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8-night Program Itinerary

Kapawi Ecolodge
8-night Program Itinerary

Trip Summary
Price: Starting at USD 2,700 per person*
* Based on double accommodation. Special discounts apply for families and small groups.
 

INCLUDED IN PRICE:

  • Accommodation, all meals.

  • All excursions and activities.

  • Rubber boots and Rain poncho.

  • Local bilingual guide.

  • Community visits.

  • Boat rides, kayaking and other river excursions and activities.

  • Chartered flights (USD 290 per person for the route Shell-Kapawi and Kapawi-Shell). Private charter flights on special dates can be arranged.

  • A contribution to the Achuar community fund USD 50. This fee per visitor, included in the price, is reinvested directly in local health and education community projects.

 

EXTRAS NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE:

  • Alcoholic beverages, sparkling beverages (sodas, sparkling water).

  • Special customized activities (e.g. community overnight stays have an additional cost).

  • Tips and gratuities.

  • Personal expenses (handicrafts and other).

 

 

Travel with a purpose

We believe that travel is the best tool we have for connecting with people and nature. Engaging with and learning about people of different cultural backgrounds expands our view of the world, while spending time in nature can definitely have a healing power. Travel can transform us and help us grow as human beings, improving our awareness of global issues, our awareness of our own footprint, and of our responsibility with society and with the environment.

 

We have designed an 8-day full itinerary in Ecuador that starts and ends in Quito, traveling from the Andes to the Amazon Rainforest, challenging you to explore and experience something that we hope, in the long run, will create a positive change in your life.

About the destination: Ecuador and the Amazon Rainforest

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Ecuador is a multiethnic and culturally diverse country. In the coastal region, the culture has developed around the sea, where fishing is one of the most important activities. Further inland, agriculture represents the main economic activity. Ecuador produces bananas, coffee, cocoa, rice, and more agricultural products that profit from the fertile volcanic soils.

 

The Andes cut through the country, running North and South. Here we find Inter-Andean Valleys where most of the Ecuadorian population lives, nestled between two mountain ranges to the East and West, where we find indigenous communities, haciendas, volcanoes and snow-capped mountains. To the East lies the Amazon Rainforest, a territory mostly occupied by indigenous communities, who rely on tourism as an alternative to preserve their forests and protect their customs and traditions.

 

Ecuador is a small country with lots of friendly people and diverse landscapes, worth visiting more than once. Small distances between destinations and good road connectivity make Ecuador an ideal country to encounter warm people in different settings, from snow-capped volcanoes to historic colonial towns to diverse and unique natural areas. For a responsible traveler with an adventurous soul, Ecuador offers a variety of options to explore.

 

This is especially true for the Amazon region, which represents 47% of Ecuador's mainland territory. In Ecuador's Amazon there are 10 indigenous nationalities; each with its own territory. The Achuar Indigenous Nation in south-east Ecuador is one of them; owners of 800,000 hectares in one of Ecuador's last large tracts of primary Rainforest. For the Achuar, tourism represents a tool for conservation and sustainability, and an alternative to industries like oil, large scale agriculture, deforestation, and other extractive activities, present in many areas of the Amazon region.

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Kapawi Ecolodge is an award-winning ecotourism enterprise located deep in the Achuar territory of Ecuador's south east Amazon Region.

Kapawi Ecolodge

When Kapawi first opened its doors in 1996, it represented a pioneer ecotourism joint enterprise in Ecuador and the region. Kapawi was developed as an economic alternative to support biodiversity conservation and cultural preservation, while creating employment and income for local Achuar families. In 2019, Kapawi finished a complete renovation of its cabins and grounds, and opened new river, forest, and community activities.

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All buildings at Kapawi follow a traditional Achuar architecture style, and were built by the local communities.

Key social, economic, and environmental standards were an essential part of the original 1996 project, and 25 years later remain sustainability objectives. The ecolodge remains fully owned and operated by the Achuar communities, training and employing 100% of its staff from the local communities, and working along the local value chain to generate additional income for local producers and service providers. A percentage of every traveler's income is used to support community education, health, conservation, food security, and sustainable production needs. Kapawi also works to implement environmental standards to reduce its footprint, such as 100% energy consumption provided by solar cells.

 

It wasn't until 2020, however, that we realized we had to further evolve to create a deeper connection between traveler and destination. To do this, we reinforced our work with our partners and friends, and increased our collaboration with the local communities. As described in the following itinerary, a deeper community engagement and interaction will let you be part of the relationship that the Achuar people have with the Amazon Rainforest. We hope that this opportunity for close interaction and immersion in the Achuar world will inspire you to ponder your own relationship with nature and society, and help you take new actions in life.

