Ecuador – Journey to the Source of Chocolate in the Amazon
For this specially-designed itinerary, we have teamed up with the number one name in chocolate in Ecuador: award-winning Pacari Chocolate (www.pacarichocolate.com). Guests will experience the finest chocolate while exploring a fascinating and biodiverse region in Ecuador – and all relatively close to the capital, Quito. The Ecuadorian Amazon was recently proved to be the birthplace of the cacao tree – not Central America! The itinerary includes birdwatching, a visit to working cacao farms, overnight at a magical rainforest lodge and a refreshing stop at an Andean thermal spring spa on the way back located between Cayambe Volcano and Antisana Volcano.
Day by day itinerary
QUITO – GUANGO - ARCHIDONA – SANTA RITA – MISAHUALLÍ
We depart Quito on the main road east, climbing up to the pass at over 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) in the high Andes before beginning the descent into the ‘green mansions’ of the Amazon Rainforest. Our first stop for a snack is the charming Guango Lodge, a haven for 15 species of hummingbird and many more beautiful creatures. Continuing southeast, we arrive at the small town of Archidona and the Santa Rita community, home of the Pacari Agro Tourism Project.
This project was developed by Pacari who not only purchase the community’s cacao at fair trade prices but also provide technical assistance to improve yields, varieties and production. The visits by travellers also provide an additional welcome source of income for these rural families.
We spend a pleasant and relaxing day with the community, learning how they harvest the fruit, produce the cacao and all the technical processes. As we explore the farms on foot, we come across petroglyphs, ancestral traces of the native cultures that inhabited this region for thousands of years, known as the Sacred Valley of the Anaconda.
After our hike, we are treated to lunch, served a regional specialty of river fish wrapped in a bijao palm leaf baked in a fire. This dish is accompanied by a tea made with the guayusa plant, a source of energy and good for hydrating.
After lunch, we take part in making chocolate paste, adding various local ingredients. Everyone gets to take some chocolate home with them, as well as drinking hot chocolate with the cacao harvested earlier in the day!
We continue southwards to the jungle town of Misahuallí, where we will dine and overnight at the Hamadryade Lodge
We spend some time in the morning exploring the lodge, its forest and butterfly garden. This is beautiful high montane forest, with lots of birdlife to be spotted. Returning northwards, we wind our way back to higher altitudes, arriving at the Termas de Papallacta Resort and Spa. This complex is regarded as the best in the country, and includes volcanic thermal pools, a hotel and spa. There, we can enjoy the beautiful natural springs, have a massage (extra cost) – there is even a chocolate massage available for the true chocaholics! – and a healthy lunch. In the afternoon, we drive back westwards to the city of Quito *.
* This tour is easily combined with others: returning to the E-35 highway which runs north-south to the east of the city, it’s easy to reach the airport at Tababela; Otavalo to the north; Cotopaxi to the south.
Maximum 15 guests.
Daily from Quito. From February to July the visit to the cacao farm is as described above. From August to January, cacao is not being harvested in the region, and we undertake other activities in the farm with the community.
The order of the visits may vary - depending on weather conditions and the day of the week.
This tour includes walking at various altitudes
- Dress in layers (T-shirt, blouse, sweater, and coat).
- Rain protection
- Sun protection (SPF 40).
- Good walking shoes.
- Great photo ops, don´t forget your camera
Private tour with guide and driver, 2 days/1 night program, daily from Quito, including 1 night at Hamadryade Lodge and all meals mentioned.
Drinks not mentioned, personal expenses, tips.