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Sample Itinerary for past tour:  Your Amazing Adventures in the Amazon Tour

Papallactas cabanaI’ve been traveling to Ecuador for years, leading tours, poking around, observing the fascinating culture and just absorbing the wonderful energy of the country. I’d love to share some of my favorite places and adventures with you, so that’s how this tour came about.

My tours are limited to small groups and to insure your safety and enjoyment, I work with a trusted Ecuadorian travel company. They are experienced in all areas as only locals can be, speak perfect English and will provide a safe, secure travel experience for all of us. With a few exceptions, I’ve included meals, accommodations and fees in the tour price so you don’t have to worry about anything except bringing enough batteries for your camera!

Sun & Mountains tour group

One of the frequent questions I hear from folks in Ecuador is “what should I do while I’m here?” Of course there are many answers, depending on your interests, so I’ve put together a sampling of my special Ecuadorian experiences that combine adventure and relaxation and will introduce you to new places and cultures to spark your awareness while creating lifetime memories.

That’s what this tour is— what it isn’t is your typical tourist tour that hits a few highlights, then herds a bus full of folks on to the next tourist spot. Rather than spend all of your time on a bus, we will spend a minimum of two nights at each hotel so you will have the time to enjoy your surroundings.

And, speaking of hotels, I’ve chosen the best of the best in each area. We will stay at first class resorts and lodges with some of the most unique settings in the world, like a mountain top, a cloud forest and the Amazon rainforest. We might be going to the jungle, but we definitely won’t be roughing it! I’ve built in time to relax and enjoy all of the wonderful amenities offered.

Ecuador fauna

You won’t be bored though, I’ve included some of my favorite adventures too! All of these places have been personally chosen to help you forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enrich your spirit. Each offers unique experiences.

To make it even easier, I’ve included almost every meal in your tour cost and all activity fees, such as boat rides, cable car rides and entrance fees are included in the tour.

As an early bird incentive, if you register and pay for your tour by July 15, I will pay for one spa treatment per registrant at the Papallacta spa!

Hill of the Heart, Old Town, Quito, Ecuador

Saturday September 1 – Airport to Quito (ground transportation and hotel provided)

Upon your arrival in Quito, you’ll be met at the airport and taken to your hotel room, which is included in the tour price. I am doing this to make it easier for those folks who have come directly from my earlier August Export Tour (August 28-September 1).

I know you will have a lot of suitcases full of goodies that you won’t want to lug around Ecuador with you, so we’ll spend the first night in Quito, and you can leave your luggage securely locked in the hotel’s left luggage room and retrieve it after our tour. Just pack a smaller bag for the week of this tour and take that with you.

If you are not continuing from the export tour but arriving in Quito for this tour, rest assured, a driver will meet you at the airport for the transfer to the hotel. No need to worry about taxis, directions, etc.

We will all meet at breakfast, (included) around 8 am on September 2 to start our adventure.

Sunday, September 2 – Monday, September 3 Quito to Papallacta

Thermal pools, Papallactas, Ecuador

Sunday, September 2 – We’re off! Immediately after breakfast we will leave from our Quito hotel and drive southeast to Papallacta– through the Andes, skirting the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve on the north and the Antisana Ecological Reserve on the south. The scenery along the way is breathtaking, so we’ll make photo stops. High in a cloud forest, surrounded by mountains, we’ll arrive at our hotel, the Termas de Papallacta, a truly unique resort complex built around a series of volcanic, mineral rich, volcanic thermal pools.

We’ll check-in, have lunch, then take the rest of the afternoon to experience the bliss of the thermal hot springs for which Papallacta is so famous. For centuries, Papallacta was a sacred site and only Shamans were allowed to visit. After your stay, you will understand just how special this experience is.

Thermal pools, massage therapy, Papallactas, Ecuador

At Termas de Papallacta, you can walk out your front door and into a volcanic thermal, mineral rich, steaming hot pool!

The therapeutic water entering the pools can reach 160 degrees. There are many different pools with different temperatures so everyone can find their comfort zone.

Or, for a special treat, visit their on-sight spa and enjoy one of their many treatments, all at very reasonable Ecuadorian prices. Their treatment selections include reflexology, relaxing facials, deep tissue massages, equatorial hot stone massages, grape massages, antioxidant rich chocolate skin treatments, hydrotherapy and more.

Fine dining, Papallactas, Ecuador

We will enjoy delicious meals prepared in the on-site restaurant (no worries, all meals are included), attentive service and one of a kind amenities at this truly unique resort.

I’m also paying the entrance fees to the additional spa pools for you so you can enjoy the full benefit of the Papallacta Spa hydrotherapy pools experience.

This one of a kind resort is set high in the Andes, where you are surrounded by snow capped mountains, volcanoes, many species of colorful birds, clean fresh air and beautiful flowers. You can choose to participate in planned activities or just relax in the thermal pools or spa.

