ECUADOR | ANDES TO THE AMAZON
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VERONICA ROJAS
2019 DATES COMING SOON
WHAT? Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in the Americas, however one of the most biodiverse in the world. Ecuador gives you the opportunity to visit both the Andes and the Amazon wilderness within just a few hours. You will be amazed by the landscapes, the people and the diversity that the country has to offer, each of them with special weather, flora, fauna and food culture. All this together makes of Ecuador a hidden jewel and it is not surprising that Ecuador has several consecutive World Travel Awards.
This journey is created by runners for runners. We have created this tour as our dream running adventure in Ecuador. We have chosen exciting trails, which include beautiful landscapes, good elevation and technical terrain to challenge runners of all abilities. We have selected exciting accommodation in small unique haciendas and eco-lodges. The entire trip has been planned and organised so that you can relax and just experience! All runs will be measured in time rather than distance due to the vertical +/- and technical aspects of the trails.
WHO? Anyone with some experience in trail running and hilly terrain can join. Pace is unimportant on our adventures, but for several days we will be out for 3 to 6 hours and switch between running, hiking and other activities. Most of the routes have been selected to give the runners the possibility to enjoy at their own pace, joined by a guide. Some runs/hikes are at altitude and will be challenging - the more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have and the further you’ll be able to go.
If for any reason you do not feel like running, there will always be alternatives to enjoy your day. For most of the runs, there will be a support vehicle with us in the case you need it. Also, if the kilometres and the altitude are not enough for you, there will be opportunity to extend your run. The entire tour is done in English.
DATES: 7th - 19th October 2018
US$500 non refundable deposit required to secure place, deposit can be transferred to another adventure.
Remaining balance due by August 1st 2018. Registrations after that date must be paid in full.
Price after July 1st increases to US$3995
100% refund if trip is cancelled
All tips included.
One Ultimate Direction pack per client
One pair of Merrell Trail shoes per client
A percent of your payment goes to sponsor a child from Children of Uganda
All of the scheduled activities: horseback riding, tubing, rafting
All accommodation during the tour (12 nights). Most lodges and haciendas in shared rooms (single occupancy room option available for an extra price in some lodges)
All meals during the tour
All tips - we pay our guides well
All transport during the tour (except for those by feet!)
Transport to Quito (e.g. flights)
Insurance. All participants are required to have their own travel insurance appropriate for outdoor sports; such as health, accident, mountain rescue, repatriation, cancellation, personal liability, etc. We recommend: Global Rescue
Trail snack to eat on the go - we recommend that you bring dried fruit, nuts or energy bars to last you throughout the entire runs (further info in the packing list)
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Expenses for extra activities, such as; massages, spas, sauna, hot tub
Any accommodations for extra days in Ecuador
*We reserve the right to change the itinerary without previous notice due to weather conditions, National Parks regulations or notifications and unforeseeable circumstances
Day 1 | 7th Oct | Quito - Cumbayá
Arrival and acclimatisation day (Quito is at 2800 meters)!
Organised airport pick-up and hotel check-in throughout the day.
Welcome dinner: 6:30 pm
Day 2 | 8th Oct | Quito – Sigchos – Isinlivi
Morning departure to the town of Sigchos (2h30), which will mark the start of a three–day running journey to “El Quilotoa”. The trail goes through the Andean mountains, valleys, epic landscapes, towns, over rivers and past genuine Quechua communities to ultimately end up at an epic blue-sapphire crater lake after three days!
The trails start at the humble town of Sigchos where we will be dropped by our support vehicle, which will continue with your bags to Isinlivi. After a light snack, we will make the same journey, except by smaller trails. It is a perfect route to acclimatise ourselves for the highs of the Andes, giving us the opportunity to get use to the altitude.
The route: 10 Km - 450+ 430-
Highest point at 2900 meters
Check in at the lodge
Afternoon chill time with beautiful landscapes (needed for acclimatisation!)
The cosy eco-lodge we have chosen for this night offers breath-taking views, delicious locally sourced food, a warm stove and a great spa (at a small additional fee).
Day 3 | 9th Oct | Isinlivi – Chugchilán
The day’s run is from Isinlivi to the town of Chugchilán. From Isinlivi the trail follows the Toachi canyon, offering amazing landscapes along the river, then climbs up to the plateaus and passing through small highland villages before arriving to Chugchilán.
The route: 12 Km - 740+ 480-
Highest point at 3220 meters
Check in at the lodge
Afternoon relax – sauna and hot tub, ziplines and yoga
More kilometres ? the option is always available
The eco–lodge is located just outside of the small village of Chugchilán at an altitude over 3200 meters. It is a beautiful and cosy place, with views of the Rio Toachi Canyon, fantastic food and spectacular mountain views.
Day 4 | 10th Oct | Chugchilán – Quilotoa Crater – Cotopaxi
The day’s run is at points steep, wild and at high altitude. It is the day to test what you’re made of! Following a wholesome breakfast at the eco-lodge, we will descent down the valley below us to cross a river before we can begin our climb up to 3900 meters, and the goal of this first adventure: El Quilotoa Lagoon. As we have had previous acclimatisation this should not be a problem, but be prepared to work for the reward - just imagine an azure-coloured crater lake surrounded by steep shadowy mountains and (most likely) deep blue skies overhead – this is Lake Quilotoa. The landscape along the route and the views from the crater rim, will make everything worth it! Following our arrival to the crater, we will jump into our support vehicle and drive over to El Cotopaxi National Park, which is centred around one of the world’s highest active volcanos. We will arrive in the afternoon and head out exploring and get some time in for relaxing – the national park is considered one of the most beautiful places of Ecuador!
The trail: 11 Km - 1000+ 350-
Highest point at 3900 meters
Box lunch or lunch at Quilotoa
Tansfer to “El Cotopaxi” (2h30)
Check in at Hacienda
Afternoon relax or optional walk
Day 5 | 11th Oct | Cotopaxi – Manantiales
Enjoy some early coffee with a fantastic view of El Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest volcanoes in the world (5.897 meters). A volcano with such a beauty that it leaves you speechless. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by mud flows around the volcano, making the surroundings of El Cotopaxi, just amazing. A variety of wild animals live in the park such as wolves, pumas, bears, rabbits, Andean condors, horses, and foxes.
After breakfast, an exciting horseback riding adventure awaits us. Before the ride, our guide will offer a quick lesson in riding, but don’t worry, the horses are gentle and the trails easy, it’s a great place to have fun. This is an opportunity to rest our legs and the perfect way to explore the unique Andean landscape of the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, with spectacular views of the volcanoes el Pasochoa, Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, Antisana, Corazón and Cotopaxi. No experience necessary.
The route: 3 hours horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park
Highest point at 3800 meters
Lunch at Hacienda
Afternoon, easy run to Limpiopungo Lake
Day 6 | 12th Oct | Cotopaxi – Rumiñahui Volcano – Cotacachi
After having spent some days at altitude, we are ready to run/hike el Rumiñahui. This, is an extinct volcano named after the loyal general of the last Inca Emperor, Atahualpa. Once the Spaniards murdered the Emperor, Rumiñahui hid the famous treasure of gold that was to be paid for Atahualpa's freedom, and led the fight against the Spanish conquerors. In the local language Quichua, the name means "stone face". We start the hike from Limpiopungo lake located at 3900 meters. Technically, it is a hike with some easy scrambling at the end. The mountain offers epic views of El Corazón, Los Ilinizas, Sincholagua, and Cotopaxi.
After the hike, we will have a well-deserved lunch and continue our journey to The Northern Andes, to a beautiful cosy hacienda in the Imbabura Province, which is one of the most visited places in Ecuador. The province, its home to the inactive volcano El Imbabura and beautiful stunning lakes. The area offers beautiful landscapes, a huge cultural heritage and its fertile green lands.
The route: climb to el Rumiñahui 11 Km - 770+ 750-
Highest point at 4620 meters
Tansfer to Cotacachi (3h15)
Check in at hacienda
Day 7 | 13th Oct | Cotacachi – Laguna de Cuicocha
Laguna Cuicocha - which is translated as the guinea pig lake - is a large caldera lake nearly 3 kilometres wide. The lagoon is part of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecoogical Reserve. This is one of the most beautiful trail running routes in Ecuador. A wavy route at high altitude, with majestic views of different volcanos such as Cayambe, Imbabura and Cotacachi, sapphire-blue waters and vivid flora. While we run it is also interesting to appreciate the changes in vegetation due to the various micro-climates along the path. We spend a relaxed afternoon and night at the hacienda.
