DAY 1-2: Quito city tour and creative recycling workshop
The historic center of Quito, or “centro historico,” is home to some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in the Americas. While exploring the beautiful plazas and narrow cobblestone streets, you will learn about Spanish settlement, and the stories behind the grandiose churches, some still home to active cloisters. You will watch century-old techniques for making sweets and snacks in small shops hidden away in the maze-like streets of the centro historico. Lunch will be served at La Cuchara de San Marcos, a private restaurant and art gallery that serves organic vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. You will take part in a recycling workshop after lunch where you will learn how to transform old magazines, bottles and cans into unique crafts!
DAYS 3-5: Sustainable development in the cloudforest
First stop today will be at the Equatorial line where you will visit a unique museum that features a number of interactive exhibits demonstrating mysterious events that only occur on the equator. Traditional Andean cuisine for lunch, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the local delicacy: Cuy, or roast guinea pig. After lunch, you will drive a bit further down the Western slope of the Andes to a community deep in the Ecuadorian Cloudforest. Homestay accommodation has been arranged in this community, providing you with the opportunity to improve your Spanish skills, as well as to get a feel for rural Ecuadorian culture.
During your stay in the community, you will contribute to a grassroots conservation and community development initiative. The community has made a commitment to protect forest that provides priority habitat for the endangered Andean Spectacled Bear, and to do so, they are developing an Ecotourism Lodge to provide an alternative source of income. Daily activities may include: Organic farm work, contribution to on-going reforestation projects, creating crafts in the artisan shop, trail development and maintenance, ecotourism infrastructure development, helping in the school and teaching English.
DAY 6: Zipline and chocolate tour
Today, you’ll fly over the Cloudforest canopy, ziplining with one of Ecuador’s premier adventure sport companies. Later, the group will learn about how organic cacao is transformed into delicious chocolate bars, brownies and cakes at a local chocolate shop in Mindo. Yum!
DAY 7-9: Amazon wildlife and conservation
Driving through the Ecuadorian Andes is one of the most scenic and enjoyable drives in South America. The group will cross the dividing range today on its way to the city of Tena, a popular launching point for jungle, kayaking and rafting tours in Ecuador’s Amazon region. After settling in, a representative from a local conservation organization and/or university will meet your team at the hostel to discuss conservation priorities, challenges and current research underway in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
The next day, you will visit a wildlife rescue center where the group will receive an exclusive tour and learn about illegal wildlife trade, rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife, and efforts that their organization, partners and authorities are taking to limit illegal wildlife trade. You will also visit a private conservation reserve managed by an Ecuadorian non-profit organization. Here you will learn about on-going rainforest research, and about the social, economic and environmental pressures that threaten conservation.
On your way back to Quito, you’ll stop at an award-winning natural hot springs and spa complex where you can soak in the springs, get a message, or go for a guided walk through the Andean grasslands in search of a Condor and other Alpine birds. Arrival late afternoon to Quito.
DAY 10: Farewell Ecuador!
Transfer from your hotel to the airport and safe travels home!
- Private ground transportation
- Bilingual guides
- Lodging in 2x and 3x rooms
- Meals according to itinerary
- 24/7 Emergency contact
- Activities according to itinerary
- All airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Extra beverages