Day 1: Quito. Arrival and transfer to your base of operations during your stay in Ecuador - the home of Pablo and Maria Isabel Morena. Here you'll get an orientation concerning your upcoming excursions and a chance to relax and soak away the jet lag in your hosts' wonderful stone Jacuzzi! You'll love this place! Includes: (L), (D).
Days 2-3: Bellavista Lodge. Early morning departure and, after a 2-hour ride from Quito, passing by the "middle of the world", and traveling through increasingly mountainous terrain, you'll arrive at the incredible Bellavista Lodge, a grass-roofed, multi-storied dome with 360 degree vistas of the surrounding cloud forest. During your stay here, you'll be able to go on short or long guided hikes in the forest, identifying birds and plants you've only seen in books and on TV! It really is impossible to describe this place. The food isn't bad, either. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Days 4-6: Runa Tupari Indigenous Family Home-Stay. Travel directly from Bellavista to Cotacachi and your family hosts for the next three days. While at your home-stay, you'll be treated as a member of the family - feel free to jump in and help cook or work in the garden or field. Many of our host families are weavers and they'll delight in showing you the basics of their craft. Learn about local customs, agriculture, and religion. There are also various treks and hikes that you can take to nearby volcanoes and volcanic lakes, accompanied by trained local Quichua guides to help you understand the ecology of the areas you'll visit. Back to Quito and your "base camp" at the Moreno household. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Days 7-8: Cotopaxi Volcano and National Park. A relaxed morning and a healthy breakfast at The Magic Bean restaurant. Noon departure for Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. Only about three hours from Quito, Cotopaxi is a popular weekend destination for hikers and an international destination for more serious climbers. We'll spend the night at the "Refuge," at over 15,000 feet in altitude and you'll be able to hike around in the morning. If the weather is with us, there are some amazing views from this mountain! It will also be possible to return to Quito rather than stay the night if the altitude is bothering you. On the return we'll drive through Cotopaxi National Park and our guide will explain the fascinating ecology of the area. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Quito. Back to Quito for a rest and some time to explore the city in a little more depth. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Days 10–13: Cabañas Aliñahui. Early morning departure for Tena and Cabañas Aliñahui. The Aliñahui Forest, a relatively undisturbed 450 hectares tract of primary rainforest just south of the Napo River, is managed by the non-proft Aliñahui Lodge, which promotes conservation, research, and environmental education. Comfortable "cabañas," good food, and friendly staff, combined with knowledgeable professional guides, will make your stay here a truly memorable one. Choose from a variety of activities, including forest interpretive walks, a visit to nearby Jatun Sacha, a rain forest research and education facility, amazoonica, an animal rehabilitation program, and a village museum featuring a great interpretive display of local hunting, fishing, and agricultural implements. There are also canopy walkway and canopy tower options for getting a true birds-eye view of the rain forest. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14: Papallacta. On the way back to Quito from Aliñahui is the Papallacta Lodge, where we'll spend the rest of the day and night relaxing in natural hot spring pools just outside our own grass-thatched cabins. A truly magical place, surrounded by mountains. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 15: Quito. Back to base camp today and last minute shopping and relaxing in Pablo's hot tub before our flight back home tonight.
Approximate air travel cost: $ 600 from Miami.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Ecuador Local Culture Cultural Journey Wildlife Viewing