Barefoot Expeditions: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Peru Travel Adventures

Galapagos Islands Tours On A Budget


Roughly 170,000 tourists visit the Galapagos Islands every year ––or 400+ people per day–– which is a huge amount of people coming into a small and fragile ecosystem. It’s a high-profile place and people want to see it for themselves. The most popular way to tour the Galapagos Islands is in small cruises – you travel during the night and sleep in the boat and during the day you explore the Islands. That can get expensive especially for younger travelers and families with younger kids.

For that reason, we’ve developed land-based Galapagos Islands Tours that are a less expensive alternative to the Galapagos Cruises and that provide a great experience that cannot be matched by the cruises.

The usual cost for a cruise can get into the thousands of dollars per person. The options below priced at least 30% under the cost of a Galapagos Cruise and include accommodation, food, activities and professional, certified guides – most importantly, they are different and you will have a much better story to tell your friends when you’re back!

Yes, you can do Galapagos on your own –– however you’ll get a lot more from your Galapagos trip if you have a knowledgeable naturist guide that speaks English and Spanish to show you the gems in a structured way so that you can enjoy your adventure vacation.  Also, we highly recommend using a certified guide to learn how to care of the delicate ecosystem while you are in the Galapagos.

The Galapagos Island Hopping Budget Tours depart with a minimum of 4 people.  The tours include the highlights of all the four inhabited islands (San Cristobal, Isabela, Santa Cruz and Floreana). Transport between the islands is by private speed boat. This trip is ideal for those who don’t want to be on board during the entire tour and are looking for a competitive price! The 5 day Galapagos Tour is ideal for the younger traveler or families on a budget – we understand most families are. We have a 6-Day Tour as well –however, the most immersive experience is the 8-day Galapagos Island Hopping Adventure Trip.

Galapagos Island Hopping Tours

Two islandsBASIC4 DAYS $1,080
Two IslandsSTANDARD4 DAYS$1,420
Three IslandsBASIC5 DAYS$1,400
Three IslandsSTANDARD5 DAYS$1,600
Five IslandsBASIC6 DAYS$1,980
Five IslandsSTANDARD6 DAYS$2,250
Galapagos FitnessSTANDARD7 DAYS$2,200

Why are these tours a great alternative to a Galapagos cruise?

Higher Value / Lower Cost

The most convincing argument is the cost! Traveling to the Galapagos Islands is on the bucket list of so many travelers and it’s definitely not a cheap adventure. A 5-day cruise in a nice Tourist Superior Class boat with a good itinerary costs around $1,400 USD at least – this does not include flights to Galapagos (+/- 500 USD), entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park (100 USD per adult), the INGALA transit card (10 USD p. p.), wetsuit rental and personal expenses.

On the other hand, a  5-day Galapagos Islands hopping tour including all the four inhabited islands (San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela & Santa Cruz) costs less than half of what a Galapagos Cruise would cost you and you can upgrade from a basic accommodation to a luxury accommodation for only a couple of hundred dollars extra. Excellent itinerary, great organization, experienced guides, all meals, activities and snorkelling equipment included – like on a cruise without the motion sickness!

If you prefer smaller, individual tours for couples, families or group of friends starting any day you like start with a minimum of 2 passengers.

A cruise takes you to places that you cannot reach without a big boat, like Fernandina and the Western side of Isabela. Island Hopping is a great alternative and lots of wildlife encounters are guaranteed as well!

More freedom to discover the Galapagos Islands

A lot of our clients don’t like to be onboard of a boat the whole time. Even in a first-class (luxury) yacht the space in the boat is limited. When I went on an 8- day cruise in May 2012 I enjoyed it a lot, but sometimes I would have enjoyed to have a little more flexibility to explore the islands individually and see how the locals live on the islands. To be able to see a lot on a cruise, you have to stick to a fix itinerary and spend all nights in the yacht. During the Island Hopping Tour, you can have a drink at a local bar at night after dinner and sleep in a hostel or hotel room and explore the community of fishermen and locals.

Galapagos Islands Tours Tailored To Your Needs (Specially For Families With Kids)

Galapagos is great for little kids but doing The Galapagos inside of a boat with little kids is a concern I wouldn’t want to experience. Parents have to be less afraid of their children going overboard and we can have a special child-friendly itinerary, family rooms etc. and a choice of activities during the tour.

Locally Operated.  More Environmentally Sound

Barefoot Expeditions works with a local Galapagos Islands operator paying special attention to eco-friendly tours. Last but not least our tours use less fuel than a cruise that is traveling around for several days, which means less pollution! Sustainable tourism is a priority.

Are you curious now?

What To Expect?


Your accommodation during the Galapagos Island Hopping Tour is in clean, basic hostels in double or triple rooms with private bathroom (no dorms). Examples: Casa de Jeimy (San Cristobal), La Gran Tortuga (Isabela), La Peregrina (Santa Cruz) or similar.



You have the choice to upgrade to from Basic to Standard Accommodations with larger rooms, TV and AC. Most of these hotels have a pool. Examples: Hostería Pimampiro (San Cristobal), Wooden House (Isabela), Villa Laguna (Santa Cruz) or similar.






Small local speed boats between islands. Navigation times can be long (max 2h 30) depending on the distance between the islands. As you can imagine, we are at the mercy of the mighty ocean so if a swell comes in then the ride can get bumpy, especially during the Gurua season (see below). If you are usually subject to motion sickness, please bring patches or motion-sickness medicine – you can also buy medicine in the islands. The patches are really effective!

This is an active tour and group tour: you have to be fit (be used to hiking and swimming). Please take into consideration that this is not a kick-your-feet-up-and-drink-margaritas kind of tour. It is very active and lots of fun but you will definitely get a workout. We wake up early to make the most out of the day, as days are quite short (sunset is at 6:00 PM and it never changes since The Galapagos Islands are in the Equator).

Meals during the tour are not “a la carte” – the are preset menus. We do our best to vary the meals, but remember we are on an island and lots of products are imported or not available. Rice is a common plate here in Ecuador, chicken and extremely fresh fish as well. Your meal is always accompanied by a freshly squeezed fruit juice too.


Species you CAN see on this tour:

Sea lions, frigate birds, blue footed boobies, nazca boobies, swallow tailed gulls, tropic birds, marine iguanas, sharks, rays, penguins, giant tortoises, turtles, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, lava lizards.

