Tailored from £6,000 per person excl. flights
10 days Quito, Napo, Tena, Yasuní, Papallacta
10 days Quito, Napo, Tena, Yasuní, Papallacta
This is an itinerary for the adventurers who are looking to seek out the hidden spots of Ecuador's mainland, bursting to the brim with different cultures and wildlife. Journeying from the highlands of Quito, towards the Amazon Rainforest venture far away from cities and into untouched corners of wilderness. On a scenic road-trip travel east through lush cloud forests to the gateway of the Amazon, following chocolate trails and bathing in hot-springs all the way back to the centre of the equator.
The tour kicks-off in Quito, Ecuador's capital city high in splendid mountain terrain. Explore UNESCO Heritage colonial sites and learn from local curanderos to get a taste of the fusion of cultures that form Ecuador's identity today. Drive through the highlands to reach the cloud forests, and stay in cabins surrounded by winding trails frequented by endemic birds and other colourful animals.
Drive onwards to Coca, the last city before the Ecuadorian Amazon. It is here that you'll be met by a speedboat and transferred up the Río Napo into the remotest areas of the rainforest. Disembarking and climbing on board a non-motorised canoe, drift quietly further towards your lodge in pristine rainforest. Spend days following the trails of rainforest creatures and canoeing through flooded forests with monkeys overhead. There'll be plenty of pit-stops on the way back to Quito. First, stop off for a chocolate trail with the Santa Rita community before trying lunch with a host community. Explore the lesser-seen side of the Amazon from the perspective of Don Pedro, a local visionary, and visit the animal rehabilitation centre to see beautiful creatures reintroduced to the wild. Your trip will end in relaxation at the hot-springs warmed by volcanic earth.
¡Bienvenido a Ecuador! Today our representatives will be waiting to collect you at Mariscal Sucre International Airport to take you to your luxury lodge in the heart of Quito - Ecuador's beautiful capital city.
Hotel Mama Cuchara is a small family-owned boutique a stone's throw from Quito's UNESCO Heritage historic centre. This evening, relax with a drink on the rooftop terrace or catch up on lost sleep in comfy beds before your holiday commences.
This morning you'll wake up in the highlands of Ecuador. At 2,850 meters above sea-level, Quito is beautifully positioned on the slopes of Volcán Pichincha and the city is situated almost exactly on the equator.
Our knowledgable guide will escort you north out of the city to visit the 'Ciudad Mitad del Mundo' and the Initñam Museum and it is here that you will learn about the ancient cultures of Ecuador that pre-dated both the Inca rule and Spanish colonisation. These are the foundations of the city that you will go on to visit this afternoon, and the monument near the Pululahua volcano marks the placement of the equator.
This afternoon, you'll visit the monumental colonial centre of Quito. For art enthusiasts, see how the Christian iconography of Quito’s colonial buildings are punctuated with Ecuadorian images and motifs. Ecuadorian plants and animals are detailed into the artwork in the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús; gargoyles of armadillos, iguanas and Galapagos tortoises guard the Basílica del Voto Nacional; and the Plaza Grande’s cathedral features an Andean take on ‘The Last Supper’, a feast of cuy asado y humitas (roasted guinea pig and traditional maize dumplings), washed down with chicha (corn beer). It's a feast for the eyes!
This afternoon you'll visit the Republica del Cacao, where you'll kick off your chocolate tour. Learn about traditional Ecuadorian methods of producing authentic and delicious chocolate on their sustainable cocoa plantation. Taste different flavours of the country in varied forms of sweet goods, and wash it down with a visit to a fruit stall to make your own juice selected from a vast array of different colourful fruits. This afternoon, after a long day's excursion, our local curandero will initiate a herbal cleansing ceremony, where you'll learn about the healing qualities of local produce.
Today you'll leave Quito and head east to cloud forest reserves in Cosanga. Your lodge is nestled in between two national parks and reached by a two-hour paved road from Ecuador's capital. Once you arrive the day is yours to spend following trails through the forest, watching species of tanager and toucan feed from the fruiting trees above, or have a day's cooking class with the local chefs, renowned for their colourful and nutritious cuisine.
This morning you'll leave your Cabañas and drive for 1.5 hours to Misahualli, gradually making your way to the Amazon rainforest. Today, you'll visit the Santa Rita community and explore the chocolate trails. This is the initial stage of chocolate production and here on the plantation beans are harvested from brilliantly coloured pods. Learn about the process of producing world-renowned chocolate and try your hand at roasting the beans yourselves.
