EXPLORE THE MIGHTY ANDES MOUNTAINS, LUSH, GREEN CLOUD FORESTS, AND CLOSE KNIT RURAL COMMUNITY LIFE
Trip Highlights Include: 21 meals and overnight accommodations, certified specialized guides, bilingual tour leader, salsa dance lessons, service learning opportunities, any entrance fees, in country emergency contact and adventure !!!
Program focus: language and cultural exchange, service, conservation, rural community life, coffee, outdoor adventure.
On this 8 day adventure we will visit 4 distinct regions and have the opportunity to participate in service projects, coffee farming, and ample outdoor adventures. Our journey begins in Quito, the capital of Ecuador and the best preserved colonial city in all of South America. Here we will tour the historical sites of the city and also get a taste of modern urban life with a salsa dance class. From Quito we venture north, deep into the Andes Mountains. Here we will stay in a small mountain village consisting of 50 families who have self-organized to create a massive nature preserve and community based micro-businesses. We will participate in various service projects depending on the needs of the community at the time of our visit, and will have the opportunity to help make fresh cheese and marmalades from milk and fruit that we harvest ourselves. We will then descend to the altitude sweet spot for coffee cultivation and tour a picturesque coffee farm where we will participate in every step of the coffee production process. We will finish our journey in the small cloud forest town of Mindo where we will tube down a rushing river, go on a chocolate tour, and interact with thousands of exotic butterflies–amongst other
activities. This is an unforgettable trip in a compact package.
Upon arrival at the Quito airport, you will be met by your Trip Leader and transferred privately to your hotel in Quito’s historic center. All Trip leaders are bilingual and have emergency first aid training.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL
Upon arrival at the Quito airport, you will be met by your Trip Leader and taken via private transport to a hotel near Quito’s historical center.
DAY 2: QUITO: CITY – TOUR & SALSA CLASS
Quito’s historical heart is the largest, least-altered and best- restored in the Americas. The city has invested $400 million since the turn of the century in its cultural heritage – more than any other Latin American city. In 2013, it celebrated 35 years as the first city nominated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The capital’s heart beats with renewed cultural life and pride, as citizens and visitors alike enjoy its unique attractions. Later that evening, we will enjoy salsa dance classes at our accommodation, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.
DAYS 3-4: YUNGUILLA
After breakfast, we will have a private transfer to the mountain community of Yunguilla. Have an orientation to this community of 50 families and learn about your activities and projects to be completed in the next 2 days. The group will engage in meaningful projects that further the sustainable goals of the community This community is well known for sustainable production. We will stay with the families or in the volunteer lodge. The next day, we will have the opportunity see the Orchid garden and their production of marmalades and cheese. Early in the morning, we can wake up and milk the cows and
feed other animals, and then eat breakfast. We will spend these two days volunteering with the community doing projects such as cheese and marmalade production or other agricultural projects and also have the opportunity to go on a bird watching hike between three and four hours, following along some ancient pre-Columbian trails known as Culuncos.
DAY 5: YUNGUILLA / MIRADOR AND /COLUNCO
We will have an early breakfast before heading to the highest point of the Yunguilla reserve for a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and 7 volcano peaks. From the Mirador, we will hike an ancient Pre-Incan trail called a Colunco. This network of trails is so old that it has been worn down into a narrow, cavern like pass that is up to 20 feet deep in places. We will have a well earned lunch when we get back to the village. After lunch we will spend the afternoon working on a service projects and playing soccer with the community kids. After dinner we will have a special sending off ceremony with the community members.
DAY 6: COFFEE FARM – MINDO
After an early breakfast with our families, we will depart the community and head to an organic coffee farm in the mountains near the town of Nenegal. Here we will learn how the World’s most popular beverage is made, experience the entire process from planting saplings to harvesting, fermenting, and roasting the beans. After we eat lunch on the farm, we will head onward to Mindo. Mindo is a crib of exceptional beauties that attract nature lovers for its exceptional variety of flora and fauna. It is located in a valley, and with its 19200 hectares it houses around 500 species of birds, 30 species of butterflies, 170 species of orchids and variety of wildlife. Upon arrival in the small mountain town, we will get our adrenaline pumping with a rushing tube ride down the river. After drying off back at our tree house style lodge, we will go on a chocolate tour complete with samples and dinner. Back to our riverside lodge for the night.
DAY 7: MINDO – QUITO
After a leisurely breakfast by the river, we will visit a butterfly sanctuary where we can observe, hold, and feed, tens of thousands of exotic butterflies, some as big as a dinner plate. From there we will zoom across a lush mountain valley in a cable tram and embark on a 2 hour (round trip) hike to a massive, majestic waterfall. After zipping back across the valley, we will grab lunch in town before gathering our belongings and heading back to Quito. After checking into our hotel for the night, we will go out for a fun dinner at a semi-outdoor food park.
DAY 8: QUITO – DEPARTURE
Our final day, we will spend the morning at Quito’s infamous artisan market where everyone will have the chance to buy souvenirs for themselves and loved ones. After lunch, we will have a tour of the Botanical Gardens in the modern city center. Late afternoon we will head to the suburban town of Cumbaya for a special send off dinner. After dinner we will say our goodbyes at the airport before your red-eye flight home. Buen viaje!