Ecuador's mainland is a playground of different landscapes and cultures. While the Galapagos Islands are definitely a must see, too many travelers ignore the natural treasures. Add the fact that Ecuador's mainland is compact and easy to travel around, and you have yourself the perfect adventure destination. This itinerary begins with a multi-day program living and interacting with the Sani Tribe of Ecuador's Amazon rain forest, learning the indigenous lifestyle of these fascinating people while staying in their locally managed ecolodge. Next, launch up into the Andes mountains, to explore the peaks and villages that make up the Avenue of Volcanoes. On this trip, you'll explore on foot, train, plane, canoe, and car through the most beautiful parts of South America.
Please note following Date Parameters:
· Sani Lodge operate every day except for Sunday.
· Volcanoes Avenue: First day Quito to Cotopaxi, it is possible to have the train on Fri, Sat or Sun
· The Devil´s Nose operate every day except on Mon
Welcome to Ecuador! On arrival at the Quito airport you will be met by your Spanish speaking private driver and transferred to your hotel. Check in and enjoy the rest of the day free.
Ecuador is all about history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers and lush tropical forests, spectacular snow capped volcanoes and some of the most exciting wildlife on earth. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is one of the most well preserved Spanish colonial cities in all of South America and is an essential part of every Ecuador trip. This distinction was recognized in 1978 when Quito became designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Since then, visitors to the city have been delighted by its stunning old cathedrals, colonial plazas, and countless other highlights.
Your journey today begins with a short 35 minute flight from Quito to Coca. Upon arrival in Coca, you will be greeted by a staff member and transferred to the banks of the Napo River. There, your bilingual guide will give you a safety precautions briefing, before taking off on a 2.5 hour boat trip on the largest Ecuadorian affluent of the Amazon, the Napo River! As you cruise the waters, you will get your first real taste of the Amazon as you admire the passing ancestral communities and fascinating flora and fauna. Observe the birds flying overhead, herons, egrets, vultures and mire, while enjoying delicious packed lunch. Your motorized canoe ride will be followed by a 15 minute walk through flooded forest and 20 minute canoe paddle across the beautiful Challuacocha Lake. Once you have arrived at the lodge, you will be greeted with refreshing cold drinks and snacks, before you are welcome to get settled in your cabin.
After getting settled in, you may want to take off on a short hike on the nearby trails. This will allow you to get acquainted with the sights, smells and sounds of the Amazon jungle. As you enter the forest, sunlight is immediately filtered and you are faced with a million shades of green. A symphony of insect song fills the air, and our senses are instantly heightened. You might see one of the forest’s 13 species of primate, birds, frogs, or extraordinary flora. The walk is one of discovery, and immediately tunes us in to the richness of Amazon ecosystem. After plenty of time to explore, you will return to the lodge, where a delicious dinner will be prepared for you. A bilingual guide will present a briefing tonight about Amazonia, while you enjoy Ecuadorian beers, spirits and cocktails. You may want to head out onto the lagoon later this evening too, in search of the nocturnal wildlife, paddling silently through the black waters! (This service is on a group basis.)
After breakfast at the lodge, you will set out for a full day of adventure in the rainforest. You will embark on a morning hike to learn about the plants, animals and people of the Amazon. During the hike, you will discover medicinal uses for the rainforests many plant species, search for impossibly small species of frog, observe startlingly large insect species and learn about the Sani culture. Keep your eyes open for primates high in the forest canopy! You will also hone your blow gun skills to understand survival hunting techniques. After a full morning, enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest in a special spot chosen by your guide. Following lunch, you will make your way to the lagoon system, where you will set out on kayaks for an afternoon of paddling, stopping at Sani Lodge observation tower.
A highlight of any trip to Sani Lodge is the opportunity to experience life among the tree tops from the observation tower. You will wind your way up a 36 meter (108 ft) high staircase to the wooden observatory perched at the top of the forest canopy in majestic kapok (aka ‘God’s Hand) tree. The exhilaration of standing above the entire forest is quickly overtaken by the excitement of spotting some of the 565 registered species of birds. With some luck, there is also a chance to spot howler or squirrel monkeys or even sloths resting high in the canopy. The wildlife viewing from above is an entirely different perspective, and gives a chance to discover some of the Amazon’s biodiversity that can be difficult if not impossible to see from the ground. After marveling at the wildlife from the tower, you will head back to your kayaks for a (1 hour) recreational paddle back to the lodge. Upon arrival, enjoy another delicious chef-prepared dinner before retiring for the night. (This service is on a group basis.)
