El Nido del Condor is an ecolodge, located on a mountain, between two gorges in the Colombian coffee region. And only accessible by cable car! Writing this down, takes me back to this little paradise for a moment. El Nido del Condor is so breathtaking that there are almost no words for. The location on a mountain, completely surrounded by plantations, flowers and birds, the high-end architecture and the amazing views, make this a place you only encounter in your dreams. And when you think it can’t get any more beautiful, there are also condors flying around. In this article, I’ll take you to one of the most unique hotels in Colombia: El Nido del Condor.
El Nido del Condor – a unique ecolodge in Colombia
Weeks in advance, I’m receiving a detailed itinerary and briefing for my stay. I get points for navigation, photos and videos of the route, information about the dirt road, tips on clothing, a cable car and timings to keep in mind. What kind of special place am I going to end up in?
El Nido del Condor is an ecolodge, situated on a mountain between two gorges. Therefore it is also called an island in the mountains. Special is it that this ecolodge can only be reached by cable car. From the road, where you leave your car, you enter a small gondola that takes you to the other side of the gorge, within 12 minutes. On the way, you enjoy the first magnificent views.
Upon arrival you are first of all speechless. The location is so beautiful and the views just stunning. And everyone arriving, is completely impressed and not saying a word for the first minutes. El Nido del Condor consists of 12 hectares, including a large avocado plantation with more than 1800 avocado trees. Several hiking trails surrounded by lots of flowers and greenery connect the 5 exclusive rooms with the main trail and the restaurant.
El Nido del Condor means the nest of the condor. And that is for a reason. At the bottom of the mountain is a nest with two condors, a male and a female. One of the only three nests left of the Andean condor in Colombia. And the chances are very high that they will fly around you.
- With a wingspan of 3 meters and a length of 1.5 meters, the Andean condor is one of the largest birds in the world.
- The weight of a condor is between 11 and 15 kg (males). Females are between 8 and 11 kg.
- The condor can fly up to 300 km in a day at 7 km altitude.
- The condor can go 30 days without food.
- Condors can get between 50 and 70 years old.
- Condors can lay 1 egg in 2 years.
El Nido del Condor ecolodge has 5 rooms of 72m2 each. And from everything you can see that the owner, Jaime Botero, is an architect. The room, in the shape of a tent, is beautifully decorated with high end materials and everything has been thought about. The colors are soft and nice and even the most nondescript hotel room elements are stylish here. You marvel at how all the furniture got here by cable car.
The room includes a large bed, from which you have an amazing view of the canyon. On the perfect balcony you take a seat and look out over the surroundings. And even the bathroom is an experience in itself. While taking a shower, you look out through the open window over the valley.
All rooms have a small heater. But it is recommended to bring some warm clothes too. Because you’re at almost at an altitude of 2,700 meters, it can get pretty cool at the end of the day.
Facilities El Nido del Condor in Colombia
El Nido del Condor has its own restaurant and that’s hardly a surprise as you are on a mountain in the middle of nature. The team of chefs is in the kitchen pretty much all day to prepare three daily multi-course menus. And the food is a surprise and delicious every time! You can sit inside or find a spot at a table overlooking the pond. Here you can spot several squirrels, toucans and many other beautiful birds. There are also several books, which you can look into to learn more about the bird species.
You can also come here during the day for a drink and a snack. The friendly staff and the lovely owners are always ready to make you feel at home.
Tip: In the evening you can sit by the campfire and roast marshmallows. Highly recommended!
El Mirador – the viewpoints
Next to the restaurant a deck has been built from which you have a good view of the valley. Good chance to see the condor flying around. There are also several viewpoints and benches between the avocado trees on the other side of the mountain where you can take a seat.
Countless birds of prey fly around and several times I have been able to spot the condor here. Not once but countless times.
Hiking around El Nido del Condor in Colombia
Hike to a farm
From El Nido del Condor you can make several hikes. A great hike is this one to Don Pedro’s farm, located at the bottom of the mountain in the valley. The most idyllic farm you can imagine. From El Nido del Condor it is a short walk of less than 30 minutes down the mountain. Here you can meet the family and drink Colombian coffee. Along the way the guide will tell you more about the area and of course the condor nest.
Because there are many birds of prey, like vultures and the crested caracara flying around, it is difficult to recognize the condor at first. But once you have seen a condor, you will recognize him and never forget about it.
El Nido del Condor is located in the province of Caldas. Caldas is part of the coffee triangle in Colombia, together with the province of Risaralda and Quindío. I recently went on an amazing road trip in this area, visiting numerous sights and staying in three unique hotels. In the next article you’ll read more about my road trip through the coffee region, the itinerary and hotels.
Walk across the avocado plantation
You can walk around the avocado plantation on your own, sit down on a bench, drink a glass of wine and enjoy the views. There are also electric bicycles available but the distances are short and I personally preferred walking.
There is also a more difficult hike that you can make towards the river. Another option is to go on a tour with naturalist and guide Christian and look for birds. There are more than 210 bird species in this area.
How to reach El Nido del Condor
To reach El Nido del Condor you have to make a bit of an effort. Also, you need to prepare the route well because you do not have internet and reception everywhere. You drive from the village of Villamaria, 20 minutes away from Manizales, 17 kilometers over an unpaved road (also called La Ruta del Condor).
You pass small farms, waterfalls and enjoy the first nice. views. El Nido del condor will send you a detailed route description and if you stick to this, you will reach after about 1.5 hours (depending on the type of car you have) the place where you can park your car and the cable car will leave. Important to coordinate your arrival time so they can wait for you. Also, the cable car is only operational until 4pm, so you should plan this day in advance.
Tip: Try to invest in a good rental car and preferably a four-wheel drive. You’ll drive 17 km on a dirt road to El Nido del Condor and after some heavy rain, the condition of the road can be challenging. In addition, you also save time. With a regular car, it might take you twice as long.
How long do you want to stay at El Nido del Condor
El Nido del Condor is a place that you don’t want to leave anymore. You come here to completely relax. Because it is a bit of traveling to get here I would recommend you to stay at least 2 nights. And it is important to arrive on time on day 1, so you can get the most out of your stay. Should 3 or 4 nights fit into your schedule and budget, please do so. El Nido el Condor is in a word unique and a place you will not forget for the rest of your life.
More information about El Nido del Condor
Sustainability plays an important role in and around El Nido del Condor. For everything natural materials are used with low energy consumption. Food is produced locally and comes from the nearby area. El Nido del Condor has also developed a special project around the Andean condor with the aim to raise awareness and educate about this magical animal and its habitat.
More about Colombia
Intererested in reading more about Colombia? This is an article with the most beautiful places to visit in Colombia, including the best time to visit. Or check out the Colombia blog page with city guides and things to do in Bogotá, Medellín and Santa Marta. Tips for lovely towns such as Salento, Mompox and Villa de Leyva. But also the Tatacoa desert and Valle de Cocora. Interested in archaeology? Read more about the mysterious San Agustín statues.
Disclaimer: I was invited to stay at El Nido del Condor ecolodge in Colombia but this review is based on my personal view and is independent from the invitation.
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