Andes and Amazon Tour - 6 days / 5 nights
We leave Quito in the morning and start with a drive up the Eastern Cordillera, where we will go over a 4065 m. high mountain pass. It can be foggy up here but when the weather is clear we will be amazed by the magnificent views of the Antisana volcano and the surrounding paramo wetlands. Within two hours we will reach Termas de Papallacta, Ecuador's most beautiful thermal hot springs Resort and Spa, located in between spectacular mountain forests of the Eastern Andes slopes. We will enjoy a very nice morning hike through the surrounding mountain forests and grassy paramo near our resort. This ecological reserve is managed by a local foundation and harbors many peculiar species of flora and fauna (more than 160 bird species, mountain tapirs, spectacled bears and many other species).
In the afternoon we have free time to dip into the amazing hot springs or enjoy some of the optional health and beauty treatments in Termas de Papallacta. The spa and hydrotherapy area offers a variety of different sensations from streams of water, water hydro massage or hydro massage with air bubbles. It has been certified that the thermal waters of Termas de Papallacta have medicinal properties that guarantee healthy benefits!
In the morning we will depart from Papallacta to continue through the lush and green cloud forests of the Eastern Andes. After a short drive we will make a stop at a very nice cloud forest lodge where we can observe many species of hummingbirds. It is really amazing to see these small birds flying around us at a very close distance. Moreover we will have the opportunity to see the famous sword-billed hummingbird, which has even a longer beak than its body! If time permits we can also make a short hike before we continue our journey through the last hills of the Eastern 'Cordillera' towards the great Amazon basin. At midday we will arrive at Cotococha Amazon Lodge, a lovely retreat located on the shores of the Napo River, offering very spacious and comfortable bungalows, built in native design.
After lunch we put on our rubber boots to start an exciting walk in the jungle's primary forest ready to find the secret wonders of the mysterious hidden jungle, finding amazing plant species with medicinal properties, which will be explained in detail by our expert native guide: their characteristics and how the jungle inhabitants used them in ancient times. We'll also observe a great variety of insects and small groups of monkeys weaving around the giant trees; although we will need some luck to see them, for this reason it is important to remain very quiet to admire these beautiful creatures. Dozens of curious colorful birds tag along with us during our walk whistling enchanted notes and delighting our senses. After about three hours of walking we will arrive at the lodge again. At night, the amazing jungle sounds and the illumination with lots of candles, torches and oil lamps, create a unique and romantic atmosphere at Cotococha Amazon Lodge. Enjoy dinner and gather around the cozy fireplace.
If a jungle hike is too strenuous for you we offer a great alternative. We depart by canoe downstream for thirty minutes, arriving at the Shiripuno community, where we will pay a visit to the Quichua indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon village. The local women will receive us and give us explanations of their ancient lifestyles with different demonstrations such as food preparation, weaving techniques and typical dances. Moreover a huge stone has been found nearby hiding various petroglyphes, different ancient designs made by the ancestors of the local indigenous expressing their nature-oriented beliefs. After this enriching cultural experience we will return by canoe to our lodge, enjoying the Amazon scenery from our canoe.
After our delicious breakfast we'll be more than ready to start today's adventure! We will start with a canoe ride down the imposing Napo River crossing the enchanted Ecuadorian jungle. Soon we arrive at the village of Misahualli, where we'll have to make a short stop for routine inspection by the local Marine officers. With a stroll through this tranquil little town we will be able to see a group of Capuchin Monkeys, who live in harmony with the friendly inhabitants. We continue our canoe ride until we reach the Arajuno River. Here we will visit the animal rescue center "AmaZOOnico". This is a specialized organization dedicated to the rescue of wild animals and restoring them into their natural habitat. We will observe a great variety of species such as toucans, parrots, all kinds of monkeys, ocelots, capybaras and much more.
After our visit to this beautiful sanctuary, we'll enjoy a scrumptious picnic by the river shore. Afterwards, we can swim in the refreshing river waters or simply rest ourselves in the peaceful surroundings. We'll head back to our lodge, making a short stop in one of the many local indigenous communities by the Napo River. One of the native Quichua families will show us their ancestral costumes like gold washing, pottery techniques, the making of the typical drink "chicha" made of yuca and blowpipe hunting. After this fascinating cultural exchange with the Quichuas, we'll continue our way to Cotococha Amazon Lodge via a path on secondary forest. After dinner there will be some free time to relax around the fireplace or enjoy an exotic cocktail at the bar.
