Experience the natural wonders and culture of the Andes Mountains and Amazon Jungles of Ecuador. This active multi-sport journey explores the best of more than 5 different ecosystems. Mountain bike through cloud forests, navigate the rivers of the rainforest, sooth in natural hot springs, learn from ancient cultures and much more. Top-notch guides accompany you on an unforgettable journey whitewater rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and trekking through one of the world’s most diverse countries.
• Explore an Andean hacienda on horseback, chagra style!
• Mountain bike on the slopes of the world´s highest active volcano
• Visit a Kichwa indigenous communities and participate in cultural activities • Exhilarating Amazon jungle rafting on the best one-day river run (class III+)
• Relax in the rejuvenating natural hotsprings
• Learn the ancient meaning of the equator
• Learn the secrets of textile weaving
• Hike around the Cuicocha Crater and Lake
• Top-notch bilingual adventure guides lead every step of your journey
• Accommodations in quality hotels, historic haciendas, and eco lodges
You depart your Quito hotel this morning and head due south through the famed Avenue of the Volcanoes. On the way, you enjoy spectacular views of the Pita Canyon River Gorge in the foothills of the Pasochoa Volcano. You reach the entrance of Pasochoa Forest within the collapsed crater just 18 miles south of Quito. This lively forest boasts a wide range of highland trees and shrubs, as well as orchids, bromeliads, lichens, and ferns. Prolific birdlife includes at least 11 species of hummingbirds, and many birds endemic to Ecuador are easily spotted along the trails. If the skies are clear, the hike is made even more magical by the stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks in the distance. Continue on to Hacienda El Porvenir, a 3000-hectare, family-owned hacienda rich in history and representative of the Chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) culture. El Porvenir has been in the same family for 7 generations, and was the first hacienda in Ecuador to raise fighting bulls. After a traditional welcome tea, your lunch features gourmet, locally-produced Andean foods. In the afternoon you gear up Chagra style, don ponchos, chaps, and cowboy hats to explore the expansive grounds of the hacienda on horseback (hiking is optional). The hacienda produces potatoes, lima beans, quinoa, and other crops that grow at altitudes over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), all with a backdrop of spectacular volcano scenery. Your Chagra guide will share his knowledge of local plants, birds, and fauna, and help you to safely admire the brave fighting bulls. Spend a relaxing evening at the hacienda.
Lunch and dinner included today.
After breakfast, you drive towards the base of the Cotopaxi Volcano, where you begin your mountain biking adventure. After a safety briefing, you explore the park’s highland plateaus as you observe typical highland vegetation and fauna with stunning volcano scenery as a backdrop. You visit Limpiopungo Glacier Lake and exit the park through the south entrance. Continue the journey driving through the Avenue of the Volcanoes up to the town of Baños for a deluxe lunch at Luna Runtun with spectacular views of the Tungurahua Volcano and the Pastaza River Gorge. After lunch, you explore the town of Baños, a colorful colonial town at an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) surrounded by tropical cloud forest. In the late afternoon, you reach Leito Hacienda, where you dine and relax for the evening.
All meals included today.
In the morning, drive to the edge of Llanganates National Park, gaining altitude until you reach an area with one of the best views of the – often fuming – Tungurahua Volcano. Here, you set up your mountain bikes for a scenic ride through highland paramo, which gradually melds into mountain cloud forest, and then lowland rainforest. You pass through a dry basaltic gorge that is a great spot to look for wild orchids. Continue the ride along the Pastaza River Gorge, one of the principal waterways that feed into the Amazon Basin. This is an especially scenic route, with high rock walls giving way to deep cloud forest canyons. You stop to admire some of the spectacular waterfalls in the area, such as Pailón del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil).
Switching from 2 wheels to 4, drive to Puyo, an Amazon frontier town where you learn about the manufacture of products made from Balsa wood, bamboo, ceramics, and other local materials. Lunch will be served in Puyo before setting out along the Amazon highway to reach your Jungle Lodge. Once you settle into the lodge, embark on a visit to a Shiripuno Kichwa indigenous community. Here, you learn about the Kichwa way of life, culture, traditions, and customs of the Amazon. You can also participate in community activities, including the creation of ceramics with indigenous motifs, preparation of Chicha (manioc beer), visits to ancient petroglyph sites, and cleansing rituals with a local shaman. At the end of the day, settle into your riverfront cabañas ready for a peaceful evening surrounded by jungle sounds.
All meals included today.
After enjoying breakfast at the lodge, drive to Llanganates National Park, which extends from the high Andes down into the Amazon basin and is part of an area declared a Biosphere Zone by the United Nations. The water that collects in this area forms the Jatunyacu River, which is considered Ecuador’s best one-day river run. Begin the day with a walk in the jungle to reach naturally-formed swimming pools. Upon your return and after a safety briefing, the whitewater rafting adventure begins. A trip down the Jatunyacu River offers spectacular jungle scenery, crystal-clear water, and glimpses into indigenous communities that live along the shores in small bamboo and wood houses. The Jatunyacu is also famed for its big waves, fun holes, and high volume of water (Class III - III+). You'll spend the rest of the day navigating the Jatunyacu, whose waters carry you through breathtaking landscapes with abundant bird life. In the afternoon, you drive back up into the Andes, climbing from 1,500 to 10,000 feet (500 to 3,000 meters) in altitude and passing through a national park and nature reserve to the Papallacta Hotsprings Resort & Spa. In the evening, relax in the therapeutic alkaline-rich natural thermal waters of Papallacta while nestled in fantastic cloud forest scenery. Spa services such as massages, aromatherapy, and other optional treatments can also be arranged in advance. Overnight at the Papallacta Resort.
All meals included today.
In the early morning, you visit the highland interpretation center and go for a guided nature hike in a private cloud forest and paramo reserve, where you seek out birds, highland plants, and other Andean wildlife species. Afterwards, drive to the Middle of the World monument shaped as a star of eight points, representing pre-colonial and Incan indigenous beliefs that 0º latitude was the center of time and measurement. Here you learn about Ecuador’s geographic position and how its location on the equator influences its many cultures, climates, and biological diversity. After this visit, lunch is served on the waterfront of San Pablo Lake. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the towns of Otavalo and Peguche, where Ecuador’s indigenous culture and heritage is visible in their famous markets full of colorful textiles, traditional handicrafts, and more. You will spend time one-on-one with local weavers who share the secrets of their craft that have been passed down for generations, and visit the Andean Music Museum to hear the traditional instrumental and vocal sounds of the Andes. The evening is spent at a traditional
All meals included today.
After breakfast, you drive up to Cuicocha Crater Lake, located 10,000 feet (3,068 meters) above sea level within the Cayapas-Cotacachi National Park. Cuicochoa Lake is the freshwater-filled caldera of a dormant volcano, located at the foot of a volcano of the same name, and surrounded by stunning cloud forest scenery. You will hike around the shore of the crater lake, admiring the lava dome islands in the center and keeping an eye out for birds and other interesting wildlife. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the lake before departing for Quito in the afternoon.
Breakfast and lunch included today.