Our mission at Casa Divina Lodge is to provide an elegant and comfortable destination for travelers interested in experiencing biodiversity and culture. Our vision is to participate in a sustainable way of living by working with the community on Mindo and the environment. By practicing conscientious tourism we can join our greatest strengths into one business: offering quality service, local knowledge and a love of the cloud forest.
Who We Are
Efrain Toapanta and Molly Brown, the creators and administrators of Casa Divina Lodge, are an Ecuadorian/American couple who form part of the Mindo community and share Mindo's enthusiasm for the preservation of the Ecuadorian Western Lowlands as well as the benefits of a sustainable economy. Besides being dedicated parents of a bilingual and bicultural family, they lead the lodge along with their other company, SabinaTour, which is dedicated to provide personalized tours that promote the conservation and love for the cloud forest.
Efrain is a Mindo native who has travelled through Europa and USA, while Molly is native from California and came to Ecuador to do academic studies of Anthropology and Environment.
In 1987, Efrain worked with a local foundation called Amigos de la Naturaleza (Friends of Nature), which along the Ecuadorian Government, declared 19,200 ha. of primary cloud forest as the Protected Area Mindo - Nambillo. Back then, the main economic activities of the community where wood cutting, hunting and fishing, but after the declaration they were forbidden in order to preserve life. Consequently, the community was forced to look for economic alternative and in the early '90s Efrain helped to found the Pacaso & Pacaso Foundation, with the main goal of motivating the people of Mindo to adopt sustainable practices that are fundamental for the conservation of environmeny and ecotourism.
Slowly, Mindo became known in the international scientific community as an area incomparably rich in biodiversity. By the late '90s Mindo's name was more common in international birdwatching circles, mostly since the declaration made by Birdlife international in 1997 of the Mindo area as an International Important Bird Area (IBA).
In early 2001 the transnational petroleum conglomerate OCP (Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados, or Heavy Crude Pipeline) made their plans public for building a new pipeline from the Amazon to the Pacific Coast that would cross right through some of the most seismically unstable and environmentally bio-diverse stretches of Ecuadorian virgin cloud forest. The community of Mindo was immediately concerned about the impacts that this pipeline would have on the area and armed its protest against the pipeline company. Molly and Efrain, together with a large group of informed and concerned community members, formed the foundation Acción Por la Vida (Action for Life) that headed some of the most successful protests in Ecuador against the OCP.
These days Efrain continues to dedicate much of his time and efforts to the community of Mindo, as part of the city planning commission and working to ensure that growth and development of the area continues in a positive and non-destructive direction. In addition, both Efrain and Molly are members in the local chapter of the Northwest Tourism Council of Ecuador.
Molly, dedicated mother of two and the administrative pillar of Casa Divina Lodge, continually seeks to guide the business towards excellence while upholding the highest standards of sustainable practices. This is shown by several international sustainable certifications bestowed upon the lodge.
In spite of her busy agenda, Molly always finds a moment to share anecdotes with her guests and add the finishing touches to the menu of the day. In addition, Molly has been instrumental in the creation of El Manantial, an alternative education primary school in Mindo which keeps her well connected to the community. She is also part of the Círculo de Mujeres del Bosque (Women of the Forest's Circle), a space for sisterhood and feminine empowerment that gathers women from different parts of the country and the world, which have found in the pristine cloud forest of Mindo the ideal place to develop projects of conservation and fair trade.
With a long history of service and local knowledge, Molly and Efrain have spent years making Casa Divina Lodge a comfortable, conscientious and enjoyable destination for those interested in appreciating and learning about this unique place in the cloud forest.