Trip Summary and Highlights

Wild, wonderful, contemplative, and unforgettable are a few adjectives that perfectly describe our travel experience in Ecuador, the Amazon Rainforest, and Kapawi Ecolodge. We travel at a pace that allows a deep, authentic, and cultural experience, three key aspects of our travel purpose. Flying on a small chartered plane 160 kilometers over the Amazon is wild, as it is hiking at night in the Rainforest. Observing pink river dolphins while paddling an Amazon river is wonderful. Appreciating the sunset from a hammock in our hearth house by the river can produce a contemplative moment. Experiencing the Achuar life in the Amazon Rainforest is unforgettable.

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Kapawi's trail and river system occupies an area of roughly 2,500 hectares of primary rainforest with many opportunities for wildlife encounters.

The Achuar culture is based on dreams and visions. The Achuar start the day very early, 3-4 am, drinking wayus tea. Wayus is a tea from a native plant, Ilex guayusa, that contains caffeine and antioxidant properties. This is how the Achuar begin every day, drinking Wayus and sharing dreams, and this is also how the day starts at Kapawi Ecolodge, in our hearth hut by the Capahuari river sharing Wayus with the Achuar.

 

The Achuar are people of the forest, of palms and medicinal plants. Our experienced Achuar guides will guide you through forest hikes and will share their knowledge of the plants and their traditional uses. Wildlife excursions are also a great opportunity to learn from the Achuar about rainforest biodiversity. Pink river dolphins, different species of primates, resident horned screamers, caciques, and many other birds and species are present in and around the ecolodge's grounds.

 

The Achuar are people of the Ajá (Ah-Ha), or family garden. We will visit the communities and families, and learn from them about the daily garden and practices, the most common plants used in subsistence agriculture and local medicine, and will learn from them about local gastronomy. Sharing a meal prepared in the firepit with an Achuar host family is one of the highlights of every visit to Kapawi.

 

At Kapawi you will:

  • Learn from a different culture and engage with its people. Learn about its history, development vision, its environmental and cultural challenges, and appreciate the Achuar traditions and knowledge of the forest, the rivers, and the incredible Amazon biodiversity.

  • Find wellness through time spent in nature, through guided forest "baths", where you will have many opportunities for disconnection and relaxation.

  • Live something wild and memorable deep in the Amazon Rainforest, in a safe location accessible only in small private planes.

 

Our 8-day full itinerary starts and ends in the city of Quito, Ecuador's capital and main point of entry. From Quito to the Amazon basin, we follow the main Panamerican Highway running from north to south, before turning east and descending the canyon of the Pastaza river past Baños to the town of Shell, where the Amazon adventure begins. After visiting Kapawi, we complete the overland roundtrip returning along the Amazon Highway north, before climbing up the Andean foothills to Papallacta on the way back to Quito.

Over the years, we have partnered with friends along this route to guarantee that the same principles, beliefs and purpose are always part of the comprehensive traveler's experience. We favour local healthy products in our menus, we work with friendly local family-owned businesses, and we have selected experienced team members and service providers who understand not only what good service means, but who are also great hosts that understand the meaning of traveling with a purpose.

 

Below is a more detailed description of our 8-day travel experience.

DAY 1 - Arrival to Ecuador

International flights usually arrive in Ecuador in the afternoon, evening and night, so this is a traveling day to Ecuador. Upon arrival in Quito's International airport (located 30 km. from the city), you will be greeted by our representative who will take you to San Jose de Puembo, a country hotel located 15 minutes from the airport.

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Overnight at San Jose de Puembo.

 

DAY 2 - Drive to the Amazon Basin

The purpose of this day is to travel to the Amazon basin, observing Ecuador's regions as you descend to the Amazon Basin. The drive starts in Quito at 2,500 meters above sea level, and will end at 1,000 in Puyo, next to the town of Shell where the adventure to Kapawi begins the following day. There will be stops along the way in Baños and in Rio Verde, to visit the waterfall named Pailon del Diablo. The drive passes by the cities of Machachi, Latacunga and Ambato, before starting the descent towards the Amazon basin. The valleys along the drive are mostly for agricultural use, so there is an opportunity to observe different crops in the valleys, and if the weather permits, the snow-capped mountains and volcanoes like Cotopaxi, Rumiñahui, Illinizas, and Tungurahua. After about 2.5-3 hours driving, you will arrive in Baños, a small town, where you will have the chance to walk around and visit some of the local markets and squares. You will continue the drive for another 20 minutes to the town of Rio Verde, where you will stop and visit the waterfall named Pailon del Diablo.

