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The Many Faces of Ecuador: The Coast, Highlands, and the Amazon

Program Number: 16488RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/14/2013 - 2/25/2013; 10/24/2015 - 11/4/2015;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Ecuador
Price starting at: $2,875.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 31; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

From walking in the Amazon rainforest to riding through the Avenue of the Volcanoes, taking a train ride past the Devil’s Nose and exploring Inca ruins, Ecuador’s diversity is legendary. Watch Panama hats being handcrafted and marvel at the weaving skills of the Otavalenos. Acquaint yourself with Quito and Cuenca, two UNESCO World Heritage cities and understand why Ecuador is considered the undiscovered jewel of South America.


• Journey through the breathtaking Avenue of the Volcanoes.
• Meet with indigenous people during a visit to the famous Otavalo Market and a cacao plantation.
• Encounter native wildlife and plants while exploring Amazon waters and trails.

Activity Particulars

This program includes activities and overnight stays at elevations of up to 9,600 ft. While in Amazonia, participants must be able to get in and out of small boats and walk unassisted on uneven forest trails in hot and humid conditions.

Quito, Ecuador has an elevation of 9,350-9,500 feet. Some participants find it helpful to fly into the city a day early in order to have extra time to rest and acclimate to the thinner air.

Date Specific Information


The Amazonian portion of this program is spent at La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa and activities are slightly different.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrive Quito, 2 nights; fly to Amazon/Napo River, 3 nights; fly to Quito and coach to Otavalo, 2 nights; coach to Riobamba, 1 night; train and coach to Cuenca, 2 nights; coach to Guayaquil, 1 night; departure.

Flight from the U.S.A.
Arrival Quito
2 nights
Flight to Amazon / Napo River
3 nights

The journey into the Amazon is an adventure in itself. After a flight over the snowcapped peaks of the Andes, a motorized canoe ride down the Napo River, a short walk through the forest and a dugout canoe ride, you arrive at the lodge. Accompanied by expert naturalists, visit a parrot clay lick, hike suspended bridges and examine the jungle canopy from a 130-foot tower.

Flight to Quito
Coach to Otavalo
2 nights
Coach to Riobamba
1 night

A lecture on the indigenous peoples precedes an excursion to Otavalo to witness the weaving and leather handcrafting skills of the local peoples. Travel through the Avenue of the Volcanoes with a site lecture on agriculture in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Train and coach to Cuenca
2 nights

Board the Auto-ferro for a railway ride across the Devil’s Nose through a dramatic series of switchbacks. Walk through the historic ruins of Ingapirca for a site lecture on the lifestyles of the Inca. Discover Cuenca’s old city, known as the center for creativity and intellectual traditions, and visit a local hat factory to trace the origins of the famous Panama Hat.

Coach to Guayaquil
1 night

Bid farewell to the Andean highlands and head for the coast with a stop at a working hacienda for a chocolate-making demonstration. Through lectures and visits to museums and neighborhoods, witness the miraculous transformation that Guayaquil has undergone in the last decade, apparent in the Guayas River waterfront’s botanical gardens and artistic displays. An excursion to Santa Ana Hill demonstrates the powerful effect that a restored neighborhood has on the well-being of its inhabitants.


Man, animal and plant cohabitate Ecuador’s mountains, rainforests, and shores in a delicate balance. Among such a range of wildlife and fauna, Charles Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution was inspired in 1859 in the country’s Galapagos Islands. Coupled with its natural beauty, Ecuador’s animated culture can be seen in its varied dishes and the excitement of soccer fans rooting for El Nacional.