The route: 15 Km - 350- 320 +
Highest point at 3485 meters
Free afternoon (possibility for yoga, horseback riding, biking)
Day 8 | 14th Oct | Cotacachi – Plaza de los Ponchos - Cascada de Peguche
We begin this day with a cultural and a touristic visit to Plaza de los Ponchos in Otavalo, a place of history and tradition. A colourful artisanal market for alpaca-wool sweaters, scarves, textiles, blankets and more. Moreover, here we will be able to get in touch with the indigenous Otavaleño people, who make up 50% of the town population. The scene at the market is one of contrasts, with traditionally dressed Otavaleño stallholders surrounded by a modern town centre. After a light box lunch, we will start our adventure of the day towards Cascada de Peguche. This beautiful waterfall of 18 meters, is considered as an Indigenous Ceremonial Site due to the purification baths that are held here a couple days prior to the sun and the harvest celebration, also known as Inti Raymi. Beautiful trails lead to the cascade which can be reached either running, hiking or by bike. You decide!
Today, there is also the option to climb El Imbabura, a long-extinct volcano. Imbabura is a stand alone peak that resides over the breathtaking Lago San Pablo outside of Otavalo. Imbabura makes a great climb in it's own right. The climb will take us through tall grasses into rocky outcroppings, followed by suprisingly lush vegetation high on the mountain (8 Km - 1000+ 1000-), reaching the highest point at 4650 meters.
Visit to Otavalo market
Today’s trail: 15 Km - 350+ 320- or climb to El Imbabura 8 Km - 1000+ 1000-
Highest point at 2800 meters
Day 9 | 15th Oct | Cotacahi - Tena
Following some amazing days in the Andes, it’s time for our adventure to the Amazon jungle, where we will stay in a beautiful mystical island in the basins of the river Napo and Arajuno located in the Amazon rainforest which has endless species of fauna and flora.
After dinner, we will go for a night walk which is an extraordinary experience! what can be observed in the day, in the night changes totally. We will be able to observe tarantulas, insects, frogs, caimans, amphibians and snakes The night walk allows us to get in touch with the most virgin and uninhabited jungle ever.
Transfer to Tena (4h30)
Check in lodge
Brief introduction about the Amazon jungle
Night walk 1h30
Highest point at 510 meters
Day 10 | 16th Oct | Tena
Our tenth day is one for resting our tired legs but not our senses of adventure as we will be rafting the Jatunyacu river, which is a majestic, friendly, fun, warm and pristine river. This is a once in a lifetime adventure and for sure one of the highlights of our journey.
Before starting, our experienced guides will give us a safety briefing, train the team in paddling techniques and fit you with a life jacket and helmet. Here is where the adrenaline begin and you will be submerged in this magical experience. During the trip, we’ll stop on a beach by the side of the river for a delicious picnic lunch provided by our guides, to later continue our journey on the river back to Tena, arriving around 5PM. The rest of the late afternoon, you can just enjoy of the sunset in the basins of the river, read a book or if you are not exhausted go for an easy run around the island.
Transfer to from Puerto Ahuano to Cando (1h20)
Rafting all day 25 Km
Highest point at 550 meters
Back to lodge
Day 11 | 17th Oct | Tena – Papallacta
The last morning at Tena will be spent on a 2-3 hours excursion in the virgin jungle that surrounds this mystical island. We will hopefully see animals in their wild state, large trees and beautiful landscapes that allow us to feel the vastness of the Amazon. Later we will return to the lodge by tube floating on the Napo River and have a delicious lunch.
Having spent some memorable days in the jungle we head back to the Andes, to finish our running adventure in great style. We will stay at one of the locals’ best secrets Papallacta. This little town is famous for its landscapes and healing (at least that is what the locals say!) volcanic hot springs.
Trekking around the jungle
Tubing to go back to the lodge
Transfer to Papallacta (2h)
Easy run around the lodge
Day 12 | 18th Oct | Papallacta - Cumbayá (Quito)
We finish our adventure with a beautiful run in the Andes taking the bear path. We will run along the Sucus, Mantala and other small lagoons. Be prepared, because even if it is not raining you may get wet! The route is part of the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and it is surrounded by imposing mountains and beautiful landscapes. After the run we will have a relaxing - hot bath in the legendary hot springs pools in Papallacta.
The route: 10 Km - 200+ 200-
Highest point at 3859 meters
Transfer to Quito (1h30)
Day 13 | 19th Oct | Cumbayá (Quito)
We enjoy a last breakfast together in one of the valleys next to Quito and then time to pack all the memories back home.
Shuttle to airport
All these stunning photos are credited to the talented Jonas Paurell