Custom
Duration
2/5
Physical Rating
12
Group Size

Ecuador

Customize your own Ecuador trip

We will design a dream trip for a minimum of 6 people

Both Pete and Reneé have each been permanent residents of Ecuador for more than 25 years. They have published an impressive 11 books on the country and are well known locally. They understand each region and its people intimately and of course they know the best places to visit!!

Focus Expeditions would like to offer customizeable mainland Ecuador trips to any groups of six or more travelers to be led by Pete or Reneé or both. Trips can be designed with a heavy photography interest, a heavy natural history or cultural interest or, most likely, a combination of all aspects of the country.

Ecuador is a small yet Megadiverse country, the size of Colorado in the USA. We have 20,000 species of vascular plants, more than 1600 species of birds, more than 840 species of reptiles and amphibians and some 341 identified species of mammals! The four principle regions are the Pacific coastal region, the high Andes and cloud forest, lowland Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands. Each area offers a totally different suite of fauna, flora and indigenous people.

With three months notice we can design trips to include any of the three mainland regions. Also, if required we can ‘wrap’ an itinerary around an important cultural event such as the Easter parade in Quito, the Inti Raymi festivals in June or the Day of the Dead in November.

Join us in the Amazon, the cloud forest, the high Andean paramo with active volcanoes or even for some seasonal Andean bear or humpback whale watching!

Prices will be calculated according to the design of the itinerary.

ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE LOCATION Quito, Ecuador
ARRIVAL TIME All year round
INCLUDED
Accommodation on a share or single room basis
All meals unless otherwise stated
Airport transfers on arrival and departure.
Assistance on arrival and departure at each destination
Additional specialist guides where needed
All internal airfares and ground transportation on the itinerary
One or two Focus Expeditions trip leaders depending on group size
All gratuities
NOT INCLUDED
Round trip international airfare to Ecuador
Travel insurance – highly recommended and can be booked via this website
Early or late check-in in Hotels.
Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, internet and alcoholic beverages.

 

Additional information

AccommodationsShare or single supplement basis.
Customized ToursIn order for us to design a customized expedition we will have to charge an upfront fee of $200 which will be deducted from your trip cost at booking.

Letters correspond to points on the map in the map tab.

EXAMPLE OF AN ITINERARY FOR THE EASTER PARADE

A

Day 1

Arrive into Quito International Airport and transfer to Local Hotel for overnight.  Dinner in nearby restaurant.
B

Day 2

After breakfast in the hotel we leave the city and embark on a beautiful scenic drive to the north, stopping en route for photos and, on a clear day, to admire Cayambe, Ecuador’s third tallest, snow-capped volcano. We arrive at Hacienda Zuleta, in the Imbabura Province for lunch. The home is a stunning colonial Hacienda, once the residence of Ecuador’s president Galo Plaza Lasso. We will visit a condor rehabilitation center where wild condors also often come to visit. In the grounds of the hacienda we search for Giant Hummingbirds and sample the variety of traditional cheeses made on site before a delicious meal of Ecuadorian cuisine, a hot bath and bed.
C

Day 3

Beginning our day with a morning hike we look specifically for the rare Andean or Spectacled Bears that are often seen in the area. With 21 spectacled bears known to inhabit the hacienda our chances are relatively high. Our morning is full of a mix of wildlife viewing and cultural exchange before a welcome meal at the hacienda. After lunch we make our way further north to a different colonial hacienda that we call home for a further two nights. Hacienda Piman, is tucked into an oasis-like valley between the folds of dry mountains and the Afro-Ecuadorian valley of El Chota. In a bizarre cultural twist of the Andes this relic slave community still retains much of it’s African traditions. After arrival at the Hacienda we will visit a traditional family in the area.
D

Days 4

After an early breakfast we leave the hotel armed with packed lunch for a full day roaming the areas of northern Ecuador away from the main tourist circuit. We will see a host of wildlife, spectacular scenery and local communities but our two main goals are firstly the stunning area of El Angel Ecological Reserve where acre upon acre of a giant daisies (frailejónes) stand up to 20 feet tall. It is a bizarre scene of a slice of paramo unique to this northern part of Ecuador and neighboring Colombia. Our second highlight will be to immerse ourselves in the ethereal, elfin forest of Polylepis the paperbark tree often referred to as the highest altitude growing tree in the world. This ecosystem is now rare through excessive cutting for firewood. Overnight for dinner at Hacienda Piman. 
E

Day 5

After an early breakfast we leave Hacienda Piman and drive south, continuing to explore the area and interacting with people as well as for early morning scenic photography. We then continue to the world famous Otavalo Market. Although the poncho market has lost some of its traditional charm in recent decades as modernism encroaches, it still remains a vibrant and bustling arena, creating the perfect opportunity to mix with the Otavaleño Indians (famous for their textiles and weavings), photograph, buy a few souvenirs and absorb the scene. We head to La Compania for lunch, a beautiful old hacienda built in the French Republican style and known for its exquisite rose farm. After lunch we return to Quito where we check in to our hotel in the heart of the Colonial Center. Our afternoon is spent enjoying the center that is credited as being the best-preserved historical center in all of Latin America. Even for those who profess indifference to such things Old Quito will undoubtedly impress! Dinner and overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz.
A

