: 18-9-‘17
By: Carolien
About: Caro volunteers as social marketer at Montañita Spanish School. Back home she is freelance marketer and she travels a whole lot!

Montañita’s little brother
I’m in Montañita for seven weeks weeks allready to volunteer and learn Spanish at the school. Montañita is perfect for that. I decided to go on a weekendtrip to see something different and ended up going to Montañita’s little brother, Canoa. A very nice beachtown five and a half hour up north. You get there by bus and the trip costs less than ten bucks. So if you have some days off I would say; GO, GO, GO to Canoa! Read here why, how and when to go.

How to travel
At the busstop in Montañita you’ll get the advice you to take a bus to Manta and from Manta to Canoa. DON’T do this… I got some inside-information that saved me about two hours of traveling. I took the ‘green’ bus from Montañita to Jippijappa, pronounced as ‘hippie happa’. Busses in Montañita go by color and when I asked which bus to take to ‘hippy happy’ they still put me on the right bus. From Jippijappa you’ll take a bus to Portoviejo and from there you hop on the last bus to Canoa. Transits are super easy and busses run regularly.

Why go to Canoa
Canoa is one of the cooler places in Ecuador to me and it is known for a perfect surf and beautiful beaches. I visited the place when I traveled South America four years ago and I wanted to come back during this trip sor sure. I love the kind people, ‘tranquilo’ surfvibe, beautifull beaches and a perfect, little amount of party at night. The cocktailbars and foodstands are open day and night and the coconuts are served nice and cold. Surf, yoga and beachvolley are on every day which is perfect if you enjoy an active lifestyle. Canoa is perfect to renew my energy and see a different scenery.
Also an important note; It’s easy to practise your Spanish in Canoa. The people are chilled enough to take the time to communicate with you and your Spanglish accent.

Best timing
Wheatherwise I would visit Canoa between November and June. The sun will be out every single day. In case you like to surf go in November, in this month you find the best swell. Culture-wise I would say, go soon! Canoa has been hit by a earthquake 1,5 years ago. For me, coming from Holland where nothing ever happens, it was interesting to see how the last signs of the earthquake are still visible.

So, a little nearby history
On april 16, 2016 Canoa got heavily striked by an earthquake. My newmade friend whom I met in Montañita, told me about how he lost the business he worked on for years in a few seconds of earthshaking. The people of Canoa are still working on reconstructing the village. The story of my friend gave an extra dimension to my weekendtrip and the resilience of community really touched me. It’s good and interesting to be aware of this big happening in town while you visit. It makes Canoa is a very special place to visit at this moment. I’ve noticed that Canoa changed after the quake and the image of Canoa is a bit different as well. Canoa was a pretty intens surf-partytown before. Now it’s more quiet and less touristy in town but earthquake or not, Canoa definately have not lost it’s good vibe!

Tips & Tricks!
I stayed in a very recomendable place called Shangri La. It’s a bit out of town and a ten minute walk from the fiestas, very ‘bueno’ if you like to chill and sleep without noise. A private room only cost me $ 12,50 in low season. The food and especially the typical food from Namabí provice, is beter than everything I tasted in Ecuador so far.

Especially the seafooddishes, made insome kind of curry are incredible. I ate homemade icecream from an organic farm at the only iceshop in town. During the day I went out for a surf and played a few games of chezz with some guys on the street and I danced my ass off at night!

So, if you are a beachlover, surfer, sunlover or foodie like me and you’re looking for a nice trip when you stay in Montañita for a longer time, Canoa is definately a cool place to go to. Don’t miss out!



Life as a student from Montañita Spanish School

What is going on in the mind of a traveller that is already away from home for 4 years?  Claire, a girl from Australia and a student who has been here for 8 weeks tells her story.


I spend my time exploring, writing, reading, cooking, eating, seeking newness, and questioning everything. I like to learn, do yoga, and dance all night. I’m bad at sleeping and saving money, unless it’s for travel. Until this year, I spoke only english. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing and a dive licence. I miss my food processor and Vegemite toast.

For the last four years, London played home as a base from which I could explore Europe in quick nibbles and learn to grit my teeth against the wild joys of living in a big messy city. I loved and resented every wet, wonderful day.


A few months ago, that burning desire for change (sunshine) crept in, so I quit my job, sold everything, and booked myself a place at MSS. Now I rarely wear shoes and I speak Spanish every day, and Montanita is everything I could have hoped.

Exploring the world is my first love, and consumes my time and disposable income. Ecuador has presented a wholesome balance of beautiful rainforest, curling beach breaks, sunshine, yoga, Spanish, and sweaty, seedy all-night parties. I’ve loved living here and being a part of the Cabanas family. It really has been home. Now I’m on my way out explore more of this country, delve into the rest of South America, and exercise my new language muscles every day.


Since only a few weeks ago, you can follow my adventures online, and soon will be able to read about thoughtful travel, sustainable food things, and living consciously on my spanking new baby of a blog at . Follow the antics on Instagram @normalityblues .


