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Ecuador’s Prehispanic Civilizations

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Ecuador’s Prehispanic Civilizations

Duration: 12 Days / 11 Nights

Educational features: Human History, Anthropology, Archeology, Physical Geography, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Communication and Culture.

Program overview

Learn about the history of ancient civilizations settlements, their complex societal hierarchies, their economic system and the causes of their cultural extinction. Go through archaeological investigations to discover more about these faded civilizations.



▪ Lecture series by recognized local experts or professors of the most prestigious local universities.

▪ Visits to museum and archeological sites.

▪ Archaeological fieldwork practice.

▪ Visit an indigenous family.

▪ Support sustainable community initiatives

▪ Exploration of various ecosystems (Land & Sea).

▪ Intercultural learning.



Tour might be restricted during the months of January to April due to rainy season.


Itinerary – Day by Day

Day 1: Arrival in Quito Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive in Quito and transfer to the Hotel.

Day 2: Exploring Quito’s historical legacy.

Explore Quito, a city surrounded by volcanoes and with the largest best preserved colonial center in America. Its colonial buildings constructed in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century will transport you to the past and show you the history of the city. Visit Casa del Alabado museum to learn about the cosmovision of pre-Hispanic cultures who inhabited Ecuador from the 4000 BC to AD 1400. After lunch, return to the hotel to freshen up. In the afternoon enjoy an Academic lecture: Ecuador’s Ancient Civilizations. Welcome dinner in a local restaurant. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 3: Quito – Cochasqui Archeological Park – Otavalo area

Visit the Cochasqui Archeological Park, located approximately 1 hour away from Quito. The site is a testimony of the Quitu-Cara culture (500-1500 AD). Once a religious and astronomic observatory, Cochasqui has 15 unfinished pyramids and 21 funeral mounds known as “tolas”. Continue in the Otavalo area, visit the market and learn about the Otavalo’s ancient culture. Meet a local family who belongs to the Kichwa-Otavalo nationality, they will be glad to share their culture and traditions. Continue to Cayambe for overnight in one of the oldest Haciendas of the Ecuadorian Andes. (Meals: B, L, D)

prehispanic-ecuadorDay 4: Pambamarca project – Quitoloma fortress.

Hike into the Andean paramal (12000 feet amsl) to the pre-Columbian fortress of Pambamarca, this is the largest archaeological complex in Ecuador, but it remains largely unresearched and undeveloped. The complex was used as a military defense fortress for the pre-Inca culture and from this place you can enjoy a wonderful view of Quito. Receive a site lecture from one of the project leaders; learn about the work currently held in this area in order to discover one of the most important archaeological sites in Ecuador. Continue to the solar clock of Quitsato, a monument built right on the Equator in order to revalue the concept of the middle of the world and to teach the importance of the sun for our ancient cultures. Return to the Hacienda for Group discussion, dinner and overnight. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 5: Tulipe Archaeological site – Tandayapa Cloud Forest

Visit Tulipe, an archaeological site built by the Yumbos. This ancient group inhabited the northwestern valleys and mountains of Quito from the 800 to 1600 AD approx. Tulipe seems to have once served as the tribe’s main ceremonial site, it basically features eight main structures with numerous pools that point to its ceremonial importance. Enjoy a Site Lecture from an expert Ecuadorian archeologist about the Pre-Inca cultures that inhabited Ecuador’s cloud forest territory. Continue to one of the local reserves for overnight. (Meals: B, L, D)

prehispanic-ecuador-hikingDay 6: Exploring the Cloud Forest ecosystem.

Explore the Ecuadorian cloud forest, considered one of the most bio diverse ecosystems on the planet. Hike into a private reserve to observe a multitude of epiphytes (air plants), including bromeliads, orchids, moss and ferns. Visit the hummingbird feeders and watch several other types or species. Continue to a butterfly farm with an exhibition of 25 varieties of butterflies. Evening Lecture: Coastal Ancient Cultures, which you will have the opportunity to learn more during the following days. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 7: Highlands to Coast transition – Machalilla National Park.

Continue by coach to the Pacific coast. En route, observes how natural vegetation patterns change gradually through transition zones, going from the cloud forest, to tropical humid forest and finally to tropical dry vegetation at Machalilla National Park. Today’s driving time is approximately 8 hours, it is a long driving trip but the route offers the opportunity to see different ecosystems and climates, it also shows the social and cultural differences between the highlands and coastal population. En route, you will visit a Palm Tree Plantation and Extractor to learn about the oil production process. Box lunch en route. (Meals: B, L, D)

prehispanic-artifacts-ecuadorDay 8 & 9: Agua Blanca Community – Archaeology field practice

Agua Blanca is a small community dedicated to Ecotourism, agriculture and handicrafts. This village has great historic importance due to its archaeological background as descendants of the Mantena Culture, one of the last pre-Hispanic cultures in Ecuador. During the next two days you will participate in an Archaeological Fieldwork practice helping the personnel from the on-site museum and the local community on digging, recovering and recording archaeological pieces. A great service learning experience! (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 10: Exploring Isla de la Plata

Arrive in Puerto Lopez for a boat ride ( 2 hour approx.) to Isla de La Plata (Silver Island). According to a local legend, the name was given to the Island due to the famous pirate Francis Drake who is believed to have hidden in this area treasures taken from Spanish ships. During the months of June to September you will have the opportunity to observe humpback whales. Humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to tropical waters during these months to mate and give birth to their calves. While hiking on the island you will learn about its Flora and Fauna very similar to the Galapagos Islands, you will see, Blue Footed Bobbies, Frigate Birds, Redfooted Bobbies, Nazca Bobbies, and Red Billed Tropic Birds. During the months of April – November, you’ll have the opportunity to see nesting waved albatrosses. Time for snorkeling and later return to the port. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 11: Los Frailes Beach – Guayaquil.

Spend the morning at Los Frailes; a pristine beach considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador. After lunch, depart to Guayaquil. At night enjoy a sightseeing of the city, a visit to the Malecon (waterfront promenade) and farewell dinner in one of the local restaurants. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 12: Departure Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.


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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