Ecuador and Amazon vacation

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31 Dec 2016
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Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Ecuador and Amazon vacation

Through our commitment to responsible tourism, we ensure minimal social and environmental impact in the places we visit by traveling in small groups, using local transportation and staying in locally owned hotels. We also work with experienced local guides who are knowledgeable of local culture, history, flora and fauna.

While on this tour, travelers will spend two days with a Quichua family in the Amazon. This visit allows you to experience the natural beauty of the area and learn about traditional Quichua lifestyle, beliefs and customs. You will have the opportunity to visit a sacred waterfall, learn about traditional hunting practices and the uses of tropical plants. In addition to supporting this family ecotourism initiative, proceeds from Cabañas Pimpilala have gone towards constructing the first community school house and to the Indigenous Association of Cando which supports community development projects. This community is supported through our non-profit organization, the Planeterra Foundation with an annual donation that goes to support sustainable community development initiatives.

Reviews of Ecuador and Amazon vacation

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 30 Sep 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Hard to say as there was so much variety and there were so many memorable moments. I loved all the hiking and learning about the wildlife and plants. The whitewater rafting was special - spectacular views, adreneline rush of riding down rapids and swimming with butterflies, hard to beat!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


This is a very active vacation so you need to be fit and have relevant hiking, walking, swimming gear. There are a lot of optional activities each day, budget accordingly. Everyone is different but you're likely to find someone who wants to do the same thing as you. Bring along a good first aid kit. If you don't need anything someone else in your group most likely will - if you forget something not to worry everyone shares and you can buy supplies in the larger towns. Be open-minded and you will have one of a supremely enjoyable vacation.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think that the local people did benefit from our visit particularly in the jungle. It was also beneficial in the sense that they were able to share their way of life with us and explain about their culture. I suppose we reduced environmental impacts and supported conservation by our itinerary - the more people who visit the parks, the likelier they are to remain unspoiled.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


This was a fantastic vacation. Even though we could only see a small part of the country, I felt that the places and accommodation were all carefully considered and charming throughout. I loved the variety of geography, outdoor activity
vs tourist about town, everywhere was scenic. I usually travel independently and it was a treat to have all the hassle of transport and accommodation being taken out of my hands. Our guide was fantastic - passionate, informative and
extremely thoughtful about how to get the most out of our trip. I need to start saving my pennies for the next one!

Reviewed on 02 May 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Staying in the jungle lodge - in the middle of nowhere

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It's less active than you might think. Be wary of altitude and stomach bugs - and be wary of the cold at altitude. It got freezing.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, absolutely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Brilliant, got a good feel for Ecuador!

Reviewed on 25 Jun 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The 4 days in the jungle were amazing! The local family were so friendly and the scenery and activities were fantastic. The rafting, tubing, jungle hike and trip to the wildlife centre were my favourites. All the people I met on the trip were so friendly and helpful.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Bring shoes with good grip. Don't worry about mosquito nets. They're only needed in the jungle and they are provided with the bed. Bring some nicer/ smarter clothes than jungle gear if you want to go out during nights in a city.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, our guide explained how the trip supported the school near Tena. We were encouraged to donate to a wildlife rescue centre and Ecuator science research project. We used environmentally friendly toiletries. We supported the local economy by using public transport and buying from artesans and craft markets.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Brilliant, better than I imagined. For 16 days I saw and experienced so much. The scenery and activities were diverse and we were able to meet and talk to many people living in Ecuador. The guides gave us plenty of information and activity options and went out of their way to help if any of us had a problem. I would rate this trip 10 out of 10.

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I loved the Quichua Homestay... learning their traditions and experiencing life in the jungle. They are wonderful, warm people who seem naturally shy whilst very honest and giving.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Relax, enjoy, and take every opportunity for adventure that you get! The weather was colder and wetter than I expected for September so bring a few fleeces and a lightweight waterproof!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It will almost certainly have benefitted local people as we stayed at local hotels, bought from local shops and took adventures (white water rafting, canyoning, horse riding etc) with local companies. I'm not sure we were very popular taking local buses... it left fewer seats for locals and I wonder if they didn't think we should be traveling privately if we could afford it. The environmental impact of our trip was never really discussed... I don't think we did anything special to reduce our impact.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


This was an experience as well as a vacation. I loved it. A great mix between cultural and adventure. Our guide was a little disappointing and I feel like I could have learned more about Ecuador history, daily life, clothes etc than I did.

Reviewed on 04 Jul 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I really enjoyed the jungle lodge, and all of the helpful, funny guides there. I enjoyed the 5 day festival in Cuenca.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Learn some Spanish before going so as to speak with locals.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - took public busses, and stayed with a quichua family.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was really great. Maria, our guide, made the tour especially smooth and enjoyable.

Reviewed on 01 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


There are too many highlights to pick just one! The Amazon homestay and jungle lodge, the white water rafting, horse riding in Banos, Cajas National Park.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take more money than the operator suggests, as you won't want to miss out on all the optional extras.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. We stayed with a family in the Amazon, as a part of which we visited a school built using funds from the operator. We used public transport. Some of the hotels we stayed in advised us not to wash towels every day, quoting environmental reasons.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Action packed, with enough variation to fill three vacations! Really good.

Reviewed on 09 Oct 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Our Shaman host at the jungle homestay. He glided around, playfully and skilfully making leaf hats etc. and happily sharing with us his knowledge and Chechan philosophy. A wise man and free spirit in a beautiful place.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


No need for mosquito nets and no need for malaria pills - except for the ultra-precautionary. The 'basic' hotels were good - soap, shampoo and towels provided. Minimal walking with full luggage. Weather cooler than expected - very pleasant. Laundry facilities available so ration clothing but bring camera battery charger! The active add-ons are a must - don't miss out. Learn a few words of Spanish and read a little about Ecuador if time.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. The Indigenous people seem undemanding and worthy of help/understanding.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Brilliant. Helped very much by our excellent guide.

Reviewed on 28 Jan 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Hard to narrow it to one, but an example was horseback riding up the mountain in Banos, Ecuador while listening to, and FEELING (!) Volcan Tungurahua rumble back to life. Equally wonderful was interacting with the warm & gentle Ecuadorian people who welcome you with their shy smiles, polite ways and creative art.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


1.Pay attention to the wet and dry seasons, which are the only real differences in seasons;. 2.Realize clean bottled water is available everywhere, as are most essentials, so forget the water purifiers & extra personal items, etc.. 3.Bring useable but worn clothing you leave behind to make room for the wonderfully affordable local art & clothing. 4. Practice a little Spanish so you can interact with the local folks who reward any communication with a quick smile and immediate charm.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Absolutely. We mostly used public transportation; ate local food; did a 2 night home stay; cleaned and refilled water bottles; bought food & items from local markets where our guide introduced us to new items; walked on local trails & learned about conservation efforts; and visited and supported several local cooperative art centers.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very high. Great value for the money; emphasis upon real interaction with local people and getting off the beaten path. Thanks!

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