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Ethnobotanical & Anthropological Expedition

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Ethnobotanical & Anthropological Expedition

Duration: 11 Days / 10 Nights

Educational features: General Anthropology, Human Geography, Environmental Geography, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Communication and Culture

Program Overview

Explore the complex relationship between indigenous cultures and (uses of) plants. Learn about the ancient botanic wisdom passed along hundreds of generations of observations and customs via oral tradition. Learn also about the impacts of modern human societies on traditional cultures and natural habitats, causing huge losses of individual species and the addition of new discoveries and methods.


Ethnobotanical & Anthropological Expedition Highlights

  • Lecture series by recognized local experts or professors of the most prestigious local universities.
  • Visits Organic Orchids, Medicinal and Ethnobotanical Gardens.
  • Visit a Traditional Medicine Center
  • Lodging with Indigenous Communities
  • Participate in Traditional rituals
  • Participate on reforestation activities and trail maintenance
  • Exploration of the Andes and Rainforest ecosystem
  • Intercultural learning



  • No season limitation. The program runs all year round
  • Indigenous Markets do not open on Friday.

Itinerary – Day by Day

Day 1: Arrive in Quito

Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive in Quito and transfer to the Hotel for overnight. Meals: -/-/-

Day 2: Quito historic center and the Botanical garden.

Explore Quito’s colonial center; the best preserved historic center in America. Learn about Quito’s rich history and its artistic legacy. Admire the wonderful architecture of its colonial buildings and the uniqueness of religious art pieces from the famous Quitenian School of art, which combines the European Renaissance and Baroque styles with the indigenous and mestizo influences. Continue to Quito’s Botanical Garden which boasts a great exhibition of plants of different colors, sizes, shapes and smells, going through different ecosystems, from the native flora of the high Andes to the cloud forest, dry forest and ornamental plants. One of its main attractions is the orchid display containing over 1,200 species. Quito is known as the World´s Capital of Orchids due to the big number of species found in Quito and its surroundings. Evening lecture led by a local professor; Ancestral wisdom and medicinal plants of the Ecuadorian Andes and Amazon. Welcome dinner in a local restaurant. (Meals: B, L, D)

ethnobotanical-handsDay 3: Quito – Otavalo – Jambi Huasi – Comunidad

The Otavalos are a trader’s community by tradition, they are known worldwide for their wonderful work on textiles and tapestries. This ancient ability has converted them in the most powerful indigenous group in Ecuador. Learn more about this indigenous group while exploring Otavalo town and visiting the local craft market. Visit “Jambi Huasi”, a communitarian health center which combines western and traditional medicine based on plants. You will learn about the traditional medicine used by indigenous healers like the “yachak” commonly known as a shaman, its translation is “wise man” and for the indigenous wisdom they are soul healers. Continue to San Clemente community where you will be greeted by a Kichwa-Karanki indigenous family. During the following days you will be introduced to the indigenous life and learn about their customs and traditions. Participate in a Cultural integration night, typical music and dance. Accommodation at family houses. (Meals: B, L, D)

ethnobotanical-market-ecuadorDay 4: Cultural Immersion: Learning about the daily life of an indigenous community.

Get familiar with the community life. Visit the medicinal gardens and organic orchards. Learn about the importance of cuy (guinea pig) for the indigenous philosophy as a provider of strength, good vibes; and used to diagnose illnesses. Help your host family in daily life activities while planting or harvesting products. Learn about the main agricultural products grown in the Highlands and their importance in the indigenous diet, learn also to elaborate traditional healthy dishes. In the afternoon keep learning about the indigenous culture, including some of their language. Dinner and overnight. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 5: Cotacachi / Ethnobotanical Garden – Otavalo – Papallacta

Depart from San Clemente community. Continue to the Ethnobotanical Garden at Cotacachi to receive more information about the close relation between the indigenous wisdom and local plants and herbs. After the visit, drive through the Andean Valley to Papallacta. The road continues through scenic drives descending the Eastern slopes of the Andes cordillera into the entrance of the Amazon basin. Arrive in Papallacta, a small village famous for its thermal hot springs of volcanic origin. The rest of the afternoon at leisure is to enjoy the volcanic hot spring pools. (Meals: B,L,D)

ecuador-ethnobotanicalDay 6: Exploring the Rainforest wisdom: Kichwa-Amazon community.

