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SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour

Return to the Ecotours Homepage | Introduction | Destinations |
Meet Your Trip Leaders | Itinerary | Prepare For Your Trip | Trip Cost | More about Ecuador & the Ecotour

Introduction

We are pleased to announce that the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour will take place June 15th to 26th, 2016 and will encompass the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains, the cloud forests, dry forests, and an abundance of opportunities to find and photograph amphibians. Please send an email to trip leader Dr. Kerry Kriger at kerry@savethefrogs.com if you are interested in joining SAVE THE FROGS! in Ecuador this June.

"Hi Kerry, I'd like to go ahead and sign up for the Ecuador trip. The more I go back and read on the website, the more I realize it's a must-do trip. I'm really looking forward to it!
Thanks, John B., Pollock Pines, CA"

Mindo
Andes scenery near Mindo

Ecuador has an incredible array of biodiversity, cultures, landscapes and ecosystems, despite only being the size of Nevada. Ecuador is home to 536 known amphibian species (more than any country on the planet other than Brazil or Colombia) all within a very small geographical area. Ecuador actually has 58 times as many amphibian species per square mile than does the USA! That means there are lots of frogs to be found, making Ecuador a perfect place for a SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour.

Ecuador Ecotour

In October 2015 SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger and amphibian biologist Chelsea Carson traveled throughout Ecuador for nine days searching for ecolodges that are clean, comfortable and home to many frogs, and developing a detailed itinerary to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities in multiple ecosystems while minimizing drive times. Our inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour (which will take place June 15-26th, 2016) has been personally crafted to ensure an amazing, unique and thoroughly unforgettable experience that offers the best in travel, wildlife, culture and education.

Amazon jungle
The jungle stream at Suchipakari, our destination in the Amazon. Is it lush enough for you?

In addition to a wealth of amphibians you can expect to see large quantities of other fascinating wildlife such as reptiles, butterflies, rare mammals, colorful insects, and an array of birds. We hope you can join us in June 2016 for the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour!

Chelsea Carson EcuadorTrip Leader Chelsea Carson and a beautiful glass frog juvenile near the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon.

"Hello Dr. Kriger,
I am very interested in the trip to Ecuador! I am a kindergarten teacher at an expeditionary learning school in Lake Tahoe. Every spring for the last 4 years I teach my kindergarteners about frogs and how to save our local endangered frog species the Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog. I would love to expand my knowledge of frogs so I can teach my students from an even more informed perspective. How can I sign up?"
— Rosie S.

 

Destinations

We will visit a variety of Ecuadorian ecosystems and stay in very pleasant ecolodges, detailed below:

Rio Quijos

The Rio Quijos Ecolodge is located in the Quijos valley situated within the eastern slope of the Andes mountains at about 1,800m above sea level. This unique area sits in between the Oriente and the Andes, which creates a high elevation tropical cloud forest. The lodge is located on 29 hectares (~75 acres) of protected forest and is home to some of the best river sports in Ecuador. There is an outdoor yoga studio and sauna on site and there are five easy to follow trails throughout the property. Here we will spend one afternoon and night and have an opportunity to go rafting.

Rio Quijos

Suchipakari

The Suchipakari Jungle Lodge is a perfect getaway and first experience in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Suchipakari is located along the Pusuno River, a tributary of the Napo River, which eventually leads to the Amazon! A twenty minute drive from Puerto Misahualli brings you to the mouth of the jungle and into lush green forests and flowing rivers. The lodge has new cabins and rooms to give you a luxury stay within a jungle ecosystem. Here we will stay three days and two nights exploring the rivers, waterfalls, jungle, and of course frogs! The lodge offers a pool, a beautiful dining area, and lots of activities within the property.

Amazon jungle
Amazon rainforest at Suchipakari

Papallacta

Papallacta is a luxurious getaway just 1.5 hours from Quito. We will stop at Papallacta, famous for its thermal hot springs, to rejuvenate after three nights of adventure in the forests. You will have elegant cabins, delicious food and 24-hour access to private mineral pools. Papallacta is located just 5 km from Cayambe-Coca National Park and we will have a chance to hike and explore this high elevation forest, including a presentation from a local guide. Relax, enjoy, and prepare yourself for the frog and adventure filled days to come.

Papallacta

Mindo

After a stop at Mitad del Mundo (the Middle of the World), where you will have the rare opportunity to stand in both hemispheres at once, we will make our way into the magical cloud forest reserves of Mindo (1,200m above sea level). Here we will stay at Casa Divina, a natural lodge symbiotic with the local environment. The owners Molly and Efrain promote conservation and sustainable tourism within the community and will be there to give SAVE THE FROGS! an unforgettable three nights at their home. Casa Divina offers hiking trails, lounging areas, rustic cabins, and plenty of wildlife sighting. With the help of Casa Divina we will participate in the many exciting activities that the Mindo community has to offer.