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It is a short walk to get to the waterfall Pailon del Diablo, where visitors can descend a series of steps and hanging bridges next the main 100-meter fall.

After lunch at Miramelindo, small hotel in Rio Verde, you will continue the drive down to the city of Puyo, located at the edge of the Amazon basin, and 10 minutes away from the local airport in Shell. The final stop of the day is El Jardín Hotel in Puyo. El Jardin is owned by Sofia and Edgar, a couple of friends of Kapawi who have worked in the travel industry for more than 20 years.

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Dinner at 7.30 pm. Accommodation at El Jardin.

 

DAY 3 - Amazon Rainforest and Kapawi immersion begins

Today you will immerse in the Amazon Rainforest of Kapawi. Breakfast will be at 7 am, followed by a quick transfer to the local airport in the town of Shell (named after the oil company Shell). Upon arrival to Shell, we will get ready for the 50-minute flight to the Achuar community of Kusutkau. The flight covers roughly 160 kilometers, flying deep into the southeastern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. From Kusutkau, it is a 20-minute boat ride to the ecolodge.

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We use small chartered planes to fly deep into the Achuar territory, following the Pastaza river.

Upon arrival to Kapawi, the resident manager will take you to the main social and dining area, where he will give an introductory talk about the ecolodge, provide some recommendations, and take us to our bungalows. After the introductory briefing, you will be taken to your bungalows. Lunch will be served in our dining area at 1 pm.

 

The activity at Kapawi for the afternoon will include a short introductory hike in the forest. This hike is roughly 1-kilometer long, and it includes several stops, where the naturalist and local guides explain the ecology of the Amazon Tropical Rainforest. It is an easy hike that can take 1-2 hours.

 

After the introductory hike and before dinner, you will have several options to choose from. Swimming or paddling in the river right from our dock is always available, as well as relaxing in our social areas by the river or in the main area where our dining area and bar are located.

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Kapawi's main dock is an ideal place for swimming in the Capahuari river, or for paddling in calm waters to observe wildlife, including pink river dolphins.

Dinner at the lodge at 7.15 pm, and after dinner you will go over the next day's plan and activities together with your guide.

 

DAY 4 - Forest and river

Every day, the Achuar host a Wayus tea ceremony, held at the hearth hut next to our main dock (350 meters from the bungalows). Wayus time is a traditional activity in an Achuar household, taking place before dawn, usually starting at 4 am. This moment is special for the Achuar since it is a family moment to share dreams, plan the day's activities, or just to have a conversation about family issues. The staff at the lodge practice this tradition every morning, and we offer the optional activity to join them and have Wayus time with the local hosts, talk about dreams, listen to Achuar stories, and experience an aspect of the Achuar culture and community life.

Our hearth and hammock hut by the dock and Capahuari river is one of the favorite places. We have Wayus tea in the morning, and it can also be used for just relaxing in between activities.

Wayus time ends around dawn, and after that we always offer an early activity, including an early bird- and wildlife watching boat ride, or the possibility to hike in our self-guided trail, or look for wildlife in the lodge's grounds. Breakfast is served at 8 am.

 

After breakfast, you will go on a forest hike to learn about the forest from the Achuar's perspective of useful and medicinal plants. Forest species play a key role in Achuar construction, food, medicine, and tools, and our Achuar guide will interpret the Achuar knowledge of the forest and the importance of natural resources in the Achuar everyday life. We will return to the lodge for lunch at 1 pm.

After a short break after lunch, you will kayak in the Capahuari river. This means leaving from the dock at 3.30 pm for a boat ride upstream the Capahuari river, and then switching to single and double kayaks for a return paddle to the lodge following the current. This is a great opportunity for spotting wildlife in the trees, as well as for looking for pink river dolphins in the river.

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7.30 pm dinner

 

After dinner, you will have the option of a night hike in the forest surrounding the lodge. This hike takes about 1 hour, and it is designed to look for nocturnal insects, reptiles, amphibians, and other forest species that become active at night.

 

DAY 5 - The Achuar community

6 am boat ride to the parrot clay lick on the Pastaza river. There are usually 4-6 different species of parrots feeding early in the morning on the minerals and nutrients in the soil: chestnut fronted macaws, dusky headed parakeets, and Amazon parrots are usually observed from the boat. Return to the lodge for breakfast at 8 am.

Several Achuar communities surround Kapawi, connected by different rivers; some are located 15 minutes away while others up to 1.5 hours away by boat.

