Andes and Amazon: Explore Two Regions Off-The-Beaten-Path

pic1Pure! Travel Group’s Andes and Amazon program is one of our most exciting off-the-beaten-path tours and the perfect option for a family visiting Ecuador as it has it all: nature, adventure, culture, and relax! Furthermore, parents and children explore amazing offbeat destinations in two beautiful but regions of Ecuador: the Andes and the Amazon. Adults, teenagers, and children will make their dreams come truth.

In addition, the Andes and Amazon Program is a perfect combination for other family tours in Ecuador such as a cruise in the Galapagos Islands or the Tren Crucero. If you have a family with different interests, please contact Pure! Travel Group, and we will design a tailor-made package just for your clients combining the best family destinations and tours in Ecuador!

ITINERARY

Day 1 Quito – Papallacta

The journey starts in Quito where our guide picks up families from their hotel in the morning. Together, they start with a drive up the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes where they will go over a 4065 m. high mountain pass. This point can get foggy, but, depending on the weather, parents and children will be amazed by the magnificent views of the snowcapped Antisana volcano and the surrounding paramo wetlands. This is the perfect opportunity to play eye spy with the various wildlife and changing landscapes.

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Within two hours, tourists will reach Termas de Papallacta Resort and Spa, Ecuador’s most beautiful and extensive thermal hot springs, located in between spectacular mountain forests of the Eastern Andes slopes. Not to let those muscles forget what they are there for, the whole family enjoys an easy morning hike through the surrounding mountain forests and grassy paramo near the resort. This ecological reserve is managed by a local foundation and harbors many peculiar species of flora and fauna (more than 160 bird species, mountain tapirs, spectacled bears, and many other species).

Upon their return to the resort, families have a nutritive lunch to recover from the hike.

Papallacta springs

In the afternoon, parents and children have free time to dip into the amazing hot springs or enjoy some of the optional health and beauty treatments in Termas de Papallacta. Kids head first into the variety of pools, splash, dive, and jump while adults sit back and relax in the bubbling warm water. The spa and hydrotherapy area offers a variety of different sensations from streams of water, water hydro massage, or hydro massage with air bubbles giving the perfect location for tired parents to rest their weary bones. It has been certified that the thermal waters of Termas de Papallacta have medicinal properties that guarantee healthy benefits! Kids will not be bored as they burn off the rest of their energy practicing their swimming technique in one of the larger pools or plunging from cold to hot water in Papallacta’s contrasts pools.

At night, Termas’ restaurant will provide parents and children with a delicious dinner before they go to their rooms for a deserved night.

Day 2 Papallacta – Cotococha

Get ready to experience one of the most amazing transition zones in the world! Take advantage of Termas’ sustaining breakfast to get ready for a long day. In the morning, families depart from Papallacta to continue through the lush and green cloud forests of the Eastern Andes. After a short drive, the tour stops at a charming cloud forest lodge. There, everyone has a great time competing to see the most species of hummingbirds as they buzz and dance through the air right in front of our noses. As a test of wits and keen eyesight, parents and children may be lucky enough to lay their eyes on the world famous sword-billed hummingbird. This swashbuckling creature has an even longer beak than its body! If time permits, the guide will take families hot on the trail of more wildlife and take a short hike before continuing this journey through the last hills of the Eastern ‘Cordillera’ towards the great Amazon basin.

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Families arrive at Cotococha Amazon Lodge, a magnificent retreat located on the shores of the Napo River in the heart of this lush rainforest at midday.  The lodge offers very spacious and comfortable bungalows built in native design, a relaxing swimming pool in the middle of the forest, a kids playroom, and an enjoyable bar.  After refreshing from the drive in the bungalows, passengers go to the restaurant for a recovery lunch.