"I've spent a good amount of time in Mindo and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Mindo is also great because at any given lodge you can get 20 species of hummingbirds to occupy your time during the day. The eastern slopes are amazing too. There are so many amazing species. Have fun and best of luck with the trip. Best, Jim Muchmore"


Our home in the cloud forest for three nights

Punta Prieta

Our final frogging destination will be along the Pacific coast of north central Ecuador. Punta Prieta is located on the cliffs, above breathtaking coastlines and bordered by the tropical dry forest. The comfortable accommodations are designed to create a relaxing atmosphere close with the natural landscape of the area. Ecuador's Pacific coast offers dramatic cliff sides, long undisturbed beaches, and a unique and endangered dry forest ecosystem with a great variety of species. We will spend two nights at Punta Prieta enjoying the beach life and everything it has to offer. We will visit two nature reserves, Lalo Loor and Jama Coaque.


Coastal scenery from Punta Prieta on a cloudy day

Quito

Our ecotour will end in the capital city Quito. You will have the choice of visiting the Centro Historico (Historical Center) with Chelsea Carson or going up the Teleferico (one of the world's highest cable cars) with Dr. Kerry Kriger for a hike in the Andes and sunset views of Quito and surrounding volcanoes and mountain valleys.

Cotopaxi exploding
If the weather is clear we will be able to see Cotopaxi (5,897m) from the top of the Teleferico.

Otavalo & Laguna Cuicocha (Optional Final Day)

The final 24 hours of the trip is an optional add-on ($200) during which we will visit the famous Otavalo markets and the beautiful mountain lake Laguna Cuicocha.

 

Meet Your Trip Leaders

Dr. Kerry Kriger

Hi, my name is Dr. Kerry Kriger and I am the Founder & Executive Director of SAVE THE FROGS!. I am an amphibian biologist and have helped coordinate over 1,600 educational events in 60 countries to raise awareness of the threats amphibians face and ways people can help. I have also traveled to over 50 countries, including every country in mainland Latin America other than Paraguay. I first visited South America in 1999 and have now been on six trips to this amazing continent. South America has incredible scenery, culture and wildlife and I am very excited to be organizing the very first of what I hope to be many SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotours. Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and there are abundant options of eco-lodges, habitats and outdoor activities. Our Co-Leader Chelsea Carson is very knowledgeable about Ecuador's geography and wildlife and we look forward to sharing the countries biological treasures with you.

Kerry Kriger
Dr. Kriger above the Teleferico, with Rucu Pichincha (4,784m) in the background.

Chelsea Carson

Hello fellow SAVE THE FROGS! friends, my name is Chelsea Carson, and I am looking forward to being a Trip Leader on your SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. I study conservation biology with a focus on amphibians in Ecuador. I am currently a Fulbright grant recipient researching the effects of land uses on Ecuador's amphibian populations. I fell in love with Ecuador when I first came here in 2014 to study ecology and conservation. Since then I have grown to respect and cherish the beautiful ecosystems that this unique country has to offer. I have volunteered for SAVE THE FROGS! since 2013, organizing and conducting a variety of events to increase the knowledge of local issues affecting amphibians. I am excited to have your support and bring awareness efforts to Ecuador. I would like to share my passion for Ecuador and frogs and bring conservation to Ecuador and the SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide community. I look forward to finding frogs with you in Ecuador!

Chelsea Carson
Chelsea Carson has organized Save The Frogs Day events in Colorado and organized Dr. Kerry Kriger's presentation at Colorado State University in 2013. She currently lives in Ecuador conducting amphibian research for a Fulbright grant she was awarded.

 

Trip Itinerary

June 15th, 2016 (Day 1)

Meet at airport and head to Rio Quijos

The ecotour begins at the Quito international airport (UIO) at 12pm on June 15th, 2016. You will be greeted by your Trip Leaders (SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger & Amphibian Biologist Chelsea Carson), who will welcome you to the wonderful country of Ecuador. From there the journey will begin!

We will board our private bus (The Frog Bus) and head east two hours to the peaceful Rio Quijos EcoLodge. On our trip we will enjoy beautiful Andean mountain scenery, passing through Cayambe-Coca National Park. After the scenic drive we will arrive at our first location, Rio Quijos. This beautiful ecolodge is situated next to the famous Rio Quijos river where we will stay for our first night together. Upon arrival, you will have an hour to relax, walk the trails within the reserve, or take part in a light stretching and yoga class at the banks of the river.

Rio Quijos Ecuador

We then will gather in the pavilion for group introductions and icebreakers. After getting to know our new friends and fellow froggers, dinner will be waiting for us at the lodge. We will enjoy a delicious meal prepared by lodge owner and manager Angel. After dinner there will be two presentations (Welcome to Ecuador and SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour Orientation). These will go into detail of the trip's itinerary and what to expect for the days to come. You can have a walk around the grounds at night or get right to sleep in your comfortable bed.

