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2-week Yoga Wellness Tour in Ecuador

March 4th - March 18th, 2017

Practice daily guided yoga while exploring the beautiful country of Ecuador. With two yoga sessions per day, along with meditation, massage, reiki, canoeing, and horseback riding, you're sure to be regenerated in both body and spirit.

Experience sunrise sessions overlooking lakes and mountain valleys and surrounded by a chorus of birds. Practice Kundalini by the ocean as waves rumble in the distance. Enjoy the smell of fragrant flowers and the chatter of insects as a meditation session in the jungle carries you off to sleep.

The tour starts in the Andes where you'll stay in a peaceful mountain lodge overlooking the largest freshwater lake in the country.

We'll take canoes into the Amazon, where we'll spend a few days in a jungle lodge viewing birds, exotic flowers, and river Caiman. From there we'll visit the coast and stay by the ocean, passing local villages and rustic communities along the way. We'll end our tour in the sacred valley of Vilcabamba, also known as the Valley of Longevity, some of whose inhabitants are said to be over 120 years old!

The Wellness Tour includes healthy meals, lodging for all nights, guided tours of the jungle and mountains with an English-speaking naturalist, all four in-country flights, two yoga sessions per day, meditation sessions, two massages (one with reiki), and all group activities during the trip.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito & travel to Otavalo

After arriving in Quito we'll travel as a group to our hotel in Otavalo. We will be staying at the Sacha Ji, a wellness hotel whose name means "Beloved Mountain." The hotel is located in a sacred valley with a view of Imbabura Volcano and the San Pablo Lake, the biggest freshwater lake in Ecuador.

Upon arrival we'll receive  fresh-squeezed juice and a short briefing on our two-week journey. We will stay the night and be served breakfast in the morning at the hotel.

Day 2: Yoga in the Andes

We'll begin our first easy yoga class before the sun rises; during our class we'll experience the awakening of nature in the Andes. As the first rays of sunlight peek over rolling valleys below us, we'll likely experience the effects of being at high altitude (around 9,800 feet). After breakfast we will be guided through the picturesque surroundings of Otavalo. Our first stop will be the high-altitude crater lake called Cuicocha (Lake of the Guinea Pig).

We'll stop at the residence of a local family who still practices the traditional ancient weaving techniques that Otavalo is famous for. After a short demonstration we will continue to the Peguche waterfall. Though the waterfall isn’t big, its location is sacred to the indigenous people who live nearby. Close to the waterfall is a small, sacred cave used by a shaman who performs ancient healing ceremonies there. If he is present, we'll be able to burn a candle for good luck in the dwelling space of his ancestors.

Next, we'll stop for lunch in Otavalo, where you'll have the opportunity to explore the town at your own pace before returning to Sacha Ji in the afternoon. Here you'll be free to relax and enjoy the gardens or the view over San Pedro Lake from the hydro-massage swimming pool. Before dinner we'll have another easy yoga class. We recommend an early bedtime as the next day we'll be getting an early start. A packed breakfast will be included with the stay.

Day 3: Travel to Cuyabeno Lodge

We'll depart at 5:15am for the Quito airport. Our flight to the Amazon leaves at 9:00am. We'll fly over the Andes Mountain Range toward Lago Agrio, located at the edge of the Amazon basin. From there we'll travel about two hours through the Amazon lowlands, passing many farmlands and small communities. Our final destination is the National Cuyabeno Amazong Reserve. This reserve is unique in all of South America for its geographical characteristics and location. Because of its unique shape, seasonal flooding creates a beautiful display of interconnected lakes, creeks and rivers.

After we arrive at the Cuyabeno Bridge, one of the official entrances into the Cuyabeno Reserve, we'll take motorized canoes on a trip deep into the reserve. This tributary of the Amazon River will lead us on a fascinating journey to the largest lake in the reserve, the Laguna Cuyabeno. Our Amazon Jungle Lodge is one of the few accommodations located on an island in one of the seven main lakes in the Cuyabeno river system. Upon arrival at the lodge you're free to take a hot shower, relax, or enjoy a late lunch. You may also take a swim in the lake and, with some luck, spot a few pink Amazon dolphins (or maybe even a manatee). 

