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Ecuador Tropical Inmersion

Ecuador Tropical Inmersion


Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! There are no planned activities for the day so you can arrive at any time and check into your hotel. Your tour leader will be waiting for you there, and will explain the itinerary for the next 3 weeks.. The altitude in Quito is 2850m above sea level and you will feel it! Therefore try to take it easy and not do too much today. Get some rest, take a walk around Quito’s colonial area, or visit a museum.

Day 2: Otavalo Market
We escape the busy life of Quito and leave early in the morning to head north. With our private vehicle, we will pass though the most stunning landscapes and remote villages that would have been otherwise hidden from us. We visit the famous handicraft market of Otavalo and have lunch in Cotachachi, a village famous for its leather handicrafts. Later we visit some afro-Ecuadorian villages near Ibarra. We will have dinner and spend the night in the eco-lodges of the Natural Reserve ‘El Angel’, 4000 meters above see level.

Day 3: Paramo, Guallupe
After breakfast we walk to the ‘El Angel’ Ecological Reserve where we will be able to view the rare ‘frailejones’. These soft tropical plants grow only in this unusual páramo ecosystem and are unique to Ecuador. From one of the viewing points we can observe the entire valley of Moran. We continue our hike in the Polylepis reserve where you can see very ancient swamp trees and we may be able to see condors, white deer, woodland rabbits, many birds, and orchids. After the hike we have lunch and continue our journey to Guallupe, where we will spend the night.

Day 4: Trek in the cloud forest

A private pick-up truck brings us from the little village of Guallupe (1000m) to the community of Las Juntas from where our trekking begins. On the way there we will visit a local school where children receive nature-education. In Las Juntas we set off by foot (or by horse if you prefer) for about a 1½-hours through secondary cloud forest. Our first stop will be at the Santa Rosa cabin (1650m) where we will eat lunch and visit the demonstration sites where native plants on the edge of extinction are reproduced, and training courses are offered to farmers, students and visitors. In the afternoon, we continue our hike for two more hours into the Cerro Golondrinas Reserve. Our destination is a very spacious cabin (2200m) with magnificent views over the cloud forest. Here, our local guides will prepare hot drinks while you get comfortable and relax. Dinner will be prepared with fresh organic vegetables. While we enjoy our meal with a glass of rum or wine, we can plan activities for the next day.

Day 5: Trek in the cloud forest
Today we follow our local guides with their machetes through the forest to see the different species of plants, insects, birds, and with any luck, monkeys and toucans. This is a short walk that allows time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds the cabin and the views that it offers. We can take a dip in the Chorro Blanco River, which is fed by waterfalls and borders the Reserve. This is a unique environment of fantastic views and gorgeous landscapes. We return to the cabin for lunch and the rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the beauty of the ecosystem that surrounds us.

Day 6: Hike in the cloud forest
After a typical local breakfast, we depart from El Corazon and hike for approximately 3 hours back to the community of Las Juntas where juices, beers and great trout dishes will be awaiting us. All the way down you will enjoy the magnificence of the forest. Once at Las Juntas, a pick-up truck will take us back to Guallupe. Here you have the option of visiting a model farm that uses unique techniques of agriculture and soil recuperation, or stay by the open air swimming pool with bar.

Day 7: Quito

After breakfast we take a local bus via Ibarra, back to Quito. Here you can explore a bit more of the colonial capital, do some shopping, visit a museum or make a visit to a social project for kids. You can also make a trip to Mitad del Mundo where you can stand right on the Equator. There, by doing some fun experiments the “equator” will be clearly explained.

Day 8: Puyo
In the morning we take a bus south along the Avenida de los Volcanoes, part of the Pan-American Highway that runs all along the west cost of South America and gives us a view of some impressive volcanoes. After a journey along the valley of the Rio Pastaza we arrive in Puyo, the capital of the Pastaza province and the door to the Amazon. At our hostel we will meet our local jungle guides to discuss the program for the coming days and explore Puyo by night.

Day 9: Puyo
Free day in Puyo. You can pay a visit to the Experimental Centre Fátima, where the Organization of Indigenous People of Pastaza (OPIP) has a project for the study and reproduction of jungle animals. You can see tapirs, wild pigs, crocodiles, capybaras, monkeys, turtles, parrots and other jungle animals. Make a walk along the Rio Puyo and have a swim or visit the orchid gardens and the botanical Omaere Park to see the typical houses from the different indigenous people in the Amazon and a large collection of medicinal plants. We will have a nice dinner this evening, as we leave all the luxury behind for the next few days!

Day 10: Sarayacu
We’ll have a very early breakfast in the hotel and leave to the small airport of Shell where we take small planes to the village of Sarayacu in the hart of the Amazon lowlands. This flight takes more or less 25 minutes and offers a fantastic panoramic view from the air over the Amazon forest and its meandering jungle rivers. Once in Sarayacu we’ll meet our indigenous host family.

Day 11: Sarayacu
We visit the village of Sarayacu and meet with the inhabitants. Later we walk along the river to the village of Sarayaquillo. We’ll walk slowly and take some time on the way to taste the local women’s homemade ´asea´ drinks.

Day 12: Sarayacu
In ´Sacha Mama´ or Mother Jungle, old forgotten instincts come back to life. Our local jungle guides will explain to us about medicinal plants and holy trees. We learn the tricks of hunting and river fishing and visit a small training center for new shaman. We’ll take walks in the forest in search of various plants and animals.

Day 13: Return to Puyo
Today we have to say goodbye to our host family and the jungle and fly back to Puyo. On the way to the hostel we can make a short stop in the local sugarcane alcohol distillery. Enjoy a free evening in Puyo.

Day 14: Baños
In the morning we leave for the mountain village of Baños with a local bus. Baños is the best place in Ecuador to do all kinds of adventurous activities like rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and motorcycling. There are several waterfalls to visit in the area and you can also relax in the hot springs. Baños also has nice restaurants and cafés and an excellent nightlife.

Day 15: Baños
Time to sleep late, shop or choose one of the many adventure activities, and prepare for another night in Baños.

Day 16: Pedernales / Pacific coast
Today we travel to the Pacific coast of Ecuador and check out the beach.

Day 17: Cojimies
When the tide is low we travel in a pick-up truck on the beach to the small fishing village of Cojimies. As there are no real roads near the village, Cojimies has kept its authentic beauty and character and you can enjoy its beautiful deserted beaches! The locals are very friendly and helpful here and in the evening we can try some of their seafood specialities.

Day 18: Cojimies
Free day in Cojimies. Today you can hang out on the beach or enjoy a boat tour in the mangroves of the estuary nearby. You can visit Isla de Amor and several small villages along the river.

Day 19: Pedernales
We enjoy more of the beach and the village, and when the tide is low again, we return with our pick-up truck to Pedernales where we enjoy our last night at the beach.

Day 20: Quito
We travel back to Quito. The rest of the day is free in Quito. You can choose to rest, visit more of the city or shop for your last souvenirs. In the evening we will have our last dinner out together.

Day 21: Departure day