After our delicious breakfast we depart by canoe upstream for fifteen minutes, arriving on a small shore where we begin a fun and thrilling one hour walk, marveling ourselves with the jungle's secondary forest diverse flora and fauna. After our short hike, we'll find ourselves in a breathtaking cascade "La Cascada de Latas" where we will take a refreshing bath in its crystal clear waters and enjoy the surrounding views, which, mixed with the jungle sounds, make it an unforgettable experience. We return along the same way to get back at the lodge. For the adventurous: we can go tubing off the river. Float easily and enjoy the small rapids and great sights of the Amazon rain forest surroundings us! After lunch we will leave the Cotococha Amazon Lodge and continue our journey to Baños. On route we will make a short stop in Puyo, where we will visit a small Balsa wood factory. The local workers will show us how they make beautiful souvenirs of this extreme light lightweight wood type. There is also a store where some of their handmade souvenirs can be bought.
After Puyo we will enjoy spectacular views of the Pastaza gorge, the surrounding cloud forests with thousands of orchids, dramatic waterfalls, cliff side farms and untouched views of Sangay and Llanganates National Parks. This spectacular stretch through the Pastaza Corridor has been declared by the WWF 'A Gift to the Earth', a transition from rainforest to the Andean Mountains in less than 50 kilometers. In the beginning of the evening we will reach Baños, and arrive at Luna Runtun, the Adventure Spa, spectacularly located on a hill above Baños nestled within the Sangay National Park, which has been declared a World Natural Heritage Site. Surely we will be enjoying the magnificent views of Baños deep below in the valley, the active Tungurahua volcano (5016 m.) and the Llanganates National Park, the inaccessible mountains that hide the lost gold of Inca Emperor Atahualpa. We will enjoy dinner at Luna Runtun in a great setting.
Today we wll have a free day to spend in Baños. This friendly town is also known for its thermal hot springs with healing powers, but has much more to offer. From Luna Runtun many different optional adventure tours are organized, such as hiking, mountain biking, horse back riding, visit to the San Antonio cloud forest reserve and much more! There is also a possibility to hike to a viewpoint from where we can see the immense Tungurahua volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador. With some luck we may be observing an ash eruption! Optionally, you can undergo a massage or other health treatment in Luna Runtun's Spa, there are even volcanic ash foliations available, a truly local experience! Moreover the four pools and Jacuzzi at the border of Luna Runtun's property offer us one of the most amazing views of the whole valley.
In the morning we will leave Baños for another day full of diversity driving along the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes', through the central Andean valley. On our way we will come first along the Salasaca community, where we will have a look at the many tapestries and other woven products made by the local indigenous people who still maintain many ancient traditions. Afterwards we continue towards the central valley where with clear weather we will be able to see at least 11 of Ecuador's 55 volcanoes. At noon we will arrive at an ancient hacienda, for an early lunch. The hacienda was a former Inca fortress and palace from the 15th century and nowadays still holds original Inca walls and a complete chapel, built in the imperial style of the Incas. We will delight ourselves with a delicious lunch between the ancient Inca walls before we continue to the Cotopaxi National park.
Arriving in the park we will pay a short visit to a little museum which informs about the park; its nature, geology, history and the eruptions of the centerpiece of this park; the Cotopaxi volcano (5897 m.), the world's highest active and snowcapped volcano! We continue our way into the park and stop at the Limpiopungo lake at 3800 meters altitude. Here we can make a short walk while observing semi-wild horses, a variety of ducks, hummingbirds and the Andean gull and lapwing. If we feel fit enough we can continue our drive to the parking lot at 4600 m. from where it is a strenuous 45 minute walk up to the José Ribas refuge at 4800 m., a mountain refuge halfway the volcano. Here we will have some incredible picture opportunities and spectacular sceneries at the immense ice walls and deep crevasses of the glaciers above us as well as the surrounding countryside of the Ecuadorian Andes with its many volcanoes and lovely green valleys filled with patchwork cultivated fields. Afterwards we return to our vehicle for our drive back to Quito. Drop off at the hotel of our choice.
- All private transport with driver and driver's expenses
- English speaking guide throughout the journey
- Entrance fee to Termas de Papallacta & Cotopaxi NP
- Hotel nights based on double room accommodation with breakfast (with first class version dinner is also included in Baños)
- 3 days / 2 nights stay at Cotococha Lodge with native guide & excursions
- All meals at the Cotococha Lodge from dinner on day 1 till breakfast on day 3
- Other meals
- Optional excursions and any other entrance fees
- Personal expenses, Tips & Extras
Hotels used in Baños:
- Budget Class: Hotel Monteselva
- Tourist Class: Hotel Posada del Arte
- First Class: Hotel Luna Runtun
- All hotels are based on standard rooms. Rates for Suites upon request.