- Walk down the oldest street of Quito—La Ronda
- Visit the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in the Amazon Jungle
- Hike along the “Playas” trail to experience amazon wildlife
- Learn about the Kichwa culture from the aboriginal community
|Day 1||Arrival and transfer to hotel in Quito||Quito|
|Day 2||City Tour Quito - Mitad del Mundo - Quito||Quito|
|Day 3||Cuicocha Lagoon - Cotacachi - Otavalo||Otavalo|
|Day 4||Otavalo Market - Mindo||Mindo|
|Day 5||Cloudforest of Mindo - Quito||Quito|
|Day 6||Quito - Coca - Yasuni National Park||Yasuni National Park|
|Day 7||Parrot clay licks- Community project - Observation Tower||Yasuni National Park|
|Day 8||Indigenous community - Mama Cuna Path||Yasuni National Park|
|Day 9||Wayusa Ritual - Coca - Quito||Quito|
|Day 10||Day at leisure until departure|
Day 1: Arrival and transfer to hotel in Quito
Approaching the International Airport Mariscal Sucre, you'll quickly get a glimpse at the immense Andean capital of Quito, in beautiful Ecuador. Upon arrival, your Spanish-speaking driver will be ready to welcome you and take you and transfer you to your hotel.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), welcoming you with its famous picturesque plazas ( squares), situated between mountain peaks. Immediately, you will get a sense of the warm and welcoming Ecuadorian Sierra Culture and experience the diversity of this beautiful city.
Day 2: City Tour Quito - Mitad del Mundo - Quito
Today, after breakfast, your English-speaking guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you on a walking city tour. The colonial center of Quito was already named world cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 1978 and is home to many beautiful, historic buildings and squares.
Day 3: Cuicocha Lagoon - Cotacachi - Otavalo
This morning, you will explore the surroundings of the Cuicocha Lagoon during a hike through the vivid flora of the Andean highlands, where blue waters and an awe-inspiring scene await you. The lagoon is one of Ecuador's hidden gems, sitting just outside of Otavalo, where you can sometimes hike around the whole thing without ever running into another person.
After a traditional lunch in Cotacachi, you will visit a small archaeological museum, before continuing to the famous Otavalo Market where you can enjoy exotic fruits and vegetables. You will find beautiful paintings, carvings, handpainted bowls, and much more to take with you as a souvenir.
Hike duration: 4-5 hours
Day 4: Otavalo Market - Mindo
If you didn't get to explore the Otavalo Market yesterday thoroughly, today would be your chance. Otavalo features one of the most famous traditional markets in South America. Here, the indigenous people of the surrounding areas gather to trade anything from animals over handicrafts to fresh vegetables and fruits.
Take a stroll through the streets and maybe try some of the local street food such as salted mango or fritada con mote (fried pork with cooked corn). Afterward, you will continue to the small town of Mindo, located in the Ecuadorian cloud forest. Its location at the western slopes of the Andean highlands has blessed the region with mild temperatures and a lot of rainfall.
Thanks to the favorable conditions, the Mindo area is known for its incredibly high biodiversity. You will discover different bird species, dozens of butterflies, and countless insect species. Visit the Butterfly Garden, hike to beautiful waterfalls, or enjoy ziplining between the trees. Don't forget to take the opportunity and get a hands-on experience creating chocolate.
Day 5: Cloudforest of Mindo - Quito
This morning, you will explore the lush green cloud forest of Mindo. Its location at the western slopes of the Andean highlands has blessed the region with mild temperatures and a lot of rainfall. Due to the favorable conditions, the Mindo has incredibly high biodiversity.
Day 6: Quito - Coca - Yasuni National Park
Arriving at Napo Cultural Center, you will have the outstanding chance to step onto the aboriginal territory of the kichwa Añangu community, with its members welcoming you with a traditional and refreshing ice-cold “wayusa."
Day 7: Parrot Clay Licks - Community project - Observation Tower
Today, you will have an early breakfast, followed by a motorboat ride to one of the highlights of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve—the parrot clay lick in the riverside of River Napo. Bring your binoculars and camera lenses to see flocks of blue-headed, yellow-crowned parrots and even dusky headed parakeets, from the boat.
You will end the morning with a visit to the intercultural interpretation center "Kuri Muyu," which means golden seed in the native language, handled by the women of the community, also knows as “mamakuna.” Learn about the kichwa culture, crafts, customs, and traditional use of natural resources directly from the people of the aboriginal community.
You will then return to the center of the community to have lunch at the dining hall, and take a break in the lodge before your one-hour hike to climb up the observation tower. Reaching 35 meters above the surface, you will have a big chance to spot a variety of birds, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, toucans, parrots, and sloths. After your dinner this evening, you will enjoy a unique activity at Napo river, aboard the ancestral catamaran to learn about native legends and traditional chants, while women grill some delicious snacks in the fire.
Day 8: Indigenous community - Mama Cuna Path
Following your breakfast at sunrise, you will have an exciting day awaiting you. You will visit the sustainable community projects, talk about the worldview Kichwa Addition to medicinal, and walk along the Mama Cuna path. It is an excellent opportunity to see extended wildlife, ceiba trees, strangler, bamboo cane, vines, and shrubs endemic from Yasuní.
Day 9: Wayusa Ritual - Coca - Quito
This morning, you will participate in a traditional Kichwa ritual! You will wake up around 04:30 am and drink the traditional energy drink "Wayusa." You can forward to listening to songs in the local language, meditating, and interpreting dreams. It will be a unique "once in a lifetime" experience, where you will experience the harmony, peace, and joy that the indigenous people of South America know so well.
Wayusa is a traditional, energizing herbal tea prepared from the leaves of a sacred tree in the equatorial rain forests of the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle by indigenous people. Each family has their tree and use it as a part of their everyday lives, and has been a part of the Amazonian culture for more than 2000 years.
After breakfast, a motorized canoe will bring you back to El Coca, originally named Puerto Francisco de Orellana, from where you will take the plane back to Quito.
Day 10: Day at leisure until departure
Today you are free to explore Quito on your own before being be picked up for your transfer to the airport. After spending a lot of time in the city already, you might think that there is not much more to see. This could not be further from the truth as there are a few more points of interest to visit and make you feel completely satisfied before your departure.
Here are some more things you can enjoy on your last day:
- Visit the impressive monastery St. Francis at the San Fransisco Square, and enjoy a drink on the square terrace—one of few in the historical center. It is the oldest and most important religious site in Ecuador, with a vast complex holding 13 cloisters, three churches, more than 3,500 works of religious art, and a library with thousands of books and historical documents.
- Enjoy a scenic view from El Panecillo hill, where the Virgin of El Pacenillo stands tall. The madonna is a 147-foot (45 m) tall monument, made up of 7,000 pieces of aluminum. You can walk up the hill if you have a local with you, but otherwise, it is recommended to take a cab or ride the bus.