Relaxation Retreat in the Cloud Forest

Price $2890 8 Days (can be extended)
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Relaxation Retreat in the Cloud Forest

$2890 per person

This is about relaxation, peace, beauty, good food, and deep nature experiences. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy. Your week will start with a guided walking tour of the historic centre of gorgeous capital city Quito, before moving onto the cloud forests of the Mindo area to immerse yourself in its natural paradise. Dip your feet in the cool waters of the river rushing by your wooden chalet, Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house in Mindo). Learn how artisanal chocolate is made, from bean to bar, with a delicious sampling at the end. Take in the exhilaration of butterflies flying all around you at the local butterfly gardens.  Be astounded by the unique flora and fauna of this region on a deep nature hike with an expert naturalist through a private reserve, including spectacular hummingbird viewing. Visit EarthTreks’ reforestation project to see the over 13,500 trees thriving there. Take a ride over the forest canopy in Mindo’s new Teleferico and hike down to the famous Nambillo waterfall to enjoy a picnic lunch that has been prepared for you. Go on an early morning birding trip in one of the top birding destinations in the world. Learn how to make empenadas with Alison’s family, to experience the local culture and get to know some friendly faces.Tour the local orchid gardens, showcasing some of the over 4,200 species found in the country. Fill in free time however you want – meeting new friends in a local cafe, doing one of a number of adrenaline sports offered locally, or just reading in one of the hammocks beside the river. Just ‘being’ in this place will help you to relax. Many who have enjoyed this eight-day retreat say they feel years younger after just one week!