Rio Quijos
SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour Trip Leaders Dr. Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson with Angel, proprietor of the beautiful Rio Quijos Lodge, where we hope to take YOU!

Rio Quijos Ecolodge

June 16th, 2016 (Day 2)

Rafting and Enter the Jungle

We will awake at the Rio Quijos EcoLodge and have an optional morning yoga stretch session at the pavilion, followed by breakfast at 8:30am.

Yoga Chelsea Carson
Trip Leader Chelsea Carson (a certified yoga instructor) will lead a yoga session in this beautiful outdoor studio.

After breakfast, you will have the option to spend two incredible hours rafting the Rio Quijos, Ecuador's most famous whitewater river. Please note that rafting is an optional add-on at $55 per person if you choose to go; the rafting cost is not included in the ecotour price. If you choose not to raft, you can enjoy the trails around the reserve.


The Rio Quijos dining area

We will have lunch back at the ecolodge. With full bellies and fueled with adrenaline we will say our goodbyes to Rio Quijos and travel down the Andes and into the Oriente arriving at our second location - Suchipakari - in the heart of the Ecuadorean Amazon. Here we will stay at the Suchipakari Lodge. The evening will be spent relaxing to the sounds of the jungle and swimming in the pool.

Suchipakari
Suchipakari

We will reconvene for a delicious dinner while the frogs come out to sing. After dinner Kerry and Chelsea will take the group around the property for an opportunity to see frogs and other nocturnal life.

Suchipakari
Dinner at the Suchipakari Lodge comes with the sounds of frogs calling in the surroundings.

Suchipakari Frog
The frogs are easy to find at Suchipakari!

June 17th, 2016 (Day 3)

Jungle hike and visit to wildlife refuge

After a delicious breakfast of local cuisine we will have a short presentation by your tour leaders Dr. Kriger and Chelsea Carson. This will be a great time to ask questions and learn about the ecosystems we will explore. The morning activities will begin around 10am. You will have the choice between a medicinal plant walk (during which you can learn about all of the incredible uses of Amazonian plants), or a mirador hike (during which we will take you through amazing streams and pristine jungle with an expansive view at the top. Both groups will return for lunch at 1pm and discuss all that they saw and learned.

Jungle Hike Ecuador
Chelsea on the mirador hike

After lunch we will head out on a canoe trip to a wildlife refuge upriver. This scenic canoe ride will take you a half hour up the Rio Napo until reaching the secluded reserve of AmaZOOnico. Here you will have the opportunity to see jungle fauna that you otherwise may not have the chance to see. We will learn about AmaZOOnico's efforts to conserve and protect the native wildlife. If you opt out of the canoe trip there is plenty to enjoy at the lodge like reading, volleyball, bird watching, and tubing.


Chelsea enjoying the Suchipakari hammocks

Upon our return to Suchipakari we will all enjoy a short rest and reconvene for dinner at 7pm. This night we will be accompanied by a local guide and take a night hike into the jungle, so bring your headlamps and come prepared to see frogs!

mushroom Ecuador
A golden mushroom we found on our night hike

June 18th, 2016 (Day 4)

Amazon to the Andes

Another morning start with breakfast and an optional yoga class accompanied by Dr. Kriger's Indian flute melodies will lead us into the day's activities.

Kerry kriger flute
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger playing bansuri (bamboo flute) at the Suchipakari yoga studio. Dr. Kriger has been playing classical music of northern India for two decades.

We will pack up after breakfast and divide into our groups for a morning of fun! Beginning around 10am you can choose to tube the river or go for a hike to the waterfall and natural swimming pools. Both groups will get to enjoy the lush environment of the tropical rainforest and cool off in the water. As the activities will be in different places, both groups will reconnect in Misahualli and board the bus for a short drive to our lunch spot in Tena.

Monkey
A monkey we found in Misahualli.

With full stomachs we will head to Andes! After about a two and a half hour drive we will arrive in the relaxing town of Papallacta to enjoy the thermal hot springs. Each guest will have the opportunity to indulge in private pools and relax in the luxurious accommodations. Dinner will be at 7pm, with the rest of the night left to pamper yourself after a few long days in the jungle.


Thermal pools at Papallacta

June 19th, 2016 (Day 5)

Eastern slopes to the western cloudforests

We will wake up for a nice 8am breakfast and then meet at 9am in the nature center for an hour of presentations and a guided hike. Our local guide Patricio will give a speech about this unique ecosystem and lead us on a tour of the trail system.

