Plants of Ecuador Itinerary:

Plants, amphibians, reptiles and butterflies in Ecuador

Specialized Journey

Ecuador is the smallest countries of South America but also one of the most diverse thanks to its strategic location at the Equator, the influence of multiple microclimates and two currents, one coming South the cold Humboldt and the other coming north the warm Niño from Panama.   The program has been designed in a way that the activities and places are good for discovering orchids, amphibians, reptiles and butterflies with the help of experienced biologist guides covering some of the most important and protected areas, biological stations and reserves.  We invite you to join us and also be part of Ecuador, its nature and people.






Quito – trf in


Sierra Madre


Quito – Pahuma – Mindo

B – L – D




B – L – D



Mindo – Los Cedros

B – L – D

Los Cedros


Los Cedros

B – L – D

Los Cedros


Los Cedros – Intag

B  – D

Cabanas Rio Grande


Intag – Otavalo

B – D

Hacienda Pinsaquí


Otavalo – Guanderas

B  – D



Guanderas – Polylepis

B – L – D

Polylepis Lodge


Polylepis – Quito

B - L

Sierra Madre


Quito – San Isidro

B – L – D

San Isidro


San Isidro

B – L – D

San Isidro


San Isidro – Quito

B – L

Sierra Madre


Quito – trf out



B:  breakfast

L:  Lunch or Box lunch

D:  Diner

  • Recommended accommodation subjected to availability


Descriptive Itinerary:

Day 1:             QUITO – TRF IN:   Arrival to Quito, welcome and transfer to the hotel.  Overnight at the hotel.

Day 2:             QUITO -  PAHUMA – MINDO:   Depart towards the Pahuma reserve about 1h30 from Quito.  There are several trails in the reserve, according to the physical condition of the participants they can chose to take the short or longer walks, this reserve is well known for its plants and orchids.  Lunch at Pahuma.  Transfer to Mindo Cloud Forest.  Arrival, diner and night at the Lodge.

Day 3:             MINDO:     The biodiversity of the Cloud Forest is consider one of the richest in the world where can be found many species of flora and fauna (among them we can mention orchids, bromeliads, frogs, insects, birds and butterflies).   Walk in the forest to observe the rich flora and some other species. Lunch is at your expense, there are few restaurants in town.  Afternoon off where you can decide if you want to have a horseback ride or visit the butterfly Garden in Mindo town or simply continue exploring the reserve.   Night at the lodge.

Day 4:             MINDO – LOS CEDROS:  Early depart to Los Cedros Biological Reserve, which is part of the Choco Phytogeographical Zone, one of the most biologically diverse and endemic habitats on Earth.  The ride to Chontal takes about three hours from there  to the station main entrance there is optional to ride a mule or enter by feet (the walk takes about 2 hours and a half, mule about an hour an a half).  Arrival and night at the reserve.  Optional night walk to see insects and other night bugs.  Please keep in mind that the best season to watch flowering orchids is the winter but also weather conditions are tough rain and fog which also make roads to be in bad shape, this factor influence in time to get to the destinations.  Night at the reserve.

Day 5:             LOS CEDROS:  Today the group can separate and take the trails of their particular interest.   The hikes have different level of difficulty.  Those interested in orchids can also visit an orchid project, see the experiments and work with a biologist who manages this project.   Night at the reserve.

DAY 6:                       LOS CEDROS – INTAG:  Early depart from Los Cedros to the Valley of Intag, a cloud forest reserve where we will spend the night.  At this place you can also enjoy some time at the thermal baths or hike in the area.   Diner and night at the Hosteria. 

DAY 7:                       INTAG – CUICOCHA - OTAVALO:  Depart to Cuicocha Lagoon located at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano in the Cotacachi-Cayapas reserve.   Hike around the trails to see plants and orchids, optional boat ride in the lagoon. Lunch at Mirador.  Continuation to Otavalo, a well known handcraft village.  Diner and night at the hacienda.

DAY 8:                       OTAVALO  - GUANDERAS:   Today you have the option to visit the artisan market of Otavalo or just rest and  enjoy time in the hacienda.   Afternoon transfer to Guanderas, a biological station located between 3100 – 3600 asl.  The station has 1000 hectares of pristine Inter-Andean cloud forest and paramo.  Climate here is relatively cold and humid.  Temperature drops at night around 4°C and rises to 22°C during the day.  A 30 minute walk is necessary from the entrance of the reserve to the refuge.   Night at the refuge.

