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
the city 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 your hotel. If you have time for dinner you will have your
first traditional Ecuadorian meal.
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
Along 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.
Note: 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 members.
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
We 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
Traditional games with the children
Dance lessons with local community
During 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.
7 – Adventure in the Amazon - Hot Springs
After breakfast you
will say your goodbyes to your new friends in the Amazon before heading to Baños
with lunch on the way. You will check into your hotel and you will have the
afternoon to relax in the hot springs heated by the Tungurahua Volcano. You
will have dinner together.
8 – Quilotoa Volcanic Lake - Chugchillan trek
After an early breakfast, you will
have an early departure to head towards the Quilotoa Volcanic Lake for a trek
around the lake. The trek takes about 5 hours along agricultural fields,
indigenous settlements, beautiful landscapes, and a small canyon. You will also
stop during the day for snacks and a hearty boxed lunch. The trek ends with
your arrival to Chugchillán town, where your lodging will be waiting for you.
There you will have time to relax, rest and enjoy your dinner.
At night you can go for a walk and
visit the local church.
9 – Quitsato Monument - Cayambe
Today, you will wake up very early in
order to head toward the equator; this trip takes about 5 hours. You will stop
on the way at a traditional restaurant in order to have breakfast and then
continue your trip.
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. You will also stop 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.
After lunch you will head towards a
colonial hacienda where you will visit a cultural project that promotes the use
of an ancient traditional plant, and then you will have some free time to visit
the rest of the hacienda and relax at the swimming pool. After dinner, you will
have a brief explanation of ancient cultures and their relation with astronomy.
To finish the evening, you will be part of the popular tradition of the
“chamisa”, in which thin branches are placed to form a bonfire. The chamisa is traditionally
burned in community celebrations.
10 – Condor Park and Otavalo Indigenous Market
After breakfast at the hacienda 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 head to Otavalo where the largest indigenous market in South America is
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.
Note: Condor Park is closed Mondays
and Tuesdays. In this case an alternate activity will be offered.
11 – Cotacachi and workshops
After breakfast you will head towards
Cotacachi which is famous for its leather handcrafts. You will have a chance to
browse the leather offerings including purses, jackets, and shoes. After this
you will visit a workshop where the wool is hand-dyed and the textiles are
woven on traditional backstrap looms. You will also visit a nearby workshop
that makes traditional musical instruments. These artisans will show you the
processes used to make their products and will share the importance of keeping
these traditions alive. Finally, you will visit a small town that maintains the
traditional process of weaving a natural fiber grown in lakes. After lunch you
will return to Quito.
arrival to Quito, 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
12 – Departure
Today your Ecuador adventure comes to a close as you
depart early for your flight out of Quito.