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Take your yoga practice to new heights while immersing in the beautiful sites and culture of Ecuador. Experience the perfect blend of relaxation, rejuvenation and adventure on this incredible retreat. Your new home away from home will be the relaxing retreat of Mountain Views Inn where you will enjoy freshly prepared meals with locally sourced ingredients, pool and Jacuzzi, and on-site yoga practice and meditation.
You will be staying at Garden Hotel San Jose. It is a beautifully updated colonial hacienda with acres of walking trails, two pools, a full gym and spa. You will also enjoy the safety and support of your hosts Robert and Sarah throughout the trip.
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed and guided to your room. Settle in by relaxing for the evening in your room or unwind by the game room, outdoor heated pool and hot tub. Meet others as they arrive throughout the evening. The menu and excursion itinerary will be discussed with the host.
After breakfast, you will travel 1 hour to Quito at 9,500 feet where the adventure begins by taking a tram ride that takes you to 14,100 feet. At the top, you will walk and see volcanoes on the left and a panoramic view of the city of Quito on the right. This is a great place for yoga practice, pictures and hiking. On a clear day you can observe the surrounding volcanoes: Antisana (18,700 feett), Cayambe (18,725 feett), and Cotopaxi (19,347 feet).
Enjoy a cafe lunch overlooking spectacular views of Quito and its surroundings. Go back down the cable ferry and then continue to tour Quito, which brings the past to life in its museums, convents, carved stone facades and golden altars of its many churches.
You will take a beautiful drive 2.5 hours away to the town of El Chaco in the Quijos Valley of Ecuador's Napo Province. Situated on the eastern flank of the Andes, the valley is sandwiched between two large protected areas, the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve and Sumaco National Park. The valley itself is part of the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve and is considered a biodiversity hotspot for the wide range of species found within its forests.
You will meet your local guides that will lead you on hikes through lush tropical forests to see amazingly powerful waterfalls that will literally take your breath away. The truly adventurous can swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and for those who dare, stand beneath the powerful force of the falls itself.
You will commute to a typical farmers market located 5 minutes away in Tumbaco where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold. Here, you'll see a wonderful array of colorful, edible and exotic items. You will then travel for 1 hour to stand with a foot on each hemisphere on the Equator and tour the always fun, interactive Equatorial Intiñan Solar Museum. You will learn the indigenous culture and understand the effects of the gravitational forces with water and balancing an egg on a nail!
Nearby is the Temple Del Sol which provides a very spiritual aura and connection with the earth and sun. There will be a special celebration for the Equinox with local Shaman’s recognizing the special day. Here we will be able to learn more about the culture of indigenous Ecuadorians, the healing properties of essential oils, and view the beautiful art gallery of world renowned artist Cristobal Ortega.
Finally, you will visit the lookout point located at the edge of the Pululahua Crater to see the center of the volcanic crater and the beautiful landscape.
As you approach Otavalo, you will make a stop at Mira Lago to take pictures of the beautiful San Pablo Lake and the Imbabura Volcano. For centuries, regional markets have been playing an important role in Indian life by providing regular gathering places for trade and socializing. The colorful local Otavalo Indigenous Market is renowned for their handcrafts. This centuries-old market is the perfect place to shop for anyone back home.
You will be heading next to Cuicocha, a lake formed within a volcanic crater. There are two small islands in the center of the lake that were formed by eruptions after the collapse of the pre-existing volcano. You can accomplish a short hike on the rim of the crater and enjoy yoga while seeing the stunning panoramic views of the landscape.
You will skip the long commutes to see the beautiful Chiche Canyon, only 10 minutes from Mountain Views Inn. The canyon can best be described as a mini version of the Grand Canyon. It stretches as far as the eye can see. It has a beautiful flowing river at the base of the canyon and marked trails easy to follow. The Canyon can be hiked or biked and there is a beautiful secluded spot by the river, perfect for practice, journaling, meditation, or enjoy some down time by sunbathing and rejuvenating by the pool and hot tub, or challenge a friend in the game room. You will also be treated to some favorite Ecuadorian cuisine while onsite.
By afternoon, visit a local school for a cultural exchange that for many is the true highlight of the tour. You will arrive with donations of clothing and supplies to help the underprivileged. They will treat you to a presentation of traditional Ecuadorian dance. Your gifts make lasting impacts and their happiness & smiles will stay with you long after you return home.
This morning, you will depart a little earlier to commute on a gorgeous 2.5 hour ride to the Mindo rain forest. It is set on 47,444 acres of the nationally protected reserve, Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo. Mindo, one of the world's headquarters for rainforest preservation, is abundant with over 350 species of birds. It is an ideal place to snap photos, swim in lagoons and hike.
Enjoy a quick fruit snack before experiencing an amazing thrill ride, on 10 zip lines, 2000 meters in length that zip along at 100 meters above ground. You will then travel to the Tarabita skyway basket over the Mindo river valley. You will travel in a suspended metal cage powered by an old engine car that will provide spectacular views. If time allows, you will enjoy a great hike through the Rain Forest and time permitting, visit one or more cascading waterfalls and possibly jump in for a swim in the Nambillo Lagoon.
After breakfast, you will travel 1.5 hours to the entrance of the Amazon Jungle. Bathe in the natural thermal spring pools of different sizes and temperatures in Papallacta. This soothing volcanic natural thermal spring water contains sulfates and heat that produce a very therapeutic feeling of rejuvenation and wellness. You will return by 17:00 to give plenty of time to pack and eat a fabulous farewell dinner.
Unfortunately, the trip comes to an end but leaving you with wonderful photos and memories. MVI transportation will take you to your flight 3 hours before your scheduled departure.
This retreat will take place at the Garden Hotel San Jose, Puembo, Ecuador.
Freshly prepared meals with locally sourced ingredients are provided during the retreat. Meals may fluctuate according to the itinerary and seasonal availability. Vegetarian and other dietary requirements can be easily accommodated. The chef will prepare traditional and authentic Ecuadorian meals, giving you a true Ecuadorian experience. All food served and prepared is fresh and with fruits and vegetables from local farmers.
Breakfast will be a full American buffet served from 6:30-9:30 and includes a rejuvenating selection of eggs, bread, yogurt and granola, coffee or tea. You can also try some exotic Ecuadorian fresh fruits and juices such as Taxo, Naranjilla, Guanabana, Tree Tomato and more.
Lunches will include sandwiches, tamales, corn, chochos, tostado, fava beans, with snacks and fruit available throughout the day.
Ecuadorian soups are a special treat. Each day will feature a different soup such as quinoa, potato and avocado, green ball plantain with cabbage, chicken soup, cream of tomato, mushroom and asparagus. The main dish will include traditional proteins like chicken, ground beef, pork, fish and shrimp, with delicious sides such as potato, assorted vegetables, white carrot puree, beets, rice, potato pancakes stuffed with cheese, fava beans, mote, pasta and plantains.
Please schedule your round trip airfare to Quito, Ecuador (UIO).