Want to make your travel experience really mean something? This is the trip for you. As well as stopping by some of Ecuador's most beautiful (and adventure hungry) destinations, you'll also get to spend 3 days venturing deep into the Amazon jungle where you'll join ME to WE, a TreadRight supported charity, working alongside local community members on a sustainable development project that meets the needs of the local community.
Fuel up for days of exploring with delicious fresh breakfast daily. We'll also throw in 6 delicious local dinner experiences (including 2 at Minga Lodge along with a lunch), designed to get your mouth watering with local Ecuadorian faves. All other meals are there for you to roam free, follow your nose to where the locals hang out for even more unique tastes
Welcome to Quito! The mood will be sky high as we gather in Ecuador's capital. This modern day city (nicknamed the 'light of America') is built on ancient Incan ruins and boasts one of the best preserved historic centres in America. It was also the first city declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fact. We'll jump straight in to a team tour of the city, skip between two hemispheres at the Equatorial line. Squeezing in a visit to the IInti-Ñan Museum should round off the first day on trip pretty nicely.
Quito to Minga Lodge via Los Rios
Good morning, Amazon roamers. Who's beyond excited for what the next 3 days have in store? The secluded and beautiful Minga Lodge is calling, and we're so ready for her.Pulling the coach breaks in Los Rios, our ME to WE representative will meet us here. A short ride will take us to the banks of the Napo River, where we'll then hop onto a motorized canoe for the 20 minute ride to Minga Lodge.Secluded, beautiful and accessable only by boat, welcome to paradise. Hungry tummies will be appeased with local snacks upon arrival, following which your ME to WE rep will get you fully up to speed on what you'll be doing over the next couple of days, as well as the WE Villages development model. Tonight, we'll feast on a delicious welcome dinner created from local ingredients, then as the sun sets we'll join a jungle guide to head out for an Amazonian night walk. The rainforest literally comes alive at night, so keep your eyes peeled for frogs, spiders, tree snakes, owls...and about ten thousand other species that call the Amazon basin home.
Fully rested and raring to go, after breakfast we'll make our way to a nearby WE village to meet local community members, learn about their initiatives, and get stuck in with whichever sustainable development project is currently in progress, such as laying the foundation for a new classroom. Whilst working, you'll swap stories with locals, learning about the problems they face and how the WE Village program has helped secure a better future for them. This afternoon and likely with aching limbs after a hard days work, you'll head to a traditional Shamanic Ceremony, then learn all about indigenous weapons from a local hunter. Never more deserving of a tasty dinner, you can choose to relax amongst the gorgeous grounds and pavillions of Minga Lodge this evening, or head back out into the rainforest for more wildlife spotting.
Minga Lodge to Banos via Los Rios
Waking up early this morning, head out with our jungle expert before breakfast for one final rainforest encounter. The myriad of flora and fauna, previously masked by the night sky, will be the first sight to take your breath away, closely followed by the prospect of spotting toucans, long-tailed Potoos, and countless other species. Nature feels on high, after one final exquisite breakfast, it's back down onto the boats and down the river to continue our Lava Line adventure.Emerging from the Amazon jungle feeling both triumphant and reflective, we'll meet up with the Contiki coach and get back on the road towards Guayaquil.Sitting amidst tumbling valleys, waterfalls, and the still active Volcán Tungurahua, Banos is a big deal on the natural beauty front. With tomorrow earmarked as our day of outdoor adventuring, tonight is all about learning the art of sultry salsa with an included lesson to get our snake hips a-shaking. Our friendly local teacher, Edith, knows what's up on the dance floor, and by the time we leave those salsa pro's won't know what's hit them. Dance floor goals complete, we'll hop around some watering holes for a taste of the local nightlife
The adventure opportunities are endless today, with horseback riding, canyoneering and ziplining all on the menu. And trust us, this isn’t just any regular old zipline – we’re talking aerial bridges, rock climbing and speeding through the skies, Superman style – pretty much the ultimate aerial adventure. Don’t have such a head for heights? Horsey fun and canyoneering expeditions will keep you on your toes. Oh what a tough day this will be in Banos – deciding how best to embrace your inner adventurer.
Baños to Guayaquil
Today we’re off to discover Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city & its economic hub. This cosmopolitan city is one of Ecuador’s new hotspots, a walk down to the Malecón (Cities riverfront) is a must. For a bit of a historic enlightenment why not venture to Las Peñas, one of the most emblematic neighborhoods of Guayaquil, its narrow streets and interesting past makes it a great visit.
Guayaquil to Isabela Island via Santa Cruz
We’ve arrived in Ecuador’s largest city and are ready and raring to conquer it all. Getting out of here pretty early we’ll take to the skies, bound for the glorious Galapagos Islands. Excited much? You should be. On arrival we’ll appease our rumbling stomachs with some munch.Giant tortoises roaming their natural surroundings and incredible old lava tunnels will welcome us onto the island of Santa Cruz. After lunch, we’ll take to the ocean and make tracks to our home for the night – the impossibly glorious Isabela Island, where we’ll sleep amidst the spellbinding beauty of the Galapagos National Park.The inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’, Isabela Island is home to wildlife you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Picture the scene – sandy streets, palm trees, crystal waters and seal pups playing – can it really get any more perfect? Soak it all in, as it’s home for the next little while.
Well good morning paradise. The ocean is calling, and who are we to resist her? Our wildlife kayaking adventure will see us taking to the seas with beady eyes on the lookout for green sea turtles.
Isabela Island to Santa Cruz Island
We’ll wake up hungry for the day this morning (that’s what island life does to you), and for good reason – Santa Cruz is on the horizon.After settling in to the Santa Cruz way of life, we’ll stroll down to the beach and the cosy Tortuga Bay. Wildlife fanatics will be in their element – the island is known for sharks, rays, turtles, great blue herons, and even blue footed boobies. Spend your time sunbaking next to a marine iguana, or roam the streets stopping off in cute cafes for fresh juice pit stops.
Santa Cruz to San Cristobal Island
Our stint on Santa Cruz wraps up this morning with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station where one of the island's most famous residents once lived, Lonesome George, the now deceased 100-year old tortoise. The Research Station is something of a mini miracle in action, where countless species of tortoise and land iguanas have been brought back from the brink of extinction.Back on our boat we’ll set sail for San Cristobal, keeping our eyes peeled for cute bathing sea lions (we won’t have to look too hard – they’re literally everywhere). Four extinct volcanoes sit across the island creating scenic highlands that are best experienced by bike – mainly cruising downhill, you'll be happy to know. The tiny town of El Progreso will add a splash of colour to our journey, and we’ll also cross five different vegetation zones before arriving at our seaside destination – La Loberia beach.
San Cristobal Island
It’s our last day soaking up the natural beauty of the Galapagos, and what a day we’ve got planned. Bird-watching will kick us off, followed by a cruise to the 143-metre Kicker Rock – a natural phenomenon that protrudes from the ocean and is one of the greatest icons of the area. Our Local Guide will give us the low-down on the wildlife – both above and below the water – that surrounds the rock, then we’ll jump in and explore for ourselves. Keep a look out for chocolate chip starfish and a Galapagos Shark or two, but remember the golden rule – keep those toes off the coral, as you can do serious damage to the delicate eco-system. Back on board, we’ll make tracks for Puerto Grande beach. Here, we’ll eat lunch on board and enjoy a final afternoon of Galapagos fun, before rounding off the day with a feat to end all feasts. WHAT A DAY.
San Cristobal to Guayaquil
There’s time to relax this morning & take in the beauty of the island before heading back to the mainland where your trip ends on arrival. Not done yet? Why not fly to Peru and join our Peru Uncovered trip?