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Itinerary

Countries Visited

Ecuador

Tour Itinerary

Visit the Otavalo Weaving studio and get a lesson from Miguel Andrango, explore villages and learn about traditional handicrafts and folk art from locals, traverse the Amazon jungle with a local naturalist guide, learn about the relationship between cultures and the plants around them at the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park, be surrounded by towering volcanoes

Ecuador is a small country that packs a punch when it comes to natural beauty, biodiversity, and indigenous heritage. Discover this South American jewel on a memorable adventure, traveling from the emerald-clad Andes to the Amazon's thriving jungles. Come face-to-face with unique creatures on a nighttime walk through the forest and on a tour of an animal sanctuary; hike through awe-inspiring Cotopaxi National Park, crowned by the soaring Cotopaxi Volcano; and delve into indigenous culture on a visit to an Amazonian community and Omaere Ethnobotanical Park.

Day 1: Quito
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.
Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
Activity: The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you're back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.
Accommodation: Hotel Mercure (or similar)

Day 2: Quito/Otavalo
Drive into the mountainous Andean highlands, stopping for lunch in the village of Peguche. Meet some of the local residents, and learn about the community's weaving traditions. Continue to Otavalo, surrounded by misty volcanoes, and visit the town's famous handicraft market—one of the largest outdoor markets in South America. Browse stalls selling colourful local art, textiles, and souvenirs, and try your hand at haggling. Later, settle into your room at a historic hacienda, where we'll spend the night.
Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
Activity: Visit the small highlands weaving community of Peguche. Meet locals in this traditional Andean community and enjoy an included lunch.
Activity: Discover some amazing local art, tapestries, and textiles at Otavalo's famous artisan market, the largest handicraft market in South America. Wander the stalls to meet local artists, and find one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Try to arrive early for the best bargains (it starts at dawn), and try your hand at haggling - it's expected for every purchase. A good negotiator could get at least 20 per cent off the starting price.
Accommodation: Hotel Pinsaqui (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast Lunch (Enjoy a local lunch in a small Highlands Village.)

Day 3: Otavalo/Papallacta
Make your way to the village of Papallacta, known for its abundant natural hot springs. En route, visit the home and studio of a renowned traditional weaver, who is working to preserve the indigenous weaving techniques of the Otavalo region. Get a glimpse of the family's daily life, and observe them at work on the backstrap loom, which has been used in these parts for centuries. Continue to the Papallacta Hot Springs Resort for an afternoon of relaxation. Soak in the mineral-rich waters of the thermal pools, enjoying stunning mountain views, and indulge in a variety of optional spa treatments.
Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
Activity: Visit the home and studio of Don Miguel, a man working to keep his culture's traditions alive. For thousands of years the indigenous people of the Otavalo region have used the backstrap loom to create their woven goods, however new technologies have slowly been pushing out the tradition. Learn how Don Miguel and his family are working to help revive this ancient art as he demonstrates every step of the process, from cleaning the wool, to naturally dyeing it, to backstrap weaving.
Activity: Soak in the natural hot springs the area is known for and let the mineral waters soothe sore muscles. The hot springs vary in temperature, make your way through the circuit with views of the Antisana volcano in the distance.
Free Time: Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, as you relax and soak in the natural hot springs.
Accommodation: Termas de Papallacta (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 4: Papallacta/Tena
Head towards Tena, often called Ecuador's gateway to the Amazon. On the way, we'll stop at Guango Lodge to explore the property's cloud forest reserve—home to a plethora of avian species, including more than 10 varieties of hummingbirds. Enjoy lunch in the lodge's orchid garden, then continue to Misahualli. This charming town is one of the oldest ports in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and harbours a thriving population of capuchin monkeys. Arrive in Tena and board a motorized canoe to our jungle lodge, perched along the banks of the Arajuno River. This evening, embark on a walk into the forest with a naturalist guide, looking out for the Amazon's nocturnal creatures.
Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
Activity: Enjoy an excursion to Guango private cloud forest reserve. Take a guided walk with our CEO to learn about this unique environment, flora and fauna. A bird lovers paradise, keep your eyes peeled for a variety of parrots, toucans, tanagers and more. We will also enjoy the orchid garden lunch at the lodge and observe a multitude of dive-bombing hummingbirds. Seeing 14 species of hummingbirds within an hour is not uncommon, and the Sword-billed hummingbird with it's unique, long bill is sure to amaze you.
Activity: Embark on a night walk with a local naturalist guide to learn about nocturnal creatures of the Amazon. A flashlight and camera are the most important tools on this excursion, which allows us to hear the nocturnal sounds of the forest and to search out bats, owls, a variety of insects, tarantulas, toads and frogs, and possibly snakes. If the sky is clear, we might have the chance to do some stargazing.
Accommodation: Itamandi Lodge (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast Lunch Dinner