Species you CANNOT see on this tour:

Albatrosses, red footed boobies, flightless cormorants, pink iguanas (nobody can see this one as it is ultra-protected and living in a part of the islands totally closed to tourism): if you are interested in spotting one of those, let us know, so we can complete the tour with a cruise. Land Iguanas can be spotted on the 8 day tour only.

If your goal is to see a great majority of the animals in the Galapagos Islands we recommend you book a 15 day tour that visits all the possible islands: some animals just live on some islands, sometimes in very specific pockets of certain islands.


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Traveling to Ecuador and deciding what to bring? Here’s an explanation of the weather patterns in Ecuador.


The weather in Ecuador varies drastically by region. The Galapagos Islands are warm all year and the weather in Quito is very similar to San Francisco’s famous weather –– you can get away wearing a t-shirt only but you always need a light sweater. Ecuador is located in the Equator, but the differences in altitude makes the climate extremely comfortable.

The coastal lowlands to the west of Ecuador are typically warm with temperatures in the region of 25°C (77°F). Coastal areas are affected by ocean currents and between January and April are hot and rainy.

The weather in Quito is consistent to that of a subtropical highland climate. The city has a fairly constant cool climate due to its elevation. The average temperature during the day is 66 °F (18.9 °C), which generally falls to an average of 50 °F (10 °C) at night. The average temperature annually is 64 °F (17.8 °C)

There are only really two obvious seasons in the city: dry and wet. The dry season (summer) runs from June to September and the wet season (winter) is from October to May. As Ecuador is in the southern hemisphere, June to September is winter. Spring, winter, and fall are generally the “wet seasons” while summer is the dry season with exception of the first month of fall which is pretty dry too.

Ecuador lies directly on the equator, so the entire country enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight 365 days a year. However, the climate you will experience depends largely on where you are in Ecuador, since there are four distinct geographical areas—the Sierra (mountains), the Oriente (eastern rainforests), the Costa (Pacific coastal plains), and the Galapagos Islands.

For example, Ecuador’s capital, Quito, lies in the Central Valley between the Andean Mountains’ eastern and western ridges. The equator is less than 20 miles north of the city, yet at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,900 meters) Quito’s climate is spring-like year around: about 50° F (10° C) at night and as high as 76° F (25° C) during the day.

The sun makes a difference. You can comfortably stroll out on a glorious Quito afternoon in shorts and a T-shirt, but you’ll need to take your wool sweater in case the clouds roll in. The equatorial sun is intense, but when it’s obscured by clouds, you realize how high in the Andes you really are. In fact, cold weather gear is needed for high altitude hiking and mountain climbing.

The beaches and rainforests, on the other hand, are characterized by the tropical temperatures that one would expect from equatorial lowlands, with highs ranging between 80º F and 90º F. Between these two extremes, just about any type of weather can be found in Ecuador.

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48 Hours In Baños, Ecuador: Natural Hot Baths, Spas And Good Food

In the beginning of April we did a great two day tour to Banos with our clients Randy and Sarah from Colorado/USA. Both love hiking, so beautiful Banos, Ecuador’s adventure capital, was the ideal destination!

Banos is a 4 hour drive away from Quito in the Tungurahua province – it’s one of Ecuador’s most popular tourist destinations, both for Ecuadorians and foreign tourists. It’s located at 1820 m above sea level and has a warm subtropical climate. Its location is spectacular, nestled among green hills streaked with waterfalls.

The town is named after its thermal baths, the water of which comes directly from the active Tungurahua volcano. And when I say active, I mean really active – in December 2012 we were lucky to hear the volcano rumbling and even saw lava flowing down the volcano from a viewpoint! What an awesome experience 🙂

Tungurahua volcano Banos

In Banos, there’s a huge choice of accommodations, everything reasonably priced compared to Quito – we dropped our clients off at “La Posada del Arte”, a nice and very individual hotel with cozy rooms and good food (Link:

If you are interested in a cheaper option, you can also check out “Hostal La Chimenea” (Link: We went for a walk in town to see the waterfall and the basilica and enjoyed the sunny day in the small streets.

In the afternoon we went by car along the “Avenue of the Waterfalls”, the road from Banos to Puyo, which offers one of Ecuador’s most scenic approaches to the Amazon basin.

We passed by a string of waterfalls along the way. We had several photo stops along the way – the river was full of water as it had rained a lot the days before we arrived.
 We enjoyed a cable car ride with the first cable car that existed in Banos – nowadays there are plenty and it is hard to choose. I especially like the cable car we took because it takes you to the community San Pedro on the other side of the mountain.

The view from the cable car on the canyon is amazing – nothing for you if you suffer from vertigo though 😉

On the other side of the mountain is a hidden gem…a small path leads to San Pedro…no cars, no noise, just a peaceful atmosphere, tangerine trees and beautiful flowers.

That must be paradise! If you would like to stay a night, I highly recommend you Shuglaya Ecolodge (Link: – a rustic haven for rest and relaxation in the middle of nature! Shuglaya boast three rustic cabanas, in each of which up to 4 persons can sleep. The cottages are surrounded by wonderful gardens and green areas.

In their restaurant Ecuadorian and international food, gourmet style, is served. Cooking is done on a wood stove, made of volcanic stone. Close by is a waterfall and there are several paths and natural trails around. On weekends near the waterfall fresh orange juice is served to the visitors…so good!

Next stop: the impressive waterfall “Pailon del Diablo” (Devil’s Cauldron) close to the village Rio Verde! We did the 15 km from Banos by car, but it’s also a wonderful cycling route – also for non-experienced bikers as it’s mostly downhill.

From the parking lot it’s a short 1 km hike down to the waterfall along a nice ecological path.

The Pailon del Diablo is formed by the Rio Verde river, which hurtles down the gorge to join the Pastaza river.

Seeing the waterfall is impressive…masses of water thundering down can be observed from different balconies. On the balconies, you will definitely get wet, so if you mind, you better bring a rain poncho.

A short walk away from the waterfall, we crossed a bridge across the river and could enjoy a wonderful view of the Pailon del Diablo and the river.

After the hike back up the hill, we enjoyed a freshly pressed orange juice, before heading back to Banos through the tunnels.

