On our chocolate expedition, you will learn about cacao growing and chocolate making from passionate farmers who are committed to preserving Ecuador’s renowned nacional cacao varietal using sustainable agricultural practices.
Our trip leader, Chocolopolis Founder Lauren Adler, is a renowned chocolate expert and pioneer in the craft chocolate industry who will lead us in tastings of chocolate throughout our journey and provide additional chocolate education, as we delve into different styles of chocolate from rustic to refined.
While you will see Ecuador through a chocolate lens, you will also enjoy its many natural wonders and cultural traditions, including hiking, bird watching and a chocolate tour through Quito.
Highlights of our itinerary include a stay in the cloud forest of Mindo, a drive along the waterfall route on the way to the Amazon rainforest, a visit with an indigenous family, delicious meals made with regional ingredients and many other local adventures.
TRIP HIGHLIGHTS are below, click on ITINERARY to see all the details.
A pioneer in the craft chocolate industry, Chocolopolis opened in 2008 at the beginning of the craft chocolate movement as one of the first chocolate retail stores in the US to focus on building a customer community through chocolate tastings, experiences and education.
With over 100 bars of bean-to-bar chocolate, Chocolopolis offers its customers one of the largest selections of craft chocolate in the US. Akin to a wine store, chocolate bars are grouped by cacao origin, enabling customers to discover the terroir of different cacaogrowing regions while learning about cacao farming and chocolate production. Chocolopolis has a dedicated following among chocophiles in the Seattle area and throughout the US. Chief Chocophile, Lauren Adler, has created a community who rely on her and her team to rigorously vet chocolates before adding them to the Chocolopolis collection. Lauren engages a customer tasting panel to determine which chocolate bars will make the cut. The panel gathers monthly for a blind tasting of chocolates submitted for consideration. Chocolopolis accepts only 3% of the chocolates tasted.
LAUREN ADLER, FOUNDER + CHIEF CHOCOPHILE OF CHOCOLOPOLIS
Lauren Adler is the Founder and Chief Chocophile of Chocolopolis, a chocolate retail store in Seattle and online at www.chocolopolis.com that offers hundreds of craft chocolate bars. A pioneer in the craft chocolate industry, Lauren opened Chocolopolis in 2008 at the beginning of the craft chocolate movement as one of the first chocolate retail stores in the US to focus on building a customer community through chocolate tastings, experiences and education.
Lauren is a board member of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), a non-profit organization that promotes quality, innovations, ethical sourcing, and best practices in the fine chocolate industry. She has served on the Education Committee of the FCIA since 2015, and she has been a speaker and panelist at numerous FCIA conferences. In addition to her work for the FCIA, Lauren was a featured speaker and workshop leader at the Dallas Chocolate Festival in 2018 and at the Northwest Chocolate Festival from 2010 through 2018. She served as a judge for the bean-to-bar chocolate competitions at the Good Food Awards (2015 & 2016) and at the Northwest Chocolate Festival (2010 – 2017), and she is a co-Founder of the Pacific Northwest Chocolate Society.
Lauren resides in Seattle with her husband, Mark Kotzer. When she is not tasting chocolate, Lauren enjoys distance swimming in Lake Washington and traveling with her husband
Global Family Travels
Much more than a traditional tour operator, Global Family Travels’ mission is to “Learn, Serve and Immerse” through community-based travel programs. In partnership with non-profit organizations and schools, we offer family-friendly and sustainable travel experiences in support of education, gender equality, access to clean water, preservation of local cultures, conservation and economic growth, all of which foster cross-cultural understanding and global citizens.
Our trips include a unique mix of cultural and educational activities, homestays and participation in local service projects aimed at improving the lives of people in the communities we visit.
Expect to expand your family circle when you embark on a Global Family Travels trip! Visit our website for more information: Global Family Travels
• Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Ecuador
• Learn from cacao farmers about the cultural, historical and agricultural aspects of Ecuador’s famed nacional cacao
• Learn from industry experts about the craft of processing some of the world’s best cacao while enjoying guided chocolate tastings
• Explore Ecuador’s natural beauty, including hiking and birdwatching in the cloud forest. • Learn about daily life in the Amazon Rain Forest from indigenous families
• Enjoy delicious meals made with local ingredients
Photo: Narci, Chief of Production loving her at Mashpi Chocolate Artesanal, Quito-Ecuador. (Credit: Mashpi Chocolate)
Overview of Itinerary
Meals denoted by B=breakfast, L=Lunch & D=Dinner
Day 1, May 15: Welcome to Quito! Upon arrival, you will be transferred to our hotel where you will be on your own to relax and rest up for your upcoming adventures.