After watching the sun set over the great lake, we'll have our first yoga session in the Amazon rainforest. When night falls and dinner is done, we'll quietly head out onto the lake again; this time in search of caimans, a close relative of crocodiles and alligators. You can spot them with flashlights, reflecting in their eyes like bright orange lights. With a bit of luck your light might catch the green eyes of a wandering ocelot, wild cat, or even a jaguar!

Day 4: Bird & monkey watching in the Amazon

In the morning we'll join a short bird-watching tour, during which our experienced guide will help us in spotting birds. Blue and Yellow macaws might fly noisily across the Cuyabeno Lake, while hoatzins whisper their hoarse sounds as they search the macrolobium trees for food. You may also hear the mysterious swelling sound of howler monkeys or see a troop of squirrel monkeys bouncing through the treetops (10 species of monkey have been recorded here in the reserve). 

We will return to the lodge for breakfast, after which we'll explore the “terra firma” section of forest where our naturalist guide will teach us more about the many medicinal plants and traditions of the Amazon. Before lunch we'll have our second yoga class in the rainforest. After lunch and a short siesta, we'll look for birds and orchids in the flooded igapo (Amazon swamp) in the macrolobium trees covered in hanging plants. At the end of the day you're welcome to enjoy a sunset swim in the lake, after which we'll take on a walk through the forest with flashlights. During this walk we'll be looking for creatures such as spiders, translucent tree frogs, armadillos, bats, and nocturnal insects.

Day 5: Bird watching & tropical flowers

In the morning we'll wake up before dawn for a spiritual yoga class accompanied by the sounds of the awakening jungle. We'll have a healthy breakfast before traveling downstream on the Cuyabeno River, deeper into the Amazon reserve. There will be many colorful flowers in the reserve, but it takes a bit of an effort to find them. Orchids and heliconias are among the more spectacular examples we'll be looking for.

In the late afternoon you're free to enjoy a sunset swim, after which we'll practice a relaxed yoga flow session. Dinner will be followed by another night walk through the forest. You'll be free to enjoy a quiet evening in a hammock listening to the sounds of the jungle, or have a drink at the bar.

Day 6: Exploring the Amazon & Cuyabeno Lake

We will start the day with another spiritual yoga class at dawn. After breakfast, we'll enjoy a canoe journey through the placid waters of the lagoon, listening to bird and insect songs that surround us.

In the afternoon you'll  be free to relax and prepare for an energetic afternoon yoga session. We will offer an evening excursion through the other lagoons or a hike along one of the small paths in the reserve to look for wildlife.

Day 7: Travel to Esmeraldas & the El Acantilado Lodge

We'll leave the reserve early in the morning, exchanging the sounds of the jungle for the sounds of breaking waves and the smell of sea salt. At 10:30am we'll fly from the Amazon Basin to Quito, where we will travel by private transport on a scenic road through the Andes and to the Pacific coast (we'll pack a healthy lunch). At the end of our 6-hour journey we'll arrive at the beautifully-situated El Acantilado Lodge.

After watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, we'll have our first yoga session near the ocean with the sound of crashing waves as a backdrop. We'll stay here overnight and be served breakfast at the Lodge.

Day 8: El Acantilado & Kundalini on the beach

We'll have a relaxing day filled with meditation, Kundalini yoga, and free time to enjoy the gardens, swimming pool, beach, and beautiful Pacific Ocean. It may be possible to arrange a short course in Thai Massage if the group is interested. Depending on the weather, we may also organize a bonfire night on the beach. We'll stay overnight at the Lodge and be served breakfast in the morning.

Day 9: Village tour & the TONGORACHÍ beach

After our morning yoga session and breakfast, we'll travel from El Acantilado through the countryside toward the beach of Tongorachí. Along the way, we'll pass through local villages and communities like Estero del Plátano, Quingue, Caimito, Tóngora y and Cabo San Francisco. Most residents in this area still make a living from fishing and small-scale agriculture, growing mostly fruits and cacao. During our visit they'll teach us about their way of life, which hasn’t changed much over the past hundred years.

