We will leave from Quito at 8:00 A.M. to the Amazon watershed, with scenic and biodiverse cloud forests on our minds. En route, however, we will stop for a look at the majestic, high elevation and windswept paramos above Papallacta - a very tundra-like habitat. On clear days here the views of the surroundings and various volcanoes are breath-taking; a stop right up at the continental divide is one of the best spots from which to photograph the snow-capped volcano, Antisana, as it towers over the mountains below. Continuing our journey to San Isidro we will wind our way amongst steep valleys – through the towns of Cuyuja and Baeza - where will see some gorgeous forested slopes and impressive waterfalls, born in Antisana Reserve, as they spill off of high cliffs. Our plan is to get to San Isidro in time to get settled into our rooms, and even for a quick look around before lunch, so barring a quick restroom stop on the way, we’ll make few stops in order to get there quickly, because after lunch, we will have plenty to do!
This afternoon we will undertake what we call a “virtual safari” along the primary forest trails below the cabins. While at any moment a rare mammal could pop into view during the walk – they are wary - our safari is designed to run a trap-line of sorts, checking the motion-sensor cameras and the photos that they have taken over the last weeks, days, hours… and even minutes; it really is a thrill to see a photo – that no one else has seen - of a Puma, Tapir, or even an Anteater, taken right where you are standing! We’ll plan to get back to the cabins for some relaxation time before dinner.
At dinner we will be officially welcomed to San Isidro with a taste of Ecuador’s most well-known hot toddy, a delicious drink - called “Guayusa” - made from water boiled with guayusa leaves, fruit juice and a dash of cane alcohol, that is sure to help warm us up. The adventurous ones will be able to taste Guinea Pig! After a magnificent dinner - our food is widely recognized for its originality and exquisite quality - a night hike awaits us, where we will be in search of owls, strange insects, nocturnal mammals or any other critter that might grace our presence.
OPTIONAL (TASTING MENU):
8 dish sampler menu featuring Amazonian & Andean flavors: $15 + 22% per menu, additional to full board rate. This needs to be pre-booked.
-Visit our Guinea Pig farm and organic garden; many of the veggies and herbs that land on your plate - free of pesticides and other chemicals - are grown right here at San Isidro in our own greenhouse.
-If you are interested in learning a new exotic Andean or Amazonian dish, a cooking class might be up your alley, so let us know and learn to make a “maito” or a “quinoa” soufflé.
For those interested, we’ll put our birding caps on this morning and get out for the early morning activity. While we slept the lights around the lodge will have collected a mob of moths and other insects, which means one thing: a buffet for insectivorous birds in search of breakfast! We will spend the early morning watching trogons, woodcreepers, flycatchers and tanagers glean all sorts of bugs in a seemingly frantic attempt to satisfy their morning hunger. Soon after we will venture down a nearby trail to watch the White-bellied Antpitta, an extremely retiring (and subtly beautiful) South American bird, as it comes to devour worms at the feeder… have your camera ready, but please turn off the flash so as to not startle it.
After this it is our turn to hit an 8:00 A.M. buffet with a roaring appetite (where we will meet up with any companions who opted for a lye-in to recharge a bit more). From here we will embark on a hike through San Isidro’s forest reserve out to the archeological ruins on the property for a look at what is left of a group, the “Curisetas” (translated as the “Goldsmiths”), that inhabited the region pre-colonially; most interesting is that they were never conquered by the Incas. Their history is a bit murky, but this small group of natives seemed to have faded away without much of a fuss or fight. The Curisetas were known for their prowess at mining and molding gold into jewelry, and for hauling large, flat rocks from distant areas and placing them as directional monoliths; their pottery shards are also still easily found in the rivers on the property. We will emerge out along the peaceful roadside for a stroll back to the lodge, and if time permits, stop in for a visit to the biology station to learn a bit more about the research being done in the reserve, and its importance to the conservation of the area.
Before our transfer to Quito (or continued travel, further down-slope into the lowlands of the Amazon), another delectable lunch awaits.
SERVICES INCLUDED: Lodging in standard double room, meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day, guide and transfers according to the option chosen, all activities described, welcome coktail, coffee and tea station, purified water and taxes.
SERVICES NOT INCLUDED: Extra drinks (sodas, beers, wines, etc.), private guide or transportation services, extemporaneous reserve entrance fees (such as Antisana Reserve) and other personal expenses (telephone calls, laundry, etc.).
Rates per person, based in double room occupancy
With transfers in & out and bilingual guide
Based in 1 participant: $705
Based in 2 participants: $410
Based in 3-6 participants: $355
With transfers in & out and spanish speaking bird guide
Based in 1 participant: $590
Based in 2 participants: $350
Based in 3-6 participants: $300