PARKS AND TRIBES

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TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR [COMBINED IN ONE TOUR!]

  1. Cuicocha Crater Lake in Cotacachi - Cayapas Ecological Reserve;

  2. Pecuche Community Reserve;

  3. Otavalo;

  4. El Angel Ecological Reserve;

  5. Machalilla National Park;

  6. Guayaquil;

  7. Churute Ecologica Reserve;

  8. Cuenca;

  9. Ingapirca;

  10. Chimborazo Fauna Reserve;

  11. Cotopaxi National Park.

Top 10 Things to do in Ecuador

When studying the Amazon of Ecuador, world famous botanist, Dr. Gentry, discovered the greatest number of plant species per hectare in the world, which made Ecuador the country with the highest biodiversity in the world. Ecuador has worked hard at the conservation of its biodiversity and currently it has 50 protected areas, that together make up about 20% of the territory of the country. Spread across the country, these areas are found in totally different climate zones and elevations, protecting breath taking landscapes, fascinating wildlife, cloud forests in the Andes, rainforests in the Amazon, and at the coast, mangroves and cactus-clad dry forests. While Ecuador has various different types of areas, in reality, all these areas are equally important, and we consider them all national parks.

 

Many of those areas are only hours away from Ecuador's main cities, and yet.......... very few of those jewels of nature are ever visited. World traveler of 80+ countries and renowned national parks adviser of the World Bank and United Nations, Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil, developed the “ECUADOR NATIONAL PARKS TOUR” which takes you to 8 protected areas in 10 days. Having been part of the United Nations team that selected the majority of the protected areas of Ecuador between 1974 and 1976, nobody knows the ecology and protected areas system of Ecuador better that Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil.

 

In fact, the National Parks Tour takes you to all cultural highlights of the country - Otavalo, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Ingapirca - while at the same taking you on a journey of discovery of a fabulous representation of all major ecosystems of the Andes and the Coast, thus combining the top 10 things to do in Ecuador in one tour.

 

As tours to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon are amply offered to the public, we decided not to include those destinations, thus facilitating a modular approach allowing visitors to compose their overall Ecuador visit by combining one's modules of choice. A visit to the Amazon has now become within reach of many visitors. Particularly, the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve has now become one of the world's highest valued Amazon parks for (1) its incredible biodiversity, (2) its convenient access and (3) its reasonable pricing. We also left out a visit to the highest and most beautiful capital of the Americas, Quito, as there is enough opportunity to see it between modules. So, when combining all three modules, one gets a selection of most ecosystems of the entire continent of South America as well as all cultural mayor highlights of Ecuador!

 

Our National Parks tours have been designed to complete existing national parks programs to Galapagos and/or Amazon national parks, like Cuyabeno and Yasuní. They can start from different places, particularly Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts as many as 11 days, it is possible to make a limited selection of parks. For instance, a 6 days' module "Andes and Coast" from Quito. 5-6 days' modules are available from Cuenca and Guyaquil. According to your wishes, these modules can be be combined with your Galapagos and/or Amazon program(s). IF you buy our national parks module together with a Galapagos and/or Cuyabeno module from us, we can give you significant discounts.

 

For those who want to complete their Ecuador visit with a guided tour to Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu, we even offer a 5 – 7 days module, with which you get the most spectacular highlights of nature and culture of South America in one epic journey! We first present the full tour, while at the end of the page you get several modular options on how to break it up into shorter modules.

 

Itinerary 10 days' National Parks Tour

Day 1: Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve and Peguche Waterfall community reserve

  1. Pick up from hotel in Quito to travel to Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve to visit the Cuicocha Caldera with the incredibly blue Cuicocha Crater Lake. Mammalian wildlife is not commonly seen, but several species of ducks and grebes are usually found on the lake;

  2. Visit the Peguche Forest Reserve of Otavalo with the famous Peguche Waterfall. A trail through an old grove eucalyptus forest usually gives sightings of song birds and several species of hummingbirds;

  3. Visit the Otavalo Indian market;

  4. Spend the night in Ibarra.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Cuicocha Crater Lake.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Peguche Waterfalls near Otavalo.

Located in Cotacachi-Cayapas National Reserve, the Cuicocha Caldera is the most scenic crater lake in Ecuador.

