Amazon and Andes
Day 1 - Transfer from your hotel to airport. From here, embark on a 35-minute flight over the snowcapped peaks of the Andes Mountains and then down 8,500 ft. (2,600 meters) into the Amazon Basin. Arrive at Coca, where you will be met by naturalist guide and taken to Sacha´s private house, with modern facilities, where you will be served a quick lunch before being taken to the town docks. We will board a larger motorized canoe for 2 hours ride down the Rio Napo to Sacha Lodge. Upon arrival to Sacha Lodge’s 5,000-acre private reserve, guests will take their first walk along a raised boardwalk through dense flooded palm forest where several species of monkeys are often sighted. This path leads to Pilchicocha lake, a black water paradise where you’d least expect to find any sign of people, but dugout canoes (and even paddlers) await to carry you across the lake to the Lodge. The cries of tropical birds lead you to your final destination, which magically materializes out of the jungle at the last possible moment. You will arrive with time to settle in, bird-watch, swim, or take a walk under the canopy before dinner.
Day 2 - Once visitors arrive at Sacha they will be divided into small groups, and the naturalist guides will organize an itinerary to fit to each group’s specific interests and physical abilities. A typical day at Sacha begins at sunrise or earlier, and each group may decide on its own wake-up and breakfast times. In the afternoon, visits begin between 15:00 and 16:00 and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins. Activites are spread out over a wide area and allow visitors to explore several distinct but equally fascinating habitats. One of Sacha Lodge’s highlights is their Canopy Walk. It is one of only a few rigid, self-standing suspension canopy walkways in the world. Sacha’s new additon is also one of the largest such walkways on the planet. Two of the three towers have observa- tion platforms every 12 meters, making the towers accessible for everyone. The 275 meters, (900 feet) long canopy walkway suspended at 36 meters (120 feet) above the forest floor. The canopy walk is designed as a sturdy walkway enabling guests to casually move along at their own pace while enjoying the spectacular views.
Day 3 - A favorite activity of guests is to paddle dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, bromeliads and palm trees thrive. And wherever an outing may lead the possibilities of spoƫting animals, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the feared ocelot or puma, are endless. There is also a 135-foot (43-meter) observation tower: Situated on a hill and constructed around a giant kapok tree for stability, this tower allows guests to climb into and above the rainforest canopy for a magnificent view of the surrounding area. A visit to the on-the-premises butterfly farm is not to be missed. For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures such as caimans (of the alligator family) that are seldom seen during daylight.
Day 4 - you will be transferred back to Coca to fly to Quito, where you will be met and transferred to Hacienda Piman for 2 nights, with all meals included. The hacienda’s lands date back to 1680, making it one of the oldest in the country. A place redolent with peace, a place where you’ll enjoy comfortable rooms and social areas amid modern and traditional architecture, delicious home-cooking, peaceful gardens and the warmth of your hosts. Tucked into an oasis-like valley between the folds of dry mountains, Hacienda Piman offers you the perfect base for both disconnecting from your daily life and exploring the rich cultural and natural heritage of one of Ecuador’s most captivating regions.
After lunch arrive at Hacienda Piman to enjoy the grounds, trekking options around the hacienda with astonishing views or just relax on the swimming pool, before dinner.
"It was a great trip, without any problems whatsoever, and I very much appreciate your promptness and responsiveness during the planning and immediate post-planning process. I definitely felt that we did all that I had hoped with great service and smooth transitions among the different components of the trip. And all of this at a reasonable price. So, in general, I am a very satisfied customer, and would gladly work with you again on a future South AMerican trip for my family and myself (which I think is likely).
In case, it is useful, here is some more specific feedback, within the general sense that it was a wonderful, easy trip:
Wyndham Airport -- definitely a good, easy choice. Transfer worked well, and our room was great, as was the included buffet breakfast
Sacha Lodge -- generally quite good. My son didn't love the bugs (which were a bit more than the lodge materials suggest) and lack of air-con, but I appreciate the latter as an ecological choice.
Piman Lodge -- really lovely -- this was a good recommendation. We happened to be the only people staying there, so we had the place to ourselves. It was relaxing, really heavenly, and our guide, Marco, absolutely took us places and rethought ideas based on exactly what we asked/wanted (including a drive over the border into Columbia from Piman to buy my son a Columbia soccer team shirt). Would very much love to go back to Piman.
Bellavista -- we had a great time; it would have been good to know in advance that there are no internet possibilities (other than sending out a daily email on the owner, Richard's, personal laptop); also the activities at Bellavista are generally pretty demanding/rigorous. But Richard's personality also makes for a memorable stay. Food and overall quality was a little less luxurious (perhaps 3.5 stars) than the other places, but a great stay with lots of lovely nature
Please let me know if there's any more feedback I can provide. It was a wonderful and memorable trip. Thanks very much for your help again." David
Day 5 - Visit Salinas de Ibarra, including Mascarillas and the local salt museum, followed by lunch at a local restaurant serving regional favourites. Board the train for the ride back up the Andes to Ibarra. Overnight at Hacienda Piman.
Note: The train operates on fixed days. In case we cannot fit the excursion on a train day we will offer an alternative excursion the El Ángel Reserve where we explore its strange and beautiful plants, forests and lakes. Lunch in Polylepis Lodge and return to the hacienda at the end of the day.
Day 6 - Visit the Otavalo indigenous craft market, Cotacachi town, a roses plantation and enjoy lunch. Return trip to Quito, arriving around 5 pm.
PRICES 2018: USD 1630.00 per person in double occupancy. USD 2445.00 per person in single occupancy. Children under 12 = USD 1141
Includes:-Accommodaton at Sacha Lodge and Hacienda Piman -Full board at Sacha Lodge and Hacienda Piman -Transfer from Quito airport to Hacienda Piman -Aquatic transportation Coca-Sacha Lodge-Coca -Guided excursions with an English speaking guide -Local taxes
Not Included: Air ticket Quito-Coca-Quito at USD 180.00 per person (subject to change), Drinks, gratuities, other meals not mentioned above.
Note: The train operates on fixed days (from Wednesday to Sunday). In case we cannot fit the excursion on a train day we will offer an alternative excursion to El Ángel Reserve where we will explore its strange and beautiful plants, forests and lakes. Lunch in the area and return to the hacienda at the end of the day.