Thermal pools, Papallactas, Ecuador

Monday, September 3 – After breakfast we will take a short hike through the Paramo (high altitude lands). There we will observe the polilepys trees (paper trees) and take in the beautiful landscapes of this region. After lunch, the hummingbird observation center will be our destination, where we will watch these incredible masters of flight while enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea. We’ll return to the hotel for a tasty dinner, conversation and perhaps a moon light dip to relax before bed.

Tuesday, September 4 – Thursday, September 6 Papallacta to Huasquila Amazon Lodge

Quichua cabin, Papallactas, Ecuador

Tuesday, September 4 – After breakfast in Papallacta, our course takes us east towards the Amazon region. You will notice the landscape and plants change as we enter the Amazon basin. We will drive along the edge of the lush Sumaco National Park, and arrive at the Huasquila Amazon Lodge around lunch time.

Huasquila Lodge is an exclusive, family owned ecotourism complex of bungalows located in the sacred valley of Cotundo, an area rich with a local history of early settlements, within the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, where the Eastern Slope of the Andes ends and the Amazon basin begins. Each cabin is built in the traditional Quichua style with a thatched roof.

Don’t worry though; you will have all the modern amenities including private bathrooms and hot showers in the middle of the rainforest! Enjoy the lush tropical flowers, colorful butterflies and the chorus of cheerful songbirds each morning.

And, surprise, because of the altitude of the Lodge’s location, there are no mosquitoes. Even though we will be in the Amazon, the altitude is around 5,000 ft. so it won’t be excessively hot and humid. Evenings cool down and are very comfortable.

We’ll check-in and have lunch, then spend the afternoon visiting an indigenous community, where we will observe some of their typical artistic expressions: dances, costumes and cooking and possibly meet the resident Shaman. We’ll enjoy ripe bananas, hearts of palm and for the more adventurous, chichi, a mildly alcoholic, traditional indigenous drink. Later, we return to the Huasquila Lodge for dinner, with the evening open for socializing and relaxing, or give in to the temptation to stretch out in a hammock with a book.

Wednesday, September 5 –Today is about chocolate. Ever wonder where Swiss chocolate or fine European chocolate comes from? Chocolate beans don’t grow in the Alps! It’s not well known, but Ecuador grows and exports some of the best chocolate in the world.

Napo River, Ecuador

Today, we’ll explore the Tena area and take a boat ride on the Napo River, the main tributary of the Amazon. We’ll visit a cacao farm and see where chocolate beans are grown and learn how local farmers have thrived since forming their own chocolate co-operative. In this area, cacao plays an important role financially, socially and culturally.

Cacao growing techniques will be explained and we’ll also learn a bit about the chocolate-making process. Finally, we will listen to a short presentation by a member of the Kallari Association, a self-governed coalition of Amazon artists and organic chocolate producers, to learn about the special efforts and activities required for producing and exporting fine chocolate.

Sampling cacao pods, EcuadorWe’ll taste fresh, raw cacao beans. And yes, we’ll have the opportunity to buy some of the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted-organic, fresh, real.

After lunch in the city of Tena (on your own), we’ll visit the Runa Project, which produces medicinal tea from a local plant leaf called “Guayusa.” You’ve probably never heard of guayusa tea, but you will learn about this delightful, local tea and the customs and legends surrounding it. Guayusa is as important to the indigenous people as our coffee is to many of us.

A truly balanced stimulant, guayusa contains a diverse profile of both energizing and healthful compounds. This natural mix offers benefits for the whole body – an attentive mind, a peaceful body and an awakened spirit. This very energizing drink is already being sold in many supermarkets in the U.S., including Whole Foods markets.

Guided Amazon jungle excursion, sampling heart of palm, Ecuador

We will return to Huasquila Lodge by late afternoon and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared in the lodge kitchen using local, fresh ingredients and traditional recipes. We will dine under the large thatched roof, in the open air lounge/dining room and relax, surrounded by the tropical sounds of nature.

You might want to take a dip in the pool after dinner or see how many colorful bird and butterfly species you can spot. Or, of course, that hammock will still be there for you.

Thursday, September 6 – After breakfast, we’ll take a short hike through a secondary rain forest, to learn about some of the various medicinal plants found in the Amazon. Our Quichua guide will point out the medicinal plants the locals families have used for generations.

Pool at Huasquila, EcuadorThe forest has been home to generations of indigenous Quichua people and provides everything they need: food, shelter and medicine. The full rainforest walk is strenuous and not advised for everyone, but Huasquila Lodge is one of the few (perhaps the only) lodge in the Amazon that is designed to be accessible to everyone. So, an accessible, shortened version of the rainforest walk is also available.

The afternoon will be free to swim, relax, explore on your own or we can suggest some optional activities.