La Vaca Loca Montañita

Throughout the year, each town in Ecuador celebrates Las Fiestas Patronales. A week of fiestas dedicated to that town’s Patron Saint. Last week was Montañita’s turn to celebrate its saint, San Isidro Labrador, and wow, it was fun! The week, filled with eating, drinking, dancing, and having un, started with the choosing of Miss Montañita. Doesn’t she look gorgeous?


The festival really picked up over the weekend. With different bands playing in town, those in attendance were having a great time dancing and enjoying the music. There were also many food vendors, which made it really feel like a huge festival!


After we thought it couldn’t get any crazier or more fun after the weekend, we were introduced to Vaca Loca on Monday night. All of the people in Montañita gathered in the town square in front of the church around 10pm, buzzing with anticipation as the band set the mood from the church’s entrance. First someone holding a pole with fireworks on the end began running around, trying to poke people in the audience. Not dangerous at all right? Well it got even crazier. The crazy cow (hence the name Vaca Loca) is a constructed cow with various fireworks attached to it. The cow is worn by a local person and run through the crowd, just like a raging bull, only this one has fireworks shooting out of its horns! The cow has no discretion, chasing everyone in the crowd. The children love to get as close as they can before sprinting away with joyful screams. Although it seems innocent and fun, there is real danger involved. One firework landed on a roof made of dried palm fronds. Luckily, one of our interns is tall and managed to get the fire off the roof. We don’t really want to think what would have happened if he was not there..

Believe it or not, anyone can be the cow. You only need to ask the event director beforehand. Thus, if you are extra crazy, add being the Vaca Loca to your bucket list!

After all this craziness, there was a huge firework show, which was done in Montañita style. The only recommendation I can give is: don’t stand to close! However, it was a beautiful ending to an impressive night!


In the days leading up, the whole of Montañita could already hear the local school practicing for the parade. Finally on Tuesday, different groups and schools from around the area came to town to play music and enjoy the final parade in Montañita.

It sure was one interesting and fun week, which is worth attending. Montañita’s Fiestas Patronales is definitely something you should go to when in the neighbourhood!




Beards and hair of Montañita

Something is going on in Montañita. When guys stay longer, a change happens. Most people arrive here with a good haircut, completely shaved (it is too hot for a beard anyway… right?) and ready to surf! YIHAAA!

But once they get here, they realize that the girls find a surf dude with a full head of hair super attractive. Maybe that is what our (previous) interns thought as well during their stay in Montañita.

Yep, they are definitely a couple of the new surf guys in Montañita. Participating in Movember will not be a too big of an issue for them.

However, at one point, some of them come to the conclusion that it is not possible to live like this anymore. Especially when working at the school, it is important to look presentable. At this point they realize that it is time for typical Ecuadorian hairstyle number 2. For just 5 dollars you can get this awesome hairstyle:


Yep, our current intern looks hot again! And the beard? That will probably stay until he is back home again.

Which hairstyle do you like better?


Introducing our new Surf Intern: Matt!

YES! We have a new surf intern. An awesome and great looking surf dude, all the way from Australia! In this blog he will introduce himself.

Cheers, I am Matt and I am born and raised in NAROOMA, NSW, Australia. I grew up in a little surf town, and basically I was raised with surfing. I am a plumber by trade and spend most of my time working and surfing around the world!

Currently I am residing here in Montañita, and taking the roll in the school as the surf intern/coach at Montañita Spanish School.

My Spanish is not so great which is another reason I am here, now I can surf every day and learn Spanish at the school!  Doing this will help me with achieving my dreams of surfing through Central and South America.

I have been working at the school for one week now, and I am very impressed with the rapid progression and the enthusiast that our students have been showing rapidly on a day to day basis.

During surfing lessons I always tell the students to relax. Everyone can and is able to surf!

Hope to see y’all soon!

Best rooftop party in Montañita: Montañita Skyline

“WHAT A FANTIASTIC EVENT” A few times a year, Montañita Spanish School organizes the coolest rooftop party from Montañita, it is one of our lively events: Montañita Skyline

One of the reasons why you probably choose to go to Montañita is because of the great weather. However, have you really been enjoying it? Are you just studying Spanish or are you surfing all day? Take a moment for yourself and enjoy it with all of your friends! You deserve it to treat yourself to a luxury evening. That is why the Montañita skyline party is so amazing!

Among the stars, the students of Montañita Spanish school are able to enjoy different types of cocktails and snacks made by our lovely interns.  But most importantly for the people who love rooftops, are the view and the atmosphere. The view from the rooftop is just incredible breathtaking. You can see the whole of Montañita, and stare at the sea. Do you already see some dolphins passing by?

When you are lucky, and on time, you will be able to enjoy the impressive sunset while sipping on a cocktail, which makes the whole event even more magical!

Imagine that we not even added this event to the 7 reasons why to study at Montañita Spanish school. When studying Spanish in Montañita there will be so many more surprises you could never hope for!

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