Sarah decides to get a relaxing massage after an adventurous day at “Spa Yerba Buena” (Link: just around the corner of the hotel. Great prices and great service! After a glass of red wine, we are ready to head to the hot springs.

We like the “Piscinas de la Virgin”, which are located at the foot of a waterfall that tumbles down the mountain. At night the pools are open from 6 pm to 10 pm – they are a meeting point for the locals and it’s easy to get in touch with lots of people, even if you are a solo traveler.

On weekends and public holidays it’s hard to find a space in the pools. A smaller one is almost boiling hot and it’s great for your immune system to change between the hot and another cold one. On the upper deck there’s another bigger pool with a nice bath tub temperature. Also try the cold showers which get their water directly from the waterfall.

Now we are ready for a nice dinner! Our favorite restaurant in Banos is the “Swiss Bistro” – nice atmosphere, especially the patio on the first floor, where you can sit outside. (Link:

Food is Swiss inspired and the steaks served with roestis are awesome! With our stomachs filled and nice memories of a great day, we are ready for bed 🙂

The next day after breakfast, we start our hiking tour and head to the south side of town, where the path leading up the mountainside starts. Our destination is a big white cross on the top of the hill, which marks a spot called Bellavista.

A group of three street dogs walk along with us the whole way up.

After walking about 45 minutes uphill, we can enjoy amazing views of the town of Banos and the surrounding mountains from the Bellavista viewpoint.

We continue further up to the first class hotel Luna Runtun. Next time I definitely want to enjoy their amazing pools.

Unfortunately their great cafe “Cafe del Ciel” was still closed when we arrived (opens at 1 pm) – would have been great to enjoy a cup of coffee there just enjoying the views!

We start our way down and pass by the monument of the virgin of Banos from where a steep path with lots of stairs leads us back to Banos.

Before heading back to Quito, we have lunch at the restaurant “Casa Hood” (Link: – the restaurant offers a big variety of different dishes (from Mexican to Asian and Indian food) in a nice atmosphere. Try the shakes, fruit juice mixes and the desserts – they also have a book exchange and show a movie each afternoon.

On the way to Quito, we try to get a last view of the Tungurahua, but unfortunately it’s still covered by clouds.

Tired but happy after a nice tour, we head back to Quito…as always, I leave Banos hoping to be back very soon 🙂

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Sightseeing in Quito with Quito Tour Bus

Since the beginning of 2012, tourists in Quito can enjoy city tours with the Quito tour bus, double-decker hop-on/hop-off buses leaving once an hour (first tour starts a 9 am). At an affordable cost of 12 USD, you can drive through Quito and discover the city from a new perspective. The audio comments are in Spanish and English.

The doubledecker Quito Tour Bus is excellent to discover the best spots in the city

Most people do the whole 3 hour loop starting at Boulevard Naciones Unidas, close to Quicentro Shopping centre.

Starting point of the Quito tour: Boulevard Naciones Unidas
Starting point of the Quito tour: Boulevard Naciones Unidas
Boulevard Naciones Unidas - the tour starts!
Boulevard Naciones Unidas – the tour starts!

After leaving Quito new town and passing by the botanical garden and La Mariscal neighborhood, the bus enters in Quito old town. I especially like the San Juan neighborhood close to the Basilica.

San Juan neighborhood in Quito oldtown - view on the Basilica
San Juan neighborhood in Quito oldtown – view on the Basilica

The San Juan neighborhood is famous for its bakeries that make “quesadillas”, typical sweets from Quito. If you want to try them, hop off the bus here and enjoy a quesadilla, a good coffee and the views over Quito!

Museum of Contemporary Arts in San Juan

At the same stop you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Arts. In the past the military hospital was in this building.

The majestic basilica in Quito oldtown – climbing up it’s towers is an adventure!

Next stop is the Basilica – the inside of the Basilica is not very impressive, but climbing up the steep stairs up to the towers of the church is definitely recommendable and an adventure, even if you are not afraid of heights. The views from the towers are simply wonderful! There is also a small cafe in one of the towers, where you can have a rest and a drink.

Driving down steep roads in Quito old town

The bus drives down the very steep roads of Quito old town. From the top of the doubledecker bus you can also see inside of the old colonial buidlings and get close to the beautiful balconies. This street is “Calle de las 7 cruces” (Street of the 7 crosses – as there are several churches along the way).

Beautifully restored houses in the old town
Plaza San Francisco in Quito old town – one of the most beautiful ones in the city!

Plaza San Francisco is one of the most beautiful places in the old town. If you get off here, visit the museum in the monastery of San Francisco, take a rest at Cafe Tianguez and do some shopping in the nice souvenir store close to the cafe! The plaza is located on the site where the palace of the Inca ruler Atahualpa´s son once existed and was used for centuries by indigenous groups as a trading center.

Boulevard 24 de Mayo – before a dangerous spot with lots of pickpockets, now completely remodelled and safe

I love the remodeled Boulevard 24 de Mayo – when I walked there about 2 years ago, a pickpocket tried to steel my wallet. Now there is security and it’s a really nice place to walk around and continue your way to “La Ronda”, a typical colonial street. This street used to be famous for crime and prostitution, but since 2006 the street has been cleaned up successfully so that you can feel the colonial atmosphere again 🙂 Especially from Thursday to Saturday night, it’s a very popular spot for local people and tourists alike to go out, enjoy a canelazo (typical hot drink with naranjilla juice, spices and licquor) and empanadas on the street and listen to good live music in one of the several bars and cafes.

Enjoying beautiful views from the Panecillo mountain!

Finally the bus takes you up to the top of the Panecillo mountain to the Virgin of Quito. If you are lucky and have a clear day, you can spot the volcanoes around Quito – in any case the views are fantastic. The bus makes a 20 minute stop on the Panecillo so that you have enough time to walk around and take photos.