Quito: Four-star hotel. Amazon/Napo River: Jungle lodge in the heart of the Amazon. Otavalo: Hotel is a restored 17th-century Andean estate. Riobamba: Comfortable hotel. Cuenca: Historic hotel in the Old Town. Guayaquil: Comfortable hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Sheraton Quito
  Quito, Ecuador 2 nights
   La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa
  Amazonia, Ecuador 3 nights
   El Monasterio de Cusin
  Otavalo, Ecuador 2 nights
   Abraspungo Hotel
  Riobamba, Ecuador 1 night
   Hotel Santa Lucia
  Cuenca, Ecuador 2 nights
   Hotel Oro Verde
  Guayaquil, Ecuador 1 night
 Hotel Sheraton Quito
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: Avenida Naciones Unidas y Republica de el Salvador
Quito,   Ecuador
phone: +593 229-7000 2
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, coffee/tea maker, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, mini refrigerator, telephone, free newspaper, and cable TV.
  Facility amenities: Fitness and spa facilities, laundry/valet service, gift shop, florist, and meeting rooms.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Room types and prices are subject to availability. Please contact the program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or for assistance in booking additional hotel nights.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa
Type: Lodge
  Description: This attractive lodge provides rustic comfort in the heart of Ecuador's Amazonian River Basin.
  Contact info: Lake Garzacocha - 60 miles from Coca town
Amazonia,   Ecuador
phone: +593-2-2540427
  Room amenities: Accommodations provided in comfortable, thatched roof cabanas, each with a fan and a veranda with hammock and sitting area. Each room has a private bathroom with electrical outlet and hot water and canopy beds with mosquito nets.
  Facility amenities: Hammock hut, restaurant, spa/massage services, bar/lounge with wrap around view of Lake Garzacocha.
  Smoking allowed: No

 El Monasterio de Cusin
Type: Hotel
  Description: This charming hotel is housed in a restored 17th century Andean estate. The equatorial line and snowcapped Cayambe Mountains are only 30 minutes away. Winding cobblestone pathways, fountain courtyards, and perennial gardens offer inviting spaces where guests can relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
  Contact info: P.O. Box # 123
Otavalo - Imbabura
San Pablo del Lago, Imbabura,   Ecuador
phone: +593-6-2918013/17
  Room amenities: Rooms have wood-beamed ceilings and log burning Kiva fireplaces, and are decorated with Andean crafts. Private bathrooms have thick cotton towels and hairdryers. Hot water bottles on request.
  Facility amenities: Horseback riding, stables with arena, mountain biking, an internet cafe, basketball, squash and volleyball courts, a game room for pool, table-tennis and darts, and two television viewing rooms with an extensive and highly selective video library. 24 hour laundry service is available.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Abraspungo Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hosteria Abraspungo is located at the 3.5 kilometer marker on the way to Guano, in a residential suburb named “Las Abras”, in the city of Riobamba. It’s name comes from two words: “Abras” from the Spanish word “abra”, which means a deep rupture in the hard earth, caused by erosion from water. “Pungo” from the Quichua word “pungu”, which means door or entrance. Abraspungo is also the name of a glacial valley which is located between the mountains Chimborazo and Carihuairazo, at 4.000 Mts. above sea level. The idea to build Abraspungo, began with the purpose of providing comfortable and peaceful lodging for our customers, in peaceful countryside surroundings which offer the special micro-climate characteristic of the Guano valley.
  Contact info: Located at 3½ kilometer marker on the way to Guano city, in the residential suburb “Las A
Riobamba,  00000 Ecuador
phone: +593-3-2364031
  Room amenities: Telephone, TV, and room service.
