Southern Highlands & Amazon Jungle Ecuador Tour
This Ecuador tour focuses on the remarkable Amazon rainforest and the beautiful southern highlands. We pass through the stunning city of Quito and its historic district before departing for the incredible Amazon rainforest of the Yasuni National Park, an area classified as a World Biosphere Reserve due to its rich biodiversity. Here we’ll take part in a variety of activities to explore the region, including day hikes and canoe trips through the jungle. After our stay in the rainforest, we’ll head to the beautiful city of Cuenca where we’ll visit several communities and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. We’ll visit this historic city and the surrounding communities of Gualeceo and Chordeleg, traditional villages known for their production of leather shoes, panama hats and gold and silver jewellery. We’ll also visit the amazing Cajas National Park, a high altitude mountain region of beautiful lakes and paramo grasslands. From there we continue on to Guayaquil, where we’ll have some time to explore the city centre and the city’s famous Malecon (waterfront).
- Explore the wonderfully preserved historic centres of two of Ecuador’s major cities, Quito and Cuenca, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Straddle the equator and have fun trying to balance things on the line
- Hike and canoe through one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet – an area of pristine Amazon rainforest protected by local communities
- See a salt lick where 11 different species of parrots, parakeets and (during certain times of year) macaws gather
- Experience and learn about the traditional Kichwa culture and the communities’ life in the Amazon
- Explore radically different environments – from the Amazon rainforest in the east, to the coast in the west, and up to 4000 metres altitude in the high Andes
- Observe cayman in the wild
- Learn about the traditional crafts of Ecuador – see how they’re made and have the chance to buy some souvenirs
- Experience a brief introduction to the cultivation and processing of cocoa
This is a private tour (small-group during the Amazon rainforest) and you will be accompanied by an English-speaking local guide during all excursions, and throughout your time in the Amazon. The price displayed is per person based on two people sharing. All tours can be tailor-made to suit your interests and requirements.
If you are a chocolate lover, you should not miss out on the 6 day Cocoa Tasting tour! And for those wanting to undertake the challenge of a lifetime, we also offer climbing tours to both Cayambe and Chimborazo volcanoes. Don’t forget to read about Guardian travel writer, Kevin Rushby’s, attempt at reaching both volcano summits.
We can also organise a visit to the Galapagos Islands (cruise and/or island hopping) before or after this tour. There are direct flights to the Galapagos both from Quito and Guayaquil.
Quito, Ecuador is not only the highest official capital city in the world (Bolivia has two capitals; if La Paz is considered its capital, Quito would be the second highest), but it also has one of the largest and best preserved historic centres in the Americas. It was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites, declared by UNESCO in 1978. Rich in both culture and history, Ecuador’s second largest city has much to offer.
Among its attractions is the Mitad del Mundo (Centre of the World) monument and museum; the monument was constructed in the early 1980’s to commemorate the first Geodesic Mission of the French Academy of Sciences, which, in the year 1736, placed a small monument at the site which they had experimentally determined to be the equator. Thanks to modern GPS, we now know the real equator line passes about 240 meters to the north of the monument, and tourists can participate in experiments on the equator line itself.
From Quito, you’ll travel to the edges of the Yasuni National Park, possibly the most biodiverse place on earth. Over 600 species of trees have been documented on only one hectare, along with 550 species of birds, 80 species of bats, 105 species of amphibians and 83 species of reptiles. For centuries, the Kichwa people (one of the indigenous groups that call the Amazon region home) have developed the means to survive in the forests, with a strong spiritual connection to the natural world which sustains them. We visit two lodges - the first offering an insight into the Kichwa culture of the region, and the second located on a beautiful lagoon in a pristine area of jungle.
The city of Cuenca, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its many historic buildings, has a beautiful colonial centre with plenty to explore. The nearby communities of Guanaco, Sigsig and Chordeleg are known for traditional crafts, including musical instruments, leather goods, jewelry made from gold and silver, and panama hats. Cajas National Park is a stunning landscape of high altitude paramo (grasslands) dotted with about 270 lakes and lagoons, and home to over 100 bird species including the South American Condor, an endangered species. We’ll spend a few days exploring this amazing region of Ecuador.
