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Newsletter - April 2003
Newsletter - September 2003
Newsletter - March 2004
Newsletter - September 2004
Newsletter - March 2005
Newsletter - September 2005
Newsletter - March 2006

Black Sheep Droppings - Newsletter
From the Equator on the Equinox - March 2004

This newsletter is sent out twice a year, in March, and again in September.  This is NOT spam, please do not put us in your bulk mail or block sender folder.  If you do not want to receive this "Drop-ping" let us know by clicking here. OR, if you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter just let us know.   Click for latest NEWSLETTER

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Happy Spring!  The Equinox was actually a day earlier because of the LEAP Year. For all of you in the northern hemisphere, your days will be getting longer and warmer. For us here on the Equator, our days will be getting … well about the same, always 12 hours long, with an eternal spring. Although, it has been unseasonably dry this winter in the Ecuadorian Central Sierra, we are hoping for rain before we hit the typically dry and windy summer season.

Ecuador’s biodiversity is the most concentrated in the world. It is one of the 17 countries with the highest biodiversity. Ecotourism is growing worldwide by 10-30% yearly! Let’s hope that this represents a true interest in conservation and sustainable ecology. Keep your eyes on Ecuador, the Miss Universe Pageant will be held in Quito on June 1st, 2004.
Ecuador Hotel Hiking Trail Markers

Marking the Trail to Chugchilán

Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilán
Good News: it’s easier than ever to find your way on Ecuador’s best day hike.  The trail from Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilán is now marked!   There are over 30 signs indicating the trail for this world famous hike.  We continue to promote safety in this area by training guides, and posting hiking information at Laguna Quilotoa.  Thanks to the Mision de la Seguridad and the Black Sheep Inn, as well as the other hostals and Humberto (the horseback guide) in Chugchilán.
Ecuador Hotel Hiking Trail Markers

Marking the Trail to Chugchilán

Community Work
The Chugchilán library/learning center (est. July 2003 by BSI) is improving every month.  It has a brand new tile floor, new electrical installations, a few hundred new Spanish language books, two new computers and two printers.  The Italian Missionaries from Chinaló donated custom-built furniture.  BSI sponsored a weekend workshop with Andrew Woodman and students from the British School in Quito.  Three high school students from Quito helped configure the computers and teach local students in Chugchilán computer skills.  Thank you Woody, Andres, Burt, and Daniel, as well as Steve, Joe and Angelique.  Also thank you to Yolanda and Heraldo, our local librarians.
Hotel Ecuador Community Education

Library Workshop

Hotel Ecuador Community WorkshopAgain with the help of US Peace Corp volunteers, especially Laura Schreeg, Black Sheep Inn sponsored two workshops on family planning, a knitting workshop and a first aid workshop.  Thank you Laura, Nici, Laura, Melissa, Aurora and Juana, Celia and Sean.  Hotel Ecuador Community Workshop

Family Planning Workshop

Knitting Workshop



Hotel Ecuador School EducationWe finally got the Xerox copy machine in the school repaired.  We donated 4 soccer balls and 3 basketballs for the elementary school, as well as a Public Address amplifier system to Escuela Rodeo (half way up to the Cheese Factory) and soccer uniforms for a children’s team. Hotel Ecuador School Education

Balls for School


Team Black Sheep

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Eco Construction Ecuador HotelInca Culture Ecuador HotelThe Great Wall and the Blue Lantern
We are currently building the great wall of Black Sheep Inn.  This 150-foot terraced rock retaining wall is complete with traditional Incan steps.  The wall, located behind the lodge, will also support the foundation for a new laundry area and a possible new building site.  The laundry area will utilize collected rain water, provide a frame for solar panels, as well as reuse gray water more efficiently because of it’s strategically higher location.  And besides all that, the Great Wall looks 'Great'!  It really gives the whole area a more finished look and feel.



Incan Steps

The Blue Lantern (full baaar) is now open.  We added a glass door to our liquor cabinet, mirrors behind the bottles and a blue light... sales have skyrocketed! 