  Facility amenities: Fax and email service, restaurant, bar, laundry service, conference room, and mail service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Hotel Santa Lucia
Type: Hotel
  Description: The hotel is housed in one of Cuenca's most historic buildings, in the Old Town district. The building was once a house, built in 1859 by the first governor of Azuay province, Don Manuel Vega Davila. The property remained in the Vega family for over a hundred years, being a peaceful witness of important episodes of the history of southern Ecuador.
  Contact info: Antonio Borrero 8-44 y Sucre
Cuenca,   Ecuador
phone: +(593-7) 282-8000
  Room amenities: Private bathroom, hair dryer, mini bar, plasma TV, digital safe, Internet access, and heating.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, meeting rooms, laundry service, room service, medical care, and baby sitting services.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Oro Verde
Type: Hotel
  Description: Oro Verde Hotel Guayaquil is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World in Ecuador. Strategically located in the downtown commercial and banking heart of the city, only eight minutes from the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport. Oro Verde offers 230 luxury rooms, three restaurants, bar, delicatessen, room service, a luxurious Club Floor, swimming pool, fitness and business center, casino and shops.
  Contact info: 9 de Octubre Street
Guayaquil,   Ecuador
phone: +(593-4) 232-7999
  Room amenities: Equipped with a mini bar, radio, direct dialing telephone, safe for valuables, cable TV, broadband Internet connection, reading light over each bed, a remote control air conditioner, and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Internet, 24-hour room service, laundry/dry cleaning, safety boxes, meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of 4 to 20 people.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Subject to availability. Please contact your program provider, Holbrook Travel, for additional information. 1-800-451-7111.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All day arrivals at the international airport in Quito, Ecuador. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. Program activities begin with breakfast on Day 2. You will be staying at Hotel Sheraton Quito that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Program ends with breakfast at the hotel. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Hotel Oro Verde the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers arriving from an endemic area or those traveling to Ecuador's Amazon region. Please consult with the Centers for Disease Control for their latest recommendations. Participants can call 800-CDC-INFO for more information or visit their website at:
  Required innoculations:
Yes: Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers arriving from an endemic area or those traveling to Ecuador's Amazon region. Please consult with the Centers for Disease Control for their latest recommendations. Participants can call 800-CDC-INFO for more information or visit their website at:
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Quito
  Nearest city or town:  Quito
  Nearest airport:  International Airport in Quito
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador. If transferring to/from the airport by taxi, please be sure to only use official licensed taxis. This includes checking to make sure that the cab is in good physical condition, and that it has orange license plates as well as an orange placard on the driver's-side doors and windshield with the registration number. Taxis are available outside the international airport and are payable in dollars (Ecuador’s currency is the U.S. dollar).
  From End of Program
  Location:  Guayaquil
  Nearest city or town:  Guayaquil
  Nearest airport:  International Airport in Guayaquil
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available at the hotel. If you wish to hire a taxi, please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.

