This ecotour is the most complete and diverse of our tours in the sense that we visit many different places traveling along a transverse transect through the provinces of El Oro, Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe. The trajectory of this tour allows the tourist to experiment in 8 days what Ecuador really is about. During this ecotour you'll visit three different regions of Ecuador (Pacific Coast Region, Andes Highland Region and Amazonian Basin Region), four different life-zones (montane tropical rainforest on the eastern and western slopes of the Andes, cloud forest, paramo and mangrove forest) and two different indigenous nations (Saraguro and Shuar). Please expect to do a lot of traveling because we'll be covering a lot of off-the-beaten-path terrain in the eight days of this tour. Lastly, please note that presently we are the only tour operator that offers this unique transverse ecotour though Southern Ecuador.
This tour starts in Quito, where we will meet at the airport to catch a morning flight to the city of Guayaquil, in Ecuador's Pacific Coast Region. Once in Guayaquil we'll do a small city tour and then we'll drive 3.5 hours until we reach Hualtaco Bay, located in El Oro Province. At this bay we will take a boat and navigate for 45 minutes to Costa Rica Island, which is one of the few places in Southern Ecuador that still has intact mangrove forests. Once in the island, we will set up our tents, where we will be spending the night. Then we will go to the beach and swim in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. By 5:30 pm we'll head back to the village. After dinner we'll set up a bonfire at the beach.
After breakfast and depending on the tide, we'll learn about how the fishermen at Costa Rica Island make a living through crab and mussel farming. We'll spend the morning walking along the island or relaxing at the beach. After lunch we'll head back to Hualtaco Bay. Here a vehicle will be waiting to take us to the historical city of Zaruma. On our way to Zaruma, we'll make a brief stop at Buenaventura Nature Reserve where we can find an amazing variety of hummingbirds. Once in Zaruma, we'll check in at our hotel and after dinner, we'll go on a city tour.
In the morning we'll go for a short tour to the oldest and most famous gold mine in Zaruma, which now has been turned into a museum. At 10:00 am we'll depart to Cerro de Arcos (Mount of Arches), which is a set of very interesting geological formations. In our vehicle we'll climb the Andes up to an elevation of 3400 meters above sea level. We'll hike through a paramo ecosystem as we head to Cerro de Arcos. Then we'll head back to the main road and head to Saraguro, the homeland of the Saraguro nation. We'll spend the night in a Saraguro home, where we will have a traditional meal in the company of our Saraguro host family.
After breakfast we'll visit a couple of Saraguro handicraft shops to see how hats and other crafts are made. Alternatively, time permitting, we'll participate in a shamanistic ritual at the Smiling Mountain. By noon we'll continue our travels, this time heading south towards Copalinga Ecolodge. This unique ecolodge is located between the city of Zamora and Bombuscaro, a wonderful area within Podocarpus National Park (PNP). The rest of the day will be spent Copalinga.
In the morning we'll head towards the PNP and we'll visit "La Poderosa" waterfall. At 12:00 am we'll head back to Capalinga Lodge, take our stuff and drive to Yankuam Lodge. This lodge is located in the Nangaritza Valley, the ancestral land of the Shuar people. After a 3.5 hour drive we'll reach Yankuam Lodge, where we'll relax for the rest of the day.
After breakfast we'll go on a boat tour along the Nangaritza and Numpatkaime Rivers and enjoy the breathtaking landscape of the area. By noon we'll make a stop at Shaime, a Shuar village, where we'll learn about the culture of this native group. After lunch we'll go back to the boat and make our way back to Yankuam lodge. By 5.00 pm we'll be back at Yankuam Lodge, just in time for a shower before supper.
In the morning we'll head towards the world renowned Vilcabamba, the valley of longevity. During our five our drive, we'll make a stop at San Francisco Lodge to check out the cloud forest and have lunch. By 3:00 pm we'll reach Vilcabamba and then will head to the Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve and Ecolodge. We'll spend the rest of the day at Rumi Wilco. At night we'll hike back to Vilcabamba for dinner.
After breakfast we'll go for a hiking tour along the Rumi Wilco ecolodge and learn more about the flora and fauna of the area. By 1:00 pm we'll head back to Vilcabamba for lunch and then we'll drive to Loja city, where we will spend the night. After dinner we'll go for a night stroll around this pretty city.
The following morning we'll have to wake up very early in the morning (5:30 am) to catch a 7:15 AM flight to Quito. By 8:05 AM we'll arrive to Quito's airport, where our ecotour will officially end.
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AT A GLANCE
|Includes||all in-Ecuador transportation (air, boat, land), most meals (fixed menu), all accommodation, guides, national park entrance fees and all activities mentioned in the itinerary|
|Doesn't include||air ticket home-country-Ecuador, alcoholic beverages, medical expenses, insurance, phone calls, departure from Ecuador tax (~$60 USD and payable at airport), any meals/activities that are not specified in the itinerary|
|Life zones visited||lower montane rain forest both eastern and western slopes of the Andes, montane rain forest, paramo and mangrove forest|
|Ethnic groups visited||Saraguro, Shuar|
|Group Size||3 to 6 people|
|Physical activity level||Moderate|
|Availability||all year round|