Other home improvements include a skylight in the cabana so it’s now possible to see the stars at night, and it’s much brighter during the day.  Main gardens have been fenced to keep the pesky chickens from eating our seedlings and production is once again going well.  We have hired Miguel to work 3 days a week between the garden, native tree nursery and training the llamas by carrying firewood to all the guest rooms.

Green Building Construction Ecuador Hotel

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Cabaña Skylight

Working at the BSI
Thank you to volunteers Peter, Liz and Suzanne for helping through the last part of 2003.  We are happy to welcome our new managers, Gail Arendell, from North Carolina, and Iain Duncan, from Ontario in April.  They will run BSI while we celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary in May/June.  Our anniversary plans include a 6-week trip to Europe to visit friends in Switzerland, Greece and Croatia.   Ahhhhhhh
Hotel Ecuador Carnival FunFamily Visits
Michelle’s brother and family visited for the first time this past winter.  On their third day in Ecuador, Sam, our 8-year-old nephew, broke his collarbone while stumbling down a hill during a photo break… before even arriving at the BSI!  Thank you very much to Hospital Zumbahua for x-raying and setting the bone.  Two days later the entire family, including Sam, got into a huge water and foam fight in the village during Carnival. One Sunday afternoon it turned into a full out war in the plaza of Chugchilán.  Andy’s Uncle Mark and family arrived the same day as his mom, Evie.  She is visiting for the 8th time.  It’s always great to have her around as she can really see the progress.  Her first visit was in 1996.  Mark was also impressed with all the innovative buildings and architecture. 

Yearning to visit the Black Sheep Inn again?  How about a virtual visit? There are a few new features on our website… you can now read about the Black Sheep Inn in Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and Dutch!  Thanks to everyone who helped with the translations.  We have a new page that links to all the publicity that Black Sheep Inn has received over the years, check out:

As always, a big thank you to our staff.  2003 was the best year in BSI history, and without the dedication and amistad of our workers, we could have never gotten this far. 

If anyone is interested in donating used computers, printers, Spanish language books, medical equipment or medical supplies, please contact us at: info(at)

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Have a great Spring and Summer.  Until the next Equinox in the fall...
Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman

Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
tel. (593) 3 - 281-4587
P.O. Box 05-01-240
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi

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Black Sheep Drop Ins - Newsletter
In Memory of John and Minke Kleimeer and Ruth S. Kirby.

From the Equator at the Equinox- Sept 22, 2003
This newsletter is sent out twice a year, in March, and again in September.  This is NOT spam, please do not put us in your bulk mail or block sender folder. If you do not want to receive this "Drop-ping" let us know and we will REMOVE you from the list.  Also we have changed our e-mail server.  All emails should be sent to info(at), and any other addresses you have for us should be deleted.  OR, if you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter just let us know.  Click for latest NEWSLETTER
Ecotourism Award Ecuador Hotel Eco Certification

Eco Tales
On August 7th the Black Sheep Inn received Eco-Certification from Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) and Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association (ASEC)  The government has given us, along with 11 other businesses in Ecuador, a Special Mention as an Ecological Business.  Andy spiced up the otherwise dull awards ceremony by presenting the executive director of ASEC, Diego Andrade, with a "Premio Ecologico"; a hand painted toilet seat that said "Thank you! For a job well done."   Now the BSI will be even more famous for it’s toilets!

As an extension of the Eco-Certification program, the Black Sheep Inn has been invited to be part of the Grupo Nacional de Trabajo (GTE) en Ecoturismo whose main function will be to help create the National Strategy of Ecotourism for Ecuador. 

Through ASEC we found a place in Quito to purchase biodegradable soaps and detergents.  We've also installed hand-wash sinks in all the bathrooms.  These sinks fill with rainwater collected from the roof and drain into the small flower gardens.  Now we are waiting for the rains!  It’s been incredibly dry for the past 4 months.
We presented the 7 Recommendations for Strengthening Ecotourism in Ecuador otherwise known as the GIFEE Document (Grupo Internet en Favor del Ecoturismo Ecuatoriano) ( to the local Mayor and Counselors of our County government.