Required innoculations:

Yes: Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers arriving from an endemic area or those traveling to Ecuador's Amazon region. Please consult with the Centers for Disease Control for their latest recommendations. Participants can call 800-CDC-INFO for more information or visit their website at:

Elevation Note: Elevations up to 10,600 ft.

Equipment Requirements: Although not required, we strongly encourage participants to bring binoculars for the Amazonian portion of their program.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive to Quito, Ecuador.
(Thursday, February 14)
 Arrive To: Arrivals at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel and check-in.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day.
Accommodations: Hotel Sheraton Quito

Day 2: Quito -
Quito City Orientation/Field Trip to the Equator Line & Museo Intiñan.

(Friday, February 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Program Orientation.
Excursion to El Panecillo Hill.
Site lecture: From Quito to Ecuador – An Historical Overview.

Before the Spanish arrived, the hill known as El Panecillo (Small Bread Roll) was used by the Inca for sun worshiping. In the early 1800s, the Spanish military took advantage of El Panecillo's strategic location and elevation (9,843 ft), and built a fortress to protect and monitor the city. In present times, the hill is the site of a city monument and lookout point where visitors can get 360° views of Quito. On clear days, it is even possible to spot Cotopaxi's snowy peak in the distance.

City orientation including visits to Independence Square, La Compania Church (with Gold Interior) and San Francisco Church and Convent. Quito (9,350 ft) was once the capital of the Quitu Empire before it was conquered by the Incas. The Inca rulers later razed Quito to keep its riches from the Spaniards. Today, all signs of its pre-Columbian origins have been erased. The city is now divided between beautiful colonial architecture and the clean lines of its modern section.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant with an introduction to Ecuadorian food products and typical Ecuadorian cuisine.
 Afternoon: Field trip to Museo Intiñan located on the Equator line. This museum has a permanent exposition about the Andean cosmovision of Ecuador's ancestral cultures. Learn in a didactic way about the indigenous calendar and its exactitude.
Visit an indigenous home dating back 120 years ago to learn about the way of living and traditions of the indigenous people. Learn about Amazonia's indigenous cultures and one of their main rituals, the "tzantza."

Return to the hotel.
Lecture: Ecuador - Present and Future of Ecuador.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Sheraton Quito
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Amazonia/Napo River -
Fly from Quito to Coca/Boat Transfer on the Napo River/Introduction to Amazonia.

(Saturday, February 16)

Note: The flight from Quito to Coca has a 28lb weight limit, per person, for checked luggage.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Quito airport for 45 minute flight to Coca (flight will depart at about 10:30 a.m.).

The town of Coca is also known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana. This port city is the capital of the Orellana province and one of the country's gateways to exploring the Amazon. It is located at the confluence of two important rivers, the Napo and the Coca.

Upon arrival, transfer to the Hotel La Mision's dock on the Napo River (10-15 min drive).
 Lunch: Boxed lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Boat transfer on the Napo River (2.5 hours). Take the opportunity to look for wildlife along the way with the help of your experienced naturalist.

One of the Amazon's main tributaries, the Napo River is also Ecuador's longest river. These areas of rich jungle are constantly threatened by the discovery of oil and the clearing of lands for farming purposes. In an effort to retain some of country's rich natural heritage, Ecuador has established a number of parks and research stations in the Amazon.

Disembark at the La Selva dock. After taking a break to apply insect repellent and use the facilities, begin a 15-20 minute jungle walk to the edge of a local creek. Participants will be responsible for taking their carry-ons, the remaining luggage will be transported by the lodge's staff. The final stage of your journey (20 minutes) will be spent navigating across Lake Garzacocha in fiberglass canoes.

Arrive to lodge, check-in and orientation.

Enjoy a guided nature walk on the Matapalo Trail, named after the strangler fig tree that is found along this route. Learn about this and other unique flora during your walk.

This region of South America contains the world's largest tropical rainforest and is possibly the planet's most biologically diverse region, with many species still waiting to be discovered.

NOTE ABOUT LODGE ACTIVITIES: the group will be divided into small groups, each of which will be led by a native guide with expert knowledge of the rainforest's medicinal and other useful plants, and a bilingual naturalist guide educated in the biology and ecology of the area. A typical day begins at sunrise or earlier, in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest animals are most active. In the afternoon, visits begin between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Night walk through the rainforest to view the hundreds of different species of nocturnal animals. Bring a flashlight.
Accommodations: La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Amazonia/Napo River -
Observation Tower/Rainforest Walk/Garzacocha Lake/Nighttime Canoe Ride.

(Sunday, February 17)
 Breakfast: Early morning breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Field trip to the observation tower--a viewing platform located up in a kapok tree,135 ft from the ground. Look for and observe the various birds and monkeys that frequent the rainforest canopy. Participants will need to walk for 20-25 minutes on a forest trail to reach the observation tower.

We will continue our forest explorations with a walk on the Tucaneta Trail. Learn about the characteristics of a tropical rainforest and discover the diversity of insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals contained within this biologically rich environment.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure to rest and prepare for afternoon activities.

Embark on a 2 hour canoe ride on Garzacocha Lake. During this activity we will search for herons, flycatchers, red howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and other interesting fauna that frequent the lake shore. Be on the lookout for Hoatzins!

Return to the lodge.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Nighttime canoe ride in search of nocturnal animals including caimans, boas, bats, and owls. Weather permitting, enjoy some star gazing.
Accommodations: La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Amazonia/Napo River -
Yasuni National Park - Parrot Lick/Kichwa Family Visit/Medicinal Plants of the Rainforest.