Papallacta
Chelsea and Patricio, our local guide

Papallacta hiking
The Papallacta nature center, a great venue for a presentation

After the hike you have the option of taking a final dip in the pools before the bus leaves Papallacta for the Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World)! To break up the drive we will stop for an adventure at the world famous Mitad del Mundo monument. We will all eat at an authentic restaurant inside the museum grounds and after you will have the opportunity to explore and take pictures on both sides of the hemisphere.

Mitad del Mundo
Mitad del Mundo sits in a very scenic valley

The bus will leave Mitad del Mundo at 4pm for a 5:30pm arrival in Mindo. Make sure to observe the scenery during the bus ride as we descend from high alpine Andes into the verdant cloud forests of Mindo. Upon arrival at Casa Divina in Mindo you will have the option to wander the grounds where there is a butterfly garden or participate in a Spanish lesson given by Kerry or Chelsea. Dinner will be at 7:30pm. Then prepare yourself for a night of frogging starting at 8:30pm to bring a close to an adventurous day!

Mindo frogs
Dr. Kriger found these beautiful Pristimantis frogs in amplexus at Casa Divina.

June 20th, 2016 (Day 6)

Birds, classes, relaxation or adventure

Mindo is an incredible place for birding. Early risers can head out at 5am for the rare opportunity of viewing the Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Breakfast will be at 8am followed by a morning filled with optional classes. Dr. Kriger and Chelsea will be giving a plethora of courses this morning including wilderness medicine, Spanish, and yoga with Indian flute music.


Lodging at Casa Divina

We will then break for lunch at 12:30pm with the new skills fresh in our mind. Beginning at 1:30pm there will be the option for exploration around Mindo or a rest at the peaceful lodge. You can walk to the Butterfly Farm and enjoy the peaceful encounter with these graceful creatures or take a cable car ride across the cloud forest to a waterfall hike. Take your time with these activities and relax upon returning to the lodge or participate in a guided meditation class with Chelsea. Dinner will be at the Casa Divina around 6pm, and frogging will begin at 730pm with a local frog expert!


Lodging at Casa Divina

June 21st, 2016 (Day 7)

Verdant Hikes and Frog-filled Nights!

We will awake to the sounds of singing birds and the sight of light being shed over the forests for an 8am breakfast to get another adventurous and ecologically packed day. Morning activities will start around 9am with the option to swing among the canopy on a zipline tour, rappel down waterfalls while canyoneering, or go for a scenic horseback ride through the Mindo valley.

Mindo amphibians
Mindo is famous for its herpetofauna

After indulging in the outdoors we will all meet for lunch in the town of Mindo at a local restaurant. Here you will be able to sample the favorite local dishes and get to know the people of the town. After lunch you will have the opportunity to stick around town, pass through the local shops, or explore the Orchid Garden, home to over 200 species of orchids! If you decide you would rather get back to the forest we will also offer the option of visiting a private reserve for another short hike. Regardless of how you choose to spend your last afternoon in the land of clouds we will meet back at Casa Divina at 5pm for amphibian education and information on volunteering for SAVE THE FROGS! Dinner will be at 7pm followed by another locally guided night hike to search for our frog friends!

Casa Divina
The dining area at Casa Divina

June 22nd, 2016 (Day 8)

Cloudforest to the Pacific Coast

After a delicious breakfast surrounded by the lively cloud forest ecosystem we will say our goodbyes to Mindo and Casa Divina and head to the Pacific Coast. The bus will leave at 9:30am. Be sure to watch as we descend even further down the rolling Andean mountains and into the coastal hillsides. This area is threatened by monoculture and you will notice how much of the natural landscape has been transformed into African oil palm, heart of palm, and banana plantations. We will discuss the implications of losing these ecosystems to agriculture and make insights to what this means for Ecuador's amphibians.

Lizards Ecuador
A lizard at the Lalo Loor reserve on Ecuador's Pacific Coast

Our 3 hour drive will bring us to the breathtaking Ecuadorian coastline very near to the equator. Here you will gaze at the amazing cliff sides that lead directly into the ocean and enjoy a lunch upon arrival at our new home for the next two days, Punta Prieta.

Punta Prieta
The Punta Prieta pool area overlooks the Pacific.

This afternoon and nighttime we will take on the local time and relax on the beach, enjoying the crashing waves and bright sunshine. There will be an optional sunset yoga and drum circle on the beach to watch the sun fade away into tomorrow (Dr. Kriger will have a drum; you are welcome to bring yours as well!). Dinner will be served in the Punta Prieta restaurant around 6:30pm. We will return to the beach later that night to have a bonfire and glowpoi session and hope to see everyone relax, dance, and breath in the salty air.


An Ecuadorian sunset

June 23rd, 2016 (Day 9)

Beach and Frog Extravaganza

You will have the option to sleep in or take a morning walk along the beach until our 9am breakfast. After enjoying fresh fruit and locally made yogurt we will head to the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve. Lalo Loor is a partnership between a local land owner and the Ceiba Foundation to protect Ecuador's disappearing tropical dry forest.