Virgin of Quito on the Panecillo mountain
Quito old town seen from the Panecillo

Thanks to its wonderfully preserved old town, Quito was the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Back to the city! After a last little loop through the old town, the bus continues its way back to the North to Boulevard Naciones Unidas. On the way back you can hop off at the stop of the Teleferiqo to take the cable car up to the east side of Pichincha volcano for more stunning views 🙂

Plaza San Francisco
Balcony in Quito old town

Contact us for itineraries, costs and special events:

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Peguche and Otavalo Artisan tour with Barefoot Expeditions

The Saturday market in Otavalo is definitely a must see for most tourists who visit Ecuador – indeed the market is huge and a paradise for anybody looking for souvenirs, handcrafted local products and jewellry. But to truly appreciate the handcrafted items, we decided to do a tour to the surrounding villages to see the artisans at work. We start our tour with a visit of the Peguche waterfalls outside of Otavalo, a sacred place to the local indigenous people, which gets extremely crowded during the Inti Raymi Festival on June 24th, the Festival of the Sun. A big party with music, dancing and cleanings by shamans is held at the waterfalls – a wonderful place!

Our guide Israel takes us through the rain to a workshop in Peguche, where a family produces traditional musical instruments from the Andes region, certainly including a huge variety of panpipes made out of a special type of bamboo from the coast. Every panpipe sounds different!

They also sell the so-called charango, a small instrument similar to a mandolin, which was originally made from armandillo shells. The artisans also have their own band, which performs on concerts in the area.

We continue our way to the workshop of the indigenous weavers José and María. José is 80 years old, his wife 67 – they are the last artisans who still do the whole weaving process completely by hand. They buy the sheep wool in the region of El Carchí close to the Columbian frontier, wash it twice in hot and cold water to remove grease and dirt and brush it twice to make to wool soft and manageable and then make the yarn on a 150-year-old and hand-operated machine.

We were surprised that out of a small amount of wool they could actually make 3 meters of yarn. Then José demonstrates us how he weaves a scarf on his little weaving frame. He started weaving at the age of 7, he tells us, and with his expertise he is going to weave a scarf within one day.

“Some months ago, I taught a Japanese guy, who was staying with me for 5 days, how to weave,” he informs us in Quechua and points on a photo of the wall. “He did pretty well in fact!” Funny to imagine that the Japanese might produce scarves and blankets in traditional Ecuadorian style in his home country now 🙂 We ask him if this family business will still live on – “No,” José tells us. “When I die, our business will disappear.” They have a daughter, but she does not want to keep on with the family tradition as it is a lot of work, which does not generate a lot of income unfortunately. José´s scarves and blankets are unique – something I have never seen on the market in Otavalo or other shops. They only sell directly from their workshop.

Next stop is the house of a local shaman or healer in the community of La Calera. He demonstrates us a cleansing, for which he uses herbs, an egg, cigarettes and agua ardiente, a strong licor made out of sugarcane.

The herbs absorb the bad energy the person to be cleaned might have inside…the local people generally feel that when they are weak, without motivation, imbalanced or ill, they generally go to a shaman for a cleansing. Now the shaman batters the pollution out of the patient´s aura with cigarette smoke, whacks with bundles of medicinal herbs, and showers of raw cane liquor spit on the patient.
At the end he rubs the egg all over the body – sometimes it breaks if the aura has been really “polluted. I asked him if he still does cleanings with guinea pigs (which are rubbed all over the body of the patient – “Yes”, the shaman answered, “but it has to be a black one, which absorbs the bad energy better. Sometimes, if the aura of a patient is polluted a lot the guinea pig already dies during the cleaning, if not I cut it at the end and thus can see what kind of illness or imbalance the patient has.” Wow! After the cleaning he tells us to leave quickly so that the bad energy is not following us – so we better run quickly back to the van 🙂

Israel takes us to a family house where we have a traditional lunch before we head off to a workshop managed by six women from the La Calera community who do jewelry like necklaces, bracelets and earrings out of the Tagua nut.

The Tagua nut is a botanical alternative to ivory and is a seed that comes from the ivory-nut palm which grows wild in the humid tropical forest in the mangroves at the coast of Ecuador.

Apart from that a local seed called “torta” is used as well.

The women of the community were housewives before and are happy to have their own business now, which gives them a possibility to have an additional income.

We finish our day at the beautiful Cuicocha lagoon and go back to Otavalo to stroll over the market after a great day full of new insights!
This tour was part of “Turismo comunitario” in the region tourism involving the local communities to give them new sources of income and at the same time enable visitors to gain new insights and understand the reality of these communities in a better way. It is very rewarding to be in contact with the local people and an idea of their everyday life – and at the same time being able to support them!
If you are interested in getting to know one of these local tourism projects, please send a short email to and we will provide you with more information 🙂

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Quito’s Holy Week is one of the most important and biggest ones in South America

The Good Friday Procession in Quito’s Holy Week is one of the most important and biggest ones in South America. In colonial times, the entire city participated in this event. Nowadays Quiteños and tourists arrive from every corner of the city to get a good spot in the narrow streets from where to watch the procession. Today it represents one of the most important acts of religious faith in the city, gathering around 90,000 devotees and spectators who flood the historic centre.

The procession of Jesus the Almighty begins in San Francisco Church at noon, at the time that Pontius Pilate is said to have condemned Jesus to death on the cross. Traditional characters such as the “Cucuruchos” and the “Veronicas” follow the figures of Jesus Christ and Our Lady of Sorrow through the streets of old Quito. The whole procession takes about 2 hours. The “Cucuruchos” symbolize penitents who, dressed in purple tunics and cone-shaped hoods, demonstrate their deep remorse and desire to change. The “Veronicas” symbolize the woman who came up to Jesus Christ and wiped his bloody face clean, on whose cloth His image remained. In Quito, “Veronicas” are also dressed in purple and their faces covered in a black veil. They sing and pray the rosary while they are walking.


It is an interesting, but sometimes strange spectacle, even for me as a catholic – watching the “Cucuruchos” walking barefoot and carrying extremely heavy wooden crosses or trunks through the streets of the old town, their feet chained – some have cactuses, others nettles on their backs…being wrapped in barbwire must be a very painful experience!

After the procession I enjoyed a “Fanesca”, a heavy soup which is typically served during the Holy week. This delicious soup is prepared with different grains and legumes. To this filling mix , most restaurants add fish (bacalao), small empanadas and boiled eggs, some serve it with a special kind of Andean mashed potatoes. A typical dessert afterwards is “arroz con leche” (rice pudding). The origin of the “Fanesca” is often discussed, but possibly its significance is religious: its dozen grains and legumes symbolise the 12 Apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel; the fish symbolises Christ and the way that his message feeds the Christian community.