After breakfast, we will leave for a community visit at 9.30 am. There are several communities around Kapawi to choose from, and we take turns visiting families in different communities as part of Kapawi's participative and equitable model.

The community visit involves different moments, including a community walking tour, a visit to a family's Ajá (Ah-Ha), or family garden, a traditional lunch and an optional market to buy handicrafts and weavings.

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In Achuar tradition, the man clears the area where the woman plants the garden.

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Achuar men are in charge of weavings, like baskets made from natural palm fibers, or roofs made of wild palm leaves collected in the forest.

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Local food tasting is another great experience of the Achuar culture. Yunkurak, also called maito, is a meal wrapped with native leaves used for cooking fish, heart of palm, native wild cocoa beans, chicken, wild meat, and even grubs and plants collected in the forest. It is usually served on top of banana leaves with boiled manioc (yuca), plantain, papaya, pineapple, squash, sweet potatoes, and other products from the local gardens. This is always combined with local Nijiamanch (or chicha), which is a drink made of fermented manioc.

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The Achuar always look forward learning about the outside world and people, so we suggest bringing to the community something from home to share with the Achuar. This can be from a story, photos, or a gift from home that helps the Achuar understand the traveler's life.

 

Return to the lodge late in the afternoon. Sometimes depending on weather, watching the sunset from the Pastaza river is a great way to end the day. We usually light a fire every afternoon in the hearth hut by the dock and river. It is a relaxing activity at the end of the day. You can relax in a hammock by the river, or g for a swim in the Capahuari river. This is a safe activity, and your guides will always be up for a swim every afternoon, especially after a hot and sunny day.

 

7.30 Dinner

 

After dinner, you will have the option of a night boat ride . This ride takes about 1 hour. We leave the dock to go upstream the Capahuari river, and then we drift without the sound of the engine, with the boat top open for better visibility of the sky, and listen to the forest sounds as we look for nocturnal species, including cayman (related to alligators), capybaras, tapir, or nocturnal species of birds and bats.

DAY 6 - TBD

So far, we have spent two days exploring the forest, river, and community life. We usually suggest leaving this day open. Depending on the time of the year, there are always special nature and culture options to explore. Maybe the fig trees are fruiting and this makes for an opportunity to observe wildlife in specific places in the forest, or maybe one of the communities has a special event where we can participate, or maybe, there is an specific activity that you want to do.

 

There is really no need to plan ahead for active adventures at Kapawi. The Amazon Rainforest is a magical place that changes all the time, so we leave this day open to customize the best experience available at the time. Also, after a couple of full days at Kapawi, most people appreciate some relaxing time at the lodge.

 

We can design more forest, river, or community experiences.

 

DAY 7 - Departure from Kapawi and drive to Papallacta Thermal Springs & Spa

We will offer the usual early activity options at Kapawi, followed by breakfast at the lodge. We will get ready and will leave the lodge after breakfast and around 10 am, taking a boat ride upstream to the community of Kusutkau. You will take the flight to Shell around 10.30 am, landing in Shell around 11.30 am, followed by a 4-hour overland transfer to Papallacta Hot Springs Spa. Lunch en route. Arrival to Papallacta in the afternoon or evening depending on flight times.

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Papallacta sits high in the Andes at 3,500 meters above sea level, and has a incredible view of Antisana Volcano.

DAY 8 - Day at Papallacta & Transfers to the airport for international flights

Papallacta Hotel and Spa is a wellness Spa located 1 hour from Quito, or 40 minutes from Quito's international airport. It is located high in the Andes (at 3,500 meters above sea level) and offers accommodation in private rooms and bungalows, and it has a Spa with several thermal hot springs, and personal treatments (baths, massages, relaxation). Papallacta also has a few nature trails in the area.

 

Breakfast is included in the itinerary, with free lunch time for everyone (unless otherwise requested), depending on international flight arrangements. Check out is at 1 pm. Extra nights at Papallacta can be arranged upon individual requests.

 

* We can offer personalized trip extensions. For example if people decide to stay in Quito to explore the city, or if they want to add other travel experiences before or after this travel experience. Galapagos is always a great option to include when visiting Ecuador.

 

*Final Important Kapawi flight considerations when planning your travel itinerary to Ecuador.

Weather is a factor when flying in the Amazon Rainforest. On very few occasions, weather can cause flight delays when traveling to Kapawi from Shell, or from Kapawi to Shell. We permanently monitor several weather forecast platforms and tracking systems.

For more details and information, please contact us at info@kapawi.com

 

Or via WhatsApp at +593 98 058 9333

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