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Step back in time in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with endless historical sites & attractions. Travel to an Indigenous community in the Amazon to explore the jungle’s diverse flora and fauna, while learning about Kichwa traditions & history. Explore stunning waterfalls & the medicinal hot springs of Baňos. Straddle the official Equatorial Line with one foot in each hemisphere & have fun doing experiments that only work on the Equator. View spectacular waterfalls, butterflies, birds and other wildlife, on nature hikes through the cloud forests of Mindo. Discover treasure troves of handcrafts in the artisan markets of Otavalo. Learn how to make chocolate, Salsa dance, and prepare empenadas along the way. All while enjoying the company of other wonderful adventurers just like you!
*$300 CAD single supplement (or we can try to match you up with someone).
*A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 CAD is required to secure your flight at time of booking.
*Please advise us if you would like a quote if departing from a different location than Toronto or if you would prefer to book your own flights using points.
*If arriving earlier or departing later than the trip dates, please add on $50 CAD per airport transfer, which we are happy to arrange on both ends for you – otherwise, they are included.
*Extra nights in Quito may also be booked on your behalf at a rate of $70 CAD per person.
We can run this trip on demand for small private groups based on the dates you want. We also offer this itinerary at various times throughout the year, putting together groups that we know will enjoy each other’s company. That’s part of our customization, and it works well for our clients.
Please get in touch any time to ask about what plans we already have in the works. We pick our tour dates on a first-come-first-served basis and having lots of lead time is best. We would love to hear from you!
A friendly face from EarthTreks will be at the new Canadian-designed airport awaiting your arrival. Depending on what time you check into the hotel, Casa Montero, located in the heart of the historical centre, you may have the opportunity to catch your first glimpses of the capital city. Quito is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the western hemisphere, separated into the old colonial centre, where your hotel is located, and the newer more commercial centre. The long, skinny city sits almost directly on the equatorial line, nestled among volcanoes, at over 2,800 meters (almost 10,000 feet) above sea level. You may feel the altitude a little right away, so take the opportunity to acclimatize. The old city is full of beautiful historical buildings, squares, and churches, many of which are a very short walk from the hotel. Accommodations: Casa Montero (Quito).
After breakfast with its gorgeous view from the hotel’s restaurant of the city’s iconic statue, the Panecillo, you will be provided with a detailed orientation of all of the wonderful sites and activities the next ten days hold in store. Your guide will also cover some more boring items, such as health and safety tips and other trip logistics. Then it’s time to put on some sunscreen before heading out on a walking tour through the historic centre of Old Quito. The hotel is right in the centre of the best squares and sites. Stroll through Plaza Grande (main square) and by the Archbishop’s Palace. From here, walk about 800 meters uphill to reach the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Time permitting, you may wish to spend more time exploring this church and its views from the top towers. Then you will continue on to the Compaňia de Jesus and the Monastery of San Francisco. After lunch, you will be able to tour the President’s Palace and the many treasures other countries have given the country. You will have time to relax and freshen up prior to heading out for dinner on the beautiful Morales Street, referred to as La Ronda, which comes alive with buskers and other artists on the weekend. Accommodations: Casa Montero.
This morning you are off to the Amazon. It will involve a total of about five hours, but that will be broken up with a stop at Papallacta Hot Springs – the best hot springs in South America, located at the highest pass through the Andes. After a good soak in the medicinal waters, you will head to a nearby restaurant that specializes in delicious trout (noting there are other options). Continuing on the journey, as you descend toward the Amazon basin, you will notice the change in both climate and scenery, with waterfalls dotting each side of the highway. The last leg of your journey will be by motorized canoe that will take you to the tiny Kichwa village called Shiripuno, located on the banks of the Napo River. After settling into your rooms, you will be invited to meet your local hosts and learn about how this wonderful Indigenous tourism project which was started many years ago through the vision of several local women. Then a guide will take you on a walk to learn about their food cultivation. Accommodations at the lodge are very basic, but you will find that is all you need. Bathroom facilities are sometimes shared and the showers are cold – a refreshing way to end a hot day in the tropics! Accommodations: Shiripuno Lodge.
After a hearty breakfast, you will prepare for a deep nature hike in this delicate ecosystem, traveling by motorized canoe down the Napo River for about 45 minutes to the nature reserve you will be exploring. The pace of the hike will be fairly easy, with many things to explain along the way – from the various uses of medical plants to other traditional uses of plants in artwork and construction. After returning to the community for lunch, there will be the opportunity to try out your hunting skills in a blowgun competition. You will also have the chance to make chocolate, from harvesting the cacao right through to enjoying the chocolate sauce for dessert. You can also choose to do a little shopping in the shop full of local artisan work. Following dinner, you will be invited to participate in a traditional dance ceremony, with beautiful live music and dancing around a bon fire. Accommodations: Shiripuno Lodge.
