Ecuador: Raft, Hike & Bike
|Resort:||Ecuador: Raft, Hike & Bike|
Work up a sweat getting an insight into the wonderful South American country of Ecuador on this active, ten-day journey. Hike from the glistening crater lake of Quilotoa to the tiny Andean village of Chugchilan, go mountain biking down the world’s highest active volcano in Cotopaxi National Park and hit the rapids on a main tributary of the Amazon River, the Jatunyacu (Big Water) River. You’ll also go on a guided walking tour of Amazonian jungle, enjoy plenty of free time in chilled out Banos and discover the World Heritage-listed charms of Quito.
Day 1 Quito
Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. After this important meeting, join your leader on a walking tour of the historic centre of Quito where you’ll see the Plaza Grande (main square), Archbishop’s Palace, Basilica del Voto Nacional, La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus) and San Francisco churches. Afterwards, head to a local restaurant on La Ronda Street for an optional group dinner, or hit the town on your own.
Day 2 SuchiPakari Lodge (Amazon Jungle)
Today will be an early start, as the group will be on the move by 7 am. Catch a local bus from Quito Central Station to Tena (approximately 5 hours). There’s no toilet on board, but the bus will stop for one toilet break during the journey. From Tena, travel by private vehicle to your lodge for the next two nights, arriving by approximately 1.30 pm, just in time for lunch. After lunch join your tour leader and a local guide for a jungle hike. In the afternoon, try your hand at making chocolate from scratch. After a group dinner enjoy a night walk through the jungle looking for insects and nocturnal animals.
Day 3 SuchiPakari Lodge (Amazon Jungle)
In the morning after breakfast, you will travel by canoe to visit a local indigenous community and become part of the local family as you interact and learn about their lifestyle and customs, you will also get to prepare a local drink known as chicha.
Day 4 Tena Rafting / Banos
Today is a bucket list day as you go whitewater rafting on a main tributary of the Amazon River. The adventure begins after breakfast when you’re picked up by rafting experts for the 40-minute drive to the village of Cando in Llanganates National Park and the class III (medium waves, but not much considerable danger) Jatunyacu River. No previous experience is needed to raft this river, which originates from a glacier and springs fed by the Cotopaxi Volcano. It’s a perfect combination of exciting rapids, calm pools and vibrant jungle scenery. At a halfway point near a Kichwa community you’ll enjoy a well-earned, homemade lunch and a chance to exchange experiences with locals. The rafting adventure ends in Puerto Napo, where your private vehicle will be waiting with your bags. After a quick shower and a change into fresh, warm clothes board a local bus for the three-hour drive to Banos, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 5 Banos
After an orientation walk of Banos take a private vehicle to Pondoa, a small village in the shadow of the Tungurahua Volcano, for a hands-on lesson on Ecuadorian farm life. Plan on milking cows, harvesting whatever needs to be picked – corn, tamarillo, babaco – before sitting down to a lunch prepared with your harvest. In the afternoon visit a viewpoint and seismic monitoring station named La Casa del Arbol (The Treehouse). On a clear day you’ll have spectacular views of Banos and the Tungurahua Volcano, but no matter the weather you’ll be free to try the Swing at the End of the World, a must for adrenalin junkies. With hearts pounding you’ll head to Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron), an 80-metre (262-foot) waterfall. A walk down narrow stairs will provide extraordinary photo opportunities of the waterfall upon a platform, but be advised: Be sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho and waterproof case or water-tight snap-lock bag to keep your camera and any valuables dry. Afterwards drive back to Banos for the night.
Day 6 Banos
Enjoy a free day in Banos, a city that offers a variety of adventurous and relaxing experiences (please see safety note below). There are several options for soaking in natural hot springs, or perhaps a massage, even salsa dancing. Your leader can help you choose from many outdoor activities, or you can engage in more spiritual pursuits with a visit to the Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water, a magnificent basilica and pilgrimage destination.
Day 7 Quilotoa / Cotopaxi
Depart Banos early for Quilotoa, an emerald-coloured volcano crater lake, in a private vehicle that you will use for the remainder of your trip. Along the way you’ll stop at the Pujili or Salasaca Market. After taking in the sights and sounds of this very real mountain market you’ll continue to Quilotoa lagoon, located at 3900 metres (12,800 feet) above sea level. The 250 metre (820 feet) deep crater lake’s distinctive colour comes from dissolved minerals and was created after an eruption roughly 800 years ago. A two-kilometre (1.25 mile), sandy trail leads to the lagoon – it’s about a 45-minute walk down, and 1-1.5 hour walk back up. Spend the night in Quilotoa.
Day 8 Quilotoa / Cotopaxi (Quilotoa to Chugchilan hike)
After an early breakfast you’ll begin a day dedicated to hiking 14 breathtaking kilometres (8.7 miles) to the tiny Andean village of Chugchilan. As you hike down the picturesque valley you’ll pass through villages like the tiny Guayama, where after three or four hours of hiking you’ll rendezvous with your private vehicle to rehydrate. The rest of the hike is a combination of road and trail that passes through some communities and begins to ascend as you near Chugchilan. All told, the hike can take between five and six hours (depending on the group’s fitness level) but after lunch in Chugchilan you’ll be driven to Cotopaxi, where you will stay the night.
Day 9 Cotopaxi Mountain bike riding / Quito
Depart in a 4WD vehicle to Cotopaxi National Park and be taken to the highest point of the tour: 4500 metres (15,000 feet) above sea level. The volcano juts out from a flat landscape, the view is stunning, and, on a clear day, you will see the eight volcanoes that surround Cotopaxi.
This is a bucket list day as you mountain bike around the base of the world’s highest active volcano. Your ride starts at 3800 metres, you’ll don helmets, gloves and protection pads for a truly one-of-a-kind biking adventure. On dirt roads you will wind around through volcanic ash and tundra landscape . You will have to do some pedalling while you descend slowly over an eight-kilometre ride to a lunch spot by an Inca ruin at 3700 metres (12,140 feet). Cotopaxi’s ecosystem is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including a unique combination of pine vegetation. Keep your eyes peeled for a condor or caracara, a local bird of prey. The bikes will be loaded back on the 4WD before heading up to Laguna (Lake) Limpiopungo at 3800 metres, where the last phase of the ride will be 16 kilometres (10 miles) of winding your way downhill – on dirt and paved roads through pine forest. Your bike adventure will end in the late afternoon, when you will be driven back to Quito.
Day 10 Quito
The trip ends after breakfast this morning.