The host community will prepare a delicious lunch for you in their home. Today, archeological remains of the ancient Napo Runas for rituals are still prominent in this area, and are still used by local shamans. There are 200 petroglyphs that keep the knowledge and practices of the locals a secret, this is testimonial to the richness and power of their ancient culture. You'll learn about rituals and traditions in a meaningful cultural exchange, and return to your lodge for an evening of relaxation.
After your introduction yesterday to the pride of culture in this incredibly rich setting, today you'll meet with a local visionary for a deeper exploration. Don Pedro will guide you around Paykawe Lake, and on an hour long paddle he'll share stories of his life whilst introducing you to his friends - exotic birds, spider and wooly monkeys all abundant in these surroundings.
Following a morning of wildlife, travel down the river on a motorised canoe from Misahualli to Arajuno river - the tranquil land of the Runa Huasi and an animal rehabilitation centre where mistreated animals have been reintroduced to the wild since 1993. It is here that you can expect to see a wide variety of animals including caimans, macaws, tapirs, turtles and more. You'll listen to stories of their lives, and the efforts of the centre to get them back into their natural environment. After visiting the centre, a drift down the river will take you back to Misahualli and the lodge for a quiet evening.
Rise early as today you'll drive up to Coca, the last real city before the Amazon Rainforest takes over. The drive takes just over 3 hours and as soon as you arrive at Francisco de Orellana Port you'll jump on-board a motorised canoe and set off downstream on the Napo River. This is Ecuador's major tributary of the Amazon River and on your boat ride you'll start to spot various animals that dwell here as well as awe-inspiring views of the Amazon jungle opening up before your eyes.
On the 2-hour journey you'll be provided with a home-cooked lunch box with an array of colourful local produce. Disembarking on Napo Wildlife Center's private dock doesn't mean that the journey is quite over, as due to this remote lodge's location in a protected reserve, there are no motorised vessels allowed here. Instead, you'll board a dugout canoe and effortlessly drift a short distance to reach Añagu Lake where the lodge is situated.
Upon your afternoon arrival, the lodge's owners (the local community) will be waiting to greet you with refreshing welcome drinks.
This morning, bright and early, you'll experience one of the world's brightest spectacles. The nutrient-rich clay-licks attract hundreds of tropical birds which come to feed here every day. The impressive colours of dozens of different species of bird joined with the spectacular sounds make this a sensory experience that will stick with you for a lifetime.
Following a morning excursion, return to the lodge for some well-earned brunch before setting off fo a hike along the forest trail to visit the Kichwa Añangu Community to share some time with the local families that live here. Continuing the adventure, hike back from the creek through the Terra Firma spotting monkeys hanging overhead. Soon, the pathway will lead you to a second clay-lick where parrots, parakeets and scarlet macaws congregate in huge numbers.
Late in the afternoon arrive back to Napo Wildlife Center for a rest. Following supper, venture out for one last walk - a nighttime jungle adventure to witness myriad creatures that only come out in the dark.
After a delicious breakfast early this morning, head off to the canopy observation tower - a 36 meter high platform where you'll be able to gain panoramic views of the Amazon rainforest surrounding. Right next to the ancient Kapok tree, to get to the top you have to pass through different levels of the forest and when you finally get all the way up, the immensity and beauty of the Amazon opens up before you. Birds that are virtually impossible to see from the ground below suddenly appear in startling proximity. Flocks of vibrantly coloured tanagers, blue-and-yellow macaws and different species of toucans fly past.
Return for lunch at the lodge, before travelling deeper on a terra firma trail to discover the beautiful and mysterious wildlife that hides in the forest interior. Along this trail there are so many opportunities to see lizards, different monkeys such as the endemic Golden Mantle Tamarin monkey, rare and unique insects and even some snakes disguised on branches. The trail will lead you to an opening where you'll climb on board a canoe across the lake and into the winding streams to see giant river otters and hundreds of fish.
This morning you'll bid farewell to Napo Wildlife Center, and journey back 2 hours to Coca. It's going to be a long day's travel, but it'll feel worth it when you arrive in Papallacta - home to relaxing hot-springs.
Upon arrival this afternoon, a refreshing beverage and a spa treatment will be awaiting you. Spend the rest of your day relaxing by the pool-side, or bathing in 10 thermal pools of different temperatures and cooling off in the cold springs. This truly is a treat and the perfect way to relax after a long but rewarding trip on the road, and up the River Napo.
Adios Ecuador - or until next time. Today sadly marks your departure from Ecuador. At the suitable time our driver will pick you up from your lodge and escort you in an hour to the international airport for your flight.