The Holy week in Quito is a great culinary, cultural and religious experience: a unique event that is definitely worth participating!



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Tour de 20 dias para escaladores de alta montaña,  incluimos un itinerario de aclimatizacion que termina con Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, mientras visitan lugares como las Termas de Papallacta, el centro de Quito, la conocida  y hermosa ciudad de Baños de agua santa  y para disfrutar de la selva añadimos 4 dias en el Cuyabeno.

Día 1 – Llegada a Quito Llegada en el curso del día al aeropuerto de Quito. Transporte privado al Boutique Hotel “Portada de Cantuña” en el Centro Histórico. (Comidas incluidas: – )

Día 2 – Tour del centro histórico y de la Mitad del Mundo Hoy vamos a conocer los atractivos más importantes en el Centro Histórico de Quito en un city tour: Empezamos caminando desde el hotel y vamos a “La Ronda”, una calle colonial, la Plaza de San Francisco con el convento, la iglesia La Compañía, la Plaza Grande con el palacio del presidente y subimos a la Basilica. Luego el bus nos recoge para ir al “Panecillo” con la Virgen de Quito. De ahí seguimos a la Mitad del Mundo y visitamos el museo Inti Nan donde podemos observar experimentos con las fuerzas en la línea equatorial como balancear un huevo en un clavo. Regresamos en la tarde al hotel “Portada de Cantuña”. (Comidas incluidas: D)

Día 3 – Mercado en Otavalo, Trekking en la laguna de Cuicocha En la mañana vamos a Otavalo donde visitamos el famoso mercado, uno de los más conocidos de Latinoamérica y sin dudas el más importante del Ecuador. Vale resaltar que el mercado esta compuesto por habitantes de origen indígena que llevan a cabo diferentes manualidades y las ponen en venta en sus puestos. Pueden encontrar una serie de productos sumamente elaborados entre los que se destacan los tejidos a mano y las calabazas talladas. Seguimos con el bus hasta la laguna de Cuicocha. Cuicocha es parte de la reserva ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas, cuya altitud es de 3.064 m. Esta reserva es un deleite para cualquier amante de la naturaleza, con cerca de 20.000 especies de orquídeas y una variedad de aves como el cóndor andino. La caminata alrededor del lago Cuicocha, que dura aprox. 4 horas, nos permitirá saborear la rica biodiversidad de la reserva asó como una vista espectacular de sus cristalinas aguas y los islotes formados en el centro del cráter volcánico con una profundidad de 200 m. Después de la caminata el bus nos lleva a nuestros alojamientos rurales en comunidades indígenas del sector rural del Cantón Cotacachi. Están construidos con materiales locales tradicionales y esta cerca de la vivienda de la familia indígena con que van a convivir, garantizando una experiencia autentica y suficiente privacidad para el visitante. Los alojamientos son cómodos, cada uno cuenta con una habitación con capacidad máxima de tres personas, un baño privado con agua caliente y una chimenea de leña. Quedarse en uno de los alojamientos rurales es una oportunidad única para compartir la vida tradicional de la familia indígena, intercambiar experiencias y la cultura entre los visitantes y la familia. (Comidas incluidas: D, BL, C)

Dia 4 – Trekking Lagunas de Mojanda y ascención al Fuya-Fuya (4263 m) En la mañana nos despedimos de las familias indígenas después del desayuno y vamos a las Lagunas de Mojanda. Empezamos la caminata a una altura de 3.715 metros (Laguna grande), por un tiempo aproximado de 2 horas, hasta la cima del volcán Fuya-Fuya (4.263 metros). Esta caminata se la realiza alrededor de los lagos de origen volcánico Caricocha, Huarmicocha y Yanacocha, cuyas colinas cubiertas de pasto tienen por marco la montaña Fuya – Fuya. Existen muchas leyendas indígenas alrededor de su origen e historia. Contamos con una vista magnífica de los tres lagos de Mojanda. En un día despejado podremos disfrutar de la vista espectacular que le ofrecen las cumbres nevadas del Cotopaxi, Cayambe y los cráteres de la Mama Cotacachi y el Taita Imbabura. Después de 1, 5 horas de descenso hasta la carreterra vamos a nuestro lindo hotel “Casa Sol” que se encuentra cerca de la Cascada de Peguche. Tienen la oportunidad de descansar en el hotel o visitar la cascada en la tarde. (Comidas incluidas: D, BL)

Dia 5 – Ascención al volcán Imbabura (4630 m) Esta gira de 9 horas de caminata nos ofrece la oportunidad de subir a la cima del volcán Imbabura (4630 m) Después de entrar en la comunidad indígena de la Esperanza (a 3.000 m) nosotros cruzaremos la región montañosa y obtendremos una buena vista de Ibarra, la capital de la provincia. El ambiente lentamente cambia a las formaciones rocosas y después de 5 a 6 horas de subida, alcanzaremos la cima de este volcán a 4.610 metros sobre el nivel del el mar. Luego de un momento agradable empezaremos el descenso y en 3 a 4 horas llegaremos a la Esperanza para retornar a Quito en la tarde. Nos hospedaremos en el Boutique Hotel “Casa Foch” en La Mariscal, el barrio más turístico de Quito y el centro de entretenimiento con la mayoría de restaurantes, bares y cafés. “Casa Foch” queda a la vuelta de la Plaza Foch, donde pueden disfrutar de una rica cena, un coctel o una cerveza en la noche. (Comidas incluidas: D, BL)

Dia 6 – Ascención al Rucu Pichincha (4794 m) En la mañana salimos a las 8 am del hotel y el bús nos lleva al Teleferiqo, un funicular o telecabina que sube la escarpada ladera del volcán Pichincha a 4 794 msnm, sobre el costado oeste del centro de Quito. El TelefériQo es uno de los más altos funiculares del mundo y es una de las atracciones turísticas más famosas de la capital por sus excelente vista de Quito y el paisaje montañoso de los Andes circundantes. Las cabinas parten desde una altura de 2 904 msnm en su base y ascienden encima del páramo característico de los flancos orientales del volcán Pichincha, hasta Cruz Loma con una altura de 4 100 msnm. Desde Cruz Loma empiezamos la ascensión del Rucu Pichincha (4794 m). Hacemos un trekking por el arenal de 3,5 horas hasta la cumbre, regresamos a Cruz Loma y bajamos nuevamente a la base en el Telefériqo. El bus nos lleva al Boutique Hotel “Casa Foch” en la tarde. (Comidas incluidas: D, BL)