(Monday, February 18)
 Breakfast: Early breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Field trip to Yasuni National Park and its parrot clay lick for a chance to spot flocks of parakeets and colorful parrots eating clay along the banks. Do not forget to bring your binoculars!

After a 20 minute canoe ride, disembark and walk for 15 minutes on the trail that will take us to the La Selva dock on the Napo River. From here we will enjoy a 10 minute canoe ride to the local parrot clay lick. Observe as hundreds of noisy parrots and parakeets congregate around the clay lick, waiting to get their daily dose of clay. This seemingly strange behavior, called geophagy, is fairly common among members of the parrot family. The mineral rich soil acts as both a vitamin supplement and a detoxifying agent.

After learning about the various parrot and parakeet species that frequent the clay lick, journey along the river to search for more bird life on the river banks.

Before returning to the lodge, enjoy some cultural interaction at the home of a local Kichwa family. Learn about your hosts' cultural and spiritual traditions and their simple way of life.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Walking field trip on the Chaguamango Hermano Trail. Learn about the medicinal properties of various neotropical plants as you follow the trail from its starting point, behind the lodge, all the way to its end at the edge of Garzachocha Lake. Return to the lodge by canoe.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Sit down for a final briefing on the next day's schedule.
Accommodations: La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Otavalo –
Fly from Coca to Quito/Introduction to the Highlands.

(Tuesday, February 19)
 Breakfast: Early breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Board fiber glass canoes and navigate from the lodge to the trail head. Disembark and walk on the trail to the La Selva dock on the Napo River. Board a motor boat to Coca.
 Lunch: Box lunch en-route.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Coca and transfer to the airport for flight to Quito.
Upon arrival in Quito, board a bus and begin your transfer to Otavalo (approx. 2 hours).

Otavalo is a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The highland town is situated in a valley surrounded by imposing volcanoes. The Otavalo Indians have become famous for the weaving of textiles, a tradition that dates back more than 400 years. The town's famous market has traditionally been held on Saturdays, but its popularity has been so great that many local vendors set up their wares throughout the week in the Plaza de los Ponchos. The area was traditionally made up of farming communities but the focus has changed with the growth of tourism and the demand for handicrafts.

Arrive at the hacienda and check-in.
Time at leisure to rest, relax, and enjoy the gardens.

Lecture: A History of the Indigenous People of Otavalo - Independence and Entrepreneurial Expertise.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hacienda.
Accommodations: El Monasterio de Cusin
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Otavalo -
Textile Market/Cultural Interaction with Indigenous Community.

(Wednesday, February 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hacienda.
 Morning: Field trip to Otavalo textile market and site lecture.

Our day will continue with a visit to a local indigenous community. Meet one of the Quichua families who will share with us some of their native customs and traditions. Interact with locals while learning the traditional style of bread baking.

Enjoy a walk through the community and visit the gardens, orchards, medicinal plants, cuy farm and local honey project.
 Lunch: Lunch with a local family, featuring traditional Ecuadorian food.
 Afternoon: After lunch, delight in a dance performance by the local children.

Return to the hacienda.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hacienda.
Accommodations: El Monasterio de Cusin
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Riobamba -
Avenue of the Volcanoes/Haciendas of Ecuador.

(Thursday, February 21)
 Breakfast: Early morning coffee at the hacienda.

Transfer to Riobamba with a stop at Hacienda La Compañia for breakfast.

The Hacienda La Compañia is a traditional Ecuadorian hacienda which has been in the Jarrín family for more than a century. In addition to its famed hospitality and cuisine, the property boasts an extraordinary rose plantation which you will have a chance to see and enjoy. Also, pay a visit to the showroom to view and marvel at all the different varieties of roses produced in the area.
 Morning: Continue your transfer through the famous "Avenue of the Volcanoes." Site lecture: Agriculture in the Ecuadorian Andes.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local hacienda en route.
 Afternoon: Continue with the transfer to Riobamba.
Arrive in Riobamba and check-in at the hotel.

