Cuenca Expats Magazine, Issue 42

Photos: Courtesy of Macas Glamping

It’s been many years since I went trekking in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains on week-long Boy Scout camping trips. Great memories.  So, I jumped at the chance to try the latest trend in camping—glamping.  Glamping (from glamour and camping) describes a style of camping with amenities, and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Our friends at Macas Glamping invited us to come for a visit.  Macas is the capital of Morona Santiago province in southeastern Ecuador. Macas was founded in 1563 and since the 17th century has been one of the main settlements in the Amazon region due to its geographical location. This was a twofer for me: my first-time glamping and first visit to the Amazon. Our driver José picked us up on time at 7 a.m. in his new crew-cab diesel pickup for the four and a half hour drive to Macas.  We use José for all our Travel and Adventure road trips when we need safe transportation through the mountains.  Before he retired, José worked for the government and was the driver of choice whenever the president of Ecuador visited the area. 

NOTE: When traveling through the mountains of Ecuador, use a safe and skilled driver who knows the roads. The unexpected is always around the bend.  If you would like to use José, text me and I’ll provide his number.

From Cuenca, there are two ways through the mountains to Macas via Paute or Gualaceo.  We chose Paute to go, and Gualaceo for the return to get a feel for both road conditions.

The trip up and back had fairly good paved two-lane roads, except in places under construction and spots awaiting road crew cleanups in the never-ending duels with mud and rock slides typical of the mountains.


Once you leave Paute, you’ll find few places in the morning to get a bite to eat, but we did find a very small restaurant serving ham and cheese sandwiches and hot horchata. Macas Glamping, chosen by Forbes Ecuador as one of the best of its kind in the country, is about 20 minutes from the center of town.  We were greeted by Nikolay, the owner, and Jordano, our glamping host and chef, with a delicious hot cup of guayusa (a popular health tea only grown in the Amazon). Macas Glamping was founded by Nikolay and his wife Fanny in 2021 during COVID when Nikolay’s travel and tourism business dried up and he was looking for a new project to keep him busy during the pandemic slowdown. 

After visiting a few other glamping operations in Colombia, and based on his 20 years in the tourism business, he adopted the best ideas and added his own.

Macas Glamping’s goal is to provide guests with a “different experience.” Macas Glamping is located on five acres of jungle with its own lagoon, and it is part of a larger bird sanctuary for 12 different species.  Macas Glamping has five distinct units or camps. Each unit is placed in a different area of the property, so you are unable to see or hear anyone else.  And, each unit has a different design.

The goal is someone can stay in a different unit each night and have a totally distinct experience.  I was happy to see that they kept an outdoor camping feel to these units. 


So many other places have jumped on the “glamping” bandwagon name, but they are nothing more than lodges or hostels. Not here. There is one unit shaped like a glass pyramid (as a tribute to Ecuador’s many volcanos), a domed unit positioned so you can follow the path of the moon across the sky, and there is even one unit with an African safari-like tent. I was lucky to stay in the glass pyramid unit. It allows you to sleep under the stars, without the discomfort of a sleeping bag on the ground.  Macas Glamping really spoils you.  The unit has a comfortable queen-size bed and is climate controlled—no problem with insects or unwanted creatures of the night.  There is a comfortable two-person swinging bench, a well-stocked mini-fridge, a bottle of wine ready to service, and your own hot tub.  And what camping outing is without a campfire? (The pit ready with wood.) The unit is also equipped with a modern bathroom that has a very large walk-in shower with a waterfall showerhead, plenty of oversized towels, bathrobes, and slippers.

You can even reserve a relaxing message during your stay. I chose to unplug from everything—no phone, Internet, or Netflix, just the peace and quiet of this outdoor adventure, and I fell asleep hours earlier than normal.

Macas Glamping is perfect if someone wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life for a few days, or it’s an excellent home base to explore the surrounding areas. 

Here’s a link that will give you an idea of what you can do, including a day-long adventure visiting a real Shuar village. The indigenous Shuar (of headhunting fame) live in a tropical rainforest between the upper mountains of the Andes and in the tropical rainforests and savannas of the Amazonian lowlands. A very good breakfast prepared by Chef Jordano is a part of your package when you stay at Macas Glamping.  They also serve lunch and dinner if you are staying on the property. If you go into Macas, there is a number of very good restaurants. Many think the beef from the Amazon region is the best in Ecuador. So, as you walk around town, you’ll notice there are many steakhouses in which to choose. We stayed on the property for our meals. For lunch, we chose the Filet Mignon—a very large cut perfectly grilled. They served an appetizer in a metal skillet called Picada Macabea. It’s a traditional beef dish from the area. I mistakenly thought it was the main course; it was so filling.  It was served with “French fried” yucca (to my taste better than potatoes).  Then the main meal!  For lunch, we tried the shrimp pasta.  Very tasty. Both meals even included an edible flower from the area (begonia or hortensia) as part of the plate presentation.

Ready for our trip back to Cuenca. Our time here ended too quickly. We left Macas Glamping with the promise to return soon.

macas glamping


Phone: 099 855 1210


Address: km. 8 ½ vía Macas – Puyo. Macas – Morona Santiago

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