Día 7 – Dia de descanso en las Termas de Papallacta En bus vamos aprox. 1,5 horas hasta Papallacta. Papallacta se encuentra a unos 60 km al este de Quito, sobre el camino Quito-Baeza, y está situada a 3.300 metros de altura en el extremo sudoeste de la cordillera oriental. Las Termas están ubicadas a las orillas del río Papallacta, ofreciendo un entorno natural que se ha mantenido en forma de alrededores escénicos con nueve piscinas de aguas termales, una piscina de agua de río y las tres piscinas de agua fría de diversos tamaños constituyen un panorama pintoresco. La riqueza hidro-termal de las aguas se debe a que Papallacta se encuentra situada entre los volcanes Cayambe y Antisana. La temperatura de las termas en su origen varía entre 30° y 70° C y en las piscinas fluctúa entre 36° y 40° C. Las aguas mejoran la motilidad intestinal, son antialérgicas, desinflamatorias, diuréticas, antirreumáticas, sedantes, etc. Pasamos la noche en las lindas cabañas que forman parte del complejo de las Termas de Papallacta. Ofrecen un ambiente acogedor junto al fuego proporcionado por la chimenea localizada en la sala. Sus piscinas también están reservadas para uso exclusivo de los huéspedes. (Comidas incluidas: D, C)

Dia 8 – Subida al refugio de los Ilinizas (4700 m) Después del desayuno salimos a las 8 am de las Termas de Papallacta en 4 x4 y nos dirigimos hacía los Ilinizas. Ilinizas es un volcán al sur de Quito que se separó en dos cumbres separadas hace 5000 años. En los 4 x 4 llegamos al parqueadero desde donde caminamos aprox. 1 horas hasta el refugio (4700 m). Nuestro equipaje llevan caballos para poder disfrutar la caminata y estar en buena condición para el siguiente día. Tenemos la tarde para descansar en el refugio donde pasamos la noche antes de la ascención. (Comidas incluidas: D, BL, C)

Dia 9 – Ascención al Iliniza Norte (5126 m) Salimos del refugio a las 5 am y empezaremos con la ascención de aprox. 3 a 4 horas hasta la cumbre del Iliniza Norte (5126 m). La subida es un trekking moderado con una pequeña escalada para llegar hasta la cumbre. Durante la ascención tendremos hermosas vistas del Cotopaxi y los otros volcanes en los alrededores. Esta ascensión es perfecta para la acclimatización y preparación de la ascensión del Cotopaxi. Después de una bajada de 1,5 horas llegaremos al parqueadero nuevamente y los 4 x 4 nos llevaran a la hermosa hacienda “Tambopaxi” cerca del Cotopaxi donde podemos descansar frente a la chimenea. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 10 – Subida al refugio del volcán Cotopaxi (4800 m) Después del desayuno nos dirigimos hacía la entrada del Parque Nacional Cotopaxi a las 10 am – el Cotopaxi es el volcán activo más alto del mundo (5897 m)! Primero visitamos el museo del parque nacional y después de llegar al parqueadero (4500 m) subimos aprox. 1 hora al refugio “Jorge Rivas” (4800 m). Tenemos la tarde para descansar en el refugio donde también pasamos la noche antes de la ascención. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 11 – Ascensión al Cotopaxi (5897 m) A medianoche empezamos la ascención del Cotopaxi desde el refugio – así llegaremos a la cumbre para ver el amanecer y disfrutar increibles vistas hacía Quito en el norte y hacía el Chimborazo y el Tungurahua en el sur. A pesar de que la ascención no es calificada como técnica, necesitamos equipo especial para subir el glaciar. Después de aprox. 6 horas llegaremos a la cumbre desde donde tienen una vista espectacular del cráter cubierto de nieve. Después de aprox. dos horas de bajada llegaremos al refugio a las 10 am y seguiremos al parqueadero donde ya nos espera el bus para llevarnos a la linda ciudad de Baños (aprox. 2,5 horas). Pasamos la noche en Baños en el Hostal “La Chimenea” que queda a la vuelta del las piscinas de termales de la virgen donde podemos descansar y relajar los músculos en el agua caliente. (Comidas incluidas: D, A)

Dia 12 –Día de descanso en Baños Baños es uno de los atractivos turísticos más concurridos de Ecuador. Ubicado en la cordillera de los Andes a 1820 sobre el nivel del mar, se encuentra a los pies del activo volcán Tungurahua, famoso por sus erupciones, bocanadas de humo y temblores. Baños es un paraíso natural con exuberante vegetación tropical dada la cercanía con la Amazonía y la línea del Ecuador. Rodeado de increíbles caídas de agua, cuenta con 57 cascadas, piscinas de aguas termales naturales, un volcán activo, caminos de montaña, puentes colgantes y ríos caudalosos. Es un lugar ideal para deportes extremos, con una gran variedad de actividades entre las que puede elegir. Pueden aprovechar este día libre para un tour de canyoning, un paseo en bici por la ruta de las cascadas hacía el “Pailón del Diablo”, salto de puentes, cabalgatas o simplemente descansar en uno de los lindos cafés, las piscinas termales o disfrutar de un tratamiento en uno de los varios SPAs (todas las actividades sugeridas son opcionales). El hostal mismo ofrece Baños de Cajón en la mañana. Pasamos la noche en el hostal “La Chimenea”. (Comidas incluidas: D)

Dia 13 – Subida al refugio del volcán Chimborazo (5000 m) Después del desayuno salimos de Baños hacía Riobamba. Llegaremos al parqueadero del Chimborazo desde donde subimos aprox. 1 hora hasta el refugio. El Chimborazo es la montaña más alta de Ecuador (6310 m). Se encuentra en la cordillera occidental de los Andes a 150 km de Quito. En la tarde descansamos en el refugio donde también pasamos la noche antes de la ascensión. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 14 – Ascensión al Chimborazo (6310 m) A medianoche empezamos la ascención del Chimborazo desde el refugio. El itinerario de la ascención es parecido al itinerario del Cotopaxi, pero la subida es más larga – dura aprox. 7 – 9 horas para llegar a la cumbre y luego 2 a 3 horas de bajada. La ascensión es un verdadero reto y permite al escalador de pasar la barrera de los 6000 m. Regresamos al refugio aprox. a las 10 am. Desde el parqueadero tomamos el bus para regresar a Quito y descansar en el Boutique Hotel “Casa Foch” para el resto del día y alistar las maletas para el tour a la selva el siguiente día. (Comidas incluidas: D, A)