Lalo Loor
A large tree at Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve, where we will take a day hike.

Here we will walk the trails, tour the native plant gardens, and learn about many of the conservation efforts taking place. We will also have a high chance of running into Howler Monkeys, so keep your ears open and eyes peeled for movement in the canopy! We will finish our hike at the biological station and eat a lunch prepared by three local women.

Around 2pm we will hike out of Lalo Loor and head to another dry forest reserve known as Jama Coaque. This reserve is a bit more remote and will offer incredible frogging once night falls. We will tour the reserve's biological station, learn about ongoing projects, and set out for a sunset hike that will lead into evening frogging. After our second hike and a long day of outdoor exploration we will have dinner in the dry forest within the Jama Coaque Reserve. After dinner we will hike out with head lamps and return to Punta Prieta for a good night's sleep and the melody of crashing waves.


Pacific Ocean and a gull

June 24th, 2016 (Day 10)

Pacific Coast to Quito

We will enjoy a final breakfast on the coast and take a group picture in front of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. You will have a bit more time to enjoy the beach before heading out for Quito at 10am. We will break up the 4.5 hour drive back to Quito by stopping for lunch at a local favorite spot along the way.

Upon arrival in Quito there is still much to see before heading back to your home destination! We will drop off our gear at our hotel in Quito and you will have the option to get a tour of Centro Historico by Chelsea, where we will highlight Ecuador's history and get to know amazing places to sight see.

Centro Historico
Centro Historico in Quito

You may also choose to go with Dr. Kriger on one of the iconic "things to do in Quito" known as the Teleferico. This is a gondola that takes you up to nearly 4,000 meters overlooking the whole city of Quito and offers a hike towards the peak of Pichincha.

Rucu pichincha
Rucu Pichincha is an extinct volcano that dominates the landscape above the Teleferico.

Andean fox
This Andean fox (culpeo) found Dr. Kriger at the base of Rucu Pichincha.

Pichincha
Mountain scenery above the Teleferico


Quito and Cotopaxi from the trails above the Teleferico

We will all return back to the hotel in time to leave for a 7:30pm dinner on the hill known as "El Panecillo". This spot is known for its 45 meter tall statue of an angel and a gorgeous overlooking view of Quito's old town. Here we will all enjoy an elegant twist on local cuisine and reminisce on the amazing past journey we shared!

Barnard Hotel
Rooms at the Barnard Hotel, where we will stay in Quito.

June 25th, 2016 (Day 11)

Fly Out or Stay for an optional day to Otavalo markets and Laguna Cuicocha

For those of you ending the ecotour on Saturday, we will have a buffet breakfast at the hotel in Quito and then two options for shuttles to the airport. The base cost of the ecotour covers everything up to this point.

For those of you deciding to include the 24 hour addition ($200) to your journey, we will all eat breakfast at 8am and then head out around 9am for the famous market town of Otavalo. It is a short hour and half drive north of Quito through the Andes, ending in the colorful rows of local trinkets and souvenirs. We will spend about 2.5 hours shopping around and talking with the local vendors and then meet up for lunch at 1pm at a restaurant overlooking the center of town.

Otavalo
Otavalo by night

After lunch we will get back on the bus for a short trip to the beautiful crater lake of Cuicocha. This 3km wide laguna has gorgeous views of surrounding mountains and you will have the opportunity to hike around the rim, take a boat ride to the islands, or simply enjoy the view from above. We will stay here until 6pm to enjoy the bright equatorial sun lower and reflect off of the ancient crater lake. With a beautiful goodbye to the sun we will board the bus and head back to Quito. Along the way we will stop at the famous Cafe de la Vaca for a delectable last Ecuadorean dinner together!

June 26th, 2016 (Day 12)

Final Goodbyes

Breakfast will be available at our hotel in Quito and shuttle services for the airport can be arranged.

 

Prepare For Your Trip

Traveling in Ecuador may be a different experience than what you are accustomed to, so we have written a few things we would love to pass along!

Physical fitness requirements

Most of our hikes will be easy to moderate. Expect guided hikes to last 2-3 hours. We will travel slowly on the trails so that we will have a better chance of viewing wildlife. It is important to know that the trails may be slippery and muddy, so having good footing and closed-toes shoes are essential! Adventurous explorers will have the option to take more strenuous hikes. While we do have scheduled activities planned for you, there will be times where you will have the choice of how to spend your time. Would you prefer to go on a morning jungle hike or birdwatch from a hammock on your balcony? The choice is yours!

Ecuador Spiders
A spider in the Mindo cloudforests

Wear sunblock and stay hydrated

Ecuador is directly on the equator. While this is exciting, it comes with a few cautions: in particular, the sun is strong! Make sure to hydrate, wear sun protection, and get plenty of rest.