Day 6

After breakfast in our hotel we spend the rest of the day immersing ourselves in Ecuador’s most important religious procession. A delight for photographers and a feast for the eyes we will interact with the thousands of Ecuadorians who are present including the famous Cucuruchos, dressed in purple and adorned with cloaks and pointed hats. Photographic opportunities are endless in this spectacle. Towards the end of a long day we will have time to explore the center further without the crowds and unwind. Dinner will be out at the Theatrum restaurant, in the National theater, before our overnight in Hotel Patio Andaluz.
F

Day 7

This morning we leave early for a stunning drive over a high Andean pass (15,000’). We stop to photograph the diminutive and special paramo plants which include the pincushion bogs, gentians and valerianas. There are also many potential bird sightings including Tawny Antpittas, Chestnut-bellied Seedsnipe and Black-chested Buzzard Eagles. By careful scanning with binoculars we could also quite reasonably spot a spectacled bear or rare Mountain Tapir. From the crest of the pass we wend our way slowly on an incredible transect of biodiversity ending as far down as the Amazon Rain Forest. We have an extended lunch at Guango Lodge, spending time to photograph various hummingbird species including the incredibly adapted, rather bizarre looking, Sword-billed Hummingbird. After lunch we continue to San Isidro Lodge for some late afternoon birding and photography. San Isidro is a 5000 acre private reserve in the core of the Cosanga area that repeatedly wins the global 24 hour bird count with over 500 species registered in 24 hours! We overnight at the lodge now approximately half way altitudinally on our transect to the Amazon. 
F

Day 8

Having attracted many insects to the lights of the lodge over night a multitude of birds delights in feasting on them for breakfast, including Inca Jays, Masked Trogons and Andean Motmots while rare Wattled Guans screech their morning chorus in the background. We follow a staff member to a spot where two species of normally very elusive Antpittas, the White-bellied and the Chestnut-crowned are fed daily. Returning for a hearty breakfast the rest of the morning can be spent exploring the network of forest trails, sitting at a hummingbird feeder or photographing the many spectacular birds close to the lodge that may include two species of spectacular Quetzals! Overnight San Isidro Lodge.
G

Days 9 - 11

After Breakfast and a final look at the Cloud Forest birds we head down to the jungle town of Francisco de Orellana or Coca as it is more commonly known. Here we board a motorized canoe and travel downstream on the Napo River to Sacha Lodge. A home away from home Pete and Reneé were its first managers, designed all the trails and helped in the original construction. Sacha is an oasis to a plethora of species. It is truly lowland Amazon Rain Forest and, as such, we could expect anything from monkeys, Kinkajous, Anacondas and Anteaters to Pygmy Marmosets (the world’s smallest monkey), Toucans and Aracaris. Sacha Lodge is extremely proud of their two very impressive canopy walkways and the 40 meter bird observation tower that we will enjoy. We even have the opportunity for night walks (one of our favorite activities) to photograph the incredible array of insects or frogs that we might find. With the combination of exquisite dinners by the lakeside, forest walks and silent passages in dug-out canoes Sacha is a perfect Amazon experience.
H

Days 12-13

We leave Sacha Lodge in the morning, crossing to the south bank of the Napo River, where we enter the Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve. Home to Huaorani Indians and two un-contacted tribes Yasuni is scientifically recognized as the single most biodiverse, terrestrial environment on Earth! Indeed Pete and Reneé dedicated a whole book to the park. We will spend our time between walking in the forest, canoe rides or up in the canopy observation tower. We hope to see giant Black Caimen, Giant Otters, Anaconda, up to 10 species of monkeys and even possibly Brazilian Tapir or two species of Peccary. There is a huge array of birds (with approximately 600 species on the list) and we should see several species of Parrots on a salt lick, various Macaws, Parakeets, Toucans, Hoatzins, Tanagers, Oropendolas, Caciques, Potoos and Cotingas. Lodging at Napo Wildlife Center.
A

Day 14

After another morning chorus of birds and possibly Howler Monkeys we head back up river to Coca for a short flight back to Quito in the highlands. We have a late, farewell lunch in Pakakuna Garden and then check in to a local hotel, Rincon del Puembo, both are close to the airport. Here the trip ends and we are on our own for dinner.

EXPEDITION LEADERS

PETE OXFORD & RENEE BISH

Festival of San Juan or Inti Raymi Andean Quichua people celabrate after the corn harvest Zuleta in Ibarra Province Andes ECUADOR, South America

Pete and Reneé have been permanent residents of Ecuador since 1985 and 1991 respectively. They have repeatedly travelled the length and breadth of the country and have published eleven books on Ecuadorian subjects, some of which remain amongst the most important books in their field. The books include forewords by HRH Prince Philip, HRH Prince Charles, Trudie Styler & Sting and E.O. Wilson. In 2014 Pete was awarded the accolade of Ecuadorian Photojournalist of the Year. Pete has lived a minimum of 2 1/2 years in each of Ecuador’s four regions. He met Reneé whilst living in the Amazon, she gave up her New York lifestyle to do the same and they were later married in the forest! Whilst Pete continued guiding in the rainforest Reneé was quick to set up a sewing center for the local Kichwa women on the river. Currently living in the capital of Quito, Pete and Reneé would be proud to show off their adopted home.

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