At only 5 minutes from Otavalo, the Peguche Forest Reserve is a great place to spend lunch and the waterfall is absolutely wonderful.

 

Day 2: El Angel Ecological Reserve

  1. Depart for the El Angel Ecological Reserve, a paramo (Andes meadow) reserve in Northern Ecuador, where the famous “Frailejones Asters” almost reach their Southernmost limit. Visit the Voladero Lake where you will also see some of the most spectacular and ancient bromeliads of the Andes, the Herculas Club. Some 320 species of birds are known to the park, including the Andean Condor, a variety of hummingbirds, as well as several species of ducks and grebes, etc.;

  2. Return to Quito, Airport, in the village Tababela at 10 minutes from the airport;

  3. Spend the night at Tababela.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Voladero Lake in Paramo del Angel ReserveTOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Frailejones in El Angel Reserve.

Lake Voladero in El Paramo del Angel Ecological Reserve.

The famous Frailejones Aster.

 

Day 3: Fly from the Andes to the the city of Manta at Coast

  1. Pick up from the hotel to fly to the city of Manta;

  2. Drive from Manta to Machalilla National Park;

  3. Excursion into the interior of Machalilla National Park to get to know the extremely rare Tropical Pacific dry forest, which only occurs in a narrow stretch of land between the wet tropical coastal forest near the border with Colombia and the desert starting in the south of Ecuador near the Peruvian border. Machalilla National Park is the only main park in the world protecting this type of forest.

  4. Afternoon excursion at Les Frailes Beach and swim;

  5. Spend the night at Puerto López.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Access to Los Frailes Beach in Machalila National Park.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Ecuador's most pristine beach is in Machalila National Park.

Entrance to Machalilla National Park at Los Frailes Beach.

Surrounded by natural dry forest, the most natural beach of Ecuador, Los Frailes, which is part of Machalilla National Park.

 

Day 4: Machalilla National Park with Isla de la Plata

  1. Visit Isla de la Plata, part of Machalilla National Park, where one – depending on the season – can see Red-, Nazca- or blue-footed booby nesting colonies and with some luck a colony of Frigate birds. While ecologically not really correct, one can observe how touroperators have joined together to feed wild green turtles in the harbor of the island, allowing visitors to see the turtles right under their boat in the cristal clear sea water. Sea Lions frolic in the deep blue waters surrounding the island, while different species of whales migrate along any time during the months of June – September (sightings are not guaranteed);

  2. After return time off for a late afternoon swim at the beach in Puerto Lopez;

  3. Spend another night in Puerto Lopez.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Beaching at Isla de la Plata in Machalila National Park.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Blue-footes boobies with visitors in Machalila National Park.

Getting to Isla de Plata, the "mini Galapagos".

About 10 oceanic birds breed on Isla de la Plata, and many are just as tame as on the Galapagos Islands, like this Blue-footed Booby.

 

Day 5: Visit Guayaquil

  1. In the morning, a brief excursion into the park, before driving to Guayaquil;

  2. drive from Puerto López to Guayaquil;

  3. In the afternoon (and/or evening), visit the famous Malecon (=Boulevard) of Guayaquil;

  4. Spend the night in Guayaquil.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Malecon, Rotonda Monument.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Las Peñas artists street.

The Guayaquil Malecón or Riverside Boulevard is 1,5 km of fantastic plazas, parks, galleries and restaurants.

The Las Peñas neighborhood borders the boulevard with lovely old streets with artists' ateliers.

 

Day 6: Churute Ecological Reserve

  1. Drive to South America's southernmost important mangrove in Churute Ecological Reserve, where more than 250 species of birds have been recorded, including Frigate birds, Brown Pelicans, Spoonbills, a multitude of different herons, White Ibises, etc. ;

  2. Other fauna elements include different crabs as well as dolphins;

  3. Travel to Cuenca;

  4. Time permitting, stroll the colonial streets of Cuenca at night after dinner

  5. Spend the night in your hotel in Cuenca.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Discovering the Churute Mangroves.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Exploring the Rainforest.

Not very far from Guayaquil, Churute Ecological Reserve combines great mangrove with lowland hill forest.

On excursion in the hill forest, where howler monkeys are almost always seen.

 

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: City Hall Gallery of Cuenca, Old Town Cuenca.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Concepción Inmaculada Church, Old Town Cuenca.

