Ecuador Amazon Culture
4 Nights / 5 Days
Day 1 - Journey to Huaorani Territory
An adventurous day; starting with beautiful mountain scenery and ending with a memorable trip down a remote, lowland jungle river. After leaving your hotel and the bustling metropolis of Quito, you will be treated to the beautiful scenery of the Ecuadorian countryside on a drive through the impressive Avenue of Volcanoes. This is an area of 14 majestic volcanoes, some of them active and others dormant.
Driving past beautiful Baños (bah-nyos), named for thermal baths that draw thousands of visitors per year and known for its adrenaline-pumping adventure sports and melcocha taffy, is the first major town on the way. Your journey will continue past Baños through a lush green landscape punctuated by tree ferns, patches of cloud forest, waterfalls, and rushing rivers.
The drive eventually ends at Shell, a principal Amazonian town named after the oil company with the same name. Shell also hosts the third busiest airport in Ecuador and this is where you will depart for the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, on a flight and boat ride into a remote jungle to be warmly greeted by the Huaorani community of Quehueri’ono (keh-werioh-noh). You will be taken downstream in a shallow dugout canoe called a quilla (kee-yah and as you travel down the beautiful Shiripuno River, keep your binoculars and camera ready for such birds as striking Yellow-rumped Caciques, kiskadees, kingfishers, and egrets among other species.·
Upon arrival at Huaorani Ecolodge, you will get the chance to settle in and have lunch before taking a guided, introductory hike on the rainforest Discovery Trail, where you will learn about the Huaorani culture and the surrounding Amazon rainforest. After dinner, you have the option of resting up for the next day of your adventure or going on an exciting night hike with your local guide.
Day 2 - Rainforest Hike
Huaorani survive in the forest by hunting monkeys, birds, other animals, fishing in the river, and gathering fruits, tubers, and vegetables. While you will learn about basic hunting techniques, don’t worry, no animals will be killed. One of the main goals of this project is the preservation of traditional Huaorani practices to keep Huaorani culture alive and protect the rainforest.
After breakfast, a Huaorani guide will take you on a long nature hike into the forest. The local guides will teach you how to set traps, make fires without matches, build a quick jungle shelter, use a blowgun, swing a machete, and catch fish in small creeks. Your guide may also show you which insects can be eaten, identify medicinal plants and explain their uses, and show you where they find clay for making pottery.
While hiking through the rainforest, you will enjoy views over the vast jungle canopy before eventually reaching the cool waters of a jungle river, where we encourage you to take a dip. Later followed by a tasty lunch, before a relaxed, informal visit at the Huaorani community and probably the chance to be invited to enjoy a bowl of “chucula” (a sweet drink made from ripe bananas) and may get the chance to admire such beautiful handmade artefacts as woven hammocks and bags, traps, blowguns, and necklaces made from jungle seeds.
You will also have the chance to visit the Bi-cultural Ecology Education project and learn how to harvest manioc, a Huaorani staple and visit the community’s handicraft market to purchase some of their hand-crafted products.
At the end of the afternoon, a pleasant canoe-ride takes you back to the lodge. After dinner, your naturalist guide will give a half hour talk on a subject of interest. Or, if you would prefer to go on a night hike, just let your guide know!
Day 3 - Rainforest hikes & canoe rides on Oxbow Lakes
The day starts out with breakfast or an optional early guided walk in the forest, followed by breakfast. A three hour walk then takes you through primary forest with immense towering trees, crystal clear streams, and a myriad of bird calls from the jungle. The trail leads to a hilltop crowned by a massive Ceibo tree over 40 meters (131 feet) tall.
The trail then follows a path that parallels the Shiripuno River and crosses small tributaries, including one that occasionally hosts groups of White-collared Peccaries. You will probably see tracks of these wild, rainforest hogs, may smell them, and might even glimpse them. You will also see a huge Leaf-cutter Ant nest before reaching a small oxbow lake. A walk along the lake leads to a river where a canoe will take you back to the lodge and another canoe ride, a visit to a salt lick, and nocturnal animals.
After a delicious lunch at the lodge, you will canoe back downstream to an oxbow lake known as the “Cocha Pequeña”. At the lake, you will have a very good chance of seeing the extraordinary Hoatzin (one of the few birds that feeds almost exclusively on leaves), Squirrel Monkeys, Capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), Caimans, and might even see an Anaconda. On the way back to the lodge, you will watch a salt-clay lick that is often used by various animals and birds. This is an excellent site for viewing rare wildlife and birds as many animals gather here to feed on the mineral-rich clay and your best opportunity to see some of the rainforest’s nocturnal elusive creatures. You may spot various snakes, frogs, bizarre bugs, kinkajous, owls, and other animals.
Day 4 - Canoe the Shiripuno River, visit to the Huoarani Community of Apaika, and camp out in the Amazon.
After an early breakfast, you can canoe down the Shiripuno River in traditional Huaorani style, or for an additional cost, head down river in a kayak.
This day starts early to give a better chance at seeing a variety of colourful Amazonian birds and the tranquillity of the morning will allow you to appreciate the true peace and calm of the rainforest, and is the perfect time to relax and engage in intimate conversations, reflect on the past few days of the journey, or to learn some Huaorani vocabulary.
The next main stop on your ride downriver is a visit to the Apaika community, a Huoarani community found inside the Yame Reserve. This is a huge, 55,000 hectare, protected area managed by the Huaorani Association, an organization that leads ecotourism efforts in Huoarani territory. At Akaipa, you will enjoy a quick snack and visit a small interpretation centre to learn more about Yasuní National Park. The afternoon is topped off by getting together with the local community to share in some of its daily activities and learn about their history, myths, and magic
The next stop is the small Huaorani village of Nenquepare, where you will spend the night camping out in a well-constructed and comfortable campsite that is part of a community initiative.
Day 5 - See the effects of oil exploration in Huoarani territory, and return to Quito.
After another delicious breakfast, you have the chance to hike a community trail to see an impressive tropical waterfall, seeing various plants and animals on the way. At the waterfall, you can take a dip in the energizing waters before leaving the jungle to head back to Quito.
After returning to the campsite on the Shiripuno, you will continue on downstream by canoe to the infamous “Auca Road”. On the way, your guides will start to tell you about how oil exploration has affected their lands.
As you travel along the Auca Road, you won’t help but notice the stark difference between intact rainforest and deforestation that occurs when roads are carved out of the surrounding jungle. This road is paralleled by pipelines that go from the Huaorani community of Tihuino up to Lago Agrio (the oil hub of eastern Ecuador) before the oil is pumped across the Andes to the Pacific port of Esmeraldas.
This part of your tour illustrates the reality of the threats facing the rainforest and the Huaorani people as much of the road passes through land that was formerly forested and lived in by Huoarani peoples. It will also help you realize why your visit to Huaorani Lodge was so important!
After a 2 hour overland ride on the Auca Road, you reach the town of Coca and the place where you catch your flight back to Quito.
Dates & Prices
Prices Per Person NZ$ Twin / Double