Dia 15 – Tour a la selva (Cuyabeno) En la mañana tomamos un vuelo a Lago Agrio. Recepción en Lago Agrio a las 9:00h, desde donde tomaremos el transporte privado a la entrada de Cuyabeno, donde tendremos un box lunch. En este punto tienen que registrarse en la oficina de la Reserva y pagar la entrada. Aquí el guía naturalista del lodge nos da información acerca de la Reserva, recomendaciones importantes y otros consejos para comenzar la navegación por dos horas en el río Cuyabeno de Jamu Lodge. Durante el paseo en canoa obtenemos un primer vistazo a la selva y se podrán observar diferentes tipos de aves como los caciques, oropéndolas y el prehistórico pájaro Hoatzin. También es posible ver una variedad de monos y otros animales de la selva, en función del tiempo y las condiciones meteorológicas. Llegaremos a Jamu Lodge alrededor de las 4:30 pm. En ese momento nos muestran nuestros cuartos y podemos relajar un poco. Después de la siesta vamos a salir del lodge a nadar en la laguna y ver una hermosa puesta de sol en medio de la Laguna Grande. A continuación, regresamos al campamento para la cena, y podemos terminar nuestro primer día en la selva, relajarnos en una hamaca o tomar una copa en el bar. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 16 – Jungle Tour Cuyabeno Después del desayuno vamos en canoa nativa, llamado “quilla” a la Laguna de “Canangueno” para la observación de aves por, y hacemos una caminata en el bosque. Podemos obtener una buena idea de lo que parece un bosque inundado. Se puede observar una gran variedad de aves diferentes y monos. Debido que esta actividad es aproximadamente de 4 – 5 horas de duración, tomamos un box lunch con nosotros. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 17 – Jungle Tour Cuyabeno Después del desayuno partimos en una canoa río abajo en un trayecto aproximadamente de una hora a visitar una familia de la comunidad Tarapuy. Podremos aprender cómo preparar Casabe, un pan tradicional de Yuca. Ayudamos en la elaboración del mismo y aprendemos a usar los materiales de la selva para hacer el pan, en esto ocupamos todo el día, retornando al lodge aproximadamente a las dos de la tarde. Después del almuerzo tenemos actividades de relajamiento para terminar el día tendremos una corta caminata por el bosque primario enfocada a observar insectos nocturnos, como arañas, gekos o escorpiones, y a escuchar los ruidos y sonidos de la noche. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 18 – Jungle Tour Cuyabeno Temprano en la mañana antes del desayuno, una excursión de observación de aves es opcional. Volviendo al lodge tenemos desayuno y, a continuación, transfer a Lago Agrio para tomar el vuelo de vuelta. Noche en Quito en el hotel “Casa Foch” en La Mariscal. (Comidas incluidas: D, A, C)

Dia 19 Dia de descanso en Quito Antes del regreso a la península, tenemos un día libre en Quito para ir de compras, visitar museos o el mercado artesanal. Pasamos la noche en el hotel “Casa Foch”. (Comidas incluidas: D)

Dia 20 Vuelo de regreso a España Transfer del hotel al aeropuerto. (Comidas incluidas: D)


Incluye: Transporte privado en buses (tipo Mercedes Sprinter) o 4 x 4 durante todo el tour, Alojamiento: 9 noches en hoteles tipo Boutique Hotel con en habitaciones dobles con baño privado, 2 noches en hostal de buen nivel en habitaciones dobles con baño privado, 1 noche en alojamiento rural en cabañas hasta 3 personas con baño privado, 3 noches en dormitorios en refugios con baño compartido, 1 noche en cabaña compartida de lujo con baño compartido (Termas de Papallacta), 3 noches en jungle lodge en habitaciones dobles con baño privado, comidas mencionadas en el itinerario (D = desayuno, A = almuerzo, BL = box lunch, C = cena), Guias certificados de la ASEGUIM para las ascenciones (1 guía para cada 2 personas), guiás especializados para las otras actividades.

No incluye: Comidas no mencionadas en el itinerario, entradas, bebidas adicionales o alcoholicas, equipo personal de montaña, sleepings (bolsas a dormir), actividades opcionales en los días libres (día 11 y 19), propinas, gastos personales. Depende de disponibilidad en el momento de la reserva si podemos reservar habitaciones en los hoteles mencionados en el itinerario. Si no hay suficientes habitaciones disponibles, elegiremos hoteles parecidos del mismo nivel. Es necesario tener seguro de viaje para participar en este tour.

Barefoot Expeditions


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Boutique Hotel “Portal de Cantuña” in Quito

Quito definitely has a new, still hidden, jewel in wide range of hotels : Boutique Hotel Portal de Cantuña recently opened in January 2012 – the 120 year old house which was the family home of the Sánchez family was completely refurbished in a period of 17 months and is now a tastefully decorated, comfortable and simply beautiful boutique hotel with 13 unique rooms. The hotel has an excellent location in Quito´s oldtown right around the corner of Plaza San Francisco and close to the new luxury hotel Casa Gangotena. In just a few minutes you can walk to the colonial street “La Ronda” and all the hotspots of the oldtown – but still it´s a peaceful oasis located in a quiet courtyard off the noise of the surrounding streets.

The decor in the rooms of Boutique Hotel Portal de Cantuña and the colonial style courtyard is so beautiful: full of antiques, plants and unique art pieces (which you can even buy at reasonable prices). I think I could have stared ages at the amazing vaulted glass ceiling – it is simply stunning!

The beautiful salon has baroque-inspired gilded mouldings and elegant furniture and makes you feel as if you were transported in the last century.

Each of the 13 rooms is individually decorated, has flat-screen cable TV and private bathrooms with showers, bathrobes and toiletries. The water is heated by solar energy by the way! Some rooms have views of the courtyard and are styled with exposed red bricked walls and colorful tapestries.

