Kapawi is the newest of the eco-lodges in South America. It is located on the Pastaza River, on the most remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. Accessible only by small aircraft, Kapawi is the most spectacular place in the tropical rain forest. Built in partnership with the indigenous organization and a private enterprise, Kapawi is a state of the art project. The lodge was created in accordance with the Achuar concept of architecture without a single metal nail. Environmentally -friendly methods such as solar energy, biodegradable soaps, and trash recycling systems are also being utilized.
The entire eco tourism operation takes place within a 300 sq. km area between the Pastaza, Ishpingo and Capahuari rivers. The area embodies different landscapes and vegetation types such as big and small rivers, lakes and lagoons, flooded forests, Terra Firme forest as well as six Achuar communities. Due to the system of hikes and river trips extensive and varied, we have four big advantages: we avoid overuse of the trails, due to the possibility of alternating hikes; offer appropriate activities to all kinds of clients according to their physical condition and specific interests; reduce the cultural impact in the communities, and provide opportunities in all communities for being visited by tourists.
Day 1: Arrival in Quito. Upon arrival in Quito transfer from the airport to the hotel. Quito is set in a hollow at the foot of the volcano Pichincha and in addition to its gorgeous landscape, surrounded by hills and several snowcapped mountains, Quito is known for its treasures of Colonial churches, monasteries, paintings, sculptures and carvings and the magnificent blend of Spanish, Flemish, Moorish and pre-Columbian architecture. Therefore in 1978 it has been declared by UNESCO “Patrimony of Mankind”.
Altogether the city has to offer 86 churches and monasteries of the 16th and 17th century. This attractive city is surrounded by ice-capped volcanoes and is located only 22 km away from the “Middle of the World”, the Equatorial Line. Due to its beautiful churches and monasteries, Quito is called and known as the “Convent of America”. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito.
Day 2: Quito. Buffet breakfast. Today, we will have a sightseeing-tour of the city of Quito to give you a first impression of the variety there is regarding religious and cultural sights. During our stay in the old part of the city, you can still breathe the colonial history of Ecuador. As the excursion leads you through the interesting streets of Quito, the local culture welcomes you with beauty and intrigue.
Your guide will take you for a walk through the culturally diverse history of Quito. Visit the Church of San Francisco (inside) -which is said to be the first religious building constructed in South America by the Spanish. On the way we will pass the church of La Compañia, which has the most ornate and richly sculptured façade and interior. Have a closer look at the heart of the city of Quito: the Independence Square with the Government Palace and the Cathedral (outside).
On the modern part of the city we will see the stone-carved front of Ecuador’s House of Congress, this façade shows the history of Ecuador, since our first natives passing through the conquer of the Incas and then the Spaniards, the Independence and the new Republic. We lead you to Guapulo, a natural terrace where we will learn about the location of the city, on the foothills of the Pichincha Volcano, admire the spectacular views to the Valleys of Cumbayá and Tumbaco and of the Eastern Chain of Mountains. On a day with clear sky, we can see the Cayambe, the Antizana and Puntas Volcanoes.
Our tour goes on to the Equatorial Line Monument called “Middle of the World”. Here you get a truly rare experience to stand in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously. The Equatorial Monument, located as focal point of the park, marks the spot where an 18th century French scientific expedition established the exact position of the Equator. The area has been built as a typical colonial town, with restaurants, gift shops and Post Office with philatelic sales. Visit the monument and the Ethnographical Museum, which shows the history of the Indian cultures of Ecuador. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito.
Day 3: Quito – Jungle. Amazonia - the region that goes from the Andean Mountain Range to the Amazon boundary with Peru is called “El Oriente”, which is the jungle or the rainforest. Its main characteristic is an exuberant tropical vegetation. The vast majority of this beautiful green wilderness remains unspoiled and unexplored, only sparsely populated with indigenous settlements along the tributaries of the Amazon. Yet for the tourist it is relatively accessible and when you are out for a marvelous adventure, then do not miss going to the rainforest!