After this educational excursion, we'll head back to El Acantilado for a sunset meditation and yoga session. In the evening you'll have time to relax and listen to the waves of the Pacific Ocean. We'll stay here overnight and have breakfast at the Lodge in the morning.

Day 10: El Acantilado Lodge & the beach

You will be free to a relaxing day enjoying meditation, yoga, and a full-body massage. You're free to use the swimming pool or spend the day in the ocean. We'll spend another night here and enjoy breakfast in the morning.

Day 11: Travel to Vilcabamba & Izhcyluma

After a morning yoga session and breakfast, we'll leave the coast of Ecuador and head back to Quito airport. We'll have a healthy packed lunch along the way. We'll take a 1-hour flight at 3:40pm from Quito to Catamayo/Loja airport, where we'll be drive through the countryside on winding roads with fantastic views to our lodging for the night at Hosteria Izhcayluma.

This lodge is surrounded by a 10-acre garden full of a wide variety of plants and flowers. There is a swimming pool, massage room, bird-watching platform, and the largest yoga studio in all of Ecuador, which boasts a view of the sacred Mandango Mountain. The uniquely-shaped restaurant offers beautiful views of Vilcabamba valley, also known as the Valley of Longevity. The Izhcayluma viewpoint offers the best sunset views in the whole Valley.

Day 12: Izhcayluma & Vilcabamba

We'll awaken with a short meditation session surrounded by the spirits of the sacred valley. The meditation will be followed by a “rise and shine” yoga session, after which a healthy breakfast will be served in the rustic restaurant with its panoramic views. You will be free to spend the remainder of the morning and afternoon however you choose – relaxing in hammocks, jumping into the pool, exploring your surroundings, or walking into the small town of Vilcabamba. In the late afternoon we will have an aerial yoga (yoga with hanging straps) session.

Day 13: Horseback riding tour / Waterfall hike

After meditation, yoga, and breakfast, we'll be hiking or horseback riding (your choice) through the amazing Vilcabamba valley. There is no experience necessary for the horseback riding; just let us know your level of comfort so we can pair you with the right horse. This will be a great chance for you to let go and enjoy an amazing ride.  Later in the afternoon you're free to relax at the swimming pool, enjoy a relaxing yoga session and/or treat yourself to a massage and Reiki session (included in the tour package).

Day 14: Izhcayluma

We'll start our morning with a meditation and yoga session. You will have free time in the morning and afternoon again, which you are welcome to use to hike, relax, or read a book in one of the hammocks.

Just before sunset we will participate in a special Kundalini session, focusing on the flexibility of our bodies and minds.

Day 15: Quito & Return Trip

We'll get up very early to catch our morning flight back to Quito, and from there travel back to the US. Though it will be time to say goodbye to the green hills and lush valleys of the Ecuadorian countryside, we're certain that you'll carry memories and a part of its sacred spirit back home with you.

For those who are interested in extending this tour with a trip to the Galapagos, you will be able to travel there from Quito or Guayaquil.

Please note:  We'll be following the above itinerary as closely as possible, but due to unpredictable weather conditions, it may be subject to small changes

What is provided in this package?

- 14 nights of lodging with breakfast in all locations listed above (based on two people sharing a room)
- All land transport with private transportation
- 4 flights within Ecuador
- Two full body massages (one with Reiki)
- Two yoga classes a day (with meditation options)
- One meal on the day of arrival in Otavalo, two local lunches (in Otavalo and El Tongorachí)  and two healthy lunch packages
- Guided tour to the local communities of Tongorachí (includes transport & lunch)
- Guided tour through the surroundings of Otavalo (includes transportation, entrance fees & lunch)

A complete 5-day tour in the Cuyabeno Amazon Reserve, which includes:
-  4 nights in the Cuyabeno Amazon Lodge
-  4 times breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Amazon
- Guided tours through the Amazon (led by an experienced English-speaking naturalist)

What is provided by travelers?

- International flights (including airport taxes)
- International bank/withdrawal fees
- Meals outside the itinerary (since some eat less than others, it is more fair to pay separately than to include all of the meals in the package)
- Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks
- Private lodging (if desired)

Price: $2500

A $300 deposit is required to hold your spot. Closing date: January 4, 2017

This trip package is a collaboration with Fairtravel4U.

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