Cultures of Ecuador
Duration: 11 Days / 10 Nights
Educational features: General Anthropology, Physical Geography, Environmental Geography, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Communication and Culture
Cultures of Ecuador: Program Overview
A close encounter with Ecuador’s rich cultural diversity, going from the Andean region to the Amazon rainforest.
This program will introduce students to the history, culture, and traditions of some of the most representative indigenous groups in the country, as well as the Afro-Ecuadorian community. Learn about their current social and political situation, their struggles for freedom in the past and today’s threats to the survival of their cultural heritage.
▪ Lecture series by recognized local experts or professors of the most prestigious local universities.
▪ Visits to museums, historical sites and local sustainable businesses
▪ Lodging in Indigenous Communities
▪ Participate in Traditional rituals
▪ Support sustainable community initiatives
▪ Exploration of various ecosystems.
▪ Intercultural learning
▪ School season in the Ecuadorian Highlands and Amazon region goes from September to January and from Mid-February to the first week of July.
▪ School visits and activities must be planned during school season. During spring break or summer vacations activities at local schools are not available.
▪ Train ride Ibarra to Salinas operates only from Wednesday to Sunday.
Itinerary – Day by Day
Day 1: Arrival in Quito Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive in Quito and transfer to the Hotel.
Day 2: Exploring Quito historical legacy from Pre-Hispanic to Contemporary times
Visit Quito’s historic center; the best preserved and least altered historic center in America. Learn about Quito’s rich history and artistic legacy while visiting important colonial buildings and superb churches. Admire the fine work of religious art pieces from the famous Quitenian School of art which combines European Renaissance and Baroque styles with indigenous and mestizo influences. Continue to Casa del Alabado museum to learn about the cosmovision of pre-Hispanic cultures who inhabited Ecuador from the 4000 BC to AD 1400. Enjoy traditional Ecuadorian food for lunch and in the afternoon visit Capilla del Hombre; a project started by the famous Ecuadorian Indigenous painter Oswaldo Guayasamin to pay tribute to the heroism of Latin American countries in their struggles for freedom. Return to the hotel to freshen up and be ready for an evening lecture led by a local professor. Lecture: Introduction to Ecuador´s cultural diversity, political and social situation. Welcome dinner in one of the local restaurants. Return to the hotel for overnight. (Meals: B,L,D) .
Day 3: Otavalo market – Introduction to the Kichwas of the Andes.
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. 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. Visit the community 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 also in diagnosing illnesses. Enjoy delicious, fresh and healthy meals based on typical ingredients and learn how to cook some of the most popular dishes. Participate in a Cultural integration night, typical music and dance. Accommodation at family houses. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 4: Working with local kids.
Visit the local school to assist kids in their education, play with them and help during lunch time. It is a good opportunity to learn how the local educational system works and how local culture is closely involved in the curricula. For today’s activities you must use your imagination as you will have the challenge to break the language barrier and show that human communication is much more than a language! Return to the community by lunch time. In the afternoon keep learning about the Kichwa-Karanki culture; first learn some Quichua language and later, cooking classes with your host mom and chef! (Meals: B, L, D)
Learn how we promote social responsibility.
Day 5: Learning about the Afro-Ecuadorian Culture.
This morning enjoy a beautiful ride on board a locomotive that will take you through natural landscapes formed by mountains and sugar cane plantations. Arrive in Salinas town to learn about the history and customs of the Afro Ecuadorian community. The visit will be led by a community member who will teach you about the history of their ancestors who were brought as slaves during the colonial period. Site Lecture: The Afro Ecuadorians and their story of slavery, struggles and liberation. Learn about a very encouraging handicraft project held by the women of Mascarilla town; a great example of overcoming adversity! In the afternoon return to San Clemente. Interaction and dinner with local families. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 6: San Clemente – Roses Family Farm – Papallacta
Take your time to say goodbye to San Clemente Community and start your journey to Papallacta. En route, receive an introduction to the floral industry, one of the major economic activities in Ecuador. Visit a local flower farm to learn about the Ecuadorian flowers and roses, known worldwide by its beauty and finest quality. 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. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure to enjoy the volcanic hot spring pools. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 7: Exploring the Rainforest: 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 8: Introduction to the indigenous daily life. Traditional rituals.
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 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. After breakfast, hike in the Primary forest to understand the relationship between the Jungle 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 family, learn about their organization and the important role each member plays in the community. Talk about their 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 9: 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 10: Leaving the Community, returning to Quito.
After breakfast, depart from the Community and start your trip back to Quito. Enjoy again the marvelous landscapes as a result of the Amazon to the Highlands transition. Arrive at the hotel, rest of the afternoon at leisure. Pick up at night for farewell dinner at one of the local restaurants. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 11: Departure Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
- 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.