The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, encompassing an area of over 2.5 million miles across nine countries in South America – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, and Suriname.
This adventure with Chef Bettina Campolucci-Bordi begins in Quito, Ecuador and then moves south, along the Andes mountains before descending east to the Amazon basin. Along the way you visit an indigenous weaving workshop and a local farm to enjoy a traditional highland lunch. In the afternoon you will visit the impressive Pailon del Diablo waterfall before arriving at the guesthouse in Puyo on the edge of the Amazon basin.
Early the next day you will fly into the Achuar community of Kusutkau and take a 20 minute boat ride to you an ecolodge, home for the following six days. This lodge is an award-winning indigenous community ecotourism enterprise deep in the rainforest that supports the sustainable development of the Achuar indigenous nation.
Each day will start with a short meditation session and an optional early morning activity like birdwatching from the lodge, a boat ride along the Capahuari river looking for wildlife, a visit to the parrot/macaw claylick or an early hike. Swimming in the river right from the dock is always available, as well as relaxing in the social areas by the river or on the deck. Every evening after dinner you have the option of adding a boat ride looking for cayman, a night hike or a star-gazing from the dock.
On your first two days you will spend time learning about local cooking methods and creating a food and flavour exchange together with Bettina, the lodge cooks and Achuar community members. The community will bring their daily harvest and you will add spices and products purchased at the farm. Each person will be given prep and cooking tasks to create and eat lunch together. You will also have time for a kayak ride in the Capahuari river and a three hour forest hike. Your food will be primarily plant-based with optional elements of locally sourced fish and chicken.
Mid-retreat you will head out to the community of Wayusentsa which is 1.5 hours upstream on the Capahuari river. You will spend the afternoon joining in community activities, learning about local herbs and healing medicines and gathering the leaves in one of the community farms in preparation for the Wayusa tea for the following morning. In the evening you will join a Shaman fire ceremony before spending the night at the community camp, then waking at 4am for the Wayusa tea ceremony and conversation with the shaman.
After a community breakfast, you will head back by boat to our lodge in time for lunch. In the afternoon you can choose an optional hike or kayak excursion or rest, swim and relax on the deck, before a farewell dinner. The following the journey back begins, first upstream by boat to Kusutkau, then a short flight back to the town of Shell. You will then drive for four hours to Papallacta Hot Springs in the Andes mountains, where you will relax, soak in the spa and reflect on your Amazon adventures. The following day you will head back to Quito.
This retreat is for the adventurous traveller. The locations are remote and travel is by vehicle and small plane. You will be staying in a rainforest lodge so there is wildlife of all kinds, including spiders, scorpions and snakes. It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter these creatures close up but people with phobias should be aware.