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.

The Río Muchacho Organic Farm and Eco-lodge, named one of the 13 best examples of responsible tourism on Earth (Channel 5 Montreal – Another Way to Travel) and one of National Geographic Travel’s eight favourite places to stay in Ecuador, is an internationally recognized example of sustainable land management through permaculture design and agroecology.

The sustainable farm and learning center are based on Agroecology and Permaculture principles. The 9.5 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 upwards of 55 people in the 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 Evolution timeline 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 55 people curious about how to relate to the Earth in a sustainable and rejuvenating way. The cabins, work structures, and main house are all primarily constructed from local materials. Cabins have from one to ten 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.

Whether falling asleep to the cacophony of forest sounds, or waking up to the call of a rooster, visitors will experience an intimate connection with the place. People of all ages and ethnicities come simply to enjoy the peace of the countryside, the local culture, and 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, 1, 2,3, and 4 day tours, Spanish courses, custom made programs, and cultural exchanges. The Farm can also be used as a venue to host large groups.

Three times a year, an intensive one-month Permaculture and sustainable agriculture (not pdc) course is offered, along with 1-14 day courses for local farmers, students, and teachers.

There is always a colourful blend of locals, tourists, 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 

Rio Muchacho School Environmental School

The Rio Muchacho Environmental Primary School has been an important project of the farm during the last 23 years. It has educated hundreds of children from the community and given them new possibilities and opportunities for their futures.

Since 2015 the role of the farm in Education in the community has changed because the needs of the community are now different.   The school began mainly because of a need for a better level of education. The government is now providing better primary education and more children continue to high school.  The aim of the government is to provide a good state education and eventually close many small schools and create bigger regional “Millennium Schools”

Children will be transported to the communities where these schools are located.

In 2015 the environmental primary school began to act as a facility for extracurricular courses instead of opening as a school.  We see great potential and need for these kinds of courses in the community, without all the admin that the Ministry of Education requires.  This year the first program was an arts and crafts workshop which was highly successful.  A computer workshop is planned for the latter part of the year. We continue to be proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and take supplies for area schools or medical clinics in need, you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families. Please click here to see what supplies are needed for our project/projects.

Pack for a Purpose

We are hoping that past students will become involved in coordinating these new programs and that the joy of the environmental school will continue in the community. This transition will allow a lot for a much greater freedom and the opportunity to reach other age groups in the community.

We and the community are deeply gratefulfor the support given by the many volunteers, families, and organizations that together have made this school function for as long as it has.