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Ecuador Cloud Forest & Amazon

Observe endemic species and contrasting biomes on this sleek cloud forest and Amazon cruise tour.

Itinerary & Prices

10 Day / 9 Night - Ecuador Cloud Forest & Amazon
itinerary map

Into the Cloud Forest

Today, we set out early in the direction of Mashpi lodge, located northwest of Quito in the Choco cloud forest region. The drive takes us along the western flank of the Andes, next to the “Middle of the World” monument, which marks the equatorial line. We then continue westwards, downhill, following the course of the Rio Blanco, watching as the vegetation changes with every significant drop in altitude. After passing the town of Nanegalito, we head northwest, along winding country roads, passing the archaeological site of Tulipe and various farming communities, arriving at the lodge around noon.

After settling into our respective rooms, we meet our naturalist guides who will give us a brief explanation of the importance of cloud forests, their unique characteristics, and the history of the Mashpi Lodge project, which was born out of one man’s love for the Choco and an opportunity to save its last major tract from a logging company. You will also receive a list of a-la-carte excursions you can choose from during your stay.

After lunch, we will enjoy our first excursion along the Napa Path, which includes examples of both primary and secondary forests. It is a path of great scenic beauty and an excellent opportunity for bird watching. Towards the end, we find one of the most unique attractions of Mashpi: The Pambil (Iriartea deltoid), a palm tree 130 feet tall, with wood so dense it is comparable in strength to steel! The walk is moderate and lasts roughly two hours.

Each night, you may enjoy listening to a scientific lecture given by our resident biologist or one of our naturalist guides. They will help us to understand how important the Choco ecosystem is for biodiversity, and what discoveries are made on a regular basis

Meals (L, D)

Mashpi lodge exterior
Location
Quito to Mashpi Lodge
Day
1 / 10

Exploring the Forests of Mashpi

Early risers at Mashpi reap rewards. At dawn, the terrace is open and equipped with a coffee and tea bar. High-powered telescopes are set up for your convenience, and guides are ready to assist you in identifying the many unique species out early in search of insects and fruit in nearby trees. Then, we will enjoy a delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

This morning, our first excursion takes us to the Sky Bike and the Observation Tower. Here, we witness the jungle from above the canopy. The Sky bike is a foot-powered cable system, which enables guests to literally bike their way through the treetops! The observation tower, however, is a much taller structure affording visitors commanding views of the entire Mashpi complex. Its 162 steps are worth the effort as you take in views of the Choco, and on a clear day can even see the Pacific Ocean. Returning to the hotel, you have the option of taking either a shorter hike to visit a small waterfall, or a more challenging walk to a larger fall, named San Vicente, but requiring a 45-minute climb to get back to the hotel, where refreshing fruit juices will be served.

In the afternoon, we recommend a visit to the Life Center, a building dedicated to learning and research with spectacular views of the valley below. From the comfort of a chaise longue on the handsome wooden deck, you may relax and spot birds, and with luck even spot a mantled howler monkey. The center houses a vast orchid collection, butterfly sanctuary.

The forest comes to life at night! For those interested in even more adventure, you have the option of a night hike where we spot animals in the canopy with our flashlights. It is not uncommon to see various species of spiders, snakes, and arboreal mammals. There are always surprises.

Meals (B, L, D)

Walking along the riverside Mashpi Lodge
Location
Mashpi Lodge
Day
2 / 10

A Last Hike & Return to Quito

On your last day, there’s more time to explore the forest trails, head to a different waterfall, or find a nook to let the whole experience sink in. For the adventurous amongst us, you may decide to take a very early morning departure to attempt a sighting of the Andean cock-of-the-rock, one of the ‘challenges’ available at Mashpi.

There is also the silent meditation hike, where the only rule is nobody is allowed to speak. In this way, the forest does all the talking and the hike becomes an exercise in mindfulness!

We return to the hotel for check out at 11:00 a.m. On our way out, we may stop at the hummingbird garden to see these hyperactive, charismatic birds jostle for a few moments at the feeders. There are dozens of species visiting the feeders daily.

Our transfer leaves Mashpi Lodge at 11:30 a.m. We will be given a complimentary box lunch to enjoy during our drive back to Quito.

Meals (B, L)

Inside Mashpi Lodge Lounge
Location
Mashpi Lodge to Quito
Day
3 / 10

City Tour, Chocolate & Guayasamin

Colonial Quito: a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls and, rising above, the steeples and cupolas of the city´s many spectacularly decorated historic churches. Quito has one of the best-preserved colonial centers in all South America, and its integrity was assured in 1978 when the United Nations declared Quito a World Cultural Heritage site – one of the first in the world!

Our tour begins with a walk through the Main Plaza, where you will see the Government Palace, La Compañía, and some of the most important churches built around the XVI and XVII centuries. The San Francisco Monastery, Quito’s oldest, was started only 5 days after the founding of the city in 1534. From here, we will visit the city’s famous La Ronda street, where we will learn about traditional work in Colonial Quito.  For our last stop, we will also be visiting the ‘Panecillo’, the hill that dominates the South of the city, and where we will be able to admire the famous statue of Our Lady of the Panecillo and enjoy spectacular views of Quito.

Chocolate & Art Experience:

In the afternoon, we are in store for a special treat. Journey through 5,000 years of culture with the finest chocolate & art that Ecuador has to offer. Partnering with To’ak Chocolate and Fundación Guayasamín, we will enjoy a one-of-a-kind journey that celebrates the rich history, art, and chocolate of Ecuador. To’ak uses the oldest and rarest cacao variety on earth to make extremely limited editions of single-origin Ecuadorian dark chocolate. Visitors then get to taste the extraordinary results while guided by a chocolate specialist akin to a fine wine or aged whiskey tasting.