Altitude

The highest you will have to be on this ecotour is in Papallacta at 3,300m (10,826ft). However, we have designed this ecotour to minimize any altitude discomfort so we do not expect there to be any issues even for people who live at sea level.

Upon your arrival in Quito (2,850 m; 9,350 ft), we will pick you up at the airport, and we will immediately descend to Rio Quijos (1,800 m; 5,905 ft) for our first night of the ecotour. The next two nights we will descend to Suchipakari at 600m (1,968 ft) above sea level. After two nights in the AMazon lowlands we will rise up to Papallacta at 3,300m (10,826 ft) where we will be relaxing in thermal pools and not doing any major physical exercise. After one night in Papallacta, we will descend again, to Mindo at 1,200 m (3,937 ft). After three nights in Mindo, we head down to the coast at sea level for two nights, and then back to Quito for one night or two (depending on whether you stay for the final optional day). In Quito you will have the option to ride up the Teleferico (4,050 m, 13,287 ft), but if you think that will be too high you can stay in the city for a cultural tour. On our optional day we will visit the beautiful mountain lake Laguna Cuicocha (3,246 m; 10,650 ft).

As some of our locations will be at high altitudes, stay aware of how you feel and stick within your comfort level while hiking and participating in active adventures. You will always be able to opt out of a hike and just chill out looking at the surrounding mountains!

Chelsea is a certified Wilderness First Responder and will have resources and advice if you feel any of the effects of altitude sickness.


Mountains above the Rio Quijos

Volcano alert

Ecuador's iconic volcano Cotopaxi has been at risk of erupting and is currently at Code Yellow. We will not be in the volcano's flood zone (lava could melt the snow and cause flooding). However a massive explosion could cause ash-filled air and significant logistical issues. Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times since 1738. The most violent historical eruptions of Cotopaxi volcano were in 1744, 1768, 1877, and 1904.

Planning to explore Ecuador before or after the Ecotour?

There is plenty to do in Ecuador so if you have extra time to enjoy the country, we are happy to advise you on hotel lodging and recommended locations. We are working on organizing a one-day SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Conference in Quito a few days before the Ecotour begins; if you are able to attend, that would be great (though we do not have any definitive date for the conference just yet!). Please contact Chelsea Carson with your possible schedule if you seek Ecuador travel advice: chelsea@savethefrogs.com

Suchipakari
Lodging at Suchipakari

Money

Fortunately, the US dollar is accepted throughout Ecuador. It is wise to have cash and a major credit card or two on you, lest you want or need to purchase something not included in the Ecotour.

Chelsea Carson
Trip leader Chelsea Carson examines a toad at Rio Quijos

Crime Prevention

While we will be traveling in a group and the risk of experiencing crime is low, please be aware that Ecuador, specifically Quito, has had issues with crime. Usually it is petty theft, but it is commonly aimed at tourists so take safety measures when walking about. We recommend leaving all valuable items in a safe at the hotel and only carrying what you need. A money belt inside your clothing and/or an over the shoulders bag (not an easily snatched purse) is also a good option for carrying necessary items.


Nightlife at at Suchipakari

Visa requirements

No visa is required for citizens of the United States. If you are not a United States citizen, then please check your country's laws about traveling to Ecuador.


Mountain valley as seen from the Teleferico

Dietary preferences

The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour to Ecuador can accommodate most dietary preferences and/or requirements, including vegan and vegetarian. We will sample an array of Ecuadorian culinary delights from many different regions and cultures. Please inform us in advance of any dietary needs, in as much detail as possible.

Ecuadorian cuisine
Chelsea enjoys a meal at Suchipakari

Water and Food

While Quito has decent water filtration we recommend not risking drinking the tap water during your time here. This also goes for the street food, and make sure to watch out for fruit, vegetables, juices, etc that may have been washed in the water. Most of the lodges we stay at will have large jugs of drinkable water and are used to catering to tourists. We do recommend traveling with some type of filtration device (e.g. PUR filters or UV light) unless you are the type of person who likes buying plastic bottles of water! Check the CDC website for more health info about traveling in Ecuador.


Andean sunset above the Teleferico

Vaccinations & medication

Malaria is present within Ecuador but is not a huge threat. However if you would like to get malaria medicine please make sure to plan ahead and follow your doctor's instructions. You will not easily be able to find malaria medication in Quito. For specific information about what vaccinations or medications you may need, please visit the Center for Disease Control's website or talk to your doctor.

Ecuador Salamander
Salamander in the Amazon, Suchipakari

Patience

While we have worked very hard to avoid any delays or alterations in the schedule, in Ecuador sometimesthere are delays and changes. This only means to remain patient and remember to just enjoy your surroundings! We are going to be in some of the most amazing tropical ecosystems in the world, so if any changes in timing happens, rest assured the scenery will be worth it.

