Ecuador Ecotours

Visit cloud forests, high Andes paramo, Incan culture, Amazon ecolodges and indigenous people. You connect with local people, contribute to conserving threatened environments, foster respect for traditional cultures, and support local projects that benefits the communities you visit.

Ecuador Explored

Day 1: Arrive Quito

You are met at the Quito Airport and transferred to your hotel.
Quito Ecuador
Day 2: Quito

Today tour colonial Quito and then straddle the equator at "Mitad del Mundo”. Thirty-eight years ago Quito was the first city nominated as a World Heritage Site and it has the best restored historical centre.

Begin with a walking tour of Colonial Quito, a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls. Walk through Independence Plaza bordered by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municpal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the ornate La Compania de Jesus and the Monastery of San Francisco with its spectacular baroque carved main altar. 

The Mitad del Mundo, a site located just 30 minutes north of Quito, is the monument that marks the equator at its closest point to the city. Archaeological evidence shows that both pre-Inca and Inca civilizations recognized and celebrated the equinox, the day the sun is directly over the equator. (B,L)
Quito Ecuador
Day 3: Begin 3 Day Northern Andes Trek

The Northern Andes trek is noted for its scenic beauty, interconnected valleys, indigenous markets and local entrepreneurs.  

Today’s trek begins in the Mojanda area atop Yanahurco at 3900 m and follows chaquiñanes or trails created by local people to Mojanda’s largest crater lake at 3734 m. Walk around the lake and explore its high grassland and shrubs, known locally as paramo. This is an excellent birdwatching area with over 100 bird species, including the longest billed and the world’s largest hummingbirds and the highly endangered Andean condor.

After exploring the lake, hike to your mountain lodge, a great place to relax after a day of trekking.(B,L,D,S)
Quito Ecuador
Day 4: Northern Andes Trek

Leave the mountain lodge walking downhill toward Otavalo, passing the Mojanda community. Your first stop is at the food market where you learn about the different crops produced in the surrounding farms from the “caseras” and your guide. When you reach the Plaza de Ponchos, the largest indigenous market, you have time to explore on your own. This is a good place to try your bargaining skills. Your guide is there to assist you.

Today’s trek takes you back in time to the small communities that surround busy Otavalo. Explore the village of Peguche noted for its weaving, music and agricultural skills. Follow the path to the Peguche Waterfall (18 m). The waterfall was a sacred site for the Incas and today people make a pilgrimage to bathe in the waterfall before the Inti Raymi Festival.  

Hike to the town of Agato where a local family will demonstrate the traditions of backstrap weaving.  Unfortunately this is a dying art. The items for sale are of a superior quality compared to machine-woven products. Any purchase you make goes directly into the community to revive this ancient art.

Continue your trek up the mountain above the villages and into fields of grain crops, especially quinoa. The scenery is remarkable and from here you can see all the places you hiked in the morning. On a clear day you might even catch a glimpse of Cotacachi Volcano.

At the end of the trail you are transferred to your spa and wellness lodge.(B,BL,D,S)
Quito Ecuador
Day 5: Northern Andes Trek Ends

After a quick transfer begin today’s hike follows the trails of a working farm that has been in the same family for 100 years. Here you can find pre-Inca burial mounds of the Caranqui Indians, Spanish influence and Ecuadorian traditions. Your guide explains the family’s inspiring history and their work with the local Zuleta community.

The working hacienda encompasses over two thousand hectares of pastureland, forest and protected areas of native primary forest. The farm includes dairy cows for milk, cheese and yogurt, potatoes, barley, and wheat. Sheep are raised for their wool. There are also about 100 horses, some pure Andalusians and some polo horses, and a mix of Andalusian, quarter horse and thoroughbred. If you enjoy horseback riding, this is a prime place for this activity.

Enjoy a cooking class with a local “Zuletenos” or “Zuletenas” before sitting down to the lunch you cooked.

After lunch return to Quito. (B,L)

NOTE: You many want to extend your stay at the hacienda and local Zuleta community (additional cost)
Quito Ecuador
Day 6: Avenue of the Volcanoes - Amazon

This morning an amazing journey awaits you. Wind your way along the Avenue of the Volcanoes passing traditional haciendas, indigenous villages and protected natural areas, giving you a taste for the local culture. With luck and clear weather, you’ll be able to see the remarkably steep peaks of Cotopaxi and Tungurahua, which has ongoing eruptions. Transfer by light aircraft to the Huaorani community of Quehueri’ono and be greeted by your hosts. Experience a dugout canoe ride to the lodge. The Huaorani are a timeless tribe. Their origins are unknown and their language has no relation to any other tongue. Huaorani translates as “The People”. For thousands of years they have made their home in the lush forests of the Amazon, moving and living among the animals and plants.  “The People” still maintain their traditional lifestyle but are more settled. They have opted for sustainable tourism as their economic base. By inviting small numbers of visitors, such as you, to share their world, their culture is kept alive. (BLD)
Quito Ecuador
Day 7: Amazon