After breakfast, it is time to say farewell to your kind hosts in Shiripuno and continue on the journey through the Amazon and to your next destination, Baňos, named for its medicinal hot springs. En route, you will stop at a Ceibo tree, also known as the Tree-of-Life, to explore its immense splendor. After checking into your hotel rooms, you will head out on a brief walking tour of the small city, so that you know how to find the best hot springs in town (close to the hotel), as well as to point out the best local tour company to arrange any activities you may want to include the next day (you can do the bookings at the end of the day). This is also the time to book any spa services you may want to take in the next day – right in the hotel! Next you will head out to the Avenue of Waterfalls, a dramatically beautiful highway that boasts 19 waterfalls in total. You will get out to hike the most beautiful of them, called the Pailon del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron) – the place where the Rio Verde joins the Rio Pastaza (pictured on the right). You will also get out to cross a deep valley by cable car to see another spectacular waterfall, the Manto de la Novia. Next you will head up to a lookout close to the active volcano, Tunguragua, to catch a beautiful view of the town below. The evening is yours to explore the town at your own pace, including dinner at your choice between a variety of traditional or international options. Accommodations: Posada J.
Soaking in the medicinal hot springs as the sun is rising (about 6:00 a.m. regardless of the time of year) is a wonderful way to start the day, but you can fit that in when the timing is right. There are so many different activities to do in this spa town – your guide will help you to find the most interesting thing(s) to make this an unforgettable day, and send you off on your way. Choose to soak in the hot springs following a massage and other spa treatments right in your hotel. Head out on horseback to taste the mineral-rich spring water bottled locally. Explore a list of other more adventurous options that can be arranged. After dinner on your own, you will meet up again as a group to learn some Salsa lessons from the local teacher, Andreas, at a proper Salsateca. There will be other opportunities along the trip to put your new dancing talents into action. Accommodations: Posada J.
After breakfast, you will pack up to travel to the cloud forests of the beautiful Mindo region. En route you will stop off at the ‘Mitad del Mundo’ or ‘Middle of the World’ – the newly established equatorial line and museum called Intiňan, where you will be able to take your picture with a foot in each hemisphere and do some interesting experiments that only work when you are right on the actual Equator. You will also stop to see the only community in the world built in a volcanic crater – quite a site! Then it’s on to the picturesque valley of Mindo, where you will be staying for the next three nights. You will settle into your rooms before enjoying a traditional Ecuadorian meal and having a brief walking tour of the village. After dinner, you will learn how to make empenadas – for desert. Then you can rest peacefully to the sound of the river running by or choose to head out on the town for a little Salsa dancing. Accommodations: Chaquiňan.
For those who are up for an early start to the day, you may want to book a birding trip in one of the world’s top birding destinations, departing just after 5:30 a.m. You can see the Cock-of-the-Rock (pictured here), among other rare and beautiful feathered friends. Or you may choose to forego the early morning, enjoying a leisurely breakfast beside the river, while you wait for the others to return. Then you will head out to the Mariposario (Butterfly Gardens) to experience the exhilaration of butterflies flying all around you and see a variety of species at every stage of life. Hopefully you can catch a big blue Morpho, an Owl Eye, or a Monarch as they are just drying off their wings. Then you can take the day where you wish – from hiking to fitting in more adventure sports to visiting the local Orchid gardens to reading quietly in a hammock. Just be sure to be back in time for 5:00, as you don’t want to miss the chocolate tour at the Quetzal – the local artisanal chocolate factory – wrapping up with some yummy sampling. Accommodations: Chaquiňan.
After breakfast this morning, you will explore a network of trails on a private nature reserve with a local naturalist whose knowledge of the natural surroundings will astound you. You will learn about the flora and fauna of a cloud forest and be surrounded by a variety of hummingbird species swirling all around you. Then you continue on to see some of the 13,500 trees now growing as part of EarthTreks’ reforestation project, along the trails of the educational arboretum that is being created there. After returning to town, choose to fill the rest of the day however you want. There is so much to do in Mindo, you will have to make some decisions the day before. That could be anything from adventure sports, hiking to the Nambillo waterfalls, or simply lying in a hammock beside the river, reading a book. After dinner join the group for some live music at a local cafe. Accommodations: Chaquiňan.
This morning you will travel through the countryside where roses are grown for export, to discover the amazing Indigenous markets Otavalo is famous for. You will be set free to explore the beautiful culture of this town, full of artisans selling handcrafted items – a great opportunity to pick up souvenirs, from clothing and jewellery to hammocks and blankets. Seeing all of the women dressed in beautiful traditional clothing is worth the trip alone. Try your hand at bargaining – your guide will help you with tips on how to get the best price while still being respectful. Accommodations: Santa Fe.
There will be a little time after breakfast to hit the market one more time or see a few sites before packing up to head back to the capital. Then you will make a short trip to visit the sacred site of Peguche Waterfalls, followed by a visit to a family of instrument makers for a demonstration and short concert. After settling back into the hotel in Quito, consider how best to fill the afternoon on your last full day in the country. There is so much to explore in the capital, including doing some shopping in markets, taking in an art museum, or wandering through parks and squares. One suggestion: taking in the beautiful art collection at the Guayasamin Museum located in the Bella Vista neighbourhood. Another suggestion is going up at the Teleferico, the cable car that climbs up to over 4,000 meters towards the Guagua Pichincha volcano. Enjoy your last evening together with a nice meal overlooking the Old City. Accommodations: Casa Montero.
Breakfast at the hotel will be available when the timing is right for you (between 7:00 – 10:00 a.m.). Depending on when your flight departs, you may have a little more time to explore this morning. Ask for some ideas and recommendations.