Suchipakari
Room at Suchipakari Jungle Lodge

Alcohol

Looking for frogs at night is not the world's safest activity. As such, drinking and frogging really don't mix. We request that you not get anywhere remotely close to drunk prior to frogging. If you do feel the need for a dinnertime alcoholic beverage, we strongly suggest limiting it to one drink. Post-frogging, feel free to let loose at the bar.

Napo
Road sign on our way to the Amazon

Professional Development for Students and Teachers

Teachers seeking to fulfill professional development or continuing education requirements may be able to claim this trip as a tax-deduction (ask your tax professional for details). Please let us know if you have any questions. Students seeking to receive university credit may be able to acquire credit through your university's internship program; if you are interested in this option, please contact us. Students wishing to receive SAVE THE FROGS! Academy credit as part of this expedition should also contact us.

Rio Quijos
Chelsea and Angel look for frogs at Rio Quijos

What To Bring

This list will help your trip planning:
• Field Clothes
• Headlamp
• Swim suit
• Walking shoes
• A rain jacket
• Warm layers
• A water bottle
• Camera
• A Notebook and pen
• Comfortable clothes for travel and yoga
• A nice outfit for dinner in Quito
• A smile and willingness for adventure!

"I am looking forward to having the opportunity to learn, explore and hopefully make a positive impact for our friends, the frogs."
-- Sara Rainey, Sacramento, CA

Ecuador hiking
You know the frogging is going to be good when you see this!

 

Trip Cost

The 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour pricing is as follows:

- Base cost for 11-day tour: $2,775
- The optional final day/night (Otavalo & Laguna Cuicocha): $200


- If you book for two or more people, each person saves $100.
- Full-time students save an additional $100.
- On January 18th, 2016 the base cost increases to $2,875.
- On February 1st, 2016 the base cost increases to $2,975.
- On March 1st, 2016 the base cost increases to $3,075.

The ecotour fees includes all lodging, transportation, world-class tour guides and their scientific expertise, tips, and all meals. You are required to cover your costs of airfare, snacks, alcoholic beverages, rafting in Rio Quijos and optional adventure tourism activities in Mindo, souvenirs, and possibly a departure tax when you leave the country. Note again that you will be required to pay your own airfare to Ecuador (estimated at $750 roundtrip from the USA).

A $1,000 per person non-refundable deposit via check or credit card is required to secure your spot on the trip. The base cost increases listed above are only applicable to you if you have not yet postmarked your deposit by the stated dates.

You can save $100 off the base cost listed above by sending us your entire payment upfront, rather than solely a deposit.

Full payment is due by April 15th, 2016. Failure to pay in full by April 15th, 2016 may result in forfeiture of your deposit money and your space on the eco-tour.

All participants must have an active SAVE THE FROGS! membership at the time of the trip. Your 5% discount for being a SAVE THE FROGS! member has already been incorporated into the base cost listed above.

All proceeds support SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide amphibian conservation efforts, enabling us to protect amphibians and promote a society that respects and appreciates wildlife and nature. A portion of these proceeds will go directly to our ongoing Ecuador conservation efforts.

"The price of this is great - far cheaper than any other Ecuador wildlife tours I've seen. The accommodation and itinerary look really good, well worth the money."
-- Mark Carter


Scenery on the road from Rio Quijos to Suchipakari

Register for the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Eco-Tour

If you are interested in this trip, please email Dr. Kerry Kriger at kerry@savethefrogs.com so we can get you registered for this amazing adventure! In order to take part on this trip, you will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging the inherent risks of ecotourism in Ecuador, and legally releasing SAVE THE FROGS! and affiliated trip operators and personnel from legal damages and consequences. Please do not apply unless you understand this and the implications. That being said, we strive for a safe trip!


View from trail we will hike near Papallacta

Cancellations and Refunds

You must notify us directly if you need to cancel your trip. If you need to cancel your trip, contact Chelsea Carson at:
chelsea@savethefrogs.com

The amount of your refund is determined by the date that you notify SAVE THE FROGS! of your cancellation:
-- If you cancel after May 15th, you forfeit your entire trip fee.
-- If you cancel between April 15th and May 15th, you will receive 50% of trip fee.
-- If you cancel prior to April 15th, your entire trip will be refunded, minus your deposit, as deposits are non-refundable.

SAVE THE FROGS! regrets that it cannot make exceptions to the reservation and cancellation policy for any reason, including personal emergencies. The reservation and cancellation policy applies to all reservations. You may want to consider purchasing travel insurance from a third party, so that if an issue arises (such as health or family concerns), then your travel insurance could likely provide you compensation.

travel ecuador
Nighttime vegetation at Rio Quijos

We hope to see you in Ecuador in June 2016!

