Day 1 – International Flight to Quito
You will be greeted by your
Program Leader and proceed to the Historical Center of Quito and the
hotel. If time permits, you will visit
either Panecillo Hill for a 3600 view of the city or walk through
various plazas and streets surrounding the hotel followed by a traditional
Day 2 – Quito to Nanegalito Cloud Forest
After breakfast at the
hotel, you will leave for a combination tour at Tucanopy in the Nanegalito
Cloud Forest area. You will arrive mid-morning and have a university program tour
which begins with an introductory talk followed by a guided tour of a number of
different ecosystems and learn about sustainable farming practices.
After lunch, you will fly on
a zipline through the forest and take a canopy walk with a guide who will
describe the forest flora. Later in the afternoon you will depart for the Maquipucuna
Ecological Reserve where you will spend the night at the eco-lodge. You will
take a short walk to the local waterfall, an easy walk that leads to a
beautiful and refreshing falls. Bring your swimsuit; though the water is not
deep enough for a swim, you can enjoy a cooling natural shower under the
Day 3 - Cloud Forest and return to Quito
You will rise before dawn
and meet your birding guide for a bird watching tour. Maquipucuna is truly a birdwatcher’s paradise
and the early morning is the best time of day to spot many of the 375
identified species of the reserve. You may see at-risk species such as the
Toucan Barbet and the Wattled Guan, or other important birds such as the Bay
Wren, the scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant, and the Slate-throated Whitestart. You
will return to the lodge for breakfast after the tour.
After breakfast you will
hike the Bespectacled Bear Trail (3-4 hour duration, partial trek) through the
secondary forest into the primary forest looking at forest succession.
(Alternate hike: Humedal loop trail.) After lunch you will take an orchid tour
and visit the orchid propagation lab followed by a return to Quito for the
dinner and rest time.
Day 4 –Quito to Amazon
After a breakfast you will
have an orientation meeting about your Amazon itinerary and service project. You
will drive to the Amazon region via the Avenue of the Volcanoes with a lunch
stop and visit to the waterfall Pailon del Diablo, one of the most beautiful
waterfalls in Ecuador. The waterfall lies in a region where the Andean
highlands begin to give way to the amazing climate of the Amazon.
After lunch, you will
continue to your small host community near Puyo where you will be spending the
next few days. You will be met by your
host families and get to know each other over dinner.
Note: The ecological center/animal
rescue center where your service projects will be located and the host
community are located a 10 minute drive from each other.
Days 5-7 - Amazon Service Project at the Animal
Over the next few days, you
will work on a much-needed service project at the ecological center and animal
rescue center. You will work between
four and six hours per day.
One of the ecological
center’s main goals is to rescue wild animals that have been kept in captivity
or trafficked illegally, and rehabilitate them in an effort to reintroduce them
to their natural habitat. Possible
projects include infrastructure improvement such as re-fencing the enclosures
that keep the animals safe, building water reservoirs, and building classrooms
for local training in conservation.
Additional projects related to the daily maintenance of the center such
as feeding the animals and cleaning their living spaces, reforestation, and
clearing trails and walkways for visitors to see the animals in a zoo-like
setting are also a possibility.
You will also visit
surrounding attractions during your time in the community. In addition to the
service work at the ecological center and animal rescue center, you will have two
half day tours: a hike in the Amazon to view animal life and find a hidden
waterfall and a visit to an indigenous community to meet the people and learn
about indigenous resistance and land rights versus private and corporate
interests. Here you will also spend time with a local shaman to learn about
traditional healing and the role of plant life. Some of the additional activities in the late
afternoons might include: a night hike, an
inner tube float on the local river, a visit to an ethnobotanical park to learn
about the traditional use of jungle plants, helping your host families with traditional
daily activities, visiting the local trapiche (where raw sugar cane is
transformed in blocks of sugar and other sugar products), traditional cooking
lessons, soccer games or dance lessons with local community members.
