Day 1 – International Flight to
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 the city and settle into your hotel. If
you arrive during the evening you will stop for dinner or a snack.
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 your hotel. If you have time for
dinner you will have your first traditional Ecuadorian meal.
Day 2 – Quito - Amazon
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. Later, you
will return to the hotel to pick up your bags and start your trip to the Amazon
the way you will stop for lunch and explore one of the most beautiful
waterfalls in Ecuador, Pailón del Diablo
(The Devil’s Cauldron), which lies in a region where the Andean highlands begin
to give way to the amazing climate of the Amazon. Then you will continue to your small host
community or ecological and animal rescue center where you will be spending the
next few days. You will be met by your host families or by the ecological
center´s personnel and get to know each other over dinner.
There are two options for lodging in the Amazon Region: with host
families in the local community, or in volunteer housing at the ecological
center. The two places are located a 10
minute drive from each other.
Days 3-6 – Service Project and Host Community
For the next few
days, you will work on a much-needed service project in the Amazon region. You
will work between four and six hours per day, depending on the service
project. For your service location, you
will choose between two options: the local community or the animal rescue
center at the ecological center.
Projects in the
local community may include reforestation in and around the community, helping to
improve the infrastructure of the local school, teaching basic English and/or
providing environmental education to school children and other community
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 or at the
ecological center. Some of these activities might include:
families with traditional daily activities
● Visiting the local trapiche, the place where raw sugar cane is transformed in blocks
of sugar and other sugar products
Visiting a ethno botanical park, where you will learn about the
traditional use of many plants and trees that belong to the jungle
Hiking through the forest to a hidden waterfall
games with local community
games with the children
Dance lessons with local community
your days in the community you will receive clues and challenges to continue
your scavenger hunt. For your final evening in the community, you will gather
with your hosts for a celebratory farewell dinner.
Day 7 –
Adventure in the Amazon - Papallacta
breakfast, you will say good-bye to your new friends in the Amazon and head to
the Papallacta thermal springs. These hot springs are located in the Andes
mountain range and are naturally heated by an active volcano. Upon arrival, you
will enjoy a traditional, local lunch and then you will have the afternoon and
evening to relax at the hot springs. You will spend the night at a nearby lodge
resting up for your trip to the Galápagos Islands tomorrow.
Day 8 – Travel to the Galápagos
In the morning,
you will take the bus to the airport as your journey to the Galápagos Islands
begins. The flight takes approximately
three hours (with a short layover), and upon arrival to Baltra Island, your
local guide will greet you and accompany you and your Program Leader on a boat
across a small channel to Santa Cruz Island.
Once on Santa
Cruz, you will board the bus that will take you to the small city of Puerto
Ayora where you will be staying for the next few days. On the way you will stop
to see Los Gemelos, famous twin volcanic craters. Upon arrival in Puerto Ayora,
you will enjoy lunch and visit the Charles Darwin Center. Here you will learn about the Darwin Center´s
work on the Islands and you will have the opportunity to visit the giant
tortoise breeding center, as well as some Galápagos land iguanas. Next, you
will arrive to your lodging where a nice dinner will be waiting for you.
Day 9 – Isabela Island - Snorkeling and Island History
Today, you will
pack your overnight bags for your trip to Isabela Island. The boat ride takes approximately two
hours. Upon arrival, you will take a
bicycle ride along the coast to the 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 be able to see a flamingo lake, and
if you have time, you may visit the local giant tortoise breeding center.
After lunch at a
local restaurant in the village, you will take smaller boats to explore Las
Tintoreras, an area outside the village of Puerto Villamil. As you walk the
shore you will keep your eyes peeled iguanas, birds and sea lions. Next, you
will head back to your boat for snorkeling equipment and prepare for an
exciting snorkeling adventure in the beautiful waters around Isabela. Here you
may see sea turtles, sting rays, sea lions and of course many kinds of fish.
Finally, you will
transfer to your lodging where you will have delicious dinner.
Day 10 – Isabela Island - Sierra
you will take your bus to the trailhead of the Sierra Negra Volcano. From here
you will start your full day trek along the amazing volcanic landscapes. You
will hike for approximately five to six hours (with breaks for water and a box
lunch) until you reach Chico Volcano. Throughout the hike you will learn about
the history and geology of this and other islands. You will walk over 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 you have time you may
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 birds that are seen most frequently in
the area are finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, owls and the stunning red and
black vermilion flycatchers known locally as pájaros brujos (Warlock Birds).
You will return
to your lodging to enjoy dinner and rest for the night.
Day 11 – Santa Cruz Island - Local Reserve, tortoise ranch, and evening beach
Today you will
wake up early in order to return to the main port to start your boat trip back
to Puerto Ayora. Upon arrival, you will have breakfast and you will have some
time to rest. Then you will visit a local reserve dedicated to conservation and
environmental education. The reserve is owned by an NGO and works with the
local community to educate them about organic agriculture and reforestation
with native plants. Small scale organic agriculture and reforestation are
promoted as alternatives to avoid large scale production that destroys native
vegetation and impacts the island ecosystem in a negative way. You will have
lunch at the reserve.
Then you will
visit a private ranch where you will have the opportunity to see giant
tortoises living in semi-wild conditions and walk through lava tunnels formed
hundreds of years ago while learning about the geological origin of the
Islands. In the afternoon you will return to Puerto Ayora in order to visit
Finally you will
return to your local lodging where you will enjoy a nice dinner.
Day 12 – Galápagos Islands - Quito
Today you depart
from the Galápagos Islands and return to Quito. You will enjoy a hearty box
lunch before boarding your plane. Upon arrival, you will visit the old town,
also known as Quito Colonial, to
visit a convent that will be opened exclusively for you. At the convent you
will also have the chance to climb to a viewpoint from which you will have an
amazing view of the historical center all lit up at night. Finally, you will
enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
13 – Equatorial Line and the Otavalo Indigenous Market
You will wake up
early for a delicious breakfast at your hotel.
Next, you will then make your way to Otavalo to explore the indigenous
market. You will find typical indigenous handcrafts such as hammocks, bags,
ponchos and necklaces amongst other more modern souvenirs such as t-shirts and
paintings. You will spend the whole morning there and then you will head in
direction to a local community that will be waiting for you with a traditional
lunch. On your way back to Quito, you
will stop for a visit at Quitsato, located on the equatorial line. Here you
will have the opportunity to stand in two hemispheres at one time, learn about
how early indigenous communities took advantage of astronomy to organize their
Upon arrival to
Quito, you will have time to rest and re-pack your bags for your flight out in
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 14 –
Ecuador adventure comes to a close as you depart early for your flight out of