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Tour Ecuador - Mysteries of the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest

Bhutan

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Preliminary Tour Itinerary

Itinerary: Quito- Bellavista Cloud Forest reserve – Mindo - Visits in the region – Otavalo – Quito
Duration: 11 days

Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Arrival in Quito. Transfer to Hotel Sebastian. 

Day 2: Tour Quito city
We will start our tour after breakfast, with a full-day visit to the old city of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old colonial center of Quito has countless churches with lavish decoration and an abundance of gold. The open squares and colonial houses of the city are complemented by excellent museums. Lunch at a restaurant in colonial city.

Ecuador
Lunch-time talk by a guide about Ecuadorian culture and different ethnic groups living in Ecuador. In the afternoon, we will visit the Mitad del Mundo, equatorial monument and museum. Welcome dinner with city view.

Day 3: Travel Ecoruta El Paseo del Quinde to Bellavista
Box breakfast included. Travel on the old road, Ecoruta El Paseo del Quinde (The Hummingbird Trail) to Bellavista. Stop at Andean elfin forest reserve Yanacocha, and other private reserves en route. Discussion of micro-verticality (human land use) and altitudinal ecosystem contrasts. Late lunch at Bellavista. Short introductory hike into forest, preliminary discussion of cloud forest ecosystems. Evening: in-depth discussion of birds in Ecuador´s cloud forests, discussion of birds as example of biodiversity in mountain forests. 

Day 4: Guided Hike in Bellavista Cloud Foreset Reserve
Early morning bird hike around immediate area of reserve. After breakfast, guided hike on trail, where hands-on activities will deepen the learning process. Lunchtime lecture on cloud forest ecosystems and further explorations of primary and secondary forests. In the evening discussions of human activities and culture in northwestern Ecuador, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Day 5: Guided Tour of Bellavista Reserve
You will start the morning with a bird hike followed by a visit to Tucanopy – a zipline – and a discussion of sustainable life options, including an environmental education program at Miraflores school. You will also visit Mindo, a butterfly farm and an orchid garden. 

Day 6: Tour Bellavista Reserve
You will discover plant communities in the cloud forest and take part in a discussion of medicinal plants and their potential development.  Planting of native trees in a regenerating pasture will complement the day. In the evening, you will hike into the forest and hear a talk about nocturnal adaptations. 

Day 7: Tour Angel Paz Antpitta Reserve
There will be an early morning excursion to Angel Paz Antpitta Reserve, where you will view rare birds, including various species of Antpittas and Cock-of-the-Rock. You will enjoy a local culinary experience. Afterward, you continue to Tulipe archaeological site and listen to a lecture on Yumbo culture with emphasis on land use and belief systems.

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Day 8: Tour Tandayapa Valley
This morning you will hike down into Tandayapa Valley to experience altitudinal variations and explanation of high endemism, with an emphasis on birds and rare old trees (grove of giant strangler figs) in El Quinde Private Reserve. Local lunch at Alambi Reserve where you can spot hummingbirds.  Lastly, a visit to riparian ecosystem of Rio Alambi.

Day 9: Tour Bellavista Reserve
Optional activities: horse-back ride, hike up to hidden waterfalls within the reserve, birdwatching explorations in new areas of the reserve. Also a “wrap-up” discussion on the cloud forest and evening talk on the customs of Otavaleño indigenous people.

Day 10: Guided tour of Otavalo
Depart to Otavalo. There will be time for shopping and discovering Otavaleño culture. Partake in the discussions of contrasting ecosystems of Interandean Valleys and land use patterns. The day concludes with a farewell dinner overlooking the old city of Quito. Overnight accommodations at Hotel Sebastian.

Day 11: Departure from Ecuador
Breakfast. Transfer to airport. Departure from Ecuador.


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