After an early breakfast, you will depart for a visit to Yasuni National Park. This 9,620 sq km park is Ecuador’s largest mainland park and is a Unesco designated international biosphere reserve. The park was untouched by the last ice age, resulting in a thriving and diverse pool of species, and it is one of the last true wildernesses in Ecuador. You will hike through the park, observing its flora and fauna as you make your way to a viewing blind near one of the park’s famous clay licks. There, you might catch a glimpse of the colorful parrots and parakeets. The birds visit most mornings to eat clay that aids their digestion of unripe seeds and fruits. Keep your eyes out for mealy Amazon, yellow-crowned, orange-winged and blue-headed parrots among others.
Following your morning adventure in Yasuni, you will visit the local Sani community. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn about and support their women’s project, the community turtle breeding work and also participate in a cooking class, which will become your traditional lunch. Spending time with the Sani women in the kitchen allows for a special glimpse into their culture and customs, and also insight into the many commonalities. Enjoy a very special, lunch in the local community before continuing onward.
Your cultural exchange and exploration continues after lunch, when you will hike back to the lodge on a “camino vecinal” (community path) accompanied by your guide and a member of the local community. On your hike, you will get first-hand insight into local life while the Napo River flows by your side towards the Atlantic Ocean. Observe the local’s architecture, see their farming activities, their lifestyle and discover plants in the rainforest that are used for medicine. You will return to the lodge in the late afternoon for a well-deserved dinner. Spend the remainder of the evening relaxing or take an optional night walk in the rainforest to see myriad insect, spider and frog species come to life in their nocturnal habitat. (This service is on a group basis.)
Following breakfast this morning, you will head back to Coca to catch your flight back to Quito. You will be transferred to the Napo River where your boat journey awaits. Board the boat and cruise up the calms waters as you take in every last bit of the grandeur of the Amazon! During the boat ride, you will learn about some of the challenges that local communities face and how they effect ecotourism ventures. Afterwards, you will be returned to the airport in Coca, with plenty of time to board your onward flight. (This service is on a group basis.)
On arrival, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
This morning you will embark on the start of your Avenue of Volcanoes excursion.
Just one hour south of the historic colonial city of Quito, in the region of Mt. Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano, we offer the traditional mountain hospitality with a dose of adventure. We drive south from Quito Monday to Wednesday, and from Thursday to Sunday we ride by train! We will visit Cotopaxi National Park. From here, weather permitting, you will be able to see the snow capped summits of both the Cotopaxi and the Antisana volcanoes. You will also enjoy horseback riding if you choose.
Visit Cotopaxi Interpretation center to learn about the history of its major eruptions as well as the local flora and fauna. Later, you will go to Limpiopungo Lake and discover the area by walking around it.
Enjoy lunch at Tambopaxi, a mountain refugee based in the northern side of the National Park. Optionally, if you feel like walking, you can take a 2 hour hike where you will arrive at Cotopaxi’s J. Ribas refuge (4,800 m) and you will have a nice view of the volcano and the Andes.
The Highlands of Cotopaxi National Park are located in the Southern mount region of Ecuador that continues to fascinate hikers from around the world. Here you will discover a region of the Andes full of high mystical peaks, spectacular scenery, plants and animals, waterfalls, forests and great walking trails. If you are interested in outdoor challenges, this is not to be missed.
Today you will visit a Rose Plantation as well as an Indian market in the village of Saquisili, Pujili or Latacunga. These markets are as authentic and non-tourist as you can find in Ecuador today. They are important for the local indigenous people because the markets are the center of their social and economic worlds. Afterwards, you will head to Riobamba where you will spend the night.
*Markets take place in the following days: Pujili: Sunday and Wednesday Saquisili: Thursday Latacunga: Saturday and any day.
At 8:00am in the morning we will transfer to Alausi and catch the Train to the Devil’s Nose. Available daily except Mondays.