The capital of the Chimborazo province, Riobamba, is a small town located in an important agricultural region of Ecuador. It was once home to the Puruhuá Indians before becoming part of the Inca Empire during the 15th century. The city’s current layout and Spanish architecture reflect its colonial past. Colorful buildings, tiled roofs, parks and plazas, are framed by scenic views of snow-capped volcanoes.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Abraspungo Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Cuenca -
Devil's Nose Train Ride/Ingapirca Inca Ruins.

(Friday, February 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Rail excursion to "Devil's Nose."

Construction of the Guayaquil to Quito railway line began in 1899 with the help of American engineers. The ambitious project was delayed once the tracks reached the Devil's Nose; a large and very steep rock formation that stood in their way. However, a unique solution was devised to get past the sheer rock face that to this day is recognized as a masterpiece of engineering.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Field trip to Ingapirca Ruins with site lecture.
Site Lecture: Ingapirca Ruins and the Lifestyle of the Inca Royalty.

Ingapirca is the most important Inca complex in Ecuador, located in the southern Andean region of Cañar. The circular Temple of the Sun, which stands in the center of the complex, was once an important ceremonial center for the Cañari-Inca. The superior stone masonry skills of the Inca can be seen in the perfect cut and fit of the stones. In addition to the temple, excavations have uncovered observatories, storage rooms, priests’ quarters, a plaza, and cemeteries.

Transfer to Cuenca.
Arrive in Cuenca and check-in at hotel.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Santa Lucia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Cuenca -
Exploration of an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Saturday, February 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Walking orientation through the Old City of Cuenca ending at the Tomebamba River.

Despite being the third largest city in Ecuador, Cuenca has managed to retain its colonial flavor and small town feel with 16th century buildings, churches, red tiled roofs, and narrow cobbled stone streets. Cuenca is also the heart of Ecuador’s artistic culture.

Transfer to Turi's Hill for breathtaking view of Cuenca.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure.
Field trip to the Ortega Hat Factory.
Site Lecture: The Making of the Panama Hat.

The lightweight Panama Hats were a hit in the tropics because of their breathable weave and quickly overtook sales of the more traditional, and heavier, felt hats. In the early 1900’s Panama Hats became synonymous with linen suits and tropical seaside locations. Despite their name, the famous brimmed hats made of woven toquilla straw, originated in Ecuador. The misnomer comes from the fact that the straw hats were originally exported to the rest of the world via Panama.

Return to the hotel.
Time at leisure.
Lecture: The Inca Civilization and its Influence on Cuenca.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Santa Lucia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Guayaquil -
Farm Visit/Las Peñas Historic Neighborhood.

(Sunday, February 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Begin transfer to Guayaquil.
En route excursion to a typical coastal farm.

Visit a local coastal hacienda with banana and cocoa plantations; learn about the sowing and harvesting process and what is needed to prepare the goods for export. Banana and cacao are some of the most exported products in the nation and an important source of revenue for Ecuador.
 Lunch: Typical lunch at a local hacienda.
 Afternoon: Continue with transfer to Guayaquil.

Established along the banks of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is Ecuador's largest city and most important port. The city underwent a transformation considered short of miraculous centered around a two mile riverfront walkway, or Malecon, with restored historic buildings, gardens, museums, stores, and restaurants. Indulging in the locals' favorite pastime, take a stroll along the Malecon and visit a museum, Las Peñas Hill and local exhibits.

Excursion to local museum to learn about archaeology and how the pre-hispanic people lived in Ecuador thousands of years ago.

Visit to the Las Peñas neighborhood.

