Cacao – all about chocolate tour

chocolate-tour

Chocolate Ecuador 11 day Tour

Discover the world of chocolate from the bean to the bar! We will take you to native, indigenous communities in the rainforest where cultivation of cacao plays a social, cultural and financial role in their lives. We will follow the cacao pods to collection centers, where they are fermented and dried, to finally visit chocolate factories to close the circle. This tour is combined with amazing tourist attractions which include amazon jungle hikes, indigenous markets, amazon river boat rides, among others!

HIGHLIGHTS:
· Visit 3 regions of Ecuador (coast, highlands and amazon)
· Learn about cacao commercial added value including fair trade and organic production. While visiting the coast observe big scale cacao production; and while visiting the amazon learn about niche cacao produced by associations and small scale farmers.
· Visit medicinal plant farm and learn from a Shaman how indigenous people use the plants in the forest as medicine
· Visit a rose production facility to learn how the international flower business operates
· Hike in the andes and amazon, zip-line in the cloud forest!

Itinerary

Day 1:

Group arrival.  Group pick-up and briefing. Transfer by bus to hotel.

Day 2:

After breakfast we will start our chocolate adventure. We will participate of a cocoa session, where you will make chocolate. We will continue our trip towards Middle of the World Monument, and after lunch drive to Mindo.  Check in at this cute little village nestled in the cloud forest.

Day 3:

After breakfast we will tour a small, family operated chocolate and hotel/restaurant business in Mindo.  We will observe a small scale process of making excellent quality chocolate with the associated challenges and opportunities.  For the most adventurous ones we will have a canopy zip-line through the cloud forest.  After lunch we will go birdwatching and to the butterfly farm

Day 4:

After breakfast we will drive to Quevedo. After lunch we will visit different collections centers, where local entrepreneurs buy raw, fermented and/or dried cacao.  The idea is that you can see all the different aspects of chocolate production, and understand the commercial chain of cacao.

Day 5:

After breakfast we will harvest cacao pods, roast and grind cacao into chocolate. We will also learn grafting of the cacao plants. Lunch will be at the plantation where the owner/operator will provide regional specialties. Travel from the coast to the highlands.  The landscape of this journey is simply beautiful.  Arrive in Quilotoa, to the Black Sheep Inn that is an eco-lodge and serves only vegetarian fare. We will tour the property and learn about this hotel’s unique operation

Day 6:

After breakfast we will leave Quilotoa to Baños. Head to the lake nestled at the bottom of a volcano. On the road we will stop at a Rose Company that supplies roses to the American high-end, event industry and Whole Foods markets. Free afternoon in Baños (you can choose from many different activities that you can find in Baños)

Day 7:

After breakfast we travel to the Amazon. On the road we will make several stops to visit an animal rescue center, a medicinal plant garden to learn about complementary and alternative medicine, and also at a famous handicraft shop to buy souvenirs of balsa wood.

Day 8:

After breakfast we will hike with a local native guide in the rain forest.  He is very knowledgeable about medicinal plants; we will hike through the Amazon forest and an underground cave with a small stream flