Río Muchacho is nestled in a small valley on the coast of Ecuador, 40 minutes north of Bahía de Caraquez Ecocity and 15 minutes from the popular beach town of Canoa.

Río Muchacho Organic Farm and Eco-lodge is an internationally recognized example of sustainable land management through permaculture design and agro-ecology. Scroll further down to read about our achievements and recognitions.

The sustainable farm and learning center are based on Agro-ecology and Permaculture principles. The 10 hectare property is an oasis of food forests, extensive vegetable gardens, pasture, agroforestry areas, models of alternative energy, and rotational animal raising areas. 

Over one hundred crops are rotated throughout the year, and the farm is home to animals of all sizes, shapes, and personalities. Our residents include pigs,  guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, composting worms, cows, horses, and--of course--humans.

We have the capacity to accommodate up to 35 people in authentic bamboo bungalows located throughout our sprawling property. 

The Faces of Río Muchacho

Darío Proaño-Leroux and Nicola Mears are members of the National Association of Organic Producers (PROBIFO). You will find a detailed record of all their projects in the history section.

Darío is of Catalan/French/Ecuadorian descent. He spent the first 18 years of his life living in the Andes, where he was a passionate mountaineer. Eventually he made his way to  Bahía where he was involved in both local and provincial tourism projects. For many years he was the Director of Tourism for Manabí, and later he was the Director of the Coastal Resource Management Program where he played a key role in defending the mangrove forest through the creation of protection agreements recognising the cultural and environmental heritage of local communities.

Nicola is a New Zealander who arrived in Ecuador in 1989. She studied horticulture, management of protected areas and non-polluting agriculture. Before coming to Ecuador she taught non-polluting agriculture at Christchurch Polytechnic. She originally travelled to South America to attend the first Latin American conference in organic farming, which was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Her first two years in Ecuador were spent developing Alandaluz, an ecological hotel in the southern reaches of Manabí, and working for different foundations teaching organic agriculture. Nicola is an inspector  of organic farms and  has trained leaders in community based verification schemes.


Ecotourism is an important part of life at Río Muchacho. The farm has accommodation for up to 35 people curious about how to relate to the Earth in a sustainable and rejuvenating way. The bungalows, work structures, and main house are all primarily constructed from local materials. Bungalows have from 1 to 10 beds, as well as ecologically designed bathrooms with composting toilets. The grounds host a wide range of visitors, including Ecuadorian students, short and long term volunteers (both national and foreign), tourists, volunteer groups, and permaculture students. We've designed the farm in such a way that humans can work with nature rather than against it, and all who visit have the unique opportunity to feel part of a very delicate, very special world.

People of all ages and ethnicities come simply to enjoy the peace of the countryside, the local culture, the fresh organic food, and to learn more about sustainable living. There are a number of ways you can experience life at Río Muchacho, including self-guided tours, multi-day tours, Spanish courses, custom made programs, and cultural exchanges. The Farm can also be used as a venue to host large groups.

Two times a year, an intensive one-month permaculture and sustainable agriculture course is offered, along with part-time courses for local farmers, students, and teachers.

There is always a colourful blend of locals, travelers, students, and volunteers sharing their experiences, skills and abilities. For many it is the experience of a lifetime!

“We wanted to visit a local family and sample typical food, but we got much more. Experiences like this help us evolve from tourists into like-minded people.”

-Nic Pilbrow, New Zealand 

Achievements and recognition

Rio Muchacho has been recognized nationally and internationally for its constant efforts in nature preserving and sustainable living practices.

Here is a list of our achievements and recognitions:

  • Named one of National Geographic Travel's 8 favourite places to stay in Ecuador
  • Named one of 13 most ecological destinations in the world - TV5 Ocean Pacific Canada
  • First agro-ecotourism project in Ecuador - Ministry of Tourism
  • Pilot project of ecotourism certification - Associacion Ecuatoriana de Ecoturismo
  • First paper recycling workshop in South America - 1992
  • First organic certified shrimp fishery - Naturland e.V. Germany
  • First Prize - Turismo Conciencia 2013 - Escuela Politécnica Agropecuaria de Manabi
  • Creation of an Environmental School in the local community, which ran for 25 years