If you are interested in taking part in the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour, please email Trip Leader Dr. Kerry Kriger at: kerry@savethefrogs.com

Rio Quijos
Rio Quijos, Ecuador

 

More about Ecuador & the Ecotour

We will pack in the adventure for our ecotour of Ecuador, covering many of the ecosystems the country has to offer. Including a stay in the jungle on a tributary of the Amazon river; going high in the Andes where the clash of forest meets alpine ecosystems; deep in the unique and overgrown cloud forest, and finishing along the Pacific coast for a chance to enjoy the ocean and explore the dry forest.

The unique country of Ecuador is an array of cultures, places, and wildlife all contained within a small geographical area. There is a vast amount of species and ecosystems, with 427 species of amphibians it has the third highest species diversity in the world. From the Andes to the Amazon and the cloud forest to the coast there is an incredible variety of places to see, cultures to experience, and frogs to discover! SAVE THE FROGS! has chosen to do an ecotour in Ecuador for this reason; the environmental and social richness is unparalleled and the need for conservation and amphibian awareness is high. Through ecotourism we hope to promote sustainable travel and ignite a passion for involvement in local frog conservation efforts.


Nightlife at Suchipakari

More than just an ecotour

We will get to indulge in many activities, such as waterfall hikes, whitewater rafting, river tubing, touring a wildlife refuge, ziplines, and relaxing in thermal hot springs. There is sure to be lots of frog filled excitement through each place while learning about ecosystem dynamics, conservation, and courses on yoga, Spanish, and wilderness medicine. With a group of SAVE THE FROGS! participants and your tour leaders Dr. Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson there is sure to be lots of smiles, laughs, and learning going around.

While frogs will certainly be the focus of our SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour, we will have opportunities for:
- Deep jungle experiences
- Yoga
- Wilderness medicine classes
- Rafting & tubing
- Music lessons
- Spanish lessons

As there is so much to do in Ecuador, we will likely not do the same ecotour twice; rather we will create new trips to different parts of the country, and with different themes as outlined above -- but always with a whole lot of time spent searching for Ecuador's beautiful frogs! We hope to see you in June 2016 for this once in a lifetime experience!

Drums Travel
Dr. Kriger playing an Ecuadorian drum at the Rio Quijos Ecolodge.

Group Size

Our group will consist of three SAVE THE FROGS! biologists (Dr. Kerry Kriger, Chelsea Carson and Emily Moskal) and up to 15 total participants, for a grand total of 18 people in our group.

Mossy Frog
We found this beautiful camouflaged frog at Suchipakari.

It is safest to arrive in Quito on June 14th

The ecotour begins at the Quito international airport (UIO) at 12pm on June 15th, 2016. We recommend arriving in Quito on the 14th rather than the morning of the 15th as international flights can get delayed and customs lines are unpredictable. From the airport we head to Rio Quijos and it would not be easy for you to get there on your own if your flight arrived late. There are moderately priced hotels near the airport and we can provide you suggestions for lodging options if you do plan to arrive the 14th, which is what we suggest.

Speaking Spanish

Trip Leaders Dr. Kriger and Chelsea Carson speak Spanish and thus you will be fine without thorough Spanish knowledge. That being said you will likely be able to connect with local people more easily if you speak Spanish. We will offer some Spanish lessons during the Ecotour and encourage you to ask us how to say words or phrases you want to know.

In this day and age there is a wealth of free language learning materials online, so regardless of how old you are or how competent with acquiring new languages you think you are, you CAN learn Spanish. Here are three apps that Dr. Kriger keeps on his iPhone; they are all free so please install them on your phone!

Spanish Language Apps

Ecuador: a perfect place for SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours

Ecuador has one of the most biodiverse frog faunas on Earth, and from Quito you can drive to the rainforest, dry forest, cloud forest, ocean, or mountains in less than four hours. In Ecuador you can travel:

(1) through the breathtaking Andes mountains and see 15 extinct and active volcanoes;
(2) deep into the Amazon rainforest for discovery and adventure;
(3) through the mystical cloud forests to encounter a plethora of life and growth;
(4) along the Pacific coast, home to unique dry forest ecosystems and species;
(5) to the volcanic islands of the famous Galapagos archipelago, where the abundance of wildlife helped Charles Darwin crystallize his theories of adaptation and natural selection.

With this amount of biologically wealth, the opportunity for frog conservation and awareness is both incredible and necessary. The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour will provide outdoor educational and cultural opportunities to frog lovers from around the world, while supporting local economies in Ecuador and growing the number of people interested in amphibian conservation!

Napo
Sunset on the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon

Contact

Please email Chelsea Carson (chelsea@savethefrogs.com) or Dr. Kerry Kriger (kerry@savethefrogs.com) with any questions and to inform of us of your interest in joining us in Ecuador.

Napo River
On behalf of SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Trip Leaders Dr. Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson...


WE HOPE TO SEE YOU IN ECUADOR!