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Andes to Amazon Ecuador Cultural Exploration

11 Days

Deep dive into Ecuador’s cultural exploration of the diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Ecuador. From the historic streets of Quito to the soothing hot springs of Papallacta, and deep into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, this journey is a celebration of Ecuador’s natural wonders and ancient traditions. Experience everything from a close encounter with the indigenous Kichwa community to exploring the biodiversity of Yasuni National Park, making for an unforgettable exploration of Ecuador’s Andes and rainforest regions.

Overview

Deep dive into the diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Ecuador. From the historic streets of Quito to the soothing hot springs of Papallacta, and deep into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, this journey is a celebration of Ecuador’s natural wonders and ancient traditions. Experience everything from a close encounter with the indigenous Kichwa community to exploring the biodiversity of Yasuni National Park, making for an unforgettable exploration of Ecuador’s Andes and rainforest regions.

Highlights

  • Rainforest exploration and wildlife watching
  • Exploring Quito's UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Learning about Andean agave at Casa Ágave
  • Relaxing at Papallacta Hot Springs
  • Visiting the Yasuni National Park and engaging with Kichwa culture
  • Biking through Quito and visiting the Guayasamín Museum

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival in Quito

Day 2: Quito City Tour & Casa Ágave

Day 3: Relaxation at Papallacta Hot Springs & First Rainforest Exploration

Day 4: Waterfall Hike or Kichwa Family Visit – Cultural Evening & Night Walk

Day 5: Transfer to Coca & Journey Deep into the Rainforest

Day 6: Parrot Clay Lick & Kuri Muyu Interpretation Center

Day 7: Sustainable Community Projects & Rainforest Hikes

Day 8: La Wayusada Ritual & Return to Civilization

Day 9: Quito Bike Tour, Chocolate Tasting & Guayasamín Museum

Day 10: Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Crater Lake

Day 11: Artisans of Peguche & Transfer to Quito Airport

Itinerary

Take a glimpse out of the window while approaching Quito Airport and first look at the beautiful Andean scenery surrounding Ecuador’s capital. Upon arrival, your driver will welcome you and escort you to your hotel in the city center. Depending on your time of arrival, just relax a bit in your hotel or head out for a first exploration of the city.

You will explore Quito’s historic city center today. Quito lies at an altitude of 9350 ft/2850 m and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Stroll through the narrow streets and over the big plazas, and visit some of the most important churches, such as La Compañía (its interior is covered in gold), a great example of the „Baroque School of Quito“. Walk down „La Ronda“, one of the oldest streets of Quito, and head to Panecillo Hill for spectacular 360° views.

In the afternoon, you will visit Casa Ágave. This is a beautiful place where you can learn about the world of Andean agave and the ancient uses of this plant. Casa Ágave is a museum, shop, and bar. Get to know the process of making agave juice and liquor and how the plant is also used to create clothing and instruments. Explore the garden, museum, and distillery, and taste Agave in its many forms, including miske.

It is time to head into the rainforest! Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Archidona (approx. 3.5-hour drive) but first on your way awaken your senses in Papallacta and live a renewing experience in one of the best Spas in Ecuador just one hour from the city of Quito in a magical and natural environment with cozy facilities and a complex of medicinal hot springs.

Afterward continue your journey to your Rainforest Lodge. Upon your arrival you can explore the area with your guide visiting the Guitarracocha trail and Kuyana Island. History suggests that the Guitarracocha trail received its name from the fact that at night you can hear the sound of guitars in this small lagoon-like formation. On this guided route which lasts about three hours you can also explore Kuyana Island and take a refreshing swim on the banks of the Hollin River. Watch out for colorful birds and insects and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the rainforest.

This morning you can choose between two activities: a hike to Ushpayacu Waterfalls or a visit to a local Kichwa family. The Usphayacu Waterfall is a remarkable natural wonder formed by a network of water sources and natural springs in the area. During the hike keep your eyes peeled for various birds insects and other animal species that call this area home.
If you choose to visit the Kichwa family, you will receive a warm welcome at the home of a family in the area and spend the morning with them learning about their daily lives and traditions and visiting the family’s garden with a huge variety of medicinal plants.

In the afternoon you will participate in a guided cultural night. This fun activity includes helping prepare your dinner which consists of local dishes such as maito (local river fish that is wrapped and cooked in a rainforest leaf) and side dishes. Of course, after dinner comes dessert in the form of organic chocolate! You'll participate in the chocolate-making process from roasting the cocoa beans to eating the finished product with fresh fruits.

To top off this day, experience the region's rich nocturnal ecosystem by walking through the forest. Learn about the fascinating and mysterious nocturnal species that inhabit the area and immerse yourself in the wonders of the jungle after dark.

Early in the morning, your driver will pick you up at the lodge to take you to El Coca (approx. 4-hour drive). Here you will join the lodge’s staff and the rest of the group for a two-hour trip by motorized canoe down the Napo River until reaching your next rainforest lodge. This lodge is located in the Yasuni National Park and it is run by the Kichwa community Añangu. During the next few days, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Kichwa culture and its people's daily lives and also get to know the wonderful nature of Yasuni, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

After welcoming you, your guide will take you to an observation tower for a panoramic view of the jungle. Afterward, you will embark on a kayak tour and explore the Napo River at sunset.