Arrival in Alausi, with box lunch on route, and then the drive south to Ingapirca, where we visit the impressive Inca Ruins. In the afternoon we move south to Cuenca a beautiful colonial town recently declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
Today you will transfer to Guayaquil visiting Cajas National Park en route. On arrival in Guayaquil, check in to your hotel and enjoy your last night in Ecuador at your leisure.
Cajas National Park is located 30 km west of the city of Cuenca, capital of the province of Azuay. Has an area of 28.544 hectares and has over 250 small lakes and ponds. It was declared a National Park on 5 November 1996 on the archaeological value of the area and rich in flora and fauna. The Banks is home to many endemic and endangered animals from extinction.
Today, at the appropriate time, you will be met by your Spanish speaking driver and transferred to the airport for your departing flight. We hope you enjoyed your experience in Ecuador and we wish you a pleasant flight home.
Situated in the heart of Quito's historic center, you will find the Hotel Patio Andaluz Quito, surrounded by churches, museums and national monuments. The property is a marvelous old building full of colonial history and charming ambiance. It lies within easy walking distance from the city's main square, known as the Independence Plaza, as well as several of Quito's famous highlights and attractions. With only 11 suites and 21 standard rooms at the hotel, it is an intimate and elegant property with a capacity for just 63 guests. There is also a delicious restaurant, cava bar, library, internet access, and plenty of nooks in which to relax and take a siesta on site as well.
Sani Lodge is the only jungle lodge in Ecuador that is 100% owned and operated by the indigenous Kichwa community of Sani Isla. On the banks of a stunning lagoon, and surrounded by pristine rainforest, packed with monkeys, manatees, sloths, and over 550 types of birds, this superb jungle lodge is a perfect base to explore the Amazon jungle by day and enjoy some real comfort by night. Sani Lodge emphasize quality rather than quantity, and thereby offering you a more intimate experience with the amazon rainforest. Sani Lodge is attended by its owners all the time, so profits stays in the community and it helps to improve in healthcare and education! This will guarantee that all the visitors have a real cultural experience with much more wildlife all while helping the local community.
On the slopes of Rumiñahui Volcano in a truly remote and stunning location, you will find the rustic Hacienda El Porvenir. El Porvenir is surrounded by 4 volcanoes (including Cotopaxi) and is at an altitude of 3600 m. The farmhouse is made from local materials, with the colors and style typical of this part of the country. It remains a working farm owned and operated by local people. Hacienda El Porvenir is the ideal base from which to explore Cotopaxi, get to know the Andean way of life first hand. And enjoy thrilling adventures. It is located just 90 minutes from Quito, in the foothills of Rumiñahui Volcano, and 4 km from the northern entrance to Cotopaxi National Park.
The wonderful Hacienda Abraspungo is located at 2,754 metres above sea level and is surrounded by the magnificence of the Ecuadorian Andes. It is named after a glacial valley which is situated between the Chimborazo Volcano and Carihuairazo, in the exact center of Ecuador. Hacienda Abraspungo, with its comfortable, charming and high level accommodation offers a personalized service in the ideal spot to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Andes. Abraspungo offers 42 comfortable rooms which incorporate modern interior design elements within the framework of traditional, colonial architecture. Distributed in distinct wings of the hacienda you can find beautiful singles, doubles, triples and suites, each furnished and equipped to satisfy our client’s needs.
Victoria Hotel is a first class hotel located in The Barranco area of the city of Cuenca, specifically on the banks of Tomebamba River. Its facade is a beautiful building mixed of bourgeois aristocrat brick and marble, its interior is decorated with elements typical of local culture. Its spacious areas and corridors allow you to enjoy of a peaceful and pleasant stay. The hotel has two entrances, one from the historical side of Larga Street and the other by the banks of Tomebamba River, as well as a spacious parking lot and a beautiful garden facing the river.
A stay at the beautiful and stylish Hotel Oro Verde in Guayaquil offers the ideal home away from home. Return from days of exploration and excitement, to an accommodating staff and comfortable space. The 236 rooms and suites on property are recently refurbished and boast all of the services you would expect from a world class hotel. High speed WIFI Internet, 300 thread count sheets, mini bar access with complimentary soft drinks, coffee maker and electric kettle in your room are only some of the amenities that await.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.