For your final
evening in the community, you will gather with your host families and staff of
the ecological center for a celebratory farewell dinner.
Day 8 – Amazon to Quito
breakfast you will say your goodbyes to your new friends in the Amazon before
heading back to Quito. Along the way you
will stop to enjoy one of the following activities: white water rafting or a visit
to geothermal hot springs. You will have lunch before returning to Quito. After
arriving in Quito you will have a traditional dinner and return to your hotel
to rest up for your trip to the Galápagos Islands.
Day 9 –Amazon to Galapagos
the morning, you will have a boxed breakfast to take on the bus to the airport
as your journey to the Galápagos Islands begins. You will have a morning flight to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island
of San Cristobal, one of the oldest of the Galapagos Islands. You will check into your lodging and drop off
your baggage before eating lunch. After lunch you will be able to drop off
laundry which will be washed, dried and ready for pick up next day.
In the afternoon you will visit
the San Cristobal Interpretation Center which provides an overview of the
island’s history, development and environmental problems. This will be followed
by a hike up to Las Tijeretas for scenic views and visiting a nesting place
frequented by both the Magnificent and Great species of Frigate birds (if they
are in residence). In the late afternoon
you will head out to La Loberia where you can visit a sea lion colony, snorkel,
and get your first view of marine iguanas. (If the tide is low you may get to
see young sea lions learning to swim in tide pools here.)
**Please note, all
activities in the Galapagos Islands are subject to change based on National
Park visitation schedules and changes in regulation
Day 10 -San Cristobal
After breakfast at your
lodging you will take a boat trip to Isla Lobos, Kicker Rock, Playa Manglesito,
and Playa Grande for a day of snorkeling with sea lions, sharks, sea turtles
and rays. You will have lunch during the tour and dinner at your lodging.
Day 11 – San Cristobal to Santa Cruz Island
You will get up early to
take the 2.5 hour ferry trip to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island with a boxed
breakfast to eat on the way. Upon arrival you will visit the Charles Darwin
Center. Around midday you will check into your room at the family owned lodging
where you will have a traditional lunch.
In the afternoon you will hike to the white sand beaches of Tortuga Bay.
This evening you will relax and have dinner.
Days 12 & 13 – Service Project
For the next couple of days
you will work on a much-needed service project on the island of Santa
Cruz. On the first day, you will meet in
the morning to be briefed on the project.
projects may include a focus on organic agriculture, reforestation with endemic
species, the removal of invasive species, and more. All projects directly benefit the local
community and are accompanied by comprehensive discussions about the importance
and impact of your work, the local reality in Galápagos and the daily issues
that threaten the animals and their fragile environment.
During your service days you
will take breaks to visit nearby attractions such as a wild giant tortoise
ranch, Los Gemelos twin volcanic craters, or a butterfly farm.
You will work
between four and six hours. In the late
afternoons and evenings You will then join local community and family
activities. Some of the activities may
include sports such as soccer or basketball, cooking lessons, salsa dance
lessons or simply walking around downtown Puerto Ayora.
Day 14 –North Seymour Island
You will take a boat trip to
North Seymour where you will hike across the island and visit Magnificent
Frigate Bird and Blue-Footed Boobies nests.
At this time of year it is possible that you might get lucky and see the
elaborate mating rituals of these birds.
On this hike you will see finches and pelicans as well as colonies of
iguanas and sea lions. After eating a
boxed lunch, you will head to Bachas Beach for snorkeling where you may be able to see tropical fish,
corals and sea turtles, among other animals. In the late afternoon you
will return to Santa Cruz for dinner and pack overnight bags for a trip to
**An alternate tour for this
day could be a boat tour to Bahia Ballena with a hike to Dragon Hill on Santa
Day 15 – Isabela Island Snorkeling and Island History
Early in the morning you
will take a 2 hour boat ride to Isabela Island.
Upon arrival you will bicycle up the coast to the historical Wall of Tears.
