Ecuador High Sierra
Cloud Forest Tours
Bring your group for a retreat or gather family and friends for an unforgettable trip.
This amazing South American destination has been named one of the most diverse countries in the world. With snow capped mountains, coastal beaches, the Amazon Jungle, cloud forests and the famous Galapagos Islands, you can truly see it all.
Come for a eight day adventure packed tour filled with stunning views, waterfalls, crater lakes, and the warm and welcoming Ecuadorian people. You will participate in a magical Shamanic Cleansing, experience first hand the working's of a coffee farm, and stand on the equator with one foot in each hemisphere. We will picnic on typical Indigenous grains at the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, visit the vibrant and famous weaver's market of Otavalo and spend an afternoon viewing the culture and beauty of Historical Old Town Quito.
Life is about experiences----this is one you won't forget.
Sample Itinerary (Custom tours can be arranged.)
Day 1: Arrival
Day 2: Otavalo: Visit the equator, Agave Harvest Tour, lunch at oldest Hacienda
Day 3: Lake Cuicocha and Cotocachi, Folkloric Music
Day 4: Peguche Falls, Otavalo Market, Peguche Wasi Weaving Demonstration
Day 5: Leave for farm, Lunch Pululahua Crater, Coffee Tour
Day 6: Cock of the Rock, Tulipe Museum, interact with the locals
Day 7: Visit to the Cloud forest of Mindo, chocolate tour and butterlies, Waterfall
Day 8: Quito Tour: Fly home at midnight
Day 1: Arrive in Ecuador! You will be picked up at the airport and transferred to a nearby hotel for a good nights sleep before the true adventure begins.
Day 2: Today we head north to Otavalo which sits at 8,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by the tall mountain peaks of Imbabura, Cotocachi and Mojanda, standing over 15,000 feet.
On the way, we will stop at the equator sun dial that sits directly in front of Cayambe Mountain. The Quitsato Guides will give an excellent explanation of their project which encompasses astronomy, geodesy, archaeology and history as well as the social and cultural implications of the equator.
After the Equator Expo, we will observe Indigenous women of the area harvest honey from the Agave plant followed by a picnic lunch consisting of ancient grains eaten from a large leaf.
Day 3: In the morning, you can take a stroll to Peguche Falls which is a ten minute walk right outside our hotel. We will then visit Otavalo, home to a large Indigenous population, who carry on the weaving tradition and sell their wares at the town square. During the market's peak, almost one third of the town becomes full of stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewelry, musical instruments, leather goods, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters, purses, clothing, and spools of wool.
In the afternoon we will visit Peguche Wasi, a local artists cooperative. These Kichwa weavers are looking to rescue and resurrect the art of weaving left by their fathers and mothers. In their workshop, you will discover part of their history and their successes with the indigenous protest movement to gain rights from the centralized government. We will also watch a demonstration of the process of weaving from washing and carding the wool, spinning it into yarn, dying using plant based dyes and weaving on both the traditional Ecuadorian looms and the larges floor looms.
Day 4: We will visit the special Lake Cuicocha. Sitting at the foot of the Cotocachi Volcano, the azure waters of this 600 foot deep lake shine brightly with the twin volcanic cones at it's center. We will take a short hike for great views of the lake and a boat ride through the islands for an up close view of the surrounding cliff walls. On the way back to the hotel, we will stop in the town of Cotocachi where you can stroll down "leather street" to shop for hand made leather goods.
Day 5: In the morning we leave for the Cloud Forest. On the way, we will stop at Pululahua crater in an area called the Middle of the World. Pululahua Crater is one of only two inhabited volcanic calderas in the world and the only one cultivated by its inhabitants. The Crater is also one of the largest with it's lava dome rising 500 meters above the crater floor and it is covered in lush cloud forest vegetation.
We will then descend to the farm through the subtropical mountain side. After getting settled in, you will tour the coffee production where you can pick the bright red cherries, process them in the despulpadora, and send them to dry in the green house. You will see how much work goes into that wonderful cup of java you love so much. You will enjoy a fresh cup of coffee while watching clouds being born in the valley below the guest house.
Day 6: We will get up early to see the interesting Cock of the Rock Lek where this unique bird dances daily to win a date with the female. In the afternoon, we will go for a swim at your own secluded waterfall.
Day 7: Mindo is a village on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains of northern Ecuador. It's known for the many bird species, butterflies and orchids found in the surrounding cloud forest. We will tour a chocolate factory where you will see the cocoa plants and try a cocoa seed, followed by a sampling of the best brownies in the world. We will visit a butterfly sanctuary where you will see the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly and in the afternoon we will hike to a secluded waterfall.
Day 8: On our return to the capital city of Quito on Sunday afternoon, we will take a tour of the Historical "Old Town". The Historic Center of Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centers in the Americas. Quito was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978 due to its treasures of colonial churches, paintings, sculptures, and carvings. One of the greatest highlights of Quito is EL Panecillo, a 41 meter tall aluminum monument of the Virgin Mary, erected in 1976. After dining in Old Town, we will head to the airport!
Your Host for the Week
Cheryl Reed has lived on her farm in the cloud forest of Ecuador since 2002. She has tried it all, from dairy farming, to a tropical fruit plantation to now coffee and tourism. The journey started in 1997 when Cheryl took a volunteer trip to Ecuador. For two weeks, she worked in her profession as a Physical Therapist helping disabled children and she immediately fell in love with Ecuador's amazing beauty and joyful people. She eventually returned and purchased her farm in 2002. Five years ago, Cheryl began sharing Ecuador with others hosting retreats in Ecuador. She has now fulfilled her dream of building a guest house on her farm to allow people to immerse themselves in the daily Ecuadorian life and enjoy the magic of the farm.
Where you will stay!
Your first night stay will be at a hotel near the airport. You will then spend three nights at the La Casa Sol Andean Lodge which is run by an Indigenous Cooperative. LA CASA SOL – OTAVALO was built on the side of a hill overlooking the Otavalo Valley. From the Lodge, you can walk to Peguche Waterfalls and climb the mural painted steps behind the property that lead to the adjacent village for a view of Imbabura Mountain. Individual rooms.
You will spend four nights at Above the Clouds Guest House. (This website!) in shared accommodation in one of the five bedrooms.