Day 2, May 16: Enjoy a morning tour of historic Quito. After a welcome lunch, we will enjoy a private guided tour of renowned artist Oswaldo Guayasamín’s home, art and wine cellar with a chocolate tasting lead by To’ak Chocolate. (B,L,D)
Day 3, May 17: Today we visit the Cloud Forest of Mindo, Ecuador with a stop at El Quetzal of Mindo, a small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate company where you will experience the chocolatemaking process and enjoy tastings and pairings with chocolate from the source. We will enjoy dinner at Quetzal’s restaurant, El Quetzal, which focuses on local cuisine and chocolate before transferring to Sachatamia Lodge where we will overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4, May 18: Spend the day at Mashpi Artisanal Chocolate farm, a small, family farm that has been brought back to health using biodiverse agricultural practices, and then taste their awardwinning hand-crafted chocolate bars. (B,L,D)
Day 5, May 19: Enjoy early morning birdwatching at the Paz de las Aves Refuge, and see the famous Lek of the Andean Cock of the Rock. After a late breakfast, we wind our way back to Quito in time for dinner at Zazu, one of Quito’s best restaurants. (B,L,D)
Day 6, May 20: We stop at Ecuador’s renowned waterfalls en route to Tena City in the Amazon rainforest, the commercial center of Napo province and enjoy our evening at La Casa del Suizo. (B,L,D)
Day 7, May 21: Enjoy a full day of engaging with families in the Kichwa community in the Amazon Rainforest, learning about their ways of life, and later enjoy a choice of optional outdoor activities, such as hiking, canoeing, rafting, butterfly house exhibit and guided nocturnal excursions. (B,L,D)
Day 8, May 22: Today is an educational day engaging with the Santa Rita community, which grows Arriba Nacional cacao,, Ecuador’s prized, native varietal of fine flavor cacao. We will visit the cocoa chakra and trails inside the nearby forest, leading to petroglyphs, estuaries, spas and a viewpoint, and then enjoy a delicious chocolate prepared with the native guides of the community. Later, we will drive to Papallacta where we will end our day, taking in the views and relaxing at the beautiful Termas de Papallacta Resort and Spa, for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 9, May 23: Experience Otavalo and learn about Ecuador’s indigenous culture and heritage with a visit to one of Latin America’s most spectatular markets. Later, we explore breath-taking Cuicocha Lake in the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve before transferring to Quito for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant made by chefs from República del Cacao (B,L,D)
Day 10, May 24 Today we explore Quito’s chocolate shops with Jenny Samaniego, Founder of Conexión Chocolate, which produces bean-to-bar chocolate using cacao from many different regions in Ecuador. Jenny is a well-known chocolate expert in the fine chocolate industry who has a passion for connecting Ecuadorian cacao farmers to the international fine chocolate market. We will enjoy a discussion with Jenny about the cacao and chocolate industry in Ecuador while visiting local chocolate shops. Afternoon to rest before evening transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
Chocolate Experiences Unique to this trip include::
• Enjoy a private tour with To’ak Chocolate and Fundación Guayasamín’s Chocolate & Art Experience, a one-of-a-kind journey in Quito that celebrates the rich history, art, and chocolate of Ecuador.
• Learn how chocolate is made by local chocolate company El Quetzal of Mindo. Owner Barbara Wilson will give us a private, guided tour that includes chocolate tasting
• After our chocolate tour at El Quetzal of Mindo we will enjoy dinner in their restaurant that focuses on local foods and, of course, chocolate
• Visit an indigenous group of Kichwa cacao farmers in the Amazon rainforest, taste their cacao and their chocolate
• Enjoy a farewell dinner with a chocolate focus, led by the chefs of Republica del Cacao
• Explore Quito’s chocolate shops with local expert Jenny Samaniego and pick up chocolate to take home