After buffet breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to the Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve. The Kapawi Project began in 1993. The goal was to commence a new trend in eco-tourism by providing a monthly means of economic support and jobs to the Achuar located in Kapawi as well as in other communities. In 15 years, all installations will belong entirely to the Achuar Indians. The lodge accommodates up to 40 visitors and was built in accordance to the Achuar concept of architecture (not a single nail was used!). Environmentally-friendly methods such as solar energy and trash recycling are also being utilized.
Achuar is the name of one of the four groups of the linguistic family Jivaro, (Achuar, Shuar, Aguaruna and Huambisa). With a global population of about 80.000 people, the Jivaro group is by far the most important homogeneous culture on the Amazon Basin. Well known in the past for their internal wars, the Achuar live today in peace, mostly in small villages, a way of living suggested by the missionaries, wherein they obtain their products produced in small plots -"chacras"- and from hunting, fishing and gathering in the rain forest. At the beginning of the 1970's the Achuar were the only Jivaros who had not suffered any loss of culture due to contact with the western world.
Morning flight from Quito to Shell (30 minutes) and connection flight with a small plane to Scharamanetsa (30 minutes). Once in Kapawi, you will be miles away from what you know as civilization, the nearest town being a 2 week walk through the forest for the local people. This remoteness is what makes Kapawi such a special and unique place.
Kapawi is a place of multiple choices and is characterized by its flexibility. We do not offer fixed programs, but you can design with your guide and your group, the most suitable one to meet your interests and physical condition. In Kapawi you can do many activities and the most of the itineraries will include visits to the Achuar communities, you can share all of a day with the Achuar families, hikes in the rain forest, canoeing in rivers and lakes, swimming, watching piranias, pink dolphins, see caimans and other animals of the area, as well as bird-watching, where there are 480 species.
Kapawi is a great place for birding. In ten days you can get a list of almost 400 species. The river islands often have Horned Screamers and Orinoco Geese. Muscovy Ducks are more prevalent. Other birds of exceptional interest featured in Kapawi are two species of Antwren recently discovered (Herpislochaus and Terenura, sp. Novum), Salvin´s Currasow, Buckley´s Forest-Falcon, Sapphire Quail-Dove, Blue-winged Parrolet, Black-billed Cuckoo, Spotted Puffbird, Tawney-throated Leaftosser, Black Bushbird, Orange-eyed Flycatcher (Tolmomyas trailli, sp. Novum), Moriche Oriole and the most amazing is that you can see and record new species on the islands (like Arremonops, sp. Novum)!
There are three alternatives, according to your physical condition (not your age):
Easy: Programs that include short hikes in the rainforest (up to 3 hours) on well defined trails, visits to the Achuar communities as well as trips in canoes. Meals are served in the lodge or light meals are taken for the trip. Typical Achuar meals are also offered in their communities. During overnight stays in the lodge or in tents.
Moderate: Programs that include medium-distance hikes in the rain forest (up to 5 hours), sometimes crossing flooded areas. Trips in canoes and visits to the Achuar communities are also covered. Light meals are taken for the journey or typical Achuar dishes are served in their communities. Overnight stays include the lodge, in the Achuar communities and occasionally in tents.
Difficult: Demanding hikes of many hours or days in poorly defined and often flooded trails. Porters will carry food and supplies. Overnight stays are in tents or in the Achuar communities. Exploration journeys to virgin areas are occasionally offered. Trips on inaccessible rivers are done in inflatable rafts. Excellent physical condition is required!
Days 4-6: Multiple adventures. Various excursions (see above). All meals included. Overnight at Kapawi Logde.
Day 7: Jungle – Quito. After breakfast transfer to the airport and flight to Quito. After arriving in Quito transfer to your hotel. The afternoon will be at leisure. You may walk around the occupied streets to explore the beauty of this city on your own. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito.
Day 8: Quito – international flight. Buffet breakfast. Transfer to the airport.
2011 Prices: On request.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Ecuador Nature & Wildlife Rainforest Cultural Journey