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Where to Stay in Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador: Santuario Hibiscus

Posted in: Ecuador Travel

Franziska and Dan Pederson invited us to stay at their guesthouse, the Santuario Hibiscus in the Yunguilla Valley. Earlier this month, we visited for 2 nights.

Franziska and Dan Pederson

Franziska and Dan Pederson

Visit their website or join them on Facebook or Twitter. Reader visitor reviews on TripAdvisor.

A Warm Welcome

We recently spent the weekend at the Santuario Hibiscus in the Yunguilla Valley.

We had a wonderful weekend relaxing, walking in the gardens and exploring the valley. Franziska and Dan were warm and welcoming, they made us feel at home right away.

They took us on a tour of their beautiful gardens and explained about how they use water conservation, composting and recycling. As they talked, it was easy to see how much caring for the environment means to them. I think the tour of the property and explanation of what they have done to care for it, helped us enjoy our stay even more.

Video Walk-Through of Santuario Hibiscus

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Sustainable Accommodation in Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador

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Surrounded By Nature 

Santuario Hibiscus is located near a little town called La Unión (Abdón Calderón) which is about an hour and fifteen minute drive from Cuenca. One of the nice things about the location is that it is in a subtropical valley so it’s warm and there are lots of flowers and fruit trees.

They use the fruit from their trees and the vegetables from their gardens as much as possible in their menu. The salad, lemonade and lemon cake we enjoyed were prepared from produce grown right on the property.

The coffee they serve is grown and prepared on site as well. Bryan is a coffee lover so this was especially interesting for him. Dan walked us through the coffee plants and explained the coffee making process to us.

view of Yunguilla Valley from Santuario Hibiscus

View of Yunguilla Valley from Santuario Hibiscus

A path at Santuario Hibiscus

A path at Santuario Hibiscus

Lush vegetation at Santuario Hibiscus

Lush vegetation and mountain views at Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley Ecuador

Coffee plants in Yunguilla Valley

Coffee plants in Yunguilla Valley

Small coffee plantation in Southern Ecuador

Small coffee plantation in Southern Ecuador

The Guesthouse

The guesthouse is really nice and the rooms are all individually decorated. Each room has it’s own private bathroom with a nice hot shower, comfortable beds and lots of extra pillows. There is a little library with a computer and internet connection.  I really like rustic decor, so I enjoyed the rustic elegance at Santuario Hibiscus. The home and it’s decor blend well with the surrounding property.

Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley Ecuador

Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley Ecuador

Panorama of Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley Ecuador

Panorama of Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley Ecuador

Guestroom at Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley

Guestroom at Santuario Hibiscus, Yunguilla Valley

Room with a view, Yunguilla Valley
Guesthouse in Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador

Guesthouse in Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador

We saw a lot of birds and humming birds during our stay. It was nice to hear them singing while we sat outside and ate lunch, and when we relaxed in the afternoon. When we were talking with Dan and Franziska about the birds on the property, they explained that just up the road, at the Jocotoco Conservation Foundation, you can find an extremely rare bird (the Pale-headed Brush-Finch) and one of the worlds smallest humming birds.

As I mentioned, much of the food is grown on-site. Dan is an excellent chef – the food we had was varied and delicious.

fresh-salad dining room at Santuario Hibiscus menu at Santuario Hibiscus

A Place to Relax

We live in an apartment so walking around a large property with so many plants and flowers was a  highlight for our daughter. She also enjoyed walking around the fish pond looking for frogs. On one of our walks it started raining and we discovered that banana plant leaves make perfect umbrellas. We also saw a birds nest made out of mud which looked just like a little mud oven.

We really enjoyed our stay, it was so relaxing. It was nice not to feel pressured to have to do anything. Although it is close to Cuenca it is a different world in the Yunguilla Valley.

The Santuario Hibiscus is a great place to go to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of city life, hide away and just relax. It’s also a great location from which to explore the beautiful Yunguilla Valley. The natural beauty of the Valley is stunning.

Visit their website or join them on Facebook or Twitter. Reader visitor reviews on TripAdvisor.

Have you stayed at the Santuario Hibiscus? Please tell us what you thought of it, by commenting on this post.

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

17 comments… add one
  • Charline Ahlgreen Jun 25, 2016, 12:49 pm


    On the strength of your recommendation in this article, we stayed at Santuario Hibiscus in July, 2014, during our fact finding tour of Ecuador. It and our lovely hosts, Franziska and Dan, were everything your article demonstrated, and MORE!

