Ecuador Highlands


From the heights of the Andes to the depths of the Amazon Jungle, this 8-day trip will take you further. You’ll walk through the Amazon Jungle with an indigenous guide leading the way, hike in Cotopaxi National Park – home to one of the world’s largest active volcanos – and canoe to your river-side eco-lodge accommodation on the edge of the rainforest (to name just a few of the epic nature-loving adventures). But it’s not all just about the landscapes here, you’ll also get a glimpse into everyday life during a homestay with a local family where you’ll connect with them, lending a hand with chores, doing seasonal activities and perhaps, brushing up on your Espanol. There’s so much to see, do and learn in this South American paradise.

8 days, from

$1,156

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: GGSH
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Ecuador
Accommodation: Hotel (3 nights), Jungle Eco Lodge (2 nights), Homestay (2 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , Public bus
Included Meals:

  • 7 breakfasts
  • 3 lunches
  • 4 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Stay on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest in eco lodge-style accommodation on the banks of the Arajuno River and enjoy a special evening walk through the jungle under the night sky.

  • Walk in the rainforest with an indigenous guide by your side to lead the way, point out local birds and teach you about the incredible plant life that thrives here. Then, visit an Amazon animal rescue centre.

  • Opt to hike to Pailon del Diablo, an 80-meter-high waterfall so fierce that you’ll need to carry a poncho to keep dry from its wrath.

  • Marvel at the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano – one of the largest active volcanos in the world – while hiking through Cotopaxi National Park.

  • Live like a local as you’re welcomed into a family home in a sustainable community high in the hills of Ecuador, getting your hands dirty and helping with everyday tasks like reforestation projects, organic gardening or jam making, to name a few.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Quito

Bienvenido! Welcome to Ecuador. Your South American adventure begins in the country’s capital of Quito – high in the Andes. You can expect to be greeted by the relaxed atmosphere that Ecuador does so well. You’ll notice a mix of modern and traditional houses dotted halfway up the surrounding mountain peaks that frame the city and an Old Town with ancient architectural jewels just waiting to be explored. Our trip officially kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening, where you’ll meet your group leader and travel pals. If you arrive with time to spare, we recommend taking a wander through the cobblestone streets, checking out the eclectic market stalls or perhaps joining an Intrepid Urban Adventure tour through the city’s historic centre. Discover more here: Quito Legends and Culture Tour (urbanadventures.com)

Day 2: Tena - Amazon

After breakfast this morning, you’ll wave goodbye to the country’s capital as we switch up the pace and make our way from the Andes to the Amazon on a local bus bound for Tena. Your lodge-style accommodation in Tena, on the banks of the Arajuno River, is only accessible by canoe so you can expect a little bit of adventure for the last leg of today’s trip – welcome to the jungle. You'll spend the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps exploring the eco-lodge, built with all-natural materials, and soaking up the atmosphere of this magical place surrounded by rainforest. In the evening, you’ll enjoy dinner at the eco-lodge, listening to the singing sounds of jungle insects and the flicker of the fireplace. Then, wander the area under the twinkling night sky on a special night walk with your locally-based leader guiding the way.

Day 3: Tena- Amazon

Fuel up on breakfast this morning – we have a big day of adventures ahead. First up, you’ll get the chance to hike into the rainforest with an indigenous guide leading the way. Listen carefully as they point out local bird species and teach you about the incredible plant life that thrives here. You’ll be surrounded by one of the most magnificent landscapes on Earth, teeming with wildlife, so make sure you take a moment to breathe it all in. After lunch, you’ll visit an animal rescue centre to learn more about the local wildlife (and how we can help to protect them).

Day 4: Banos

Take the opportunity to mingle with the locals and, perhaps brush up on your Spanish, on a public bus to Banos today. Surrounded by towering verdant mountains, home to hot springs and etched with waterways that lead to thundering waterfalls – we think you’re going to like it here. On arrival, stretch your legs with a leader-led walking tour of the city to find your bearings and get the inside scoop on the best places to grab a bite to eat. Then, in the afternoon opt to visit Pailon del Diablo, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the area. The 80-meter-high falls have a mighty strength that whips up a spray of water – showering anyone in its path. Expect stairs - a lot of them - but expect to forget all about them when you reach the view of Pailon del Diablo.

Day 5: Cotopaxi National Park- Yunguilla Community Stay

Rise bright and early this morning as we hit the road for Cotopaxi National Park. This national park is home to three volcanos, including one of the largest active volcanos in the world – the park’s namesake, Cotopaxi. We’ll take to the winding trails that meander through the park for a hike through the area that sits below the dominating, snow-capped volcano. Keep your eyes peeled for foxes, white-tailed deer and Brazilian rabbits that call this area home. After some time to explore, you'll head to Yunguilla village, where members of the community will be waiting to welcome you to their home and show you a glimpse into their lives. This evening, enjoy a traditional homemade dinner and a chance to get to know your host family.

Day 6: Yunguilla Community Stay

Today, you’ll be immersed in the local way of life as you spend the full day alongside your host family. There will be different jobs to participate in and experiences to enjoy depending on the time of season you travel. You may be invited to get your hands dirty with reforestation projects or organic gardening, you might learn to make jam or cheese or even get a little creative and work on traditional handicrafts. Whatever you get up to, the best part of today is simply spending time with the local family, getting to know their way of life, learning about their culture and even learning a new Spanish phrase, or three. This is your chance to feel like a local for a day and dive into the customs and cultures of this sustainable community high in the hills of Ecuador.

Day 7: Otavalo-Quito

You’ll say adios to your newfound family and friends after breakfast this morning and make your way to Otavalo Market – this is one of the biggest markets in all of South America for handicrafts. Do you know what that means? It’s one of the best places for you to haggle for souvenirs. You can expect to find hats, tapestries, ceramics, textiles and so much more. And if shopping isn’t your thing – don't worry, simply watch as the bustling markets beat with the drum of locals busily selling their goods. After working up an appetite at the manic market stalls, you’ll grab a bite to eat (own expense) before making tracks back to Quito for the evening. This evening, perhaps rally your travel companions together for one final dinner before your trip comes to an end tomorrow. Ask your group leaders for recommendations on the best street eats or bars in the city.

Day 8: Quito

Your adventure comes to an end today after breakfast. You may like to stay on for a few extra days to make the most of your visit here. We’ll be happy to assist in booking accommodation (subject to availability).