In Quito students will experience marked contrasts in wealth, with chauffeured Land Cruisers and opulent shopping centers side by side to street corners full of rural poor who have migrated to the city and sell candy or beg, for lack of viable employment. With the dollarization of the economy, the cost of living in Ecuador has skyrocketed and now parallels costs in developed countries. Some things, like camera film and clothes, are more expensive than at home. Fresh vegetables, flowers, and fruit are less. Expect to pay the same for entertainment or a pizza. For big spenders, money will dissolve just as fast as it does at home. On the other hand, frugal participants will spend very little, since program fees cover most living expenses.
Andean Study Programs uses various sites, depending on the needs of the group. In some of the sites, students are able to experience the culture of one of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Ecuadorian Amazon region, which include Untsuri-Shuar, Achuar, Canelos Quichua, Huaorani, Napo Quichua, Cofan, and Siona-Secoya. Economic and cultural survival for the native Amazonian people is a constant struggle. The alarming deforestation and negative impact of oil exploration not only destroys the forest, but the cultures of those who depend on it for their existence. Our hope is that students will be able to explore the complex issues surrounding the rainforest, in addition to enjoying the grandeur.
Walking into the forest for a newcomer can be a tough challenge. Students should be in good physical shape for rainforest hikes. Rubber boots will help with the ups and downs, slippery stretches, and actual hiking in streams. For some the experience is akin to a physical and cultural outward bound journey with energies pushed to limits. Good humor and flexibility will aid you in making the most of every moment. We guarantee that you will come out of the jungle as a changed person.
Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, rubber boots, a rain poncho, insect repellent, garbage bags to protect belongings from water, and a good flashlight.
MINDO VALLEY CLOUD
Plan on getting muddy and be sure to bring a rain poncho, sweatshirt, flashlight, and insect repellent.
There are about 700 species of higher plant life, 40% of these being endemic. The animal life is of utmost scientific interest for several reasons. First, there is an unusual percentage of endemic species. Most of the resident birds and all of the reptiles are endemic with the exception of one night lizard. Secondly, subspecies have developed on several islands, and species, most notably the Darwin finch, have developed adoptive measures in characteristics like beak shape and size. Other species such as the marine iguanas and flightless cormorants have evolved by adaptation. Thirdly, the giant tortoises from which the Islands get their name and who are thought to have the longest life span of any creature on earth, have become extinct on the continent but continue to thrive on the Islands. A fourth amazing characteristic is to see species of Antarctic origin such as the penguins and fur seals live side by side with tropical species. From the visitors point of view, perhaps the most incredible feature is to see all of these species living in their natural habitat, tame, and with no fear of humans.
Due to the distance between islands, the best way to see the Galapagos is by sleeping on a yacht and traveling from island to island, with each island holding its unique charm. Because the park attempts to minimize any outside impact on nature, landings to the islands are all natural, without manmade docks. Small motor boats transfer passengers from the yacht to the islands with either dry landings against the rocks or wet landings into the water of a shallow beach. From there, guides take visitors on a carefully controlled tour of the island so as not to disturb nesting areas that may be invisible to an uniformed guest. Snorkeling sites are also chosen each day.
Bring good walking shoes that protect you from thorns or sharp rocks, sunscreen, a hat, comfortable shorts, cool tops, and swimwear. If traveling in the cool season of late summer, bring a rain proof jacket. Lots of film and a disposable underwater camera are good ideas as well. Stretches of ocean between islands can be quite rough so good motion sick medicine, which is difficult to come by in Ecuador, is imperative if you get seasick. You may want to test yourself for seasick tendencies before the program if you have never been on a boat in rough waters.
Accommodations are heated but bring warm clothing, especially if you plan to hike. Layers are best with a warm sweatshirt and good rain jacket to keep out the wind. Pack an extra pair of socks and shoes in case one pair gets wet. Don’t forget your swimsuit!
Don’t forget your swimsuit for the thermal baths and hiking shoes.
Don’t forget to bring lots of cash for purchases and sunscreen.
Going to the Cotopaxi national park makes a great day trip. Students can go by train or on a downhill biking excursion. The splendor of the volcano dominates the landscape. The paramo, or high tundra, is home to the Andean condor and the paramo fox. Beyond the park, continuing south on the Avenue of Volcanoes and off the beaten path, is Tigua, known for it’s colorful story paintings, Zumbahua with a Saturday market that sells llamas, produce, and trinkets, and Chugchilan, with amazing hiking opportunities. The landscape is one of the most spectacular found in Ecuador, culminating with Quilotoa, an emerald green crater lake, which is easy to hike down to but proves to be surprisingly exhausting coming back up. The later sites require overnights, due to remote locations.
Be sure to bring very warm clothing, including a hat, as the wind factor in the high mountain tundra creates an inhospitable climate.
Another popular weekend excursion is to bus to Riobamba, in the province of Chimborazo, and continue on south by train via the Devil’s Nose, which is a series of switchbacks down a steep mountain. The adventure can continue on to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca and later culminate with a trip to Incapirca, Ecuador’s main Inca ruins.
If you would like to see more information about some of the sites we use, check out the web sites below:
Amazon and Cloud Forest Sites:
Other hotels, lodges, and Galapagos boats:
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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