After breakfast you hike with your Huaorani guide, also an experienced hunter. You learn first-hand about the indigenous secrets of survival in the rainforest without killing any creatures that live there. Learn how to set traps, make fire without matches, build a shelter in minutes, use a blowgun, practice the perfect swing of the machete and catch fish in small creeks. Enjoy lunch and a visit with a local community. Share a bowl of chucula (a sweet drink made of ripe bananas), admire the handicrafts, learn how to harvest manioc or even play a game of soccer. Return to the lodge by canoe and relax before dinner. Your naturalist guide will offer a 30 minute discussion, or charla, on a subject of interest. (BLD)
Quito Ecuador
Day 8: Amazon

Canoe down the Shiripuno River to the Apaika community located inside a 55,000 hectare protected area. Enjoy a snack and visit their mini interpretation center to learn more about the Yasuni National Park. To complete the afternoon, you will join the community in some of its daily activities and share in its history, myths and magic. Continue a couple more hours downriver near the Huaorani village of Nenquepare. You will spend the night here, camping out along the Shiripuno River, sleeping with the sounds of the Amazon's animals. The well-constructed and comfortable campsite is part of a community initiative, so you participate in and support community tourism. (BLD)
Quito Ecuador
Day 9: Amazon - Quito

This morning enjoy one last hike in the Amazon to an impressive waterfall that has special importance to the Huaorani. The fairly easy walk is three hours and your naturalist guide will point out any special plants and animals you may come across. Bid farewell and start the return journey downstream by canoe. After a 2.5-hour ride down the river, you reach the banks of the Río Napo. From here you are transferred by land to the town of Coca.

This begins the "toxic tour," an introduction to how the oil industry has impacted the Huaorani lands. You head to the border between traditional Huaorani territory and that of the petroleum companies, though it all used to belong to the Huaorani. Here you see the road built by oil companies in the early 1990s, which crosses the river, and transitions from forest to "civilization."  
On this short tour, you witness the crude reality of our collective thirst for oil. You follow miles of 
pipelines, which go from the Huaorani communities to the oil hub of el Oriente where it is pumped across the Andes to the port of Esmeraldas. This brief journey through oil territory illustrates the reality of the threat facing the rainforest and the Huaorani people. You also realize why your visit to Huaorani Lodge is so important!  

At the Coca airport catch the flight to Quito. (B)
Quito Ecuador
Day 10: Quito - Mindo Cloud Forest

This morning depart for Mindo cloud forest, an excellent place for watching the amazing bird called the Cock o’ the Rock. Cloud forests are at mid-altitude and are frequently misty with a cool humid environment that supports an abundant biodiversity. You travel through a kaleidoscope of landscapes before reaching your ecolodge. This not simply a place to stay. The lodge’s owners are dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural beauty of Mindo. To this end the owners have created a mini micro hydro site, and organic vegetable garden, a lovely main lodge with expansive sitting areas open to the cloud forest. This afternoon the local guide takes you on a 2 hour exploration beside the Rio Mindo and through the nearby forest. The guide identifies exotic birds and explains medicinal plants and their uses. (BLD)
Quito Ecuador
Day 11: Mindo Cloud Forest

Today you make an early start to visit the ‘cock of the rock’ lek, a place where these marvellous birds congregate to feed. 

After breakfast go on a nature walk along the Cordillera San Lorenzo. Your guide will talk about the birds and animals about that you will see along the way and if the weather permits help you catch a glimpse of spectacular birds such as the Golden-Headed Quetzal, Choco Toucan, Crimson Rumped Toucanet… among others.

Back at the lodge relax in the peaceful surroundings, explore the lodge’s trails, or enjoy whitewater tubing on the Mindo River (additional cost). If you are a chocolate lover make a point to visit El Quetzal Café for the freshest chocolate in the town of Mindo. They offer a free tour of the mini-plantation and show you the magic transformation from seed to elixir. (BLD)
Quito Ecuador
Day 12: Mindo Cloud Forest

Optional early nature walk before breakfast. Relax at the lodge and enjoy one last delicious lunch before you depart for Quito.

En-route visit “Tony’s House”, a well known place to see more than 24 species of hummingbirds. The owner, Tony, an expert on the birds and their songs, has placed a lot of hummingbird feeders around his house, as well as in the forest, to attract the amazing variety of brilliantly coloured birds you will see here. More than 19 varieties can regularly be seen including some very rare examples. (B,L)
Quito Ecuador
Day 13: Departure

Transfer to the airport.

Tour Information

Tour Length: 13 days/ 12 nights
Departures: Daily 
Minimum Number of People: 2 based on Double Occupancy
Ecuador Explored Includes:
  • All ground transfers as noted in the itinerary
  • 12 nights accommodation,
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, BL = Boxed Lunch, D = Dinner, S = Snacks)
  • Excursions, activities, and entrance fees as noted in the itinerary
  • Transfer of luggage and support vehicle while on 3 day North Andean trek
  • Entrance fee to Huaorani Territory ($20 per person)
  • English-speaking guide on excursions and activities
  • Local Huaorani guide
  • At Huaorani Ecolodge use of rubber/Wellington boots up to sizes: Men – 10.5 and Women – 12
  • At Huaorani Ecolodge biodegradable soap and shampoo
Ecuador Explored Doesn’t Include:
  • International flight
  • Departure tax
  • Domestic Flights 
  • Travel Insurance
  • Pre- or post-tour accommodation
  • Meals not included in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic and Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Excursions, activities, and entrance fees not included in the itinerary
  • Specialist Guides (ie. Ornithologist)
  • Gratuities to guides and driver
  • Personal Items
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