The responsible traveller
This tour was designed specifically for travellers with an active interest in green eco-tourism who want to get closer to nature and local culture. There are some wonderful responsible tourism projects set in poor communities in the Ecuadorian Andes and this trip visits the very best of them:
At Guamote we visit a tourism development program set in a small village in the heart of the beautiful Andean mountains to experience the typical rural lifestyle and to see firsthand the community school and handicrafts projects that have been successfully implemented there.
At Chugchilan we stay at an eco-friendly lodge with organic food and composting toilets, with a myriad of beautiful walking trails in the surrounding countryside. It has won a plethora of awards for its support in the local community as well as being voted inside the top 10 of eco-lodges in the world by Outside Magazine.
At Santa Lucia we stay at an internationally-recognised reserve and eco-lodge run by a small community in the lush cloudforest in the north of Ecuador. The project promotes cloudforest conservation and sustainable income for the local community, and offers an authentic chance to get to meet the welcoming people of this rural community and learn about their lifestyle.
This week long trip is an enjoyable and interesting way to travel and see the "real" side to Ecuador whilst putting something back into the local communities.
||Arrival Quito - our driver will meet you in airport arrivals and transport you to the majestic Hotel Patio Andaluz in the historic old town district of Quito. Patio Andaluz is an exquisitely-renovated old colonial house located just 1 block from the central plaza of Quito that was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978, and is the only hotel in Quito to hold the Smartvoyager sustainable tourism certificate. Free time to relax and acclimatise to your new surroundings.
||Guamote & Chimborazo - early morning transfer south down the Andes to the peaceful village of Guamote. Upon arrival there is time for an introduction to the community project, visit to the local school and lunch. In the afternoon your volunteer guide will accompany you to the slopes of the nearby Chimborazo Volcano for a short trek and views of sunset over the Andes. Dinner and overnight at Inti Sisa Hostal.
||Guamote market - Chugchilan - on Thursdays you can spend the morning visiting the local Guamote market - reknowned as one of the most colourful and traditional in Ecuador today. On other weekdays it is possible to spend more time learning about the various projects within the local community. Afternoon transfer to the small village of Chugchilan - some stunning mountain views and a hearty organic meal await your arrival!
||Quilotoa Laguna - a full day to enjoy the stunning scenery of the countryside that surrounds Chugchilan affording many impressive trekking opportunities. Highly recommended is a trip to the Quilotoa Laguna - a picture-perfect emerald-coloured volcanic crater-lake - it is possible to trek into the crater and there is also time to see some of the local artists at work on their Tigua paintings that the area is famed for. Overnight at Chugchilan.
||Quito, Capilla del hombre - return north to Quito after breakfast. In the afternoon a chance to visit the fascinating Capilla Del Hombre museum which was built by local artist Guayasamin as a tribute to humankind, and the art-work on display depicting the historic suffering and struggle of Latin America's poor indigenous population is extremely moving. Overnight at Patio Andaluz.
||Quito - Santa Lucia - transfer north out of Quito to the Santa Lucia Reserve where you will be met by a native guide to start your trek up to the lodge (approx 1 and 1/2 hours, backpacks can optionally be carried up by mule) through the luscious natural environment of the cloudforest. Upon arrival to the lodge you will receive a warm welcome and an introduction to the activities you will be able to enjoy the following day. Optional night-time walk to listen to the nocturnal sounds of the forest.
||Santa Lucia project - an early breakfast to start the day followed by gentle trekking opportunities and a chance to learn about sustainable agroforestry in the area and visit the tree nursery and reforestation project. In the afternoon there is time to visit a handicraft workshop run by women of the local community at Marianita. Return to Quito, overnight at Patio Andaluz.
||Tour end - the trip ends after breakfast. Our driver can transfer you to Quito airport for your return journey home.
The above itinerary is designed to run starting on any day of the week desired but bear in mind that the Guamote market is only present on Thursdays, and that the local school visit at Guamote is not possible on weekends. So if you would like to include these visits then please plan the days accordingly or ask us for help.
Past Clients Feedback
"We bought into the whole concept of this tour right away as we wanted to get off of the well-beaten tourist paths and really get to know the country. We were certainly not disappointed as each project was fascinating, the locals were really friendly, and the Happy Gringo service was excellent throughout." (David Carrington, UK)
"What a wonderful idea for a tour this is! We just adored the children in each community and take home many happy memories of our time there." (Sandra Wright, Australia)
AVAILABILITY: This tour is available throughout the year.
START DATES: flexible to start on any day of the week that you prefer to travel.
Prices (per person)
Happy Gringo will donate US$25 per person to buy childrens reading books for the new school library project at the very poor community of El Porvenir de Mocha. We also accept donations of used clothes for use in same community.
- Accommodation in double rooms. Triple rooms are also available should a group of odd-numbered passengers wish to avoid paying a single supplment.
- Transport with local driver throughout tour
- Meals as listed in itinerary
- Activities as listed in itinerary
- English-speaking guide for activities at Inti Sisa and Santa Lucia
- International flights
- Personal expenses
- Meals not listed as part of itinerary
- Local entry fees
- Single supplement (applies for a single room for somebody travelling within a group). If you are travelling alone then please ask our staff for a solo traveller price quote.
RECOMMENDED ADD-ON TOURS
Clients on this tour may also be interested in the following add-on trip options:
Kapawi Rainforest Lodge - the largest community-based project ever developed within Ecuador providing a means of economic support to the Achuar tribespeople and an alternative to the destructive practises of oil exploration on their land. In 2011 all installations will be transfered at no cost to the Achuar community.
Yachana Rainforest Lodge - winner of the 2004 Condé Nast eco-tourism award Yachana is a ground-breaking environmental, educational, medical and agricultural project in the local community. Contact us to book this tour.