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Ecuador, from Quito to the Amazon

Friendly Planet Travel •

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Escape Kit

  • An Eight-Day Tour of Ecuador and the Amazon ($1,399 to $1,499 per Person), Including:
  • Round-Trip Flights from Miami to Quito
  • Round-Trip Ground Transportation from the Airport to Hotels and Itinerary Destinations
  • Double-Occupancy Superior and Deluxe Accommodations for Two Nights at the Radisson Royal Quito Hotel in Quito, One Night at Puertolago Country Inn in Otavalo, One Night at Termas Papallacta in Papallacta, Two Nights at La Casa del Suizo in the Amazon, and One Night at Hacienda Leito in Ambato
  • Seven Breakfasts, Three Lunches, and Five Dinners
  • Guided Tours of Quito and Baños
  • Your Choice of a Tour of AmaZOOnico Animal Rehabilitation Center or a Rafting Trip on the Napo River
  • Visits to the Otavalo Marketplace and Nearby Villages, a Local Quechua Family, Puyo and Rio Verde Falls, and Cotopaxi National Park
  • Professional English-Speak Tour Directors and Guides Throughout
  • Airline Taxes, Airline Fuel Surcharges, Hotel Fees, and Entrance Fees per Itinerary Included
  • Priced per Person Based on Double Occupancy (See Fine Print)

The Destination
Tucked in its own private corner of South America, Ecuador is one of the continent's hidden treasures—a world of mountain-ringed metropolises, colorful indigenous outposts, and remote swaths of Amazonian jungle that straddle the line between reality and fantasy.

Ecuador's lifeblood is the Napo River—an Amazon tributary that flows like an artery through the Ecuadorian jungle, past giant kapok trees wrapped in vines, shimmering waterfalls hissing down in sheets, and enough unique wildlife (including jaguars, tapirs, eagles, and anacondas) to fill their own field guide.

Beyond the reach of the jungle, the cultural ecosystems in Ecuador's cities and villages are just as dense. In the capital city of Quito, 16th-century cathedrals with intricate gold-leaf interiors overlook plazas teeming with stylish locals and worldly tourists. Just outside the city, a ring of active volcanoes (including Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world) gurgle and sputter.

Farther afield, the beaded, braided indigenous residents of Otavalo haggle and dance to Andean pipe music in the town's open-air crafts market, and weary trekkers envelope themselves in the steam of natural hot springs in the village of Baños.

From the depths of the Amazon to the heights of culture, experience the many facets of Ecuador with this eight-day tour, courtesy of Friendly Planet Travel.

The Itinerary
day 1: fly to quito
Board your flight from Miami to Quito, Ecuador's capital city. Your guide will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel.
Overnight at the Radisson Royal Quito Hotel.

day 2: quito and otavalo
The morning begins with a guided tour of Quito. In the modern city, visit the Legislative Palace and Alameda Park, containing the oldest observatory in South America. Continue on to Quito's beautiful Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you'll find blocks of Colonial architecture dating to the early 1500s, when the Spanish founded the city. Vintage facades line the streets and large open plazas are surrounded by cathedrals and stately public buildings. Equally lovely are the interiors of some of the buildings, particularly the churches, many of which gleam with real gold leaf. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco, Quito's oldest church. Built in the 16th century, the monastery is an exact replica of the Escorial Palace of Madrid.

Conclude your tour with a stop at the Equatorial Monument, La Mitad del Mundo ("The Middle of the World"), commemorating the exact place where Charles Marie de la Condamine established the Equator. Here, you can stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. Later today, your group will drive to Otavalo.
Overnight at Puertolago Country Inn. Breakfast and dinner provided.

day 3: otavalo and papallacta
Today you'll experience Otavalo, whose beauty lies in its people, the Otavaleño Indians, and their market, considered one of the best in all of Latin America. Unlike other indigenous people who have given up their traditional dress for jeans and t-shirts, Otavaleños are easily identified by their distinctive dress: Women wear intricately embroidered blouses and a wealth of beaded necklaces, while men have long, braided hair and wear calf-length white trousers, ponchos, and sandals.

The market takes place in the main plaza, but don't hesitate to wander into the side streets, where the goods on display diversify and the prices are lower. Enjoy the cacophony of sounds as Andean pipe music mixes with Spanish and native Quechua voices, complemented by an explosion of color from the many fabric, fruit, and other stalls. Later this afternoon, continue to explore other nearby villages: Cotacachi, famous for its leatherwork, and Peguche, known for its traditional weavings.

Travel by coach along the Andes Mountain Range to Papallacta, a small town tucked away in a high Andean valley at the entrance to the Amazon jungle. Enjoy a relaxing stay at your spa-resort, located around hot thermal springs.
Overnight at Termas de Papallacta. Breakfast provided.

day 4: papallacta and the amazon
The Amazonian segment of your tour begins this morning as you set out along a scenic stretch of road overlooking lush green valleys and sparkling waterfalls.

Arrive at Punta Ahuano, a tiny port town on the north bank of the Napo River, where piraguas (canoes) await you for a short ride downstream to your lodge. After check-in, sip a refreshing welcome cocktail as you watch the sunset.
Overnight at La Casa del Suizo. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.

day 5: the amazon
Enjoy a full day exploring the Napo River area. After a walk through the jungle, your tour guide will present two options for the rest of the day: Tour AmaZOOnico animal rehabilitation center or take a rafting adventure on the Napo River.

