Cielo Verde Ecohotel Spotlight – where upcycled pallets meet jungle zen


Following the hectic cross border bus ride and party hard Cali, I was in some serious need of recharge time. Recommended from Phill’s local amiga (thanks Juli!), we headed 2 hours north to the Lake Calima town Darien; home of champion owner Sebastian, his four dogs and the hand built Cielo Verde Ecohotel. An adult sized tree hut, hidden in the jungle covered mountains made completely out of recycled materials was just the recipe for some off the grid zen time.


The Space 🌳🌺🌞
With all the walls and floors constructed from upcycled, polished pallets the supply chain professional in me felt right at home. All the lighting in the crib was run off a solar system with the mantra to be as low impact as possible, with fairy lights adorning our cosy bedroom roof, the kitchen area, and open air social space perfect for enjoying a few vinos to top off the day.

We loved the on point free flow of living areas open to the surrounding environment, with an abundance of natural jungle light (including the glass walled shower while being observed by the resident tropical birds!). Adorned with Sebastian’s self cultivated jungle and cacti plants, the Ecohotel oozed calm, from waking up with nothing but trees and birds in sight to chilling at the outdoor table as the clouds rolled in. We left feeling super relaxed and ready for our last few weeks of backpacking adventure.

The Spot 🌪🌽

Lake Calima is the third best place in the world for kite surfing, which we had just started to learn back home in little old New Zealand. Sebastian is an instructor, so we were set with the best accomodation and a pro on hand. Unfortunately following on with our curse, there was zero wind the 3 days we were at the lake which is super rare! While the lake looked beautiful and glassy from the jungle treks in the mountains above, we would have much preferred some kite time to keep practising !

While you’re in town it’d be rude not to check out the locals, which is precisely what we did people watching in the main square waiting for our dinner spot to open. In the wrong kind of place this might be called perving but we were simply observing the local culture of the people. And not let down by the super friendly Colombian people, a resident tuk tuk taxi driver came over for a solid hour long yarn in our broken Spanglish. We really can’t say enough about the open nature of people here ! We ended up using our man for the next couple of days, somehow navigating the muddy four wheel drive track to the Ecohotel in his little tuk tuk for a grand total of $5 a trip.


All the meals we ate in Darien town were insanely good with a stronger Mexican influence coming through seasoning and salsa wise, from steak to a two course menu del dia for $4 NZ each. But the local night market is definitely the place to go for the best arepas to date on our adventures, even the Medellin born kite crew we met agreed they were the best in Columbia. And for $1.5 NZ each we can’t rate them enough!


Big shout out to Sebastian for making us at home in his amazing tree hut, we will definitely be back again one day !



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