1 – International flight to Quito
Upon arrival in
Quito you will be greeted at the airport by your Program Leader. From the
airport you will head to the center of Quito and settle into your hotel.
If you arrive during the evening you will stop for
dinner or a snack.
Optional: If you
arrive with daylight to spare, you will visit the Panecillo Hill for a
spectacular 360 degree view of the city and its surrounding neighborhoods or
you will walk through various plazas and streets surrounding our hotel. If you
have time for a proper dinner tonight you will have your first traditional
Day 2 – Quito - North Andes
After breakfast as a group, you will
have your orientation meeting. You will then take a theatrical walking tour visiting the principle plazas of
the old town and the Casa del Alabado Pre-Colombian Art Museum. You will learn
about the history of the oldest cultures of Ecuador and you will also begin
your scavenger hunt that will continue throughout your trip.
After lunch you will start your trip
to your host community, a small town in the Andes north of Quito where you will
stay for a few days. After several hours you will arrive and be welcomed by
your host families. You’ll then have a chance to take a walk around the
community and get to know it before your first dinner with your host families.
Day 3-6 – Service project and host community
For the next few days, you will work on a much-needed
project in your Andean host town. The
community projects are the heart and soul of your trip - excellent ways to bond
with your new friends through service. On the first day you will meet in the
morning to be debriefed on the project and talk with the local community
Some examples of community service projects include:
reforestation, environmental education, teaching basic English, upgrading the
main community pedestrian access, the development of organic agriculture in
family farm plots, botanical gardening, building a simple structure to be used
as a community center and the development of a solid waste management system.
Each morning after breakfast you will work together on
your service project. You will be working between 4 and 7 hours per day
depending on the service project. Meals will be shared with each host family.
Your work days will be complemented by early morning, afternoon or evening
activities such as playing soccer games with the
kids in the community and getting traditional Ecuadorian cooking lessons.
During your days in the community you will receive clues and challenges to
continue your scavenger hunt. Some mornings or afternoons you will also take
advantage of surrounding attractions such as the thermal springs and pre-Incan
and Incan ruins nearby. Each of the ruins has amazing panoramic views on a
clear day. During your hikes to these sites you can learn about local flora and
fauna at this altitude and be fascinated by the diversity of microclimates that
can be found in the area.
7 – Cayambe Volcano
Early in the morning after breakfast you will head to
the snowcapped volcano of Cayambe. This beautiful site is considered to be the
highest point on earth that is crossed by the equinoctial line. As you approach
the volcano you will see how quickly the climate changes as you get farther
away from the valley. You will hike up to the first refuge and enjoy the
landscape and learning about the history associated with Cayambe while having a
hearty box lunch. After lunch you will visit a unique community project promoting
the recovery of the usage of the “penco”, an ancient plant used as a sweetener,
among other things. This project has been developed by women of the Cayambe
community. This afternoon you will return to your host homes to rest and
have your last dinner with the community. You will have the chance to thank the
community for their hospitality and get ready to depart the next day.
Day 8 – Otavalo
After breakfast you will say your goodbyes to your
host families and head to Otavalo where the largest indigenous market in South
America is located. On the way you will visit the Quitsato Project, a huge
solar clock located on the equatorial line. You will have the opportunity to
stand in two hemispheres at one time and visit the museum to learn about how
early indigenous communities took advantage of astronomy to organize their
Upon arrival in Otavalo you will have
a traditional lunch with the opportunity to try the famous dish of “cuy”
(guinea pig) which is a delicacy throughout the Andes. In the afternoon you
will have time to explore the famous Otavalo market and surroundings. You will
find typical indigenous handcrafts such as hammocks, bags, ponchos and
necklaces among other more modern souvenirs such as t-shirts and paintings.
Later you will have dinner together.
Day 9 –
Cotacachi Town - Cuicocha Lake - Condor Park
After breakfast you will head to Cotacachi, an
indigenous town that is famous for its leather work. After doing some shopping
you will head in direction of Cuicocha Lake, an old volcanic crater that has
filled with water and has two small islets in the middle. You will take a boat
trip on the lake, marveling at the beautiful scenery. After lunch at a
traditional local restaurant, you will visit a nearby animal rescue center and
see a variety of birds and other animals from around the country. You will
learn about the importance of the center, why these animals have come to the
center, and the mission to rehabilitate and release them back into their
natural habitat. Finally you will return to your hotel to relax and have some
Day 9 –
Cotacachi Town- Cuicocha Lake- Condor Park
This day you will wake up early, and
after breakfast you will head in the direction of Cuicocha Lake. You will take
a four hour hike around this old volcanic crater that has filled with water and
has two small islets in the middle. Following your hike you will head to
Cotacachi to have lunch at a traditional local restaurant. Cotacachi is an
indigenous town which is famous for its leather handcrafts. You will have a
chance to browse the leather offerings including purses, jackets, and shoes.
Later in the afternoon, you will
visit Condor Park, where many of the resident birds of prey have been rescued
from illegal captivity or other unsuitable environments. Some species that can
be seen here are condors, king vulture and a variety of owls. You will then return
to your lodging in Otavalo to relax and have some dinner.
Day 10 – Quito - Cable Car, Final Dinner
Today you will return to Quito, stopping along the way
in Cayambe, a town well known for its traditional bizcocho factories. You will get to
sample these salty pastries that taste great with dulce de leche (caramel) or with a special kind of cheese, both
made locally. You will also stop for lunch at a typical restaurant.
Upon arrival to the city you will
visit Quito´s cable car, an attraction that goes from an altitude of 3,000 to
13,000 feet. From this point you will have a spectacular view of the city and
its surrounding mountains. This afternoon you will have time to rest and
re-pack your bags for your flight out in the morning.
you will have a special dinner at a quiteño family’s home to reminisce about
the time you shared together in Ecuador and to conclude your scavenger hunt.
This will be a theatrical dinner with a historical character providing
reflection about the importance of communities in Andean cultures. You will
return to your hotel to rest.
Day 11 – Quito
Today your Ecuador adventure comes to a close as you
depart for your flight out of Quito.