Friday, September 7 – Saturday, September 8 – Huasquila Amazon Lodge to Baños

Bano de Agua Santa, EcuadorFriday, September 7 – Luna Runtun Adventure Spa

After breakfast, we’ll leave Huasquila and drive southeast to Baños de Agua Santa.

Baños, the gateway to the Amazon Rain Forest, is a lively small city that lies in the heart of Ecuador and is surrounded by majestic mountains, volcanoes and thermal hot springs.

Banos, EcuadorOur destination for the next two nights, is Luna Runtun Adventure Spa, the premiere hotel in this area. The spa is perched high up on a mountain top and consists of 300 acres which are nestled within the Sangay National Park.

The area is rich in biodiversity and has been declared a World Natural Heritage Site. The Spa boasts a spectacular view of the volcano, Tungurahua, the valley of the city of Baños, and the Llanganates National Park, the inaccessible mountains that, according to legend, hide the lost gold of the Incan Emperor, Atahualpa.

After we check in at Luna Runtun, we’ll go in to town for lunch (your option) and then spend some time exploring before returning to the hotel. Baños is a bit of bohemian hangout with charming shops and restaurants. And don’t miss the local specialty, candy shops where they’re happy to demonstrate their taffee stretching skills for you.

Back at the hotel, you’ll be spoiled for choices: hiking, biking, birding, swimming, rainforest tours or exploring the city of Baños. Or, maybe indulge in some of the treatments offered at the luxurious Luna Runtun spa.

The surrounding area where Luna Runtun Spa is located is considered to be a magnetic vortex, a unique place where the planet’s 4 essential life elements—air, earth, water and fire—are found. Guests at the Spa frequently witness the power of mother nature first hand when Tungurahua volcano, constantly active since October, 1999, showers the skies with her spectacular shows of fire and lava, allowing visitors to partake in one of the world’s most impressive natural fireworks displays from the safety of the spa.

Pools at Huasquila, EcuadorAfter enjoying your daily activities, relax your body and soul in Luna Runtun’s beautiful volcanic spa, which offers 25 different treatments, including outdoor treatments, to take advantage of the energy of the equatorial sun and stunning views.

Luna RunTun Adventure Spa uses fresh and natural medicinal plants, fruits, and vegetables produced in their Spa garden for their natural healing properties as well as using mineral rich ashes from the active Volcano Tunguarhua.

Breakfast and dinner are included each day are and are served in the Spa’s restaurant. The chef focuses on fresh dishes prepared with organic fruits and vegetables grown in the onsite garden.

Cable car ride over the waterfall, Banos, EcuadorSaturday, September 8 – I promised some adventures so here we go! After breakfast, we’ll take a breathtaking cable car ride high above a cascading waterfall for a once in a lifetime experience.

Alternative activities include short hikes in the area and massage therapies at the hotel (additional cost). After lunch in Baños (not included) we will relax in the hotel’s gardens, swim or go for a walk and enjoy our last afternoon at this location. Again, a scrumptious dinner will be served at the hotel.

Sunday, September 9 – Return to Quito from Baños

Cotapaxi Volcano, EcuadorAfter breakfast at Luna Runtun, we’ll head north towards Quito, enjoying the beautiful landscapes and panoramic mountain vistas along the way. The road from Quito to Baños is called the Avenue of the Volcanoes.

On a clear day during the four hour drive northwest through the Andes, you can view several of Ecuador’s mighty, magnificent volcanoes such as Cotopaxi, a perfect cone of eternal snow; Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador (20,565 ft.) and her sister, Tungurahua. You’ll understand why Ecuador is known as the land of the volcanoes.

You will arrive back in Quito in the early afternoon at the hotel to collect your luggage. You could catch a flight that night or we can make a reservation for you if you want to spend more time in Quito.

INCLUDED IN YOUR AMAZING ADVENTURE IN THE AMAZON TOUR PRICE:

  • All hotel rooms for the eight nights of September 1-8
  • Breakfast and dinner every day and 5 lunches
  • All ground transportation during tour
  • English speaking guides
  • All scheduled admission fees, including all scheduled activities fees
  • Entrance fees to spa pools at Papallacta
  • Bottled drinking water

NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR AMAZING ADVENTURE IN AMAZON TOUR PRICE:

  • Round-trip airfare to/from Quito
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Optional activities fees
  • Hotel room in Quito if needed

You will receive a suggested packing list and more information after registering.

Cancellations made before August 1  will be refunded in full, less a 1% handling fee.
Cancellations made after August 1 will be subject to a 25% administrative fee.

Secure payment can be made by check or credit card through Paypal, click here to register.

Natural beauty is found along the walkways in Ecuador's Amazon junglePlease contact me with any questions: Bonnie@sunandmountains.com

I’m looking forward to sharing the amazing wonders of Ecuador with you,

Bonnie Keough