The Cuenca City Hall gallery.

The Inmaculada Concepción Cathedral.

 

Day 7: Ingapirca World Heritage Site

  1. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site Ingapirca, a mixed Inca and Canari [ a contemporary culture to the Incas and subjected to them] style fortress, which was the northern-most main defense fortress of the Inca Empire;

  2. In the afternoon, travel to Riobamba;

  3. Spend the night in Riobamba.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Ingapirca Temple of the Sun with inca wallsTOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Ingapirca Ruins, Ecuador: UNESCO Heritage Site

Ingapirca, the northernmost Inca fortress.

The Incapirca ruins are at par with the ruins in the Sacred Valley in Peru.

 

Day 8: Chimborazo Fauna Reserve

  1. Get to know the Vicuñas of Chimborazo Fauna Reserve. As anywhere high up in the mountains, one may stumble upon an Andean Condor and other birds of pray;

  2. Visit the Refugio - 4800m masl - for a brief high elevation walk and exploration of the high paramo of the highest mountain in the world measured from the center of the earth. The vegetation is very sparse at this elevation. Be careful, you are extremely high up and the oxygen level is very low;

  3. Spend the night in a hotel near Cotopaxi National Park.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Highest point on earth Reacheble by car.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Vicuna at the Chimborazo Game Reserve.

Get to the highest point on earth where you can get by car and enjoy the roughest landscape. Either enjoy outside or from the shelter while enjoying a hot drink. 

The Chimborazo Volcano also is the highest point on earth to see vicuñas, as they roam past 5000 m into the snow.

 

Day 9: Cotopaxi National Park

  1. Visit Cotopaxi National Park - the world's highest active volcano - to rise to the “refugio” parking lot;

  2. Visit Limpiopungo Lake;

  3. Look for Andean wolfs;

  4. Return to Quito.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: The Cotopaxi is one of the oldest parks in Ecuador.TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN ECUADOR: Andean Fox is a common predator in the highlands.

The last destination of the National Parks Tour is Cotopaxi National Park.

The Andean Wolf is a rather common sight in Cotopaxi.

 

MODULES

We developed several shorter modules, that still give you an impression of the Andes and coastal habitats. These modules, vary depending on your place of departure being Quito, Guayaquil or Cuenca.

OPTION A: Full NATIONAL PARKS TOUR (9-days tour)

OPTION B: MACHALILLA - CUENCA - INGAPIRCA (7-days tour)

  1. Travel to a hotel near Chimborazo Ecological Reserve

Day 7: Visit Chimborazo Ecological Reserve

  1. See the vicunhas along the highway passing by the reserve; Ascent to the mountain house of the volcano. Drive over the new western highway to Quito to admire the alpaca's that usually can be seen along that route. For pictures of Chimborazo Ecological Reserve see days 10 and 11.;

  2. Arrive in Quito in the afternoon to be dropped off at hotel of choice (hotel not included).

OPTION C: START AND FINISH IN GUYAQUIL (5-days tour)

While starting in Guayaquil, Option C visits:

  1. Machalilla for 2 nights (Days 5 and 6);

  2. Returns to Guayaquil;

  3. Visit the Malecon or Historic Park;

  4. Visit the Churute Mangroves;

  5. Spend the night in Cuenca;

  6. Visit Cajas National Park;

  7. Return to Guayaquil in your hotel of choice (not included).

OPTION D: START IN CUENCA AND FINISH IN GUYAQUIL (5-days tour)

This particular module reverses Module C.

Click here for a printable pd of the national parks tours modules.

ADDITIONAL TOURS

GALAPAGOS TOURS

We have a variety of packages varying from city-hopping out of a hotel in Santa Cruz for as little as $520 to luxury yachts

 

CUYABENO LODGE

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is by far the best Amazon Park of South America to see wildlife, while the the first lodge in the reserve, Cuyabeno Lodge is the best located, on a seasonal island in Cuyabeno Lake.

 

CUYABENO LOOP

Organized by the Cofan Indian community, the Cuyabeno Loop takes you on a 5 days journey through the entire Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, being one of the top 10 things to do in Ecuador. Click here for a printable pdf of the Cuyabeno modules.