Day 5: Tena
Depart early by canoe to visit a saladero, or a parrot clay lick. Alongside our naturalist guide, observe brightly coloured parrots and parakeets gather here to snack on the mineral-rich clay, which studies suggest aids in digestion and provides an important nutrient supplement. Return to the lodge for breakfast, then take a tour of AmaZOOnico, an animal rescue centre that rehabilitates wild creatures that have been victims of illegal trafficking. Later, we'll visit the home of a local Amazonian family for a unique cultural experience. Chat with your hosts about their traditions and beliefs and learn about everyday life in the jungle; then sit down to a delicious homemade lunch.
Activity: Visit a parrot clay lick (Saladero) with a naturalist guide. This unique site is where parrots and parakeets gather to eat mineral-rich clay that will help them digest the fruits or seeds they have consumed. Hundreds of parrots and parakeets will approach the treetops and later will come down to the clay bank to eat this soil rich in minerals.
Activity: Take a guided tour of amaZOOnico, a rescue and rehabilitation centre that rehabilitates, reintroduces, and cares for animals who are victims of illegal trafficking. See large cats and reptiles up close, and learn all about the important work of this sanctuary.
Activity: Enjoy a truly unforgettable cultural experience with a local Ecuadorian family who'll welcome and host us for the afternoon at their home in the jungle. Discuss their traditions, beliefs, and history and hear about what daily life is like for them in such a unique environment. Go fishing with them and then watch and listen as they prepare lunch and share insight about their deep connection to nature, as well as their thoughts on the encroachment of the modern world on their traditional way of life here. A marvelous afternoon you'll talk about for years to come.
Accommodation: Itamandi Lodge (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast Lunch Dinner

Day 6: Tena/Baños
Leave the Amazon behind and travel to Baños. This popular resort town is packed with gorgeous landscapes, thrilling outdoor activities, and—as the name indicates—thermal springs originating from the base of the Tungurahua Volcano. Along the way, stop at Omaere Ethnobotanical Park for a walk with an expert guide, discovering the diverse flora of the region and learning about the indigenous uses of the various plants found there. After arriving in Baños, enjoy free time to stroll through the town; or opt to go horseback riding through the picturesque countryside.
Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
Activity: Visit the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park and discover ethnobotany - the study of the relationship between cultures and the plants around them. Plants are integral to the lives of Amazonian indigenous groups who use them for shelter, nourishment, medicine, and in spiritual practices. Set out on the trails with an expert guide to learn about the diverse plant life and the local Shuar and Waorani people, and enjoy unique botanical experiences like tasting cinnamon and being painted with Achotillo sap.
Free Time: Opt to take a walk through town and visit some shops.
Accommodation: Hotel Sangay (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 7: Baños
The day is yours to explore Baños and the surrounding area. Choose to head to the mountains for an invigorating hike, and later soak your tired muscles in one of the town's thermal springs. Set off on a mountain biking adventure, pedaling past rivers, waterfalls, and delightfully green landscapes; opt to hit the rapids on a white-water rafting excursion; and much more.
Free Time: Relax at leisure or opt to take part in some active pursuits.
Accommodation: Hotel Sangay (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 8: Baños/Quito
Drive back to Quito, Ecuador's capital, along the spectacular Avenue of Volcanoes. En route, we'll venture through Cotopaxi National Park—home to the snowcapped Cotopaxi Volcano, the second highest peak in the country. As you explore this magnificent park, keep an eye out for the resident wildlife, which ranges from condors, foxes, and deer to the vicuna and the endangered Andean puma.
Activity: Visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to Cotopaxi Volcano, which stands at 5,897m (19,342 ft). The beautiful cone-shaped, snow-covered volcano is Ecuador's second highest peak and the highest active volcano in the world. Keep an eye out for park wildlife, including condors, foxes, deer, spectacled bears, and more. For those who want to hike, there are options available (weather permitting). Please ensure you have proper hiking shoes or boots, a waterproof/windproof jacket and warm hats and gloves. Hike is approximately 1.5 hours.
Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
Accommodation: Hotel Mercure (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 9: Quito
Depart at any time.
Activity: Not ready to leave? Your CEO can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.
Meal(s): Breakfast

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Inclusions

Meals Included
8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport
Private van, motorized canoe, walking.

Inclusions
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Otavalo Weaving Lesson, Otavalo Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Amazon Home Experience, Tena Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Visit the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park, Baños Your Wellness Moment: Papallacta Hot Springs Visit, Papallacta. Arrival transfer. Overnight in an historic hacienda. Explore the Otavalo handicraft market. Cloud forest reserve visit. Two nights at an Amazon lodge with jungle excursions. Excursion to Cotopaxi National Park. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

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Accommodations

Hotels (4 nts), historic hacienda (1 nt), jungle lodge (2 nts), hot springs resort (1 nt).

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Questions & Answers

Question: Travelling solo... all rates same?

For the most accurate pricing, please request a free quote online or give us a call at 1-800-935-2620.

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

National Geographic Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4.2
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.4
Professional Staff
4.8
Repeat with Operator
4.2
Value for Money
3.9

Ratings based off 42 reviews about National Geographic Tours - currently showing 2 reviews with comments only

Outstanding trip and tours with plenty of opportunities for planned and unplanned adventures. Knowledgeable, friendly, and capable guides who kept us moving while allowing adequate free time for exploring on one's own.

Affordable Tours was helpful, answered all questions, booked tour and all flights for us. Great experience! We will definitely book through AT again.


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