Canoe through the jungle, spot pink dolphins in the wild, visit an indigenous community, and sleep under the stars — this action-packed itinerary takes you deep into the Ecuadorian Amazon for five days of outdoor adventure! After a day of sightseeing in Quito, you'll travel to the rainforest, entering the jungle aboard a motorized canoe. You'll set up camp on the edge of Zancudococha Lake, your home base for the rest of the trip. Jungle hikes, wildlife spotting excursions, swimming, piranha fishing, and boating are all on the agenda, not to mention guided rainforest hikes after sunset. Keep your eyes open for frogs, spiders, caimans, and other nocturnal wildlife: the jungle comes alive after dark!

Highlights

  • Spend a day sightseeing in the capital city of Quito
  • Travel through the Amazon rainforest in a motorized canoe
  • Camp under the stars and enjoy meals by the campfire
  • Try your hand at fishing for piranhas
  • Paddle through jungle waterways in a traditional canoe
  • Spot pink dolphins on the beautiful lagoon of Delfincocha

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito & Sightsee Quito
Day 2 Travel Through the Rainforest on a Motorized Canoe  Zancudococha
Day 3 Hike in the Jungle & Try Piranha Fishing  Zancudococha
Day 4 Spot Wildlife & Visit an Indigenous Community Zancudococha
Day 5 Depart Ecuador - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito & Sightsee

View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano
View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano
Welcome to Ecuador! Explore the city of Quito on the first day of your trip. Standing at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), it welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas situated between mountain peaks. Spend your first day in the country exploring the capital and sampling Ecuadorian cuisine. The city has an abundance of marketplaces, shamanistic healers, and fourth-generation hat makers, as well as a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene. 
 
A guide will take you on a walking tour through the colonial center of Quito. You will visit the Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches La Compañía and La Basílica. Walk down the oldest street of Quito, La Ronda. Afterward, you will visit the equatorial monument Mitad del Mundo, where French scientists determined the position of the equator's line many years ago. Stop for dinner in a traditional restaurant, then stay overnight at your hotel in Quito.

Day 2: Travel Through the Rainforest on a Motorized Canoe 

Main means of transportation, the motorized canoe
Main means of transportation, the motorized canoe
Head to the airport for a short early-morning flight to Puerto Francisco de Orellana, locally called El Coca. Your adventure starts here at the gateway to the rainforest. With a local guide, you will drive to Tierras Orientales, one of the last outposts on the Aguarico River. After loading the camping equipment and supplies for the next few days onto a motorized canoe, embark on the journey to Zancudococha Lake, located deep inside the Amazon rainforest.

Float past small settlements of indigenous tribes such as the Kichwa, Shuar, and Secoya. You will also be able to spot birds and turtles sunbathing by the river banks. Stop at one of the natural river beaches for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, you will arrive at the mouth of the water channel that connects the Augarico River with the lake. Crossing this narrow channel, look for more wildlife. This is a good place to see the endangered giant river otter, for example. 

Eventually, you'll arrive at tonight's campsite. After setting up camp, take a refreshing dip in the lake. With a bit of luck, you might be able to spot a pink river dolphin. You'll enjoy a delicious dinner, then you can join the naturalist guide on a night walk near the camp to look out for spiders, frogs, and a wide range of nocturnal animals.

Day 3: Hike in the Jungle & Try Piranha Fishing 

Leaf frog species discovered during the jungle walk
A leaf frog in the jungle
After waking up to the sounds of howler monkeys, linger over a healthy breakfast that will give you strength for today's jungle hike. During the walk, your naturalist guides will point out wildlife and explain the jungle's plants and their uses. Back at camp, put on your swimming suit for a refreshing swim in the lake before lunch is served at the campsite. Then take some time for a siesta in a hammock.

In the afternoon, you can try your hand at fishing piranhas. When it gets dark, it is time to venture out on the lake to look for caimans. You'll sleep under the stars again tonight!

Day 4: Spot Wildlife & Visit an Indigenous Community

Watching out for animals along the river banks
Looking for wildlife along the river
Start this long day of adventures with a hearty breakfast. Then climb into a canoe to cross the channel from Zancudococha Lake to the Aguarico River while spotting as much wildlife as possible! Since you will be navigating silently without a motor, the task will be relatively easy. At the river's mouth, you will board a motorized canoe and head straight to the Lagartococha River, which forms the border between Ecuador and Peru.
 
Lagartococha River is a blackwater river that's fueled by rain water. The intersection of Lagartococha and Aguarico is a great spot to see the pink river dolphin. Then continue upstream until you reach Delfincocha, a beautiful lagoon where you can take a swim and see pink dolphins. After a picnic lunch, continue upstream into the territory of the Secoya tribe. The friendly people of this indigenous community will show you around the village and teach you about the preparation of their traditional bread. Return to camp before the sun sets and enjoy one last dinner by the campfire.

Day 5: Depart Ecuador - End of Trip

Plaza Grande in Old Town Quito
Plaza Grande in Old Town Quito

Before breakfast, join your guide to observe birds, as this is the time they are most active. Then return by motorized canoe to Tierras Orientales. From here, you'll head back to civilization and the airport in Quito to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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