DAY 9:                       GUANDERAS - POLYLEPIS:   Trek along the trails of the station.   The group can be subdivided here so they can visit the areas with their particular interest.   Transfer to Polylepis at the end of the day.  Polylepis got its name after the millennium trees that populated this place.  Night at the hostería.  Night walk.butterfly

DAY 10:         POLYLEPIS – QUITO:    Today the group can choose between a walk in the area of the lodge, around El Angel Reserve (between 2 and 3 hours), horseback ride at extra charge or just relax at the Hosteria.  Lunch. Return to Quito.  Night at the hotel.           

DAY 11:         QUITO –  PAPALLACTA – SAN RAFAEL - SAN ISIDRO:  Pick up at your hotel in Quito and drive to Coca Falls (Cascada de San Rafael) visiting the Papallacta Pass on the way.  Box lunch then afternoon drive to San Isidro. Night walk in search or owls, moths, and night insects. Diner and night at San Isidro.

DAY 12:         SAN ISIDRO:   All day hiking the trails at San Isidro observing the flora and fauna, visit to the Biology Station, and the Ant-pita feeder at 7:30 am, the hummingbird feeder garden, the Orchid garden, etc. Lunch, diner and night at San Isidro.

DAY 13:         SAN ISIDRO – QUITO:   We will take some of the trails at the reserve before going back to Quito in the afternoon.  Arrival to Quito and night at the hotel.

DAY 14:         QUITO – TRF OUT.   Transfer to the airport.  International flight assistance.

Price starting from $1550 for a group of 7 to 9 to $2730 for two.

Trip Technical Information:

Area:                         283,560 sq km
Population:                13,625,000 inhabitants
Capital city:               Quito
Official Languages:  Spanish, Kiwcha and Shuar

Currency:                   American Dollars.   It is advisable to bring small currency bills ($1, $5, $10 and $20, larger bills are difficult to change and not well accepted)

Climate:                     Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands.  There are two main seasons:  winter and summer (rainy and sunny season); however be aware of low temperatures at high altitude especially at night.  There are not exact periods for each season; you might have both the same day, sunny in the morning and rainy in the afternoon.   Some of the areas covered in the itinerary are part of cloud forest reserves where from January to March have rainy season, ideal to observe orchids in flowering season but not so great because they get cold and rainy.

Electricity:                  Power is 110/120 V AC 60 HZ, although some places might have 220/240 V tri-phase outlets for mayor appliances.  

Guides:                      A naturalist bilingual guide for the journey.  Local guides at the reserves.

Transportation:         A minivan

Security:                     Make a copy of your passport and try to leave the original at the hotel with the rest of your belongings specially when visiting the cities.  Don’t carry large amounts of cash, especially if touring the big cities and try to have a safety pocket belt.  Avoid leaving packs or backpacks unattended in restaurants or other public places; keep them with you at all times.   Try to go out in group and avoid places that might look lonely or dark also make sure to carry the hotel address and number in case you might get lost.

Accommodation:       Quito:  3* hotel in shared basis two twin rooms; Reserves (Cedros & Guanderas rustic rooms and dorms with shared bathrooms); Mindo and Polylepis (lodges with private bathrooms); Otavalo (first class hacienda)

Meals:                                    Accommodation with breakfast included in cities; hacienda (breakfast and dinner); lodges and reserves (full board:  breakfast, lunch in some cases type pic nic and dinner), please refer to board.   Some lunches are picnics especially during hikes and diners have established menus which include appetizer, main course and desert.  Let us know in advance if you have a special diet.

Difficulty Level:       Some of the access roads included in the itinerary are second order not paved so the condition is frequently changing according with the climate conditions.   In some areas, rainy season goes from January to June, this is good to observe orchids in flowering period not so good for walking because of the mud but necessary if we want to observe as much as we can.   Some hikes go from 2 up to 6 hours.   A good physical condition is recommended overall but adapted according to the situation and place.

Recommended Equipment:

  • Head light or flash light with extra batteries
  • Rain coat or rain poncho
  • Good walking shoes
  • Flip Flops or rubber sandals
  • Rubber boots *you can buy them in Quito they cost about $10 USD
  • Bathing Suit
  • T-shirts
  • A jacket for lower temperatures in the mountains, gloves
  • Long sleeve shirts and long sleeve light pants
  • Hat
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Binoculars
  • Daypack
  • Towel
  • A good pocketknife
  • Biodegradable soap and shampoo (jungle)
  • Sun glasses
  • Sleeping bag
  • Plastic bag (small) for storage articles that might get wet
  • Camera and extra memory

Recommended Vaccinations not mandatory

  • Hepatitis B & A
  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Yellow Fever

Mini lexicon

Hi                                      Hola
Good morning                    Buenos días
Good bye                            Adiós
Thank you                          Gracias
Excuse me                          Discúlpeme
How Are you:                      Cómo está usted?
How much does it cost?       Cuánto cuesta?
I don’t understand               No entiendo
Where is the bathroom?       Donde está el baño?



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