Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the welcome meeting will take place. After this important meeting, join your leader on a walking tour of the historic centre of Quito. Stroll through Plaza Grande (main square) and by the Archbishop's Palace. From here, walk about 800 metres uphill to reach the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Time permitting, you may wish to spend more time exploring this church and its views from the top towers. Finally, walk to La Ronda Street and pass by La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus) and San Francisco churches. At the end of the walk, your leader will recommend a local restaurant on La Ronda Street for an optional group dinner. Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do, so a few extra days here before the trip is highly recommended.
2 Amazon Lodge (Amazon Jungle)
Today will be an early start, as the group will be on the move by 7 am. Catch a local bus from Quito Central Station to Tena (approximately 5 hours). There's no toilet on board, but the bus will stop for one toilet break during the journey. From Tena, travel by private vehicle to your lodge for the next two nights, arriving by approximately 1.30 pm, just in time for lunch. After lunch join your tour leader and a local guide for a jungle hike. In the afternoon, try your hand at making chocolate from scratch. After a group dinner enjoy a night walk through the jungle looking for insects and nocturnal animals.
3 Amazon Lodge (Amazon Jungle)
In the morning after breakfast, you will travel by canoe to visit a loca indigenous community and become part of the local family as you interact and learn about their lifestyle and customs, you will also get to prepare a local drink known as chicha. After the visit, enjoy a packed lunch on the banks of the Arajuno River. Next you'll have the opportunity to go tubing down the river. The water currents are not particularly strong however it's part of our safety policy for all passengers to wear a life jacket if you wish to take part in this activity. The activity will last approximately 1 hour, you will then get back on board the Canoe and travel back to the Amazon lodge (approximately 1.5 hours) Once you get back to the lodge there will be time to shower and freshen up for dinner. After dinner, head out on a night jungle walk!
Enjoy breakfast at around 7 am in the lodge. Afterwards, travel back to Tena the same way you arrived, then catch a local bus to Banos (approximately 3 hours). You should arrive in the city of Banos around midday, with the rest of the day free for you to do as you wish. Perhaps use your free time soaking in the city's natural baths or go for a hike into the valley and to the powerful falls of Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron).
Enjoy a full day to explore Banos and take advantage of some of the optional activities. Perhaps rise early to watch the sunrise over the mountains near the hot springs. After breakfast, venture to Nuestra Senora del Agua Santa (Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water) and see the intricate murals that depict numerous stories about the virgin. If you have time, stroll around the local artisan markets to pick up a memento of the city. If your trip falls on the weekend or during the holidays, be prepared for carnival-like festivities that take place all over Banos.
Take a local bus to Riobamba (approximately 3 hours), where you'll swap buses and head south to Cuenca (approximately 5 hours). Cuenca may well be Ecuador's best looking city; indeed UNESCO rate it on their list of things they love. There are lots of impressive 500-year-old churches and colonial buildings, many made out of marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. Cuenca is the home of the famous Panama hat, and if there's time you could visit a factory and pick up one that fits perfectly. There's also a buzzing nightlife here, due in no small part to the university population.
Meet up with your leader this morning and get to know Cuenca better with an orientation walk. Trundle along cobblestone streets and check out colonial parks and markets, and stop by the monumental cathedral at the centre. The rest of the day is free to explore Cuenca and the surrounding area. If you're feeling cultural, maybe head to the Museo Pumapungo, which features an impressive range of artistic, historical, cultural, and ethnological exhibits (including a collection of real shrunken heads from the Shuar civilisation – for the strong stomached only!). Otherwise, maybe get out of town to El Cajas National Park, home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Tonight you might want to get to bed early, in preparation for a very early start early tomorrow morning.
8 Tumbes / Lima Flight
At approximately 3 am, begin by taking a taxi to the bus station in Cuenca, then a public bus south-east towards the coast and town of Huaquillas (approximately 5–6 hours). After crossing the border into Peru, make your way to Tumbes airport before flying to Lima, capital of Peru. Touch down and meet your new leader before heading to your hotel in Miraflores which sits conveniently by the beach. In the afternoon, embark on an orientation walk through Miraflores, passing the arty markets, shops, restaurants and bars before enjoying an evening at your leisure. Enjoy a free evening with the group, perhaps saying farewell over a pisco sour and a delicious ceviche.
You've reached the end of your adventure. There are no activities planned for today and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you feel like you didn't have much time in Lima at the start of your trip, perhaps stay on for a few extra days to see more of the city. We'll be happy to assist with booking accommodation (subject to availability).