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 at the airport by your Tour Manager.
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 - Andes host community
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. Later, you will return to the hotel to pick up your bags and start your trip to the Andes community.
Upon arrival the community, your host families will be waiting for you with a nice reception and you will have a tour of the community. You will also have an introduction to your volunteer service for the coming days.
At night you will gather with the community members to present yourselves and share some time with them before dinner.
Days 3-6 – Service Project and Host Community
For the next few days, you will work on a much-needed community service project in your Andean host town. The community projects are the heart and soul of your trip. They bring an excellent means of bonding with your new friends through service.
Some examples of possible community projects include: reforestation, environmental education, teaching basic English, development of organic agriculture and forestry practices, development of solid waste management system, building trails between the community and their natural attractions, and painting the elementary school or other community infrastructure.
The time spent with the host family will be one of the most significant experiences of the trip. Sharing familiar space and practices with members of the host community will not only add significance to the work you do, but will also provide us with a complete immersion experience into the Ecuadorian culture!
Our daily schedule will be as follows: Each morning after breakfast you will gather together to work on your service project. You will break for lunch with your host families, and head back to work after a nice break. Each day you will work an average of four to six hours. Once you complete the day’s work, afternoon or evening activities such as milking cows, preparing cheese, getting the horses ready for the next day, playing soccer with the community members, playing traditional games with the local kids, attending dance lessons or having traditional Ecuadorian cooking lessons will round out your days. During your days in the community you will receive clues and challenges to continue your scavenger hunt.
During your time in the community, you will also take advantage of surrounding attractions and will go for a horseback ride to the nearby mountains to enjoy the landscape and local flora. Another option will be to visit the town of Machachi, known for its local market.
During your days in the community, you will receive clues and challenges to continue your scavenger hunt. On your final night in the community you will have a community-wide farewell dinner celebrating your project and your time shared together.
Day 7 – Cotopaxi Volcano - Quito
After breakfast, you will say your bittersweet goodbyes to your host families and new friends as you are off to your next destination, the Cotopaxi Volcano. This is the highest snowcapped active volcano in the world and here we will have the opportunity to learn about the high plateau ecosystem and its flora and fauna. You will have a challenging hike up to a shelter where you will enjoy a hearty snack.
Once finished your hike, you will head for Quito. On the way you will stop at one of the most traditional restaurants for a taste of Ecuadorian cuisine. The day comes to an end as you return to Quito for dinner and rest before your trip to Amazon Region.
Day 8 – Quito - Coca - Indigenous Lodge
You will wake up in order to take your domestic flight to Coca City. The flight will take about a half hour.
Your destination is a lodge in the Amazon tropical forest that belongs to the Sani indigenous community. This initiative started 12 years ago after the community struggled to stop a company from extracting oil in their territory. Since then, the lodge has become an important economic activity that complements community traditional economy. The lodge is located a few kilometers away from the community and was built around a lake that is protected from swamps. In order to reach the lodge, visitors travel along the Napo River and then they take simple paddle canoes to move along the swamps before reaching the lake and the lodge.
Upon arrival to Coca, you will join other visitors traveling to the lodge at the Coca river port. You will board a motorized canoe that will take you along the Napo River for a little more than an hour and a half. While traveling you will also enjoy a box lunch in the canoe.
After dinner you will do some walking in the nearby trails while looking for insects and animals only visible at night.
Day 9 – Chorongo Trail
After having a delicious early breakfast, you will take a 45 minute canoe ride across the lagoon enjoying the morning activity of birds, monkeys and other species. You will arrive at a mainland site to start a 4 hour hike to connect with the Chorongo trail. During the hike you will learn about the forest properties in medicine and you will be able to identify insects and a few varieties of monkeys. You will have a hearty box lunch on the way and then you will return to your paddle canoe to do some piranha fishing near the Napo River.
You will return to the lodge for dinner and to rest.
Day 10 – Canopy Tower Observation
You will have a 45 canoe ride across the lagoon enjoying the morning activity of birds, monkeys and other species. You will arrive to a mainland site for a short walk to the observation tower. The tower is 37 meters tall and is built next to a Kapok tree. You will stay about an hour at the tower to photograph the rich variety of birds. Following this you will have a 3 hour hike. You will have a box lunch during your hike.
In the afternoon you will visit the Sani community. Upon arrival to the center of the community, you will be welcomed by a group of community women who will do a presentation about traditional indigenous food in the area and traditional dance. You will also visit the local cacao project.
You will go back to the lodge in order to see the sunset and perhaps spot some caimans in the lake. Then you will enjoy dinner and have a night hike.
Day 11 – Indigenous Lodge - Coca - Quito
Today you will wake up early for breakfast. You will depart from the lodge toward Coca City. Upon arrival you will go to the airport in order to catch your flight back to Quito.
Upon arrival in Quito, you will have lunch and will travel back to your hotel. In the afternoon you will visit a souvenir market and if time allows, view the city of Quito from the teleferico, or cable car.
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 12 – Departure
Today your Ecuador adventure comes to a close as you depart early for your flight out of Quito.
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