Another highlight of Boutique Hotel Portal de Cantuña is definitely the hot tub on the roof top – from a little balcony you can enjoy a superb view on the “Panecillo” and it´s surely great to sit there with a glass of wine.

As Boutique Hotel Portal de Cantuña is family owned, the Sanchez family gives an excellent personalized service and makes their guests feel at home. Soon a little café-bar serving tapas is going to open to offer an extra service to the guests! 

Boutique Hotel Portal de Cantuña is a very special and extraordinary place with a great colonial atmosphere – and luckily still an insider tip!

Thanks to the Barefoot Expeditions team, we are able to offer you this hidden treasure in Quito old town – feel free to contact us and make a reservation (prices vary from $60 dollars a night).


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The Top 10 Most Exciting River Runs Ecuador

Ecuador is a country blessed with huge Andean slopes and deep Amazon valleys. These combination of Andean Mountains dropping into the Amazon jungle forms tremendously fun rivers for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Fast moving water combined with temperate weather makes rafting and kayaking a super enjoyable activity.   We’ve collected the top 10 most exciting whitewater river runs in Ecuador for you to enjoy.


At a glance: Morona Santiago Province, Sucua is the nearest town. Class IV, IV+

The Upano is a dream come true. The River of the Sacred Waterfalls so deep in the Amazon jungle that its sheer solitude makes you be one with nature once again. Class IV and V rivers surrounded by waterfalls, deep green vegetation and jungle citizens that have inhabited the area for centuries.

To read more detail about the Upano please read Upano River. Rafting the Canyon of The Sacred Waterfalls


At a glance: Napo Province.  El Chaco, Class IV, IV+


At a glance: 2 secciones   Prov. Napo.  Tena, Class IV, IV+


Prov. Napo. Tena, Class IV


Prov. Imbabura. Intag, Class IV


Prov. Santo Domingo de los Ts’achilas. Los Bancos, Class IV


Prov. Napo. Tena, Class III


Prov Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas. Santo Domingo, Class III-IV


Prov. Imbabura.  Ibarra Class III-IV


Prov. Napo. Tena, Class II-III

Considerations for this ranking:

  • We’ve mentioned the province to which they belong, the closes city and the river class.
  • All of these rivers are commercial.
  • Barefoot Expeditions operates trips in all the rivers mentioned above.
  • We did not list any rivers in the Banos area because they are contaminated and we do not support the utilization of those rivers for water activities nor we endorse the blatant disregard by the authorities of the issues that these rivers face.
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Trip Coca, Ecuador to Iquitos, Peru


DAY 1: After breakfast early in the morning we leave from Coca by public canoe along the Napo River where we can see different indigenes communities, and have lunch on the way, we continue by canoe to Nuevo Rocafuerte at the Peruvian border, dinner. Stay the night at the hostel in Nuevo Rocafuerte. (10 hours by canoe)
DAY 2: After breakfast visit the Yasuni National Park, we will take a canoe to Jatuncocha lagoon along the Yasuni river where we can observe the pink dolphins and very possibly the giant otters, at the lagoon you will stop and start a hike to visit the salt lick of mammals, in the afternoon you can practice piranha fishing, swim in the lagoon and enjoy the sunset, prepare the camp site, dinner and we can see the caimans by the edge of the lagoon by night.
DAY 3: Wake up early in the morning to go by small canoe to watch different types of birds, then we will come back to the camp site to have breakfast, after we will go for a hike in the primary forest, come back to the camp site and pack our stuff to go back to Nuevo Rocafuerte, spend the night there.
DAY 4: Breakfast in the morning and visit the house of a Quichua family at the other side of Napo river where we are going to shear with them their daily activities, like prepare „chicha“ typical drink made of yuca, canoe back to Nuevo Rocafuerte and spend the night.
DAY 5: After breakfast we are visiting the artisanal museum where you can see different traditional stuff made by the locals, Lunch, pack our stuff to continue our trip to Iquitos, we register our passport at the immigration office, cross the border to Peru and stop in Pantoja the first town in Peru, we will walk around in this Peruvian village to see how the local people live, night at Pantoja.
DAY 6: We leave Pantoja by canoe and have lunch at a beach later on. After that we continue to Santa Clotilde, where we will spend the night in a hostel. You have the possibility to walk around in the afternoon. You will have the opportunity to relax after dinner.
DAY 7: After breakfast we will take an speed boat to Puerto Mazan where we will take a mototaxi to cross from Napo River to the Amazon River by land for about 15 minutes, and take another speedboat to Iquitos Peru, book at a hostal and go for a walk around the city and farewell party.
COST PER PERSON $875.00 (Minimum 2 people)
THE COST INCLUDES: Transport Coca – Iquitos, life jackets, accommodation in tents, basic hostels or cabañas, hotels, rubber boots, rain coats, three meals a day (exception: day 1 – breakfast – and day 7 dinner), drinking water, certified guide and taxes.
THE COST DOES NOT INCLUDE: Payment of US$ 20 for the entry to the Yasuni National Park, transport by plane or bus from Quito to Coca, tips, breakfast on the first day and dinner on the last day, drinks.
Public Bus:
The night bus from Quito to Coca leaves at 9:30 pm at the terminal of “Transportes Esmeraldas”. (Recommendation: Please buy your tickets at least 3 days before the trip! If you prefer, we can buy the ticket for you!)
By plane:
The plane from Quito to Coca leaves at 7:30 am with VIP airlines (cost: 69, 58 USD).

Insect repellent, sun cream, camera, binoculars, light pants, your clothes in backpacks preferred one small backpack for short excursions, shorts and quick dry t-shirts, Flash Light with enough batteries for 6 nights, camera fully charged, small cash, passport or personal documents to be able to cross to the Peruvian territory , cap, bathing suit, towel, special medicines you use, sunglasses, plastic bags big enough for your back pack, several zip bags for electronic stuff, sandals (flip flops or water shoes), water bottle, small first aids kit.
There are flights from Iquitos to Lima daily by LAN for around 229 usd

Quito Office: 00 593 2 600 6869
24Hrs Mobile: 00 593 09 1899 067

Toll free Number 1-866-ECUADOR

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