    They are such lovely couple, eager to show you everything about their lovely retreat, and we learned a lot from them. The meals were spectacular, both tasty and artfully presented. My husband and adult daughter both enjoyed comfortable snoozes in the hammocks in the “heat” of the winter days while I read on the 2nd floor veranda. And sleeping at night with the screened windows open to the peaceful night sounds (something we’re not able to do in hot, humid, central Florida OR where we were staying in Cuenca) was, in itself, more than worth the “price of admission”.

    We’re moving to Cuenca soon (due to our ages, we need to be closer to medical services, easily accessible shopping, etc.), but we look forward to many more trips to the Yungilla Valley and Santuario Hibiscus!

  • raj cherian Jun 21, 2014, 5:45 am

    Bryan’s article on the hibiscus was so appealing, I am seriously thinking of visiting there next week when my son and his family visit me.

  • Steve & Bonnie Dektor Jun 13, 2014, 9:17 pm

    Stayed at Santuario Hibiscus in May and just loved it. Beautiful guest house and gardens, delicious food, and Franziska and Dan are wonderful hosts. We spent many happy hours chatting with them and would highly recommend a visit.

  • Steve Barton May 18, 2013, 5:06 pm

    Didn’t realize all there was to your site. All good stuff!, glad your writing it.
    I’m looking to retire to Cuenca late this summer. Have traveled and loved it!.
    How do you think the dating scene is for an “mature” gentlemen in good shape.

    • Cathy Jun 27, 2013, 1:28 pm

      Take me with you and you don’t have to look for a date

  • Stewart Apr 21, 2013, 8:52 am

    Looks like a great place to experience. Maybe I’ll have a chance this summer if my plans to visit Cuenca follow through . . . and visit you guys too.

    My folks are visiting this summer. The are living in California more than 50 years and sometimes get homesick for Ecuador. I’d really like to help them rediscover the wonders of Ecuador. They may feel now they would miss too many conveniences of California? Could they feel at home in Cuenca?

    Best regards,

  • Cindy Boucher Mar 27, 2013, 6:51 pm

    What a beautiful place!

    • Dena Haines Apr 8, 2013, 5:00 pm

      Hi Cindy,

      It really is beautiful and the Yunguilla Valley is breathtaking!

  • Abinas Jagernauth Mar 25, 2013, 11:11 am

    Thanks for the great information and pictures about Santuario Hibiscus and the surrounding area. The guesthouse looks really great and inviting, and it’s good to learn that the Pedersons care about the environment.

  • rob rodman Mar 24, 2013, 10:08 pm

    beautiful area, beautiful place, makes me long for retirement

  • Michelle from France Mar 24, 2013, 4:51 am

    Stayed there for a few weeks. 5 star rooms. Great food. Wonderful, charming and peaceful atmosphere. Knowledgeable, helpful, kind hosts. Great place to connect with the natural world, relax and DO NOTHING or do something: trek, bike, bird watch…

    • Dena Haines Apr 8, 2013, 5:03 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      It’s nice to hear that you enjoyed it as much as we did. Thanks for your comment.

  • Janine Mar 23, 2013, 7:32 pm

    I stayed at the Santuario Hibiscus and met Dan and Franziska. It was definitely the “highlight” of my year! Santuario Hibiscus is a true sanctuary and the perfect place to relax and “rejuvenate” – however there are plenty of opportunities for adventure and fun! Dan and Franziska preparing scrumptious meals with fresh, local produce was a favorite – along with delicious, exotic cocktails… I can’t wait to return!

    • Dena Haines Apr 8, 2013, 5:09 pm

      Hi Janine,

      It really is a nice place to relax.

      It’s easy to see that Dan and Franziska really enjoy what they are doing. One night after supper it was kind of late and I was feeling tired so when Franziska asked if I wanted tea I said “yes, but if you have to go out and pick it it’s ok, don’t bother,” her reply was “oh, but that’s half the fun!” out she went, and in a few minutes I was sipping fresh mint tea 🙂

      Thanks for commenting

  • Dr Anwar Shah Mar 23, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Great place to relax. Thanks Bryan and Dena.

  • Steve Sorkin Mar 23, 2013, 2:52 pm

    Thanks guys!

  • Judy Collins Mar 23, 2013, 12:59 pm

    We stayed at Santuario Hibiscus last year and found it to be very serene and relaxing. The surroundings made you forget about the rest of the world. The rooms were cozy and inviting, just waiting for someone to come and enjoy them, not to mention the delicious food. Don’t miss out on it!

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