The lowlands between Cuenca and Guayaquil are mostly agricultural, but also a zone where some of Ecuador’s finest cocoa is cultivated. On our way to Guayaquil, we’ll stop at a hacienda for a brief demonstration of cocoa cultivation and the first phases of chocolate production.
Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city and main port, and home to much of Ecuador’s industry. The Malecon, or waterfront, is a beautiful area for leisurely walks; the parque historico includes not only historic buildings but also a zoo; and the old neighbourhood of Las Penas offers restaurants, craft shops, and a lively environment with great views of the city below. All of these attractions are close to one another in the city centre.
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- Trip duration: 12 days
- Countries visited: Ecuador
Medium: Accommodation in B&Bs or 2-star family-run hotels (always in a private room).
Note: this is a guideline; please refer to the tour detailed description for what is and is not included.
- Level of difficulty: Low
- Accommodation: 2 nights in a charming hotel in Quito, 4 nights in two different beautiful Amazon lodges, 4 nights in a colonial hotel in Cuenca, 1 night in a well-located hotel in Guayaquil
- Transport: Internal flights, private car, canoe
- Meals included: 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
Percentage of cost going to local communities:
- Bilingual guide: Available in English or Spanish
- Extra services: -
- Additional information: You will be greeted at the airport on arrival by a local guide who will take you to your hotel and will be able to answer any questions, make any additional arrangements and generally ensure everything goes smoothly. No minimum number of passengers is required and you will not be travelling with a group of people you do not know. Prices quoted are per person and based on at least 2 people travelling. You should expect a cheaper price for a bigger group. Your passport details are required at the time of booking. For detailed information on visa requirements and health formalities, visit the FCO Travel Advice website (for UK citizens) and US Travel Advice website (for US citizens). You will need a Yellow Fever vaccination for travel to the Amazon. Information on money changing in each destination, as well as what it is customary to tip for various services, will be provided. This Ecuador tour, like most of the adventures through Latin America, has a low level of physical difficulty and participants can choose to do as much or as little as they like. What to bring: Travel insurance, passport, binoculars, alarm clock, walking shoes, water bottle, daypack, sun protection, insect repellent, sun glasses and hat, swimwear, flip-flops, torch with extra batteries (headlamp), wind and waterproof jacket, a thermal shirt for layering, fleece, gloves, light synthetic/fast drying shirts and pants (for the Amazon), plastic ziplock bags, plastic bags for your luggage in case of rain.
- Best time to travel: Any time of year, for the Amazon ideally travel between May and December
- Extra budget recommended: Around £200 / $250 pp to cover meals and all other expenses not included in the itinerary.
- What is included: Welcome reception at the airport. Internal flights. Airport transfers. Overland transport. Accommodation. Entrance fees to sites of interest, museums and national parks mentioned in the itinerary. Guided activities and excursions with English speaking guides (some private, some as part of a small group). Meals as stated in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner). Contributions to the social projects visited. Donation to help in preserving the Amazon rainforest through agro-forestry and education.
- What is not included: Flights from your country of origin. Travel insurance. Alcoholic drinks. Additional meals or snacks. Travel within and around each town. Visa fees (if any). Tips. Souvenirs.
Southern Highlands & Amazon Jungle Ecuador Tour
£ 1,965 GBP
This Ecuador tour is for adventurers who love nature and have an insatiable appetite to discover new places. The magnificent Amazon Rainforest is the perfect place to start your adventure and become fascinated with the creatures of the jungle. On this tour you’ll spend five days delving deep into the Amazon Jungle, all the way to a remote and beautiful nature reserve where you’ll stay in a world-class ecolodge. You’ll also explore the southern areas around the beautiful city of Cuenca.