Ecuador: Amazon, Hot Springs & Volcanoes

National Geographic Journeys, Quito to Quito
Image by G Adventures

Information from G Adventures

Tour description

Ecuador is a small country that packs a punch when it comes to natural beauty, biodiversity, and indigenous heritage. Discover this South American jewel on a memorable adventure, travelling from the emerald-clad Andes to the Amazon’s thriving jungles. Come face-to-face with unique creatures on a nighttime walk through the forest and on a tour of an animal sanctuary; hike through awe-inspiring Cotopaxi National Park, crowned by the soaring Cotopaxi Volcano; and delve into indigenous culture on a visit to an Amazonian community and Omaere Ethnobotanical Park.

What's included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Otavalo Weaving Lesson, Otavalo Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Amazon Home Experience, Tena Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Visit the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park, Baños Your Wellness Moment: Papallacta Hot Springs Visit, Papallacta
  • Arrival transfer
  • Overnight in an historic hacienda
  • Explore the Otavalo handicraft market
  • Cloud forest reserve visit
  • Two nights at an Amazon lodge with jungle excursions
  • Excursion to Cotopaxi National Park
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Visit the otavalo weaving studio and get a lesson from miguel andrango
  • Explore villages and learn about traditional handicrafts and folk art from locals
  • Traverse the amazon jungle with a local naturalist guide
  • Learn about the relationship between cultures and the plants around them at the omaere ethnobotanical park
  • Be surrounded by towering volcanoes

Itinerary

Day 1: Quito Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.

Day 2: Quito/Otavalo Drive into the mountainous Andean highlands, stopping for lunch in the village of Peguche. Meet some of the local residents, and learn about the community’s weaving traditions. Continue to Otavalo, surrounded by misty volcanoes, and visit the town’s famous handicraft market—one of the largest outdoor markets in South America. Browse stalls selling colourful local art, textiles, and souvenirs, and try your hand at haggling. Later, settle into your room at a historic hacienda, where we’ll spend the night.

Day 3: Otavalo/Papallacta Make your way to the village of Papallacta, known for its abundant natural hot springs. En route, visit the home and studio of a renowned traditional weaver, who is working to preserve the indigenous weaving techniques of the Otavalo region. Get a glimpse of the family’s daily life, and observe them at work on the backstrap loom, which has been used in these parts for centuries. Continue to the Papallacta Hot Springs Resort for an afternoon of relaxation. Soak in the mineral-rich waters of the thermal pools, enjoying stunning mountain views, and indulge in a variety of optional spa treatments.

Day 4: Papallacta/Tena Head towards Tena, often called Ecuador’s gateway to the Amazon. On the way, we’ll stop at Guango Lodge to explore the property’s cloud forest reserve—home to a plethora of avian species, including more than 10 varieties of hummingbirds. Enjoy lunch in the lodge’s orchid garden, then continue to Misahualli. This charming town is one of the oldest ports in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and harbours a thriving population of capuchin monkeys. Arrive in Tena and board a motorized canoe to our jungle lodge, perched along the banks of the Arajuno River. This evening, embark on a walk into the forest with a naturalist guide, looking out for the Amazon’s nocturnal creatures.

Day 5: Tena Depart early by canoe to visit a saladero, or a parrot clay lick. Alongside our naturalist guide, observe brightly coloured parrots and parakeets gather here to snack on the mineral-rich clay, which studies suggest aids in digestion and provides an important nutrient supplement. Return to the lodge for breakfast, then take a tour of AmaZOOnico, an animal rescue centre that rehabilitates wild creatures that have been victims of illegal trafficking. Later, we’ll visit the home of a local Amazonian family for a unique cultural experience. Chat with your hosts about their traditions and beliefs and learn about everyday life in the jungle; then sit down to a delicious homemade lunch.

Day 6: Tena/Baños Leave the Amazon behind and travel to Baños. This popular resort town is packed with gorgeous landscapes, thrilling outdoor activities, and—as the name indicates—thermal springs originating from the base of the Tungurahua Volcano. Along the way, stop at Omaere Ethnobotanical Park for a walk with an expert guide, discovering the diverse flora of the region and learning about the indigenous uses of the various plants found there. After arriving in Baños, enjoy free time to stroll through the town; or opt to go horseback riding through the picturesque countryside.

Day 7: Baños The day is yours to explore Baños and the surrounding area. Choose to head to the mountains for an invigorating hike, and later soak your tired muscles in one of the town’s thermal springs. Set off on a mountain biking adventure, pedaling past rivers, waterfalls, and delightfully green landscapes; opt to hit the rapids on a white-water rafting excursion; and much more.

Day 8: Baños/Quito Drive back to Quito, Ecuador’s capital, along the spectacular Avenue of Volcanoes. En route, we’ll venture through Cotopaxi National Park—home to the snowcapped Cotopaxi Volcano, the second highest peak in the country. As you explore this magnificent park, keep an eye out for the resident wildlife, which ranges from condors, foxes, and deer to the vicuna and the endangered Andean puma.

Day 9: Quito Depart at any time.