Travellers get the opportunity to share the lifestyle and immerse themselves in the live culture of Ecuador, we visit both the Andean highlands and coastal lowland jungles of the Choco region. We get to interact and share time with the people of the Otavalo, Chachi, Embera and Afro Ecuadorian groups.
Arrival transfer, hotel stay at a colonial mansion or boutique hotel in the downtown area.
Visit the colonial downtown of Quito a UNESCO heritage site, learn about the unique religious art the capital of Ecuador has to offer. You will get the chance to visit several churches and marvel at the religious art from the Quito school. Seehow the indigenous born painters assimilated the European techniques creating a blen of styles found nowhere else. A short stop at the Sinchi Sacha foundations souvenir shop will allow us to see the diferent crafts from around the country.
After visiting downtown Quito, we will enjoy lunch at a typical restaurant with international and local dishes (lunch is optional). We will then visit the middle of the world monument and the ethnographic museum. After a full day of touring, we return to our hotel.
North of Quito is the valley of the awakening sun, home to the Otavalo ethnic group. The Otavaleño people live in several communities and are one of the most prosperous indigenous nations anywhere. En-route to the Otavalo market we will visit several small villages, each specializing in a craft. Learn how traditional crafts and innovation keep these cultures alive and prosperous.
Some of the craftsmen villages & towns we may visit:
Calderon: Bread dough figures
Cayambe: Small city known for its traditional biscuits and leaf cheese
Agato: Textiles, backstrap loom and Spanish loom weaving of ponchos
Peguche: Musical instrument workshop and Andean folk music
Iluman: Shamanic rituals and ceremony
San Antonio: Crafted wood workshops and master carvers
Cotacachi: Fine leather goods
We will visit most of the above villages depending on passengers interests. Our visit to the Otavalo market will help us understand the social interaction and local economy, this colorful gathering will allow us to observe handicrafts and textiles from the surrounding villages and other parts of the country in one plaza.
The afternoon of the first day we will visit a local family where we will spend the night, at dinner we get a chance to enjoy local food made from fresh produce. We will be able to practice our Spanish and talk to our friendly hosts and learn about their lifestyle. Accommodation is in a nice twin bed cabin with a private bathroom and fireplace.
Our second day in the Awakening valley we start with an early yet delicious breakfast with fresh fruit from the garden and homemade tortillas or bread.
Our second day in the Otavalo area starts with a delicious breakfast with fresh fruit from the garden and homemade tortillas or bread. This morning we get to help the family (optional) with their everyday activities. We will then continue visiting local villages and learn more about the indigenous lifestyle. We spend another night with our host family learning a little more about their traditoins and culture.
On our third day in the northern Andes we depart early and head north-west to the coastal lowlands. After a 3 hour scenic drive passing the Chota valley famous for producing Ecuador´s best soccer players (7 all-star players are born in this region) we traverse the upper choco mountain range and descend into the rainforest region arriving at the river town of Borbon. This small Afro-Ecuadorian village is a quiet river port, it is a poverty stricken place with pleasant people. In Borbon we board our canoe for a 2 hour river tour on our way to Kumanii Lodge our base for exploring the Choco rainforest.
Enjoy scenery along the Río Cayapas, including views of primary and secondary rainforest, traditional Chachi and Afro-Ecuadorian dwellings, plantations and more. Box lunch in the canoe. Early evening and welcome reception at Kumanii Lodge, followed by room assignments and time to explore the grounds. After an early dinner at the lodge we depart in motor canoe for the Afro-Ecuadorian community of San Miguel. At this village we will enjoy a show of the dance of the Marimba. Join our neighbors in celebration with the sounds and movements of Afro-Ecuador, featuring song, dance, marimba and drums. Return to Kumanii Lodge. for the night.
Early morning breakfast.and departure in motor canoe for the Chachi community of Corriente Grande to explore a primary Rainforest Trail. Walk through a pristine rainforest known for its fine wood and exotic animals, such as Capuchin and spider monkeys, the Harpy eagle and umbrella birds. (Moderate trail, approximately 2 ½ hours.). We will enjoy refreshments along the trail. Departure in motor canoe for Salto de Bravo for a picnic lunch by the falls near the entrance to the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. See and hear the waters of the Ecuadorian Chocó’s wildest river crashing over giant rocks.
After lunch departure in motor canoe for Kumanii Lodge. Rest and free time at Kumanii Lodge. Dinner and optional evening activities.
After breakfast we take on the Kumanii Trail. Accompany our native naturalist guides on a walk through the rainforest surrounding our lodge. Learn as you touch, taste and smell the plants used traditionally by Chachi and Afro-Ecuadorian people for food, medicine and ceremonies. (Easy or moderate trail option, approximately 2 hours.). We return to our lodge for lunch and free time.
Afternoon departure for the Chachi community of Loma Linda. Join our guides on a ride downriver on rafts made of local balsa wood. After a fun adventure on the river we head for the Chachi Cultural Presentation House. Learn about the indigenous Chachi culture as the people of Loma Linda share with you their traditional activities, from fishing and washing clothes in the river to weaving baskets and dancing in a marriage ceremony.
Departure in motor canoe for Kumanii Lodge. Dinner and optional evening activities.
After an early breakfast we depart from Kumani Lodge towards Borbon from where we will have a long scenic drive by the beaches of Esmeraldas towards the Rio Verde Pura Vida beach resort. We will spend a couple days relaxing by the beach and enjoying the coastal life of Ecuador. We can see how the people of the Ecuadorian coast live, enjoy the delicious sea food, wake up early and meet with the local fisherman as they return with the night catch. Optional mountain biking and tropical forest treks are available.
We will spend two days at the lodge and then continue our route towards Santo Domingo de los Colorados, here we will arrive at a local cloudforest lodge and enjoy the sounds of hundreds of birds in the area.
Santo Domingo is part of Ecuador lowlands and home of Tsachila community famous for their powerfull shamans and for being descendants of the Chachi of the Choco. They are known as Colorados - Colored - because men dye their hair with a natural red food dye as part of their ceremonial attire. We will get the chance to speak with the tribe and participate in a spiritual ceremony.
Afternoon return to Quito and lodging at a hotel near the airport.
Transfer out for your intenational flight home. Today we have the option to join a trip extension on board one of our Galapagos tours or an Amazon cruise tour.
The above is a sample itinerary prepared for a University academic program. It can be customized to fit the needs and special interests of your travellers.