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After lunch, families put on their rubber boots and get down to exploring with a walk in the jungle’s rainforest, ready to find the secret wonders waiting for us in this mysterious place. As kids explore this never ending natural amusement park, they will find amazing plant species with medicinal properties and of all colours of the rainbow. A native guide will explain their properties in detail. Parents and children will be enthralled as they learn about this flora surprising characteristics and how the jungle inhabitants used them in ancient times.

Families could also observe a great variety of creepie crawlies and small groups of monkeys swinging through the giant tree tops making them feel as though they are part of a real life nature documentary. Dozens of curious colorful birds tag along with them during their walk whistling enchanting notes and delighting their senses. After a three-hour walk, the group arrives at the lodge again, tired but amazed by nature’s bounty.

While Cotococha’s team gets your delicious dinner ready, parents and children ctake advantage of the relaxing pool to recover and refresh from the hike. Remain silent and listen to a peaceful jungle concert.

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At night, the amazing jungle sounds and the illumination with candles, torches, and oil lamps create a unique and magical atmosphere at Cotococha Amazon Lodge. Enjoy a hearty and healthy dinner together and gather around the cozy fireplace to tell stories about all the incredible things you have seen and believe it or not, are still waiting for you amongst the trees.

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Alternative excursions:

If a jungle hike is too strenuous for families or one of their members, Cotococha Lodge offers alternative excursions that are as interesting and fun as the jungle hike.

  • Commmunity Visit

The first excursion takes families on an exciting thirty minute canoe ride down the Napo River, arriving at the Tiyuyacu community where they learn about the Quichua indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon. A native Quichua family shares their ancestral customs like gold washing, pottery techniques, the making of the typical drink “chicha” made of yuca, and blowpipe hunting with their visitors. Children will be amazed as they get a blow by blow account of how these ancient hunters caught their dinner with nothing more than a dart and a hollowed out tree branch. This is a life changing experience for both, young and adults, as they learn about a different lifestyle and a distinct perspective of the world. The tour ends with a relaxing canoe ride upstream during which families observe astonishing Amazon scenery.

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  • La Cascada de Latas Hike (Waterfall Hike)

The second alternative excursion also takes families on the Napo River. After an enjoyable fifteen minutes canoe ride, they arrive on a small shore where they begin a fun and thrilling one-hour walk, marveling at the diverse flora and fauna of the jungle’s secondary forest. The hike takes parents and children to the the breathtaking cascade “La Cascada de Latas”. There, kids can dip, dive and slide into its sparkling waters, and adults can relax their muscles with a refreshing swim whilst enjoying the surrounding views and exciting sounds of the jungle. Family members can choose between returning along the same way back to the lodge or to go tubing off the river. Float easily down the small rapids of the river in these giant rubber rings and enjoy the great sights of the Amazon rain forest from a different point of view.

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Day 3 – Cotococha

A healthy breakfast gets the family ready for a new day full of adventure! Beginning with a canoe ride down the imposing Napo River crossing the enchanted Ecuadorian jungle, tourists soon arrive in the village of Misahualli for a short routine inspection by the local Marine officers. A stroll through this tranquil little town gives family members the opportunity to see a group of Capuchin Monkeys who live in harmony with the friendly inhabitants. After a date with the monkeys, families continue the canoe ride until they reach the Arajuno River. There, they visit the animal rescue center “AmaZOOnico”. This is a specialized organization dedicated to the rescue of wild animals and restoring them into their natural habitat. Visitors observe a great variety of species such as toucans, parrots, monkeys, ocelots, capybaras… and much more.

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After our visit to this beautiful sanctuary full of cute creatures great and small, families enjoy a scrumptious picnic by the river shore and rest on the peaceful Anaconda Island. Then, the guide leads them on a short hike across the island. The canoe waits for the group on the other side of the island and navigates them back to Cotococha.

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Upon their arrival in Cotococha, the pool is the perfect place for parents and children to recover from this long and exciting day. After dinner, they will be some free time to relax around the fireplace, enjoy an exotic cocktail at the bar, play a board game, or simply hit the hay early ready for the exciting day ahead.

