Having spent a week or so hopping from one nasty, [relatively] expensive accommodation to another, we were heading to Samaipata in the hopes of finding a peaceful campsite. Being enormously ripped off on a long, hot day of buses, I was feeling quite miserable by the time we arrived. It was dark, raining, everything was soggy and I wasn't appreciating being stuck back in our one-man tent. Balancing electronics and valuables on a mountain of shoes, under waterproof coats in our 'porch' to stop the water from destroying them didn't lead to the most restful night's sleep.
Waking up groggy with sun, I found El Jardin more intriguing than I could have imagined...
Using a combination of techniques, some of which I'd never encountered before, El Jardin showcases the most artistic examples of green building I've ever seen. In keeping with the flower power vibe, sculpted mud decorates the walls, coloured bottles are dotted around to let in extra light and mosaics adorn the whimsical roof domes.
Living up to it's name, El Jardin is filled with plants. Flowers scent the air, attracting humming-birds, insects and butterflies which flit around the garden. To the left of the kitchen is a gate to the little river behind from which occasionally bursts a cow or two, reeking havoc in the serenity and threatening to trample through our flimsy canvas.
Along with the camping area and accommodation, we were happy to find a half open-air kitchen that doubles as a great communal area for socialising in the evening. This building and the fire-place outside are often frequented by musicians, who seem to flock to this campsite and jam together with a mixture of regular and South American instruments. The overall atmosphere is quite addictive and soon our couple of night stay extended to nearly a week.
Private domes for two people
Contact details, more information and photos
*10bs is roughly £1
For other great places to camp and examples of green building in South America you might like to try: