Trip Overview

  • Length: 12 Days/11 Nights + Pre-departure Meet & Greet at Drkrm Studio & Gallery in Orillia, Ontario
  • Group Size:   6 – 10 people max
  • Upcoming Trip Dates:
    • Saturday, November 3 – Wednesday, November 14, 2018
  • Activity Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Price: $4,995.00 CAD (includes all taxes, your international return airfare & all tour package inclusions as detailed below)

Trip Highlights

This trip will provide an amazing opportunity to see the beauty of Ecuador’s diverse nature and culture, exploring the true essence of the country through the lens of your camera. In addition to exposure to unique and wonderful subjects to photograph, every day will offer short workshops, time for editing, as well as feedback on your work and progress.

Step back in time in historical Quito to photograph the culture of streetscapes, opulent churches, and action-packed squares of the beautiful capital city. Discover one of Ecuador’s natural wonders, the San Rafael waterfalls. Travel to an Indigenous community in the Amazon to photograph the jungle’s lush and diverse flora and fauna, with potential opportunity to take portraits of our wonderful Kichwa hosts, photograph animal life, and deepen your understanding of macro photography. Travel to Baňos to capture images of stunning waterfalls and gorgeous landscapes. Hope for a show as we photograph the active Tunguragua Volcano at night. Experience the crystal-blue lake of Quilotoa – which local people believe has no bottom. Meet the community of painters who are preserving the legends of the Andes. Travel up the Avenue of Volcanoes to straddle the official Equatorial Line with one foot in each hemisphere. Photograph spectacular waterfalls, butterflies, birds and other wildlife, on nature hikes through the cloud forests of Mindo. This trip will be packed with tremendous photography opportunities, while you hone your skills on your own camera through formal lessons, lots of practice, constructive feedback, as well as learning basic editing skills. All while enjoying the company of other wonderful photographers just like you!



Your Instructor & Guide:

Tyler Knight (KnightVision.ca) is the experienced professional teaching this photography trip through Ecuador. The trip will offer a practical and hands-on opportunity to learn new techniques and capture some truly unique animals and landscapes. Daily group lessons will vary, including how to use you specific DSLR or point-and-shoot, to creative techniques including composition and portraits. You will be introduced to focal length and perspective, working in low light conditions, and flash photography. You will learn to recognize the difference between depth-of-field blur and motion blur. You will learn to take control of your camera by learning exposure compensation, white balance, shutter release modes, bracketing, focus settings, AE Auto Exposure and more. By the end of the trip, you will have learned how to see your images in a more sophisticated way, like a professional photographer. For inquiries specific to the photography lessons on this trip, please contact Tyler directly at tyler@knightvision.ca.


Price Includes:

  • All accommodations (11 nights)
  • All Meals (meals are also included on flights)
  • Daily Group Photography Lessons + One-on-One Learning & Photo Editing
  • 3-hour Pre-departure Photography Workshop, 1-hour Trip Preparation Session
  • Full-time bilingual local tour leader, in addition to site-specific local cultural and naturalist guides
  • Rubber boots in Amazon & Mindo
  • Entrance Fees for all activities and attractions included in itinerary
  • Price does not include tips, alcoholic beverages or other personal expenditures

Itinerary Overview:

Day 1 (Sat): Arrive in Quito”
Day 2 (Sun): Hop-on-Hop-off Bus & Walking Tour of Quito’s Historical Centre
Day 3 (Mon): San Rafael Waterfall & into the Amazon Basin
Day 4 (Tue): Sunrise & Sunset Canoe Trips, Deep Nature Hike & Night Hike  (B-L-D)
Day 5 (Wed): Sunrise Birding Trip, Ceibo Tree, Travel to Baňos & Volcano at Night
Day 6 (Thu): Pailon del Diablo & Avenue of Waterfalls, Swing at end of World
Day 7 (Fri): Quilotoa Crater
Day 8 (Sat): Sunrise Shoot on Lake & Travel to Mindo (Chaquiňan) B-L-D
Day 9 (Sun): Butterflies, Nambillo Waterfall & Night Hike (Chaquiňan) B-L-D
Day 10 (Mon): Birding Tour, Mindo Lindo & Free Afternoon (Chaquiňan) B-L-D
Day 11 (Tue): Travel to Quito & Free Day in Quito (Hotel San Francisco) B
Day 12 (Wed): Flight Home – B


Detailed Itinerary

  • When you arrive in Quito, we will be at the beautiful new Canadian-designed airport awaiting your arrival. After checking into our hotel, San Francisco de Quito, located in the heart of the historical centre, we will head out onfoot to catch our first glimpses of the capital city. Quito is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the western hemisphere. The city is situated at over 2,800 meters (almost 10,000 feet) above sea level, and you will likely feel the altitude a little right away, so take the opportunity to acclimatize. The long, skinny city sits almost directly on the equatorial line, nestled among volcanoes. Quito is separated into the old colonial centre, where our hotel is located, and the newer more commercial centre. The old city is full of beautiful historical buildings and churches, many of which are a very short walk from our hotel. Accommodations: San Francisco de Quito(Quito).
  • Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby to receive a detailed briefing on all of the amazing sites and activities the next ten days hold in store. We will also cover some more boring items, such as health and safety tips and other trip logistics, such as collecting your insurance details. After this important meeting, we’re going to board the Quito Tour bus, to make an unforgettable journey through the largest historic centre in South America and marvel at its rich culture and architecture through our cameras. This is the only two floor bus of the city, allowing you to get nice and close to some of the unique architectural details. The bus route has 11 stops in intervals of one hour, and you will get out at the Botanical Gardens to photograph flowers, the Panecillo to photograph a full panoramic of the old city, and the Basilica del Voto Nacional, to play with visual symmetry. We will get off close the hote for a walking tour of the historic centre, including Plaza Grande (main square), the Archbishop’s Palace, La Compania de Jesus, and finally La Ronda. We will take our time, allowing for candid shots of both people and places along the way. Accommodations: San Francisco de Quito (Quito).
  • Today will be an early start, with the hope of a clear day when we stop at the beautiful San Rafael Waterfall, one of the largest in Ecuador, surrounded by thick vegetation which makes for an excellent landscape subject. The protected area surrounding the waterfall often provides for some wildlife photo opps as well, such as of the Cock-of-the-Rock, the Spectacled Bear, a puma or others. As we climb even higher to cross over the Andes, and then descend down into the Amazon basin, you will notice the change in both climate and scenery. The last leg of our journey will be by motorized canoe that will take us 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 our local hosts and learn about how this wonderful Indigenous tourism project began many years ago through the vision of several local women. Then a guide will take us on a walk to learn about their food cultivation. Finish the afternoon making chocolate dessert from scratch. With the help of the host, you’ll roast, grind and conch chocolate beans into your own chocolate sauce. Accommodations at the lodge are very basic, but you will find that is all you need. Some bathroom facilities are shared and the showers are cold – a refreshing way to end a hot day in the tropics! Following dinner, you will be invited to participate in a traditional dance ceremony, with beautiful live music and dancing in traditional dress around a bon fire. Accommodations: Shiripuno Lodge (Amazon).Accommodations: Shiripuno Lodge (Amazon).
  • Before breakfast,we’ll descend the Napo River and photograph the tropical rainforest waking up, which usually includes some great bird watching. After a hearty breakfast, we will prepare for our deep nature hike in this delicate ecosystem, traveling by motorized canoe down the Napo River for about 45 minutes to the nature reserve we 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 the hike, we’ll have a delicious box lunch on the board of the Arajuno River and then you’ll have the opportunity to go tubing down the river before getting back in the canoe to return to the lodge as the sun is setting – which will again offer some great lighting for photo opportunities.  After dinner, we’ll head out on a night jungle walk to photograph spiders, tree frogs and more. Accommodations: Shiripuno Lodge (Amazon).
  • We will again rise before the sun to take advantage of our natural surroundings when they are most active – sunrise – by paddling through a private nature reserve. We will have the opportunity to see such animals as different species of monkeys swinging from the trees, and a tremendous variety of birds, such as the prehistoric Hoatzin (pronunced Watseen). After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to our kind hosts and continue along our journey through the Amazon and onto Baňos, the small town tucked in the mountains of the Central Andes that was named for its natural hot springs.  Along the way, we will stop at the Tree of Life, the giant Ceibo tree, and then again in the town of Puyo, we will stop for some traditional fare for lunch.  Then we will check into our hotel before a quick walking tour of the small town, so that you know how to find the best hot springs in town (close to our hotel), as well as to point out the best company to arrange any activities you may want to include the next day. We will end the day with a trip up to a lookout close to the active volcano to photograph the town below lit up at night. If we’re really lucky, we may even be lucky enough to catch a show from the nearby active volcano. Accommodations: Posada J (Baňos).
  • Soaking in 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 also choose to sleep in. After breakfast, we will travel along a dramatically beautiful highway, passing 19 stunning waterfalls in total (why it’s called the Avenue of Waterfalls). We will get out to hike at one of the most beautiful of the waterfalls, called the Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) – a magnificent waterfall of about 80 meters that offers one of the most picturesque scenes on our whole route. Next we will stop at the Swing at the End of the World, which forms part of the Casa del Arbol – to take photos that play with the eye. After lunch, the rest of the day is yours to take where you want, with so many different activities to do in this spa town – we will help you to find the right thing(s) to make the most of your day and then compare notes later over dinner. Accommodations: Posada J (Baňos).
  • Experience the stunning emerald-colooured lake located inside a volcanic crater – a lake that local people believe has no bottom. The gorgeous Laguna Quilotoa, surrounded by steep, shadowy mountain slopes, is crying to be photographed. Surrounded by a community of painters who are preserving the legends of the Andes, the lookout from the crater’s rim not only offers stunning views of the mirror-green lake 400m below, but on a clear day, also of the snowcapped peaks of Cotopaxi and Iliniza in the distance. Fingers crossed we get that weather today or first thing tomorrow morning. Accommodations: Samay Kirutoa (Quilotoa).
  •  After breakfast, we will pack up to travel to the cloud forests of the beautiful Mindo region. En route we will make a quick stop at the Equator monument for the traditional one-foot-in-each-hemisphere shot before moving onto Pululahua just a few kilometers further, offering a beautiful view down into a village built inside another dormant volcanic crater. Then it’s on to the picturesque valley of Mindo, where we will be staying for the next three nights. We will settle into our rooms on the edge of town followed by a quick walking tour of the village. After dinner, rest peacefully to the sound of the river running by or choose to explore the village by foot. Accommodations: El Chaquiňan (Mindo).
  • After breakfast beside the river, we will head out on a hike along the trail that leads to several waterfalls of the Nambillo River. Next it’s onto the Mariposario (Butterfly Gardens) to experience the exhilaration of butterflies flying all around us and see a variety of species at every stage of life. Some free time after lunch can be enjoyed going through the small shops in town or reviewing and editing your photos. Accommodations: El Chaquiňan (Mindo).
  • This morning before breakfast we will be going on a birding tour to see the mating grounds of the elusive, bright red Cock-of-the-Rock, among other bird species. Mindo is one of the world’s top birding destinations. There will be lots of opportunities to see some of the over 32 species of hummingbirds at feeders and in the flowers today, including our next outing through a network of trails on a private nature reserve with a local naturalist. From one of the world’s oldest tree species to some of the tiniest orchids imaginable, the fragile beauty of nature here will melt your heart. See if you are able to capture that with your camera. Accommodations: El Chaquiňan (Mindo).
  • We will pack up after breakfast to head back to Quito. There is so much to explore with your camera in the capital, from street art to portraits to architecture to art galleries and more. We left this day open for you to choose where you wanted to focus (pardon the pun). Run with the day, meet up with us at lunch – that’s your call. This evening, we will enjoy our last evening of the tour together with a nice meal and perhaps some live music along La Ronda. Accommodations: San Francisco de Quito (Quito).
  • Breakfast at the hotel will be available when the timing is right for you (between 7:00 – 10:00 a.m.). Your airport transfer will leave the hotel with enough time to get you to the airport three hours in advance of your flight. That may leave you a little more time to explore this morning. Ask for some ideas and recommendations.

NOTE
All EarthTreks itineraries are adjusted according to the particular interests of the individuals traveling on the trip. This could result in the addition of further sites or activities or other changes. Please share your personal preferences upon booking.