Continue your journey to the Amazon region, it is a route with wonderful landscapes as a result of the transition from the Highlands to Amazon . En route stops for birds and orchid observation. Arrive in Tena where you´ll meet a representative from the Kichwa-Amazon community who will accompany you to Punta Ahuano to start your journey to the community; first, take a 15 minute canoe ride to cross the river and then continue in a 1 ½ hours hike through primary and secondary forest to the community. You will stay in a family run lodge from the Kichwa-Amazon nationality. During the following days you will learn from your host family about their ancient culture based on respect for the Amazon forest and Nature. At night; briefing and Welcome Dinner. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 7: Introduction to the indigenous daily life.

Early wake up, to participate in one of the most important indigenous family traditions: the Wayusa ceremony. This ceremony is always held before sunrise, it is an ancient daily tradition in Amazon Kichwas families. All family members are sitting around the fire where Wayusa leaves tea is being prepared, in order to share their dreams with the family leader who interprets them and give advice for activities on the new day. Wayusa tea is also an energy provider and a repellent of mosquitos and snakes. The Amazon Rainforest is considered a natural pharmacy, due to its greatest natural resources with medicinal properties, its herbs and extracts are used to elaborate natural medicine and also some of the conventional medicine. Hike in the Primary forest to understand the close relationship between the Rainforest and the Amazon Kichwa culture, visit rainforest waterfalls and enchanting natural pools, take a refreshing bath, invigorate your body, heart and mind as you swim in the pristine rainforest waters. After lunch, participate in a Table Talk with family members to learn important facts about the Amazon Kichwa culture, learn about their organization, customs beliefs, ancient traditions and how these have changed along the years. Learn to elaborate daily use tools and instruments from natural fibers . (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 8: Sharing with the Community.

During the morning visit the community school to interact with local kids. Teach kids some English and learn from them some Kichwa or Spanish. Enjoy a soccer game with the kids and community members. Back at the lodge, learn about the traditional Kichwa cuisine and help harvesting yuca, prepare chicha and make chocolate with organic Aroma cocoa beans grown in the rainforest! Visit the medicinal gardens; learn about various forms of treatments and cures made from medicinal plants and flowers harvested organically. Farewell dinner and cultural night where traditional Kichwa dance, music and legends are shared. You will be also invited to share the traditions of your culture. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 9: Rio Blanco – Omaere Puyo – Banios

Depart from Rio Blanco Community, continue through the Troncal Amazonica road to Puyo, here, visit the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park where you will learn about other Amazon cultures and its relation with the plants that surround them. Visit traditional houses, to learn about the Shuar and Waorani cultures and show some of their weapons and tools. You are also invited to participate in reforestation activities, trail maintenance and contribute to the conservation and sustainable development of the region. In the late afternoon, continue to Baños located at the skirts of the active Tungurahua volcano. Baños has a privileged location, it is a transition point between the Highlands and the Amazon. Enjoy a tour of this charming town, a visit to the balsa wood sculptures, and to the local toffee makers. Overnight in the area. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 10: Indigenous Market- Quito

This morning visit one of the traditional indigenous markets located in the area. It is a very picturesque scene of people commercializing local agricultural products, animals and handcrafts. While visiting this Andean market you will learn why plants are a fundamental part of the indigenous culture , whether it is in medicine, shelter, spiritual, or nutritional use. Continue to Quito. The rest of the evening is at leisure to pack. At night, enjoy a farewell dinner in one of the local restaurants. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 11: Departure flight.

Transfer to the airport for your flight back home or to your next destination.

Operational details

  • Program starts and ends in Quito.
  • Program operates with minimum 8 participants and maximum 16.
  • Program can be modified or adapted according to your specific study group.

The program includes

Private transportation, expert local guides, accommodation (shared) & meals according to itinerary detail (menu meals), visit and entrance fee to mentioned places.

The program does not included

International airfare, personal expenses, insurance and gratuities

Ready to get started? Contact us to book your trip.


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