The first option, for wildlife aficionados, is a tour of AmaZOOnico, a rescue center for wounded and displaced rain forest animals. You'll be able to observe coatis, tapirs, several species of monkeys, snakes, and a variety of birds, many of which wander around freely. The second option, for adventure seekers, is an ultimate rafting experience on the Napo River. Not only will you have the chance to enjoy a refreshing ride down this Amazonian tributary, you'll also learn how to make your own raft by tying balsa logs together. Your group will decide which option to take collectively.

Later in the day, enjoy a unique opportunity to visit a local Quechua family who will explain various aspects of their traditional culture, including a special lesson on making chicha, a beverage typical of the region. Or, if you are in the mood for a more laid-back afternoon, you can opt for a stroll through the artisan village of Ahuano, where you can watch traditional Quechua ceramics being created.
Overnight at La Casa del Suizo. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.

day 6: baños and patate
After breakfast, you'll set out in canoes to return to La Punta. Continue by coach to Puyo, the most important city in Ecuador's Oriente region. En route, you'll visit the spectacular Rio Verde falls, better known as El Pailón del Diablo ("The Devil's Cauldron"). Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then head to nearby Baños ("Baths"), nestled in a lush valley at the foot of the Tungurahua volcano, famous for the hot springs that give the town its name.

The final stop on today's tour is Patate, known for its picturesque location on the Patate River, its excellent grape cultivation, and the production of some of the best "aguardiente" liquor in the highlands.
Overnight at Hacienda Leito. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.

day 7: cotopaxi and quito
Today's excursion will take you to another one of Ecuador's treasures, Cotopaxi National Park. The park is home to several volcanoes, including Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world at 19,500 feet above sea level. Spanning an impressive 84,000 acres, this natural reserve protects a diverse array of flora and fauna like llamas, deer, wild horses, and many rare species endemic to the region. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready for a lucky sighting of the mythical Andean condor.

This afternoon, begin the return journey to Quito and later tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner with your travel companions at a local restaurant.
Overnight at the Radisson Royal Quito Hotel. Breakfast and dinner provided.

day 8: depart quito
Bid farewell to Ecuador as you transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the US.
Breakfast provided.

The Dates
Miami (MIA) departures: May 27 ($1,399); June 24 ($1,499); July 22 ($1,499); August 19 ($1,399); September 2 ($1,399); September 30 ($1,399); October 27 ($1,399); November 25 ($1,399); December 9 ($1,399); December 16 ($1,499)
*Priced per person based on double occupancy (see fine print)

  • "The eye-catching colors of Ecuador leap out from every corner of its diverse landscape, from fluttering rainbow-hued macaw wings in the Amazonian jungle to the calm, dazzling blue lakes of the Andean sierra."

    --

escapes 30-day promise

LivingSocial gives you up to 30 days to return your unused voucher for a full refund. Once you've made a reservation, you are subject to the merchant's cancellation and refund policy. If you want to secure your preferred dates of travel, we strongly recommend that you complete reservation with the merchant within 30 days of your purchase—after that, LivingSocial will not issue any refunds.

the fine print

  • Vouchers cannot be combined to extend stay
  • Reservations required and subject to availability; must be booked by March 19, 2014
  • Must be 21 or older to make booking and anyone under 18 must be traveling with another person that is 21 or older; travelers on the tour must be 8 years of age or older
  • Not valid toward existing reservations
  • Merchants cancellation policy applies. For more information, please see tinyurl.com/pmt4da5
  • Rates are per person based on double occupancy (two people sharing a room). Each of two guests must purchase an Escape and arrange to stay together at the hotel. Single occupancy requires an additional fee of $325 due at booking
  • Includes Round-Trip Ground Transportation from the Airport to Hotels and Itinerary Destinations, Double-Occupancy Superior and Deluxe Accommodations for Two Nights at the Radisson Royal Quito Hotel in Quito, One Night at Puertolago Country Inn in Otavalo, One Night at Termas Papallacta in Papallacta, Two Nights at La Casa del Suizo in the Amazon, and One Night at Hacienda Leito in Ambato, Seven Breakfasts, Three Lunches, and Five Dinners, Guided Tours of Quito and Baños, Your Choice of a Tour of Amazoonico Animal Rehabilitation Center or a Rafting Trip on the Napo River, Visits to the Otavalo Marketplace and Nearby Villages, a Local Quechua Family, Puyo and Rio Verde Falls, and Cotopaxi National Park, Professional English-Speak Tour Directors and Guides Throughout Airline Taxes, Airline Fuel Surcharges, Hotel Fees, and Entrance Fees per Itinerary
  • Does not include $45 Ecuador departure tax, passports, visas, gratuities to drivers, local guides, etc., meals and beverages other than specified, personal and baggage insurance, and items of a personal nature
  • Passports are required
  • Similar or better hotels will be substituted based on availability
  • Other major US airports available for a surcharge and will be collected at time of booking
  • Review the State Department's website for passport/visa requirements and important announcements before traveling to your destination
  • Nights must be spent consecutively; all inclusions must be redeemed during one stay
  • The promotional value is valid only for date range purchased and may not be exchanged or redeemed for any other dates
  • Other conditions apply • PROMOTIONAL VALUE EXPIRES ON December 16, 2014 • Enjoy By December 16, 2014