WHY THIS TRIP
See the incredible diversity of ecosystems and culture all found in one small, fascinating country: Ecuador. Combining the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands with the pristine rainforest and sweeping landscapes of the Andean countryside, you will see in the Three Ecosystems, Three Cultures trip why some consider Ecuador a great place to see the best of South America. This exceptional tour is a superb path to get to know the local people and learn about the rich, unique history of each community you visit. While most travelers busy themselves with taking photos from bus windows and never meet any locals, you will get off the bus and experience travel as it’s rarely done nowadays.
In the Galápagos, you’re not on just any cruise. Here, you’re an active travel experiencing the Galápagos adventure by paddling, hiking, and biking to each wildlife destination. What really sets this tour apart from other land-based Galápagos trips is the combination of Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz Islands ─ each island providing intimate views of its own unique wildlife attraction. On Floreana Island, you’ll get to meet local families and learn what life is like on this remote outpost called home by just 150 people. On Isabela Island, your local guide will show you the most famous sites to see blue-footed boobies and penguins. You will be taken to lesser-known sites where you can snorkel with sea lions and view a kaleidoscope of tropical fish. Each day has opportunities to take photos, see loads of animals, hike, snorkel, and explore a bit on your own. This trip gives you a well-rounded exploration of the Islands with a wealth of wildlife viewing ─ there’s enough active adventure, history, and gorgeous settings to make it that much more interesting.
The Amazon rainforest, like the Galápagos, is always a fascinating destination. On this trip, you get an even deeper view of the forest as indigenous Huaorani people guide you through their ancestral lands. Living in the rainforest without contact by the outside world until the 1950’s, the Huaorani have maintained their way of life in the face of encroaching threats, like oil development. In the last ten years, the community opened up a small, sustainable lodge to allow others in intimate view of the rainforest. By visiting the lodge, visitors contribute both financially and socially to the Huaorani’s fight to preserve their land from outside development. The territory is some of the most remote in the rainforest where the Huaorani continue to live as they have for centuries. Travelers hike and paddle alongside their Huaorani guides, learning about the plant and animal life surrounding you, as well as Huaorani hunting techniques, traditional songs, and community.
A short trip to Otovalo and Hacienda Zuleta brings you up close to rural, Andean life where you’ll meet local artisans, Ecuadorian cowboys (or chagras), and farmers. You’ll visit the famous Otovalo market, which is South America’s largest indigenous market where tourists buy handicrafts and locals barter for livestock or wool. Most tourists return to Quito after a quick visit to the market, but you’ll continue on into the Avenue of the Volcanoes to the historic and beautiful Hacienda Zuleta. The Hacienda has a working farm, an organic creamery, and handicraft shop with wares from the local women’s weaving cooperative. Here, you’ll tour the diverse grounds of the Hacienda, go horseback riding with a local chagra, learn about embroidery from the women’s co-op, and relax in the peaceful mountain setting.
Each tour and day’s itinerary has been selected to bring you a more personal and interesting view of Ecuadorian life. Travel should be equal parts fun, relaxing, and enriching ─ so you come away understand more about another place in the world and the folks who live there. On this distinct and exciting trip, you get to know the diverse landscapes and how local people live by getting off the beaten path and having your own adventure.
LOCAL OPERATORS: TROPIC, JOURNEYS IN NATURE; HACIENDA ZULETA
Tropic, Journeys In Nature
Tropic, Journeys in Nature creates trips with cultural interaction that are beneficial to both locals and travelers. Clients can expect great service from Tropic, Journeys in Nature while enjoying an authentic, specialized, and active eco-tourism adventure with memorable cultural interactions across Ecuador’s Andean region, the Pacific Coast region and the Galápagos Islands. The entire staff and its highly qualified guides are focused on safety and committed to providing top-quality personal service and a mind-expanding array of meaningful trips.
Located two hours north of Quito, Hacienda Zuleta is a colonial working farm of 4,000 acres that belongs to the family of Mr. Galo Plaza lasso, a former president of Ecuador. In the family for more than 100 years, the hacienda has beautifully decorated bedrooms, antique gardens delicious Ecuadorian cuisine and a great variety of activities and places to visit on the grounds or nearby.