Las Peñas is a colorful historic neighborhood located at the base of Santa Ana Hill in Guayaquil. Las Peñas runs the length of Numa Pompillo Lllona, its only street, and exemplifies Ecuador's coastal colonial architectural style. From the top of Santa Ana Hill one can see panoramic views of the city and the Guayas River.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local Malecon (waterfront) restaurant.
 Evening: Depending on the international carrier used, participants will either check-out of the hotel and transfer to the international airport for a late night/early morning flight or spend the night at the hotel and depart in the morning.
Accommodations: Hotel Oro Verde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Depart from Guayaquil/International Flights
Arrive to the U.S.

(Monday, February 25)
 Depart From: Transfer to international airport for flight to the U.S.

Participants enrolled in the Road Scholar extension (program #20185), will be transferred to the airport to catch a flight to the Galápagos Islands.

Note: Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel (depending on flight time).
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Lonely Planet: Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands

Author: Lonely Planet

Description: This comprehensive country guide provides a good overview of mainland Ecuador and the Galápagos archipelago. Eco-friendly travelers and those seeking active outdoor adventures will appreciate the book's green index which contains information about sustainable options, as well as its outdoors chapter which provides tips on hiking, surfing, kayaking, and biking opportunities.

Ecuador in Focus, A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture

Author: Wilma Roos, Omer van Renterghem

Description: This slim guide provides a lively overview of Ecuador’s history, cultural heritage and political, environmental and economic challenges.

Ecuador Map

Author: Berndtson & Berndtson

Description: A detailed laminated map of Ecuador at a scale of 1:1,000,000, with detailed insets of Quito, Guayaquil, Galapagos and the Ecuadorian Amazon on the reverse.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Travellers' Wildlife Guides

Author: David Pearson, Les Beletsky

Description: An excellent guide to Ecuador's wildlife, featuring concise descriptions and color illustrations of 500 frequently encountered reptiles and amphibians, birds, mammals and insects. The Galapagos Islands get a separate chapter and section of illustrations.

Lonely Planet Phrasebooks: Latin American Spanish

Author: Roberto Esposto

Description: This portable phrasebook provides a useful mix of everyday phrases, words and expressions used in different Spanish speaking countries in Latin America. Learn the nuances of the Spanish language as it is spoken in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.

The Panama Hat Trail

Author: Tom Miller & Tony Hillerman

Description: An accurate and wonderfully descriptive picture of Ecuador and its people. The author tells the story of the Panama hat and the lives it touches; from growing the straw, processing it, and weaving it, to the final product that is exported worldwide.

The Conquest of the Incas

Author: John Hemming

Description: This well-researched book provides a historical account of the 16th century Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in Peru and neighboring countries. John Hemming is an anthropologist, writer, and explorer with an extensive travel background. He is also a member of the Royal Geographic Society.

Infinite Ecuador

Author: Sebastian Crespo

Description: The Andes, Amazon, Pacific, Galapagos, historic cities, remote villages and farms are all on display in this collection of photographs.

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer

Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.

The Smithsonian Atlas of the Amazon

Author: Michael Goulding, Ronaldo Barthem, Efrem Ferreira

Description: This beautiful, profusely illustrated atlas of the river includes its major tributaries and 150 full-color maps. Michael Goulding (Floods of Fortune) and Brazilian biologists Ronaldo Barthem and Efrem Ferreira provide the accompanying text.

Amazon Insects - A Photo Guide

Author: James L. Castner

Description: Spectacular, weird and commonly encountered bugs, butterflies, katydids, leafhoppers, ants, bees, spiders and other insects of the Amazon basin. Geared for the traveler, this handy book features 200 color photographs and accompanying text.

Birds of Ecuador, A Field Guide

Author: Paul Greenfield, Robert Ridgely

Description: A comprehensive, gorgeous and exhaustively researched field guide to the birds of Ecuador (and adjacent countries), featuring 96 color plates. It's also the best bird guide for travelers in the Peruvian Amazon.

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