ANDES TO AMAZON: CULTURE, BIOLOGY & ECOLOGY
- Intercultural Exchange with local communities & Schools
- Community Service
- UNESCO Heritage Site Visit
- Microenterprise: Salt, Wool & Chocolate cooperatives
- Indigenous Traditions
- Sustainable Practices
- Ethnobotanical Garden
- Amazon Wildlife and Ecosystems
* We can make adjustments to this itinerary based on your specific interests, timeline, and budget.
* Do not hesitate to ask questions and request a customized itinerary.
DAY 1. OWNING YOUR EXPERIENCE, QUITO AREA
Take charge of your experience during your time in Ecuador, engage in active learning and personal growth, and open your mind to make the most of this incredible opportunity.
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito and the adventure of a lifetime. Your Chill Expeditions bilingual guides will meet you at the airport, land in this incredible city surrounded by rivers, mountains and the most beautiful snowy volcanoes you have ever seen. Share a delicious meal with your guides as they set the tone for everybody to own the experience with active and engaged learning.
- Your guides will introduce the Story Approach and the teaching themes that will cohesively link together the incredible wealth of information you will learn on the trip.
- Your group will be introduced to the Expedition Mentality, our nuanced strategy for creating the strongest possible group culture.
- Our first nightly circle and bandana ceremony will reinforce the Expedition Mentality and set the tone for the best possible experiential learning trip.
Overnight: Quito Area
DAY 2. QUITO IN CONTEXT
Today we put some of the cultural and historical background of Ecuador in context, exploring the beautiful capital city of Quito
This morning we drive towards the Pichincha mountain where we take a “Gondola Ride” up to the mountain. From there we get a spectacular view of Quito, learning about the Andes, the world’s highest mountain range outside Asia, and the unique Paramo ecosystem. We then head back down to “zoom in” on the city, visiting the historic heart of Quito. One of the most beautiful cities in South America, Quito was declared a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. We explore the history, economy, and rich mix of cultures that shape the fabric of this city.
- Cultural and Ethnic Groups of Ecuador
- What to expect: local customs and traditions, diversity throughout the country
- Conquest, Trade, and Compromise: History of Colonial and Modern Quito
Overnight: Riobamba Area
DAY 3. LOCAL ECONOMIES: TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE SUSTAINABILITY
Today we explore grassroots initiatives in the Salinas de Guaranda community, learning about the many strategies for successful grassroots community development
We drive toward Salinas de Guaranda, passing by the Chimborazo Reserve (Chimborazo is the highest snow-capped mountain in Ecuador). Salinas is known for its high-quality products and the brand “Salinerito”. Making use of the raw materials available in the region, community-based initiatives in the village produce a wide array of products, from cheese and chocolate to yarns and handcrafted goods such as ponchos and sweaters. Salinas de Guaranda follows the principles of economic solidarity, thus the profits are reinvested to the cooperative companies and used for the social support of the developing communities.
- Community-based initiatives: Obstacles and opportunities
- Triple bottom line sustainability: what does it mean?
- Model Communities- replicating successful initiatives
- Microenterprises: competing economically with larger producers
Overnight: Salinas de Guaranda Area
DAY 4. HANDS-ON LEARNING: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ARTISAN PRODUCER
We have the opportunity to learn first hand what goes into small scale community development and production, working hand in hand with local community members
Today is a cultural immersion in the community of Salinas de Guaranda, breaking into small groups to follow “a day in the life” of local artisans. We learn each step of the process of producing chocolate, cheese, or wool products.
In the evening, each group will present what they have learned to their classmates as part of our nightly reflection/discussion circle.
- Cultural and Ethnic history of the Andean highlands
- Community infrastructure: keys to support for local development
- Ecosystem services and sustainable resource use: what do we get from nature?
Overnight: Salinas de Guaranda Area
DAY 5. TO THE AMAZON!
