Explore Ecuador: Chocolate and Fleece in the Clouds
Purposeful Nomad is at it again with another ethical adventure off the beaten path. This time in Ecuador, with food, farms, and fleece. If the great outdoors excites you, there’s hiking, zip lining, and breathtaking scenery to immerse yourself in for a full 14 days. Not to mention farms full of decadent chocolate that walk you through the bean-to-bar process.
Not sure there’s any other information necessary to convince you, but here’s some more, just in case (*wink*).
Become a (temporary) local.
Want to see how the locals live? You don’t have to go looking for them. For one night, a family will take you in (in your own private cabin close to the main house) and you’ll spend an afternoon or evening harvesting plants, feeding animals, hanging out with locals, or helping cook dinner.
Go to a chocolate farm of dreams. Not that we’re assuming you even have a “typical farm experience,” but if so, Mashpi Artisanal Chocolate farm is not it…and that’s not even just because you get to eat delicious chocolate while there. You’ll do everything from harvesting and separating beans to learning the cocoa bean-to-bar process.
Of course, in keeping with PN’s mission of making these trips personalized, this farm is owned by an Ecuadorian family they know and love. Spend the night in this peaceful jungle farm, and observe the sights and sounds of the area.
Learn about indigenous communities and sustainable tourism.
Meet the leader of Runa Tupari, a tour operator in the Cotacachi region of Ecuador that helps indigenous communities develop sustainable tourism. Learn how they create additional income and jobs for families in rural areas through sustainable, educational and traditional homestays.
Eat the freshest fruits and veggies in a chef-prepared meal.
You’ll have lots of opportunities to grab local fruits and vegetables on the journey, from the nearest farmers markets to the Ecuadorian agave fields. You’ll even venture out to meet local women farmers and learn about agave harvesting, which is very popular in Cayambe.
Then, Chef and nutritionist Michelle O. Fried, who’s lived in Ecuador for decades, will help you take the fresh goodies you picked up from the markets and prepare a traditional Ecuadorian meal in a hands-on cooking class.
Trek through the clouds.
Okay, so you’ll still technically be on land, but the scenery will make you feel like you’re in a dream. One of the country’s best-kept secrets, the Mindo Cloudforest houses numerous bird species, exotic butterflies, animals, and reptiles for you to stumble upon on your hike. Look out for waterfalls, too (just don’t go chasing them)!
Tube down the rapids or take a canopy tour where you’ll actually zip line over the trees on 10 cables ranging between 500 feet and 1,600 feet long (both of these activities are an additional cost, but, hello, when in cloudforest…).
Meet the alpacas.
Is there anything quite as comforting as fleece? Probably only chocolate, but we’ve already done that. Heading to highland communities outside of Riobamba, you’ll meet Felipe Segovia, the owner of Pagocha, a business dedicated to bringing alpacas back to Ecuador. You’ll also meet the women who sheer and spin alpaca fleece to make comfort dreams come true.
See some of Ecuador’s greatest wonders.
Even if you aren’t naturally outdoorsy, the terrain will turn you into a mountain woman. Some highlights: hiking or horseback riding around the crater of Lake Cuicocha, and climbing 14,000 feet (via vehicle, don’t panic) along the beautiful Pan-American highway with mountains, volcanoes, and vistas straight out of your Insta-dreams.
End with a spa and a smile.
As if you’ve had a hectic trip, you’ll spend the entirety of the last day relaxing at a cliff-side spa in Baños before heading to the airport. Talk about coming home rejuvenated.