Here you will
learn a bit of the island’s history as a penal colony and explore the site
where prisoners were forced to build a wall of lava rocks. You will also visit a flamingo lagoon and the local giant tortoise
breeding center. After lunch at a local restaurant in the village, you will
take smaller boats to explore a set of islets called Las Tintoreras. If you are
lucky you will see Galapagos penguins on this trip. After a short trail walk, you will spend some
time snorkeling in the area. Here you may see sea turtles, sting rays, sea
lions and of course many kinds of fish.
Finally, you will travel by bus to the highlands of the island where you will
visit a private reserve. Here you will also have delicious dinner and a
comfortable camping experience in nature.
Day 16 – Isabela Island – Trip to Sierra Negra
After breakfast we will take
a bus to where we will get horses for the trek along the crater of the Sierra
Negra Volcano (the second largest crater in the world) to Volcan Chico where we
will view fumaroles and other signs of volcanic activity. During this trip we will learn about the
history and geology of the island, enjoy the amazing landscape, see an array of
Galapagos land birds and visit a sulfur mine.
After breakfast, you will
take your bus to the trailhead of the Sierra Negra Volcano. From here you
will start your full day excursion along the amazing volcanic landscapes. You
will horseback ride for approximately five to six hours (with breaks for water
and a box lunch) until you reach the Chico Volcano where you will view
fumaroles and other signs of volcanic activity. At stops along the way
you will learn about the history and geology of this and other islands. You
will visit old lava flows and enjoy some of the most amazing and unique
landscapes in the world. You will see how several craters have been formed and if
time allows you will visit a sulfur mine. The Sierra Negra’s crater is
considered to be the second largest in the world. The beauty of this site
is also combined with great bird watching in the surrounding area. The land birds
that are seen most frequently in the area are finches, Galápagos mockingbirds,
owls and stunning red and black vermilion flycatchers. The red and black
vermilion flycatcher is known locally as pájaro brujo (Warlock Bird). You will
return to the private reserve in the highlands to freshen up and have the
option of visiting the beach in the late afternoon before dinner and overnight
camping in the highlands.
**Optional extra day on
Isabela could be added to include a visit Los Tuneles followed by a wetlands
Day 17 – Santa Cruz Island
You will take an early ferry
back to Puerto Ayora. After arriving you
will have breakfast and walk to the quiet lagoon of Las Ninfas followed by free
time to hang out or shop for souvenirs in Puerto Ayora.
After lunch you will tour
Academy Bay by kayak followed by a hike to Las Grietas, a network of flooded
volcanic cracks where you can swim and relax. The kayaking departure will be
dependent on the tides.
**Kayaking can be switched
for the Bahia tour by boat if the group does not want to attempt the kayaks.
Day 18 – Galapagos Islands to Quito
you depart from the Galápagos Islands and return to Quito. You will enjoy a
hearty box lunch before boarding your plane.
arrival, you will visit the old town, also known as Quito Colonial and then
have dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 19 – Equator and Otavalo Market
the way to Otavalo, you will stop for a visit at the equator! Here's your
chance to stand in two hemispheres at the same time! You'll also explore the
Quitsato scientific project located on the equatorial line where you will learn
about how early indigenous communities took advantage of astronomy to organize
arrival to Otavalo, you will stop at a viewpoint to admire some of the
surrounding lakes. You will then visit the famous indigenous market known to be
largest in South America. Here you will find typical handicrafts such as
hammocks, bags, ponchos and necklaces amongst other more modern souvenirs such
as t-shirts and paintings.
will spend the whole morning in the market and then you will head in direction
to a local community that will be waiting for you with a traditional lunch. If
time allows, you will visit the beautiful Cuicocha Lake and a leather market to
do some more shopping before traveling back to Quito.
Quito you will attend your final dinner celebration on a hill overlooking the
city of Quito. During dinner you will reminisce about the time you shared
together in Ecuador. After dinner you will return to your hotel to rest before
your international flight home.
Day 20 –International Departure
You will have an early
flight out to return home.