After an early breakfast, head on the motor boat to one of the highlights of Yasuni Biosphere Reserve: the parrot clay lick in the riverside of River Napo. Bring your binoculars and camera lenses to see flocks of blue-headed, yellow-crowned parrots, and even dusky-headed parakeets from the boat. Then walk around 30 minutes to reach the blind in the forest with a direct view of the amazing parakeet clay lick which brings visitors face to face with up to 11 species of parrots and parakeets (including parrotlets and macaws). Sometimes even mammals like howler monkeys, tapirs, and peccaries come to this place to drink water and get vital minerals for their bodies.

You end this morning with a visit to the intercultural interpretation center "Kuri Muyu" which means "golden seed" in the native language, handled by the women of the community, also known as “mamakuna”. Learn about the Kichwa culture, crafts, customs, and traditional use of natural resources directly from the people of the indigenous community.

In the afternoon, accompany your guide on a canoe ride while listening to traditional legends and chores of the Kichwa community and share delicious snacks made by the woman of the community!

For the Añangu Community, sustainability is a cornerstone for the development and conservation of their homeland. Today, you will visit some of the sustainability programs implemented by the community.

Additionally, you will do short hikes in the rainforest with your guide. Keep your eyes open for monkeys, birds, and all the wildlife in Yasuni National Park. In the afternoon, you will go to another observation tower surrounded by the fantastic scenery of the Amazon. Back at the lodge, enjoy a traditional dinner! At night, be prepared to spot nocturnal species on a night walk.

On your last day in the Amazon, early at 4:30 am, you can be part of one of the rituals of the Kichwa people “La Wayusada.” See how indigenous families share this sacred beverage. You can interpret your dreams with a “mamakuna”.

After one last delicious and healthy breakfast, you will return to Coca by motorized canoe, then you will catch a flight back to Quito. Upon your arrival at Quito Airport, your driver will be waiting for you to escort you safely to your hotel in the city center.

Today, you will participate in an exciting bike tour through Quito! At the appointed time, meet your guide and set off on a tour through the less-known neighborhoods of La Mariscal, La Floresta, Carolina Park, and Iñaquito where you will visit a local market to sample street food. To get your strength back after biking, you can treat yourself to a delicious chocolate-tasting experience where you will learn about all the steps of the process from bean to bar.

After the bike tour, your guide will take you to the museum of one of the most renowned Ecuadorian painters: Oswaldo Guayasamín. Besides showing his workshop to the public, it also houses a very representative part of his collections of Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and Contemporary art from Ecuador as well as objects and art from around the world.

Leave Quito today and head into the Northern Andes, more precisely into Imbabura Province, still home to a large indigenous population. Start the day by visiting the famous colorful market of Otavalo where you can find everything you can think about: Handmade jewelry, traditional clothes, typical food, fresh fruit juice, and many souvenirs. Dive into the narrow passageways with all your senses and get lost in this overwhelming place.

Afterward, we will leave Otavalo and drive a bit farther north until reaching the beautiful Cuicocha Lagoon at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano. It was formed by a massive eruption approximately 3,100 years ago and contains two forested islands in the middle of the lake, a beautiful photo spot. If you want, follow the crater rim trail leading to various viewpoints. After a day full of new and unforgettable impressions, you can spend the evening in your cozy hotel.

On your last day in Ecuador, you still have one magical town to visit, Peguche - famous for its waterfall and handicraft shops and workshops. The waterfall is a sacred place for the indigenous people of Peguche and is often the venue for spiritual or traditional events. Besides, you can stop by weavers, instrument makers, and other local artists in the area.

After this final visit, it is already time to say goodbye. On time for your international flight, your guide will bring you to Quito Airport. We hope that you’ve had an unforgettable time in Ecuador and that you’ll visit us again one day to explore the rest of the country!

Cost

Included

  • Private Airport transfers in Quito
  • Accommodation in selected comfort-class hotels (double rooms)
  • 3-day rainforest group tour in Archidona with English-speaking guide and rubber boots
  • 4-day rainforest group tour in the Yasuní National Park with English-speaking naturalist guides, canoe transportation, and full board
  • Rubber boots and rain ponchos during the rainforest tour in the Yasuní National Park
  • Meals: 10x breakfast, 4x lunch, 5x dinner
  • Private transportation Archidona - Coca
  • Flight Coca - Quito
  • Private English-speaking guide and transportation on day 2 and from day 9 to day 11
  • Activities as mentioned in the itinerary (subject to change)

Excluded

  • International flights
  • (Travel-) Insurance
  • Personal expenses such as tips
  • Additional meals or drinks
  • Any other items not specified in the itinerary

    From $2990
    / Adult
    • Location Highlights

    Trip Info

    • 11 Days
    • Quito, Papallacta, Archidona, Coca, Yasuni National Park, Otavalo, Cuicocha Crater Lake, Peguche
    • Starting at $2990

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