A Canadian Family Traveling & Living Abroad (in Ecuador)

Santuario Hibiscus: A Country Villa in the Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador

Franziska-Dan-Pederson-Yunguilla-EcuadorThis is a guest post by Franziska & Dan Pederson. They run a guesthouse in the Yunguilla Valley, about an hour south of Cuenca


Although rather small, Ecuador has one of the highest biological diversity in the world. The main reasons for that are its tropical location on the equator, the high Andes mountain range and two major ocean currents along its coast.


Where is the Yunguilla Valley?

In the southwest – only about an hour drive from Cuenca (Ecuador’s third largest city) – we discovered the Yunguilla Valley. The temperate climate, fertile land and beautiful views make this small area a unique little gem. Whether you are interested in high mountains, desert or lush greenery this valley offers it all. Although known as a weekend and vacation spot to people from the nearby city, it was a well kept secret from the outside world until recently. Getting to this area is rather simple. There are frequent buses that leave from Feria Libre or the Terminal Terrestre in Cuenca. Bus drivers let you off wherever you tell them to. If you travel in your own car take the Panamericana south out of the city and follow the signs to Pasaje/Machala. About 20 km away from town you come to a big intersection – the left branch continuous to Loja, the right branch drops southwest into the valley.


Learn About Santuario Hibiscus in La Union, Yunguilla Valley

We named our little guesthouse SANTUARIO HIBISCUS. A place to relax and rejuvenate, enjoy nature and eat locally grown food. Our land grows banana, orange, lemon, lime, avocados and Zapote. We buy our vegetables at the Sunday market in a neighboring town to support local farmers. Our cakes, muffins, cookies and jams are all homemade. Our garden is still small but we grow herbs, lettuce and mint and lemon grass for our teas.


The rustic style house blends well into its surroundings and we tried to preserve that aspect during the remodel. We created 4 individually decorated guest rooms, each with its own bathroom. A living room with big windows that open the view to the courtyard and patio, a dining room and a little loft that is used as our library/computer room, complete the house.





What You Can Do in the Yunguilla Valley

Small paths invite to stroll through the garden and trees. The tilapia fish in our big reservoir are always happy to get a little extra food. They will soon be served for lunch and dinner. There is fishing poles available for those that want to catch their own… Sitting areas around the house, on our porch and balcony invite to just sit, read or listen to nature. We are planning to offer spa services and yoga in the future.

There is an abundance of things to do and explore in our immediate vicinity and the surrounding area. It all depends on your personal preference, available time and fitness level. Excursions through different climate zones, visiting a sugar cane mill or local sugar cane distillery, learning about the use of water and water conservation at Santuario Hibiscus, visiting waterfalls, hiking or bird watching at the local bird reserve to name just a few.



Franziska-Dan-Pederson-Yunguilla-EcuadorOur goal was to create a sustainable complex, emphasizing alternative energies, composting, recycling and water conservation. We provide biodegradable soap for our guests. The water from the sinks and showers is diverted to leach fields that help water our plants. The basic installations for our solar system are in place and weather permitting the solar panels will be mounted on the roof in the not too distant future.

Our employee, a young man living in the neighborhood, is slowly adapting to new ways and starts to show great interest in the things he is learning. His weekly English lessons seem to be a real incentive to him and he is a fast learner! We are proud to be able to provide a stable and safe work environment for him and contracting only local workers during the remodel opened many doors in the community.

Life in the valley is laid back, nothing moves very fast and people stick very much to their daily almuerzo (lunch) hour(s)!

Connect with Franziska and Dan:

An article by

Bryan is a journalist, photographer, expat and dad. He writes for Gringos Abroad (Ecuador travel & living) and Blogger Abroad (run an online business abroad). He also enjoys living in Southern Ecuador (South America) with his wife and daughter. Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn. Work with Bryan & Dena

More about: Cuenca Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

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About Bryan & Dena Haines

We are a Canadian family of 3 living in Ecuador since 2009. We blog about life and travel in Ecuador. If this is your first visit, start here. Interested to work with us? Read more about Bryan & Dena

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