Day 4

Families taste their last breakfast at Cotococha’s before the guide starts a new and exciting drive them to Baños, the Gateway to the Amazon. On route, they stop in Puyo where they visit a small Balsa wood factory. The local workers show visitors how they make beautiful souvenirs of this extreme lightweight wood type. Make sure to have saved some pocket money as there is also a store where some of their hand made souvenirs can be bought.

After Puyo, parents and children enjoy spectacular views of the Pastaza gorge and its surrounding cloud forests with thousands of orchids, dramatic waterfalls, cliff side farms, and untouched views of the Sangay and the Llanganates National Parks. Families make a visit of the amazing “Pailon del Diablo” cascade. This spectacular stretch through the Pastaza Corridor has been declared by the World Wide Foundation (WWF) ‘A Gift to the Earth’ as it provides a breathtaking transition from rainforest to the Andean Mountains in less than 50 kilometers.

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Around midday, the families reach Baños and arrive at Luna Runtun, the Adventure Spa, spectacularly located on a hill above Baños and nestled within the Sangay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides its relaxing environment, the hotel offers magnificent views of Baños, looking like a toy town deep below in the valley, of the Tungurahua volcano, and of the Llanganates National Park.  According to Ecuadorian lengends, this park hides  the lost gold of Inca Emperor Atahualpa.

After lunch at Luna Runtun, tourists have a free afternoon. Active passengers and adventure seekers can go hiking, mountain biking, or horse-back riding. Those who prefer to relax can take advantage of this time to experience Luna Runtun’s massages or other health treatments including volcanic ash exfoliations available, a truly local experience! Afterwards, families can get together in the four pools or the jacuzzi at the border of Luna Runtun’s property and enjoy one of the most amazing views of the whole valley.

Day 5

In the morning, families leave Baños for another day full of diversity as they drive along the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’, through the central Andean valley. First on this journey, tourists come across the Salasaca community, where they have a look at the many tapestries and other woven products made by the local indigenous people. Visitors learn about the community traditions and get shocked about the differences between the Andean and the Amazon customs.

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Afterwards, the guide takes passengers towards the central valley where, with clear weather, they are be able to see at least 11 of Ecuador’s 98 volcanoes! At noon, they arrive at an ancient hacienda, for an early lunch. This delicious food will prepare all family members for the tour of the Cotopaxi National park. Upon their arrival, the guide takes them on a visit to the small museum where they learn about the park: its nature, geology, history and the eruptions of the sleeping giant of this park: the Cotopaxi volcano (5897 m.). Then, the group continues its way into the park and stop at the Limpiopungo lagoon at 3800 meters above sea level. Here, they can have a short walk while observing semi-wild horses, a variety of ducks, hummingbirds, and the Andean gull and lapwing.

Depending on the weather, on family decisions,  and on their physical conditions, the guide continues to drive up to 4500 meters above sea level to subsequently walk up to the first refugee of the highest active volcano on earth (4810 meters). On a clear day, adventurers will have incredible picture opportunities and spectacular scenes to behold of the immense ice walls and deep crevasses of the glaciers above them; as well as the surrounding countryside of the Ecuadorian Andes with its many volcanoes and lovely green valleys filled with patchwork-cultivated fields.

The day ends with a final drive through the Central Andes. After an unforgettable tour, the guide drops off the family at its hotel

Includes:

  • Private transport & English Speaking guide during the whole program
  • Lodging in twin/double rooms with private facilities in Termas de Papallacta, Cotococha Amazon Lodge and Luna Runtun
  • Full board throughout the itinerary
  • All jungle excursions and visits according to the itinerary
  • All entrance fees
  • Driver and guide expenses for lodging and meals during the whole program
  • Local taxes

Does not Include:

  • Drinks (at the lodge drinks have to be paid in cash)
  • Optional excursions and/or optional entrance fees
  • Items of personal nature
  • Any other service not specified in the program

 

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