We discover new ecosystems today, diving into the rich diversity of the Amazon Rainforest
As we leave the highlands behind and head east to the entrance of the Amazon rainforest, we pass through incredible life zones and learn about some of the amazing microclimates in Ecuador. Upon arrival to Puyo, we visit an Ethnobotanic garden, where we learn about medicinal plants in this region and their traditional uses.
- Environment shaping culture: diversity of geography, ecosystems, and cultures in Ecuador
- Medicinal plants and traditional medicine: past, present, and future
- Exploration, Exploitation, and Development in the Amazon: Land use rights and cultural sovereignty
Overnight: Puyo Area
DAY 6 & 7. AN INDIGENOUS WAY OF LIFE & AMAZONIAN TRADITIONS
We have the opportunity to experience life in a n indigenous village, learning about traditional life in the Amazon
On day 6, Today we hike through the rainforest to the village of Shiguacocha. Our hosts will orient us to our surroundings and we settle in and get to know the village. Spend some time with the community as we learn about their backgrounds and way of life, full of the knowledge of the forest and its secrets!
On day 7, Continue to learn from the community, their history, traditions, stories, and strategies for survival in this amazing environment. Our activities may include traditional fishing and cooking, weaving, and making crafts. This is an incredible opportunity to share with this community and support their community-based initiatives.
- Indigenous groups of the Amazon
- Balancing development pressures with preservation of cultural identity and heritage
- Local foods of the Amazon and traditional diets
- Teaching tradition: passing on skills and stories through generations
- Indigenous rights and representation on a national and international scale
Overnight: Shiguacocha Area
DAY 8. INTO THE CLOUDFOREST, JUMANDY CAVES
Today we focus on the unique ecology of the highland cloud forest and paramo, a precious and threatened ecosystems
Breakfast today is our last moment at Shiguacocha to say goodbye and thank you to our new friends and family, who have taught us so much. We depart the incredible Amazon, heading out by boat up the river. We head back towards the highlands, stopping to visit the stunning Jumandy caves to explore and swim. Continue on to our beautiful lodge in the cloud forest, where we explore the trails, search for hummingbirds, and compare this area to what we have seen so far.
- Adaptations for life at altitude
- Climate change and its impact on habitats
- The future of the Paramo- what can we do to preserve this ecosystem?
Overnight: Cumbaya Area
DAY 9. HOMESTAYS AND SERVICE
For the next two days, we join the highland community of San Clemente, sharing time with local families and learning about daily life here
The best way to give back to this country that has welcomed us so kindly will be our service to the community of San Clemente in the Andean Highlands. This is a unique opportunity to share a homestay with families and contribute to a local service project that meets community needs. This afternoon we meet the community and get an introduction to our project. We settle into our homestays and get to know our hosts.
- What to expect: homestay experience in context: local traditions, customs, and rules
- Comparing and contrasting: your life at home- what is shared, what is different?
- Spanish vocabulary: formal introductions, keywords around the house
- Setting the stage for our service work
Overnight: Homestays, San Clemente
DAY 10. SERVICE LEARNING: LEAVING A POSITIVE TRACE
We spend our day focused on leaving a positive trace, and understanding what service really means
Today we continue with our service work, working hand in hand with the local community to leave a positive impact. Projects are selected and controlled by the community and may include construction, gardening, infrastructure projects, and more. We focus on community-identified needs, usually centered around education, health, and environmental sustainability.
Important Themes :
- Community Service: Who benefits?
- Keys for successful service, at home and abroad
- Why do we do community service?
Overnight: Homestays, San Clemente
DAY 11. HOME WITH INSPIRATION!
Today we reflect on all that we have learned, experienced, seen and done during our time in Ecuador
This morning, we head out from San Clemente, stopping to visit the colorful Otavalo market and learn about traditional lifestyles in this Andean village. In the evening, head on to Quito for our final dinner and reflection before our late flight home
- Bringing it all back home: the enduring impact of our educational experience
- What can I do? How to support triple bottom line sustainability, grassroots development, and preserving traditions: at home and around the world
- My path: how will this experience shape your next steps?
Overnight: Quito Area/Airplane
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