About 3km beyond Ayampe, the coast road emerges from the Cordillera Chongón-Colonche and passes Alandaluz (t02/2440790 or t09/4274684, wwww.alandaluzhosteria.com; $26–80), on the edge of the village of Puerto Rico. This is an award-winning ecological resort comprising thirty attractive two- to four-bed cabañas scattered around tree-filled grounds, with a magnificent high-roofed dining room, bar and lounge in a central bamboo building. The cabins are made of local, easily renewable materials, some units have special compost toilets to produce fertilizer, fruit and vegetables grow in organic gardens and water is meticulously saved and recycled; there are also newer, stone-built accommodation with fireplaces, flush toilets and even hot tubs. It remains a lovely, laid-back place to hang out for a few days, whether you want to lounge around on a private beach, use it as a base for visiting Parque Nacional Machalilla up the road, or take a tour to the resort’s private Cantalapiedra nature reserve and stay in a wood-and-thatch tower sleeping thirteen people. Although camping is possible ($5 per person), accommodation is expensive by backpacking standards (more luxurious cabins; $51–80). Nonetheless, Alandaluz has poured its profits back into the local community, establishing recycling centres, reforestation projects and workshops in sustainable farming and building methods, among various other programmes. Other accommodation nearby includes Swiss-owned La Barquita, 1km south (t04/2780051 or t09/3698818, wwww.labarquita-ec.com; $26–35), offering pretty beachfront rooms (including shared rooms with bunks from $9 per person) with mosquito nets, private baths and hot water. The restaurant and bar is in a gleaming, varnished wooden boat, making for a unique individual centrepiece.

 

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