  • Destination
  • Departure
    YYZ (Please inquire if departing from a different location)
  • Departure Time
  • Return Time
  • Dress Code
    Casual. Comfortable clothing. (A comprehensive packing list will provided).
  • Included
    All Transportation/Transfers
    Meals (see itinerary)
    Return International Airfare
  • Not Included
    Personal Expenditures, Alcoholic Beverages
Day 1: Arrive in Quito; transfer from airport to hotel in Historic Quito (-/-/-)
A friendly face will be at Quito’s airport awaiting your arrival with a sign. 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 2,850 meters (almost 10,000 feet) above sea level. You may feel the altitude a little right away, so take the opportunity to acclimatize. The natural remedy of coca tea is at your disposal in the hotel lobby, as needed. 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)
Day 2: Guided Walking tour of Historic Quito, Equator Experiments & Travel to Mindo (B/L/D)
Enjoy breakfast with a view of the city’s iconic statue, el Panecillo. Then it’s time to get to business: a detailed orientation of all of the wonderful sites and activities the week holds in store, as well 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 foot to explore some of the city’s most beautiful sites – the reason this was the first city in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the city’s finest historical squares and churches are right in the area of the hotel, and your knowledgeable tour leader will be able to tell you all about them and other aspects of the culture. Stroll through Plaza Grande (also referred to as Independence Plaza) and by the Archbishop's Palace. Finally, walk to La Ronda Street and pass by La Compaňia de Jesus and San Francisco churches. In the afternoon you will meet your driver at the hotel, enjoy a traditional Quito lunch, and being your trip to Mindo, with some wonderful stops along the way. Then it will be time to move onto Mindo, where you will be calling home for the next week. The trip takes about two hours in total, with lots of beautiful scenery and a few fun stops in between. Your first stop is the Pululahua observation terrace to view down into the only town built within a volcanic crater. There are some nice shops here too. Then just a few miles up the road, you will be making a longer stop at Intiñan Museum, the museum right on the equatorial line, 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 Equatorial line. Which direction does the water goes down the drain anyway? They also do a nice job of showcasing some of Ecuador’s cultures in the outdoor museum. Mindo sits on a mountainous watershed on the western slopes of the Andes, where two of the most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world meet: the Choco Lowlands and the Tropical Andes. Keep your eyes and ears open while here, so that you don’t miss any of nature’s surprises, such as catching a flock of parrots passing noisily overhead. After settling into your executive suite overlooking the river, you will head to Fuera de Babylonia, where you will receive a lesson on how to make traditional wind empenadas, a hot doughy treat with cheese in the middle that is deep fried. They will also serve your choice of pizza from the wood-fire oven there. Many past EarthTrekkers claim it’s the best pizza they’ve ever eaten. We put this activity on day one to connect you in with some of Alison’s favourite family members – part of the authentic cultural experience you are embarking on. You will pass by this restaurant every time you head out on foot, and will understand why this is a family you want to meet early on. Accommodations: Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house, Mindo).
Day 3: Butterfly Gardens & Chocolate Tour (B/L/D)
After breakfast beside the river, you will head to the Mariposario, or Butterfly Garden, to experience the exhilaration of butterflies flying all around you and witness a variety of species at every stage of life. Let’s hope for a sunny morning, as that’s when butterflies are most active. Don’t miss the wonderful gardens out back that include birdwatching towers and hummingbird feeders. Your transportation will wait for you, as long as you want to spend inside, to take you back – unless you choose to walk the 4 km road back – it takes about an hour and is almost impossible to get lost, walking alongside the Mindo River almost the whole way. You can fill the rest of the day however you choose, picking any time this afternoon to do your chocolate tour – tours leave every hour right at the top of the hour, with the last one starting at 5:00. The Quetzal Chocolate Factory is your only next door neighbour for the week, so it’s easy to find and doesn’t take long to get to . This is also where you will be enjoying dinner this evening – order from the menu (our suggestion is the aged beef tenderloin in a delicious coffee sauce – very scrumptious!). During the tour, you will learn about how artisanal chocolate is made, from bean to bar, including a delicious sampling of chocolate and brownies at the end. Accommodations: Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house, Mindo).
Day 4: Teleferico, Tarabita & Picnic at the Nambillo Waterfalls (B/L/D)
Next you will head to Mindo’s new “Teleferico” – a chairlift that takes you gliding just above the forest canopy for twenty minutes, offering wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. Then you will do another trip across a gorge if you feel up to hiking to some of the beautiful waterfalls Mindo is famous for, the Nambillo Waterfalls. Let us know in advance so that we can have a delicious picnic lunch packed for you to take with you. As with any day, you can also choose to take the day wherever you want, from a variety of adventure sports locally to a pulling up a hammock to enjoy your favourite book. If heading to the waterfall, we can either arrange for a taxi to pick you up at the end or you can choose to hike the hour and a half back home, one of the main birding routes in the area, so keep your eye to the sky if you choose the latter option. Dinner is on your own this evening, with lots of local options within an easy walk. Accommodations: Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house, Mindo).
Day 5: Orchid Tour & Free Time (B/-/D)
Today, make your way at your own pace to enjoy a gentle tour of the local orchid gardens. They are fascinating, offering a sampling of some of the over 4,200 species growing in Ecuador (more than anywhere in the world), from big colourful ones to others that require a magnifying glass to see. You have now been in Mindo for a few days, with time enough to consider how you most want to spend your free time, noting there is a list of options at the end of the detailed itinerary to choose from. You can also double/triple up on activities from other days if you would like to explore one of the full-day trip options. This week is all about doing what you want to do, and we will work around whatever that is to make it the best week for you to enjoy. Accommodations: Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house, Mindo).
Day 6: Hummingbirds & Cloud Forests (B/L/D)
After breakfast this morning, you will explore a network of trails on a private nature reserve with a local naturalist who will be able to point out the tiniest orchid to the oldest tree species in the world, as well as any birds and other wildlife you happen to encounter along the way. 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 over 13,500 trees now growing as part of EarthTreks’ reforestation project, along the trails of the educational arboretum that is being created there. Accommodations: Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house, Mindo).
Day 7: Free Day in Mindo (or Day Trip – see list of options below) (B/L/D)
There are many options of things to see and do in Mindo and today will allow you the opportunity to do any number of them, from reading in a hammock to more adventurous options such as zip lining or rappelling through waterfalls. There are also many good hikes in the area and other tours. We will help you to figure out a plan leading into the day, and will arrange the timing for our late day mindfulness and meditation practice around everyone’s plans accordingly. Accommodations: Casa Canchupi (Alison’s house, Mindo).
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Day 8: Return Flight to Canada (B-/-/)
You will be picked up 5½ hours before your flight time to head to the airport, depending on time of day. Wishing you a safe trip home, hoping that you had a wonderful and magical adventure in Ecuador’s lush cloud forests!
Optional Activities Available to Enjoy While in Mindo:
  • Excellent local gastronomy
  • Empenada making lesson
  • Variety of birding trips
  • Zip lining
  • Repelling through waterfalls
  • Salsa lesson
  • Spanish lesson(s)
  • Mountain bike rental
  • Horseback riding
  • White water tubing
  • Tarzan swing
  • Variety of hikes