Day 1 – International flight to Quito
Today you'll start your Ecuador adventure to make unforgettable memories with your group. Upon arrival in Quito you will be greeted by your Tour Manager and begin your adventures.
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 Ecuadorian meal.
Day 2 – Quito - North Andes
After breakfast, 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.
In the afternoon, 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 leaders.
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, 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.
Day 7 – Cayambe Volcano
Early in the morning, 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 culture.
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
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 dinner.
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.
Tonight 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.
Every single tour that we operate is unique and tailored for your group.
We do not combine your tour group with others.
Take advantage of our innovative tools to make organizing your trip a breeze.
We offer a variety of online, scheduled and recurring payment options.
We focus on providing the best experience with the best value for your dollar.
Just tell us how many free places you need.
ETA includes up to $100,000 per person in medical coverage and insurance protection for travel delays.
This even includes a "cancel for any reason" option.
We have staff available 24/7 via phone for any emergency.
ETA's professional Tour Manager will be with you throughout your trip.
We include all transportation... to, from and during your trip.
Hotel, homestay and/or hostel options are customized according to your preferences, itinerary and budget.
If it is included in your itinerary, any fees and/or tickets are covered.
You choose which meals are included in your program.