The tasting is held in a private wine cellar of Fundacion Guayasamin, one of the most unique and fascinating art museums in the world. Some of the 20th century’s most notable people such as Fidel Castro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the King of Spain were entertained in the wine cellar. Guests are guided through a comprehensive tasting of raw and roasted cacao beans, as well as four different editions of To’ak Chocolate while learning about different cacao varieties, terroir, fermentation methods, barrel-aging, and how they influence the expression of chocolate.

Meals (B, L)

Quito and volcano in background
Location
Quito
Day
4 / 10

Quito From Above

This morning we leave our hotel and head to the heliport at Tambillo, where our charter helicopter awaits us. This exhilarating flight lasts 35 minutes and covers an approximate distance of 71 km. in which we take in a huge range of local sights including:

• La Viudita Mountain • Aloag • Corazon Volcano (3393 meters elevation) • Tucuso • Ilinizas (4712 meters elevation) •Cotopaxi Forests • Cotopaxi Volcano (5699 meters elevation) • Rumiñahui (3837 meters elevation) • Pita Waterfalls • Sincholagua Volcano (4656 meters elevation) • Pasochoa Park

Upon arrival back to the heliport, we take a short drive back to Quito and to the famous Restaurante Terra for a delicious hand-crafted gourmet lunch made with local ingredients such as Andean corn, Andean river shrimp, local tubers, and the delicious palta fuerte avocado.

The kitchen is helmed by Chef Alvaro Reinoso (El Celler de Can Roca, Nuna, and Elements) and the food is nothing short of spectacular. We treat you to a carefully thought out menu, from starter through to dessert, and offer an insight into the special local ingredients and the fascinating cooking methods used in the preparation of these bespoke dishes. After this fantastic lunch, we take you back to you the colonial luxury of the Casa Gangotena where you can take in the dusk over Quito with a cocktail made with local fruits on the rooftop bar.

Meals (B, L)

helicopter waiting to take off
Location
Quito
Day
5 / 10

Cruise Embarkation

AM: Enjoy your final morning at your hotel in the city before embarking on your new cruise adventure! You will be transferred to the airport after breakfast for your flight from Quito to Coca.

PM: Our adventure begins in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. After a 30-minute flight from Quito to the Amazonian city of Coca, we will transfer to the dock and board our motorized canoe for a 90-minute journey down the river, taking in the Amazon, until we reach the Anakonda Amazon Cruise and receive our welcome aboard.

On the Anakonda, we will be joined by expert local naturalist guides, who will provide us with a brief, informative introduction to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Afterward, guests will have the opportunity to explore our cruise ship and admire the rainforest landscape as we glide down the Napo River. After dinner, we will take a nighttime forest walk to observe the rainforest’s nocturnal activity and vividly experience its biodiversity first-hand.

Meals: (B, D)

boat navigating on the amazon
Location
Anakonda Amazon Cruise
Day
6 / 10

Yasuni National Park

AM: Early in the morning, we will visit Yasuni National Park, a pristine region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, home to the legendary pink river dolphin. In this area, we can also find anacondas, river turtles, and various primate species, as well as the colorful hoatzin, a unique bird known locally as the “stinky turkey”.

PM: In the afternoon, we will take a motorized canoe to a black-water lake, home to giant otters and the elusive manatee, and enjoy a pleasant hike in the riparian/gallery forest, with the chance to spot flocks of birds and marvel at the intricate organization of a colony of leaf-cutter ants.

Meals: (B, L, D)

pink river dolphin amazon
Location
Anakonda Amazon Cruise
Day
7 / 10

Kichwa Family and Life Onboard

AM: We will start the day off by visiting an authentic Kichwa family on the banks of the Napo River, where we will receive the opportunity to learn directly from members of the local community.

PM: We will board the Anakonda for lunch as we continue upstream. Guests will participate in a cooking class with our expert chef and prepare exquisite traditional Ecuadorian. Guests are invited to try traditional handcrafting or enjoy our onboard facilities, including the Rainforest Spa, the spectacular view from our Amazon Hot Tub, cocktails at our Bar and Lounge, and stargazing from our Observation Deck.

Meals: (B, L, D)

enjoying views of the river from a cruise
Location
Anakonda Amazon Cruise
Day
8 / 10

Forest Adventure & Observation Canopy Tower

AM: Our guests can relax and enjoy the Anakonda Amazon Cruise during the morning and disembark to explore the nearby forest and discover a myriad of animals and plant species endemic to the Amazon basin.

PM: In the afternoon, we will visit a canopy tower built against a giant kapok tree and take in the view from the top as we loom above the lush treetops and look down on the sheer vastness of the Amazon. In the evening, we will take a canoe onto the river to search for black caimans by flashlight.

Meals: (B, L, D)

birds flying from clay lick
Location
Anakonda Amazon Cruise
Day
9 / 10

Disembarkation

AM: This is where our adventure ends! Enjoy the final part of our return journey, then disembark the Anakonda Amazon Cruise to take the motorized canoe for 90 minutes back to Coca.

paddling down the river at sunset
Location
Return Home
Day
10 / 10
1 / 10

Accommodations

Cruises & Lodges

Lodge in the jungle view

Mashpi Lodge

An unexpected oasis of urban comfort set amongst the mist-shrouded slopes of the Andean cloudforest.
47 Guests
24 Cabins
View
Amazon River Cruise Anakonda Ecuador

Anakonda

Award-winning boutique vessel exploring Ecuador's biodiverse Oriente in luxurious style.
40 Guests
18 Cabins
View

Hotel Options

Boutique

Casa Gangotena

Quito