We also gave a power point presentation at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (PUCE) and another to the Ministry of Tourism about the GIFEE recommendations.  We hope to use the 7 recommendations as a tool for working with the GTE.

Travel Tales
After living in Ecuador for 9 years, we finally made it to Cuenca.  It is a beautiful colonial city.  We climbed to the refuge on Chimborazo at over 5000 meters, 16,300 feet with Evie (Andy’s Mom).  That day, in the thin air and fresh snow, we were really high! Cuenca was a great place to celebrate Michelle’s 35th B-day. We took a short beach vacation to Ecuador’s north coast in June.  We visited a fellow Ecolodge in Mindo called Maquipucuna (  They have done an incredible job with their stewardship of over 15,000 acres of Cloud Forest, all the while providing very comfy accommodations.
Family Tales
Many guests ask, "What do you miss most about living in the US."  The answer is usually Frosted Mini-Wheats, Micro-Brews and good dill pickles.  NO no no, we really miss the social life (going out for beers with friends etc) and going to concerts.  In Quito this past June we did our best to get a concert fix, when we got tickets to see the Mexican Rock Band MANA. We were practically trampled while waiting to get into the stadium the pouring rain, but the show was great and we had an excellent time. Another thing we miss is being close to family.  This past April Michelle’s Grandmother passed away. Although it is terribly sad losing our last grandparent, it was great that we could fly home to help with funeral arrangements, and say a few words at the funeral about what a wonderful woman Ruth S. Kirby was.
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Andy’s brother Jim and nieces Hannah and Aviva visited for 2 weeks in August.  This was their second time in Ecuador; their first visit having been in 1999.  They noticed many changes made at the BSI in those four years. "There are so many more buildings, the Inn is really much more like a resort, with the sauna, zipline and lodge, than it was 4 years ago.  The Black Sheep Inn is not just a good place to visit, it's a good place to BE."  Aviva loved the horseback riding and Hannah left us with some excellent water color paintings.
Building Tales Eco Construction Green Building Ecuador Hotel
New bunkhouse opened on June 9th complete with hammocks on the second floor balcony.  Immediately the 10 beds were full during busy season. Guests love the view and the top floor of the A-frame with the huge glass skylight for sleeping under the stars and viewing Mars. We have extended our CUY hotel and planted more flower gardens.  We built a silt trap for the pond, and laid a hardwood floor in the music room at our house.  We are currently installing a glass skylight in the Cabaña.
Reading Tales
In late June, Chugchilán's first Library/Learning Center was opened.  Thank you very much to Matt and Lindsay (and Shannon) for their grand effort and dedication to this project. The library has over 500 books (mostly donated by guests!) as well as four computers, a printer and a local librarian.  Thank you to Clare Willey, Nancy Cardno, Dianne Hall and Craigan Usher for their computer donations. Also, thank you to everyone who has donated books. The library is open three days a week.  Spanish books are always welcome and can be sent to:
Hotel Ecuador Hike Lagune QuilotoaBlack Sheep Inn
P.O. Box 05-01-240
Latacunga, Cotopaxi
Publicity Tales  click for:  BSI in the News!
Black Sheep Inn continues to make the press!  In Florida's Sunday July 6th Miami Herald, an article entitled "Wild Ones; Eco Lodges around the America’s" listed the Black Sheep Inn as "one of the 10 favorite holiday options in the Americas."   The article was accompanied by a great photo of Laguna Quilotoa (thank you Jurg Buhler).  In one of England's national newspapers, The Guardian, The Black Sheep Inn was listed as one of "The World’s 20 Best Eco Resorts."  Check out The Guardian Article:,8922,1000747,00.html
Party Tales
Busy Season was busy!  It started with the despedida (going away party) for Matt and Lindsay on the 4th of July. We drank English Gin, smoked Cuban Cigars and lit off homemade Ecuadorian Fireworks. We are EX-patriots! Hung over the next day, July 5th, we had the bienvenida (welcoming) for the Familia Wiltink: Nancy, Hans, Roos and Anneik are all settled in.  Hans and Nancy were indispensable throughout July and August. Roos and Anneik have started school at Escuela Juan Jose Flores in Chugchilán and their Spanish is getting better every day.  Matt and Lindsay are now managers of Las Palmeras Inn near Otavalo.
R.I.P.Lost the Trail
There has also been bad news, and very bad luck.  On July 21st two Dutch guests went missing on the hike back from Laguna Quilotoa. On July 22nd they were found murdered. John and Minke Kleimeer were attacked and robbed, and left dead in the bottom of a canyon.  Our deepest sympathies go out to Lindy and Fenna Kleimeer.  We are still working closely with both the Dutch and Ecuadorian police to bring justice to this situation.  There have been 3 people detained, but the case has not yet gone to trial. Even though we feel this is an isolated incident of a robbery gone bad, it does not make the loss any easier.  We’ve never even had robberies before.  It is a hotel owner’s worse nightmare. On August 21st we held a memorial service and placed a marker at the site of their deaths. Thank you to Ana and Jan of the Biking Dutchman ( and to the Dutch Embassy for supporting us through these difficult times. We will always remember John and Minke and we will continue to work hard to ensure safety in this beautiful area.

