Ecuador’s capital is spread across a stunning Andean valley and bordered by volcanic peaks. Its historical center – or “old town” – has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. After arriving to Quito’s airport, you will be taken to your hotel to freshen up before a welcome dinner with our Ecuadorian hosts. Enjoy a well deserved rest prior to a high energy week.
We begin our journey through Ecuador with a visit to one its famous rose plantations in Pifo followed by an evening of wellness at the Termas de Papallacta spa and hot springs. Relax and get limbered up for the remainder of our active week.
You’ll experience the waters of the Amazon region today by rafting the upper Napo River. The name means “Big Water” in Quechua, but both beginners and experts will enjoy the combination of exciting rapids, calm pools and the rainforest scenery. After a picnic on the river bank, enjoy some Ecuadorian Pacari chocolate before transferring to La Casa del Suizo. By the end of your journey you’ll be in the rainforest at a lodge on the Napo River, which is one of the main tributaries to the Amazon River. You’ll be neighbors with a small Quechua village, surrounded by one of the most precious and ecologically diverse places in the world. Here, you will enjoy a BBQ dinner.
This entire day is dedicated to immersion in the Amazon way of life. Walk through the rainforest after breakfast to visit a local community. For a true hands-on Amazon experience, you’ll actually be making your own raft today with help and guidance from local experts. You’ll also spend some time with a shaman and take part in a special ceremony.
Before departing Amazonia for the Andes highlands, get familiar with the community’s everyday life and traditions and participate in a reforestation project along with local children. After lunch cooked by women from the village, head to the Andes highlands, famous for the “Avenue of the Volcanoes” and typical haciendas turned into quaint lodges. You’ll enjoy dinner at your accommodation for the night with an extraordinary view of the volcano and surrounding landscape. The chef will treat you to some of the secrets of Ecuadorian food.
Today, you’ll explore Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. There are a number of ways to experience the “Avenue of Volcanoes”. After breakfast, you’ll head into the National Park, where you can choose to go horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking or even take a cooking class. You’ll enjoy lunch at Tierra del Volán, a local adventure tour operator that owns three traditional Andean haciendas near Cotopaxi.
In the morning you’ll board the historic Tren Crucero, a true treasure of historical design pulled by steam and diesel locomotives, to cross the Ecuadorian Andes with lunch en route. In the afternoon, you’ll head to the heart of the Andean cloud forest where you’ll spend the next two nights exploring this unique region from the home base of the award-winning Mashpi Lodge, which offers unique tours of the surrounding preserve by “air bike” as well as lively culinary experiences from the lodge’s resident chef.
The entire day will be spent exploring the Mashpi reserve on several outings from the lodge. Before breakfast, watch the sunrise from above the canopy -- 100 meters off the ground on an observation platform. You’ll be at eye-level for birdwatching and have a great view of the Mashpi natural reserve. After breakfast, you’re back on the ground to hike through the forest to the butterfly house, where you’ll learn about a number of endemic species. A special garden nearby features tropical plants like bananas, yucca, cacao, coffee and wild raspberries.
You’ll head back to Quito today, but first you’ll visit the archaeological site of the Sacred Valley of Tulipe -- the ceremonial center of the Yumbo people. Then, you’ll head straight to the equator to visit the “Mitad del Mundo” or Middle of the World monument and the Museo Intiñan, where exhibits will shine some light on the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and on the phenomena that occur at the magnetic equator. Upon arrival to Quito, explore historic downtown before dinner at El Ventanal.
Meet with local adventure suppliers during MARKETPLACE this morning and join the Tourism Minister of Ecuador for a press conference and share in the great tourism news you’ve been a part of all week. Buyer participants will have a chance to share their impressions of Ecuador and give advice to local suppliers about how to put together adventure itineraries for adventure travelers. Tonight, our hosts will treat us with a special farewell dinner at the Santo Domingo church.
AdventureWeek Ecuador comes to an end today. We’ll depart from Quito International airport to our respective homes.