Ecuador Adventure: Culture, Nature and Photography
Join Global Family Travels and photographer Lisa Merrill for an immersive experience in Ecuador, a fascinating country with stunning landscapes and vibrant cultures. We’ll explore beautiful historic cities and haciendas, volunteer in a rural community, and enjoy outdoor adventures in the Andean Cloud Forest. Photo opportunities abound, Lisa will help unleash creativity as you create images from this adventure to treasure and share!
TRIP HIGHLIGHTS are below, click on ITINERARY to see all the details.
Trip Leader: Lisa Merrill
Lisa Merrill is a photographer whose compelling images of vibrant cultures and fascinating places have been featured in National Geographic Traveler and other magazines, books, and websites around the world. Her powerful visual stories add impact to the communications of travel companies, tourism organizations, and nonprofits working to improve education and tackle other societal challenges.
Lisa believes in the power of sustainable tourism to transform lives, strengthen communities, and build family bonds.Ecuador was one of her family’s favorite trips, and Lisa is excited to return and share it with Global Family Travel families See some of Lisa’s images from her trip to Ecuador Here .
An inspiring educator, Lisa enjoys helping people of all ages unleash their creativity and tell vital stories through photography. Learn more and view online galleries at Merrill Images.
We will begin our day by exploring Quito's colonial past, strolling through the Main Plaza and visiting the Government Palace and churches built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Quito’s colonial center, a World Cultural Heritage Site, resembles cities from Colonial Spain with charming cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls and gothic-style churches. Modern Quito, a fast-growing metropolis with glass and concrete buildings, surrounds the center. During our tour, we’ll climb to the balcony of the old Cathedral for impressive views of this city.
Meet your hosts: Timpe Farmhouse
For the next few days, we will be immersed in a working Ecuadorian farm and stay in a Farmhouse built by our hosts, Luis and Rosario Timpe. The Timpe Farmhouse sits on a 20-acre property with stunning views of the Tungurahua volcano from the comfort of their communal kitchen table. The land, which has belonged to the family for centuries, has rich volcanic soil excellent for agriculture. The farm’s main products are fruits and avocados. We’ll stay amid acres of mandarin, orange and lime trees which we can pick and eat throughout our stay. The Timpes are a horse-loving family and have 10 beautiful, well-trained horses.
We’ll experience Ecuadorian rural life first-hand, helping with farm chores such as feeding the livestock and tending to the crops and fruit trees. We will have the opportunity to visit a school and volunteer in Patate, a small community located within walking distance of the Timpe’s family property. But it isn’t all work! We will also have the chance to go horseback riding, hike, and tour the farm property. Lisa will do optional mini-workshops photographing farm life and natural splendor around us.
At the end of our fun-filled day, we’ll relax at the Timpe’s farmhouse. Those who are interested can enjoy a cooking lesson with our hostess, Rosario, while helping her prepare a delicious traditional Ecuadorian meal!
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT IN PATATE
We will meet students at the school in Patate and work to improve life in this small community. Volunteer experiences will be determined prior to the trip based on the needs of the community and the knowledge and skills that trip participants would like to share. We might paint walls, draw murals, reseed the soccer field, teach English, or read and play games with children.
RAFTING TOACHI AND BLANCO RIVERS
Following a safety briefing, we'll begin our whitewater adventure. While floating along a verdant river we’ll learn about the tropical ecosystem and be on the lookout for wildlife including egrets, cormorants, kingfishers, and southern river otters. Our guides and the support team will provide snacks and a healthy river beach lunch.
These rivers start high in the Andean volcanoes and thunder their way westwards to the tropical rainforest of Ecuador's coast. The Toachi flows within a spectacular gorge with high lush-green walls before merging into the Blanco, where water flow increases to produce continuously exhilarating white-capped rapids. The combinations of these two rivers provide the best tropical water rafting west of the Andes!
MINDO: BUTTERFLIES, ORCHIDS, CANOPY TOUR & CHOCOLATE FARM
After breakfast, we will return to Mindo town for an exciting day. First, we will visit a butterfly farm, where our local guide will show and teach us about the metamorphosis of this insect and introduce us to the butterflies' world -- they might eat from our hands, and we’ll learn how to capture them in flight and create close-up photos of their iridescence.
After a visit to a nearby orchid farm, we’ll enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, our guide will drive us to the Zip-Line Canopy Tour where we will have a thrilling experience zooming along 10 cables high up in the cloud forest, flying from tree to tree like a bird.
Next, we’ll visit a chocolate farm where we will see, learn about and photograph the process of making chocolate from "bean to bar".