UPDATE 2004:  The trail from Quilotoa to Chugchilán is now marked. Two men and a 14 year old boy have been sentenced to jail for this murder.

Community Tales
We have been working hard within our community as well. We've attended meetings with the Federacion de Organizaciones Indigenas y Campesinas de Chugchilán (FOICH-CH) regarding Ecotourism and it’s role in the community.  It is challenging to try to figure out how to spread the benefits of tourism to the surrounding communities.  WE have sponsored 3 training sessions/workshops for local guides. Michelle has been working with Women’s groups to encourage local artesania and crafts, etc. We have started a tourism association in Chugchilan, where all three hotels (BSI, Mama Hilda’s and Cloud Forest) work together to improve the community, not just for the tourists, but for the local population as well.
Laura Schreeg, from Michigan, is a United States Peace Corp Volunteer in neighboring Sigchos.  We have enjoyed working with her towards many of our long-term goals.  She’s has been lending a hand with protecting the Iliniza Ecological Reserve, training local guides, and with her help we started a native tree nursery at the BSI.  Andres Vega, her Costa Rican boyfriend, led two workshops with locals interested in becoming guides. The first workshop focused on the ethics of being a guide, and the second on the natural history of the cloud forest.

Animal Tails
Miss Kitty Shakira had 3 kittens.  We have 15 cuys, countless chickens and a baby llama named Booboo!  We've got 7 llamas, 6 ducks, 1 goose, 3 dogs and 5 Black Sheep.  Also, we thank the lizards in the bathroom flower gardens for keeping the fly population down!
Goals for the next year:
Mark hiking trails in the area, and offer locally trained guides.
Finish our house, which we have been living in for over three years.
Take a sailing vacation in the Mediterranean.
Focus on employee education and realize an employee excursion.
Build a new laundry area that recycles roof water and gray water.
Convert half of the Black Sheep Inn to solar power.
Hire a computer teacher for the community.

In September, Cesar, who has been with the Black Sheep Inn since 1995, turned 50 years old.  He still can work harder than Andres!

Since the arrival of the telephone, and the creation of the Black Sheep Inn's website ( in the year 2000, business has doubled. 
Once again, a special thanks to Tom Clarke for helping the elementary school with the purchase of text books this year.  Also, gracias to Anne Gleacher and family for their generous donation to school and community projects.  Jim Patterson also continues to demonstrate his commitment the community of Chugchilán.  Thank You - Thank You - Thank You.

We are not sending this newsletter with the purpose of soliciting donations, just to let you know what’s happening at the Black Sheep Inn and to keep in touch.  We appreciate everyone who has visited the Black Sheep Inn and has supported our ongoing projects. If you want to help out, there is a continuous need for books in Spanish and high tech equipment such as used computers, fax machines, copy machines, printers, typewriters, microscopes, a centrifuge, etc.  BUT, any item must be in good working condition and the shipping must be paid by the donor.
Keep in touch!!
All the best from

The Black Sheep of the Family, which is EWE!!

Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman

Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
tel. (593) 3-281-4587

PO Box 05-01-240
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi

BLACK SHEEP DROP- IN’S – Newsletter April 2003

We are not sure if the links on this page are still active.

*if you prefer not to receive this newsletter from the Black Sheep Inn Ecuador, please let us know and we’ll immediately remove you from the list. OR, if you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter just let us know.  info(at)  This is the first issue. We will send it out twice a year.  Click for latest NEWSLETTER
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New at the Sheep... BSI in the News!

Black Sheep Inn makes Outside Magazine! *you may have to subscribe (it’s free) to read the article online.

The Black Sheep Inn is honored to have appeared in the March 2003 issue of Outside Magazine as one of the Top 10 Ecolodges in the World. Ironically, the BSI is listed along side other ecolodges that charge over $1000 per night!  However, we all know that price has nothing to do with true ecotourism. The BSI was praised for its composting toilets and commitment to the community.

Black Sheep Inn mentioned in Chicago Tribune Article "Want to be an Ecotourist? Here’s how to find genuine destinations" by Charles Lockwood Sunday January 12, 2003 Travel Section,1,5894384.story (deadlink) *you may have to subscribe (it’s free) to read the article online.

This article gives six key tips to finding a true ecotourism destination. The Black Sheep Inn was credited for reforestation with native tree species in terraced swales.

Black Sheep Inn Co-Presents "Seven Recommendations for Strengthening Ecotourism in Ecuador"

The "Grupo Internet en Favor del Ecoturismo Ecuatoriano" (GIFEE), a grassroots cyber-collective, composed seven recommendations for the Ecuadorian Government to take action in realizing Ecuador’s potential as an international ecotourism leader. Check out the letter that was sent to a number of government officials:

The Black Sheep Inn’s website, wins a prize!  In honor of World Tourism Day, September 27, 2002, the Ministry of Tourism awarded us with the "Presea al Merito Turistico Jose Tobar Tobar" in the Category of "Implementacion Web 2002."  This translates as "The Award for Touristic-Excellence for a Website".  Thank you to Andy Simpson for teaching us how to build and maintain our website.  Most of the photos on the site have been updated so take a virtual tour and bring back memories of your visit to the Black Sheep Inn.

The pond will stay! Click for latest NEWSLETTER

Remember, here in Ecuador things tend to happen ssllowwwwlllyyy. Three years ago Mother Nature, by means of a landslide, gifted us with a large pond. In September 2002 with the help of the Municipio (county public works), a new culvert was put through the road, higher up, and the pond is a permanent resource. We are now planning a dock, raft, willow trees, trout, water pumping windmill, and a water slide!  The locals enjoy the pond, stopping to watch the geese, looking for fish, or just throwing stones.

Our farm is growing, "Eee-eye Eee-eye oh! With a cuy-cuy here and a cuy-cuy there, here a cuy, there a cuy, everywhere a cuy-cuy."  Our neighbors welcomed us home from traveling with gifts of eggs, cheese, beans, corn and Cuys!! (pronounced kwee and translated as Guinea Pigs.)  Instead of roasting up the furry little devils as is local tradition, we decided to build a cuy house, where we could feed them green veggie scraps, and harvest the rich manure to mix with our compost. We started off with two guinea pigs, now we have seven!  We’ve also been hatching ducklings and chicks of our own, and even have a pair of geese who majestically populate the pond.

New Bunk Room by Summer of 2003!!

We’ve almost finished a new and improved bunkroom!  This will ensure that the ‘bunkers’ have a fantastic view and more space similar to the original Black Sheep private rooms. We are building a 3 story A-frame out of homemade adobe bricks, covered by a straw roof, and lots of windows. The old bunkroom will be converted into manager’s quarters.

Prices go up as of June 1st.

Finally, after not raising our price in over six years, we’ve gotta do it. The cost of living and utilities, along with everything in Ecuador, has been creeping up since the dollarization in 2001.  We are still affordable and still inexpensive.  So, check out our website for the New Rates.

Thank You to Los Suizos!

A huge Thank You to Jürg Buehler and Christine Blaeuer, who gave us the opportunity to travel again last year. Jorgecito y Cristinita took care of the BSI from Christmas 2001 through June 2002 while we explored the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. We also had the chance to visit family and friends on both sides of the USA. The Black Sheep Inn was run 'better than ever' in our absence.  With their Swiss precision, Jorge and Cristina finished building three new guest rooms, a shower, and two composting toilets; all the while being the hostess’ with the most-est to the guests and developing a special relationship with our staff and friends in Chugchilán. They did the impossible.  There are no words to say how much we appreciate their friendship and advice. Dios Les Pague!

Fantastic Managers lined up until Summer 2004!!  Click for latest NEWSLETTER

After years of ‘running the show’ with only the help of our local staff, we have adopted new members into the Black Sheep Inn family!  Matt Kelley and Lindsay Siegel, from Chicago, have been working with us since late January, and will stay on until the 4th of July. They are perfect housemates, friends, and managers.  When asked what their favorite part of working at the BSI is, their response was, "There’s nothing like the environment at the BSI. Between the breathtaking location, interesting tourists, friendly neighbors, good friends, permaculture ideas and (of course) the food, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world!"

When Lindsay and Matt head out in July, the Wiltinks will arrive. Hans, Nancy, Anniek and Rose are a lovely family from Amsterdam who are committed to live and work at the BSI for a year. The girls, 5 and 7 years old, will attend elementary school in Chugchilan, and Hans and Nancy are already researching solar energy alternatives, and studying up on sustainable agriculture.  We are sure that they too will be a wonderful addition to the Black Sheep Team.

Local Staff continue to be our best friends. Narcisa, Olga, Esther, Clara, and Sylvia continue to serve fantastic meals, keep the facility sparkling clean, and accompany us through busy weekends and slow times.  Always cheerful and very dedicated to their jobs, we don’t know what we would do without them. Cesar, Francisco and Jorge are loyal builders, farm hands, and gophers. Without the help of our local workers, the Black Sheep Inn would not be what it is today.

A thought to ponder... How can we integrate it so that a tourist, who is in Chugchilán for three nights or more can volunteer at the local school teaching English?  We want to ensure continuity for the students; please send your ideas.

Interesting fact… The Black Sheep Inn receives 7% more Europeans than it does North Americans.

Many thanks to Tom Clark of Pittsfield, Massachusetts for his generous donation to buy school books for the elementary school of Chugchilán. With Tom's help, all 303 kids in Escuela Juan Jose Flores have their own textbooks this year. Thanks Tom!

Thank you to Jacqueline Hirsch, for donating the Rosetta Stone Language Library. Many students enjoy learning English while improving their computer skills. Our workers enjoy the program, as do many of our guests. Also much appreciated were the Comfrey roots! Tell Bob the comfrey lives!!

The "biblioteca" library project is closer than ever to fruition. Thank you to Diane Pearlman of Oregon for her special connection with Chugchilán. And thanks to Scott Rauland and family for facilitating logistical challenges. Gracias.

We are not sending this newsletter with the purpose of soliciting donations, just to let you know what’s happening at the Black Sheep Inn and to keep in touch.  We appreciate everyone who has visited the Black Sheep Inn and has supported our ongoing projects. If you do want to help out, there is a continuous need for books in Spanish and high tech equipment such as used computers, fax machines, copy machines, printers, typewriters, microscopes, a centrifuge, etc. BUT, any item must be in good working order and shipping (at this point) must be paid by the donor.

Hope this newsletter finds your days growing longer, and your buds blossoming.

Click for latest NEWSLETTER

Keep in touch!!

All the best from

The Black Sheep of the Family, which is EWE!!

Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman

Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
tel. (593) 3 - 281-4587

P.O. Box 05-01-240
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi

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SKY Magazine
Top 10
* May 2009 *

Eco Club Eco Lodge Award
2006 & 2008

Ecotourism Award Skal International

Responsible Tourism Best in Mountain

Smithsonian Magazine Sustainable Tourism Winner

Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Finalist


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Photos by Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador except when noted.
Last updated: September 21st, 2009