 

PERU LIMA - CUSCO

Many visitors like to combine their natural experience with a week's extension to see the cultural highlights of Lima and Cusco in Peru. Click here for a printable pdf of the Peru Module.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Amazon Tours

  1. Lodging;

  2. Excursions with professional nature guides;

  3. All Amazon programs include all meals, and fruit juices served with the meals. Our restaurants serve a mix of international cuisine and occasionally, the Cofan Lodge offers  a sample meal of traditional Cofan dishes.

  4. Meals include coffee, tea and bottled water, while additional bottled drinks and alcoholic beverages can be bought.

  5. Transportation between Lagoagrio and the access rivers.

 

National Parks Tours

  1. All hotels and lodges;

  2. Transportation: All ground transportation on the National Parks tours;

  3. In-country flights where included in the national parks tour program, but NOT to/fro Galapagos or Lagoagrio;

  4. An English speaking naturalist guide. A German or French speaking guide may also be available, but can't be guaranteed.

  5. All entry fees.

COMBI-DISCOUNTS

Depending on the program you selected, we always try to give you a discount on combined modules. Groups above 4 passengers will receive discounts, depending on group size.

 

HOW TO BOOK A TOUR?

Our programs are rather customized and we try to accommodate the travel needs of our customers. To avoid misunderstandings, we don't offer a prepaid travel option. Just send an email to or contact us through our contact data below. 

 

From Abroad:

Sending money from abroad is rather costly and we try to minimize money going to bank transfers. Once your schedule has been worked out, we kindly request you to make a reservation guarantee transfer of only $100 by Western Union or Moneygram. The balance you pay in CASH in Quito upon arrival (we don't take credit cards!) This way you don't lose a lot of money sending money. The $100 is NOT recoverable upon cancelation.

 

Why we don't accept credit cards in Ecuador either? The credit card services charge 7%! We would have to charge you for that, making your trip more expensive. We do everything to make your trip as cost effective as possible.

 

Already in Ecuador?

You can pay in our office mentioned below. We apply a cancelation fee of $100.

 

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO BRING?

For this question we link to our special vacation packing list.

 

2017 PARKS AND TRIBES PRICES

 

NATIONAL PARKS TOUR PROGRAM

OPTION A: COMPLETE NATIONAL PARKS TOUR (10 days)

$1999

OPTION B: RETURN AFTER MACHALILLA TO QUITO (6 days)

$1349

OPTION C: RETURN AFTER MACHALILLA TO QUITO VIA CHIMBORAZO ECOLOGICAL RESERVE (7 days)

$1399

OPTION D: START AND FINISH IN GUYAQUIL (5 days)

$1149

OPTION E: START IN CUENCA AND FINISH IN GUAYAQUIL (5 days)

$1149

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

LIMA CUSCO MACHU PICCHU

GALAPAGOS TOURS STARTING AT

(READ DETAILS) FOR ISLAND HOPPING

$  520

Individual bookings are WELCOME

 

LIMA CUSCO MACHU PICCHU

LIMA - CUSCO MODULE (READ DETAILS)

$1149

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

ZABALO STANDARD PROGRAM

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS

 

Standard room

$ 540

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

 

CUYABENO LOOP

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS

 

Standard room at the Cuyabeno Lodge part (nights 3 &4)

$ 850

Standard room in the Cofan Lodge (nights 1 & 2) and Deluxe room at the Cuyabeno Lodge (nights 3 & 4)

$ 910

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

 

LAGARTO COCHE EXPEDITION

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS

$ 1080

Prices are based on a minimum of 2 passengers and apply to EACH passenger.

 

 

CUYABENO LODGE PROGRAM

DURATION STAY

PRICES IN US$

4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS

 

Standard room

$ 380

Deluxe room

$ 440

5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS

 

Shared budget room

$ 390

Standard room

$ 475

Deluxe room

$ 550

Single occupancy

$100

Individual bookings are WELCOME

 

 

QUITO - LAGOAGRIO (or visa versa)

PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION

One way per party price

$ 300

Group Price for parties of 2 - 7 (minivan).

 

 

PARKS & TRIBES has its sales office in:

Calle Mariano Cardenal N74-153 &

Calle Joaquín Mancheno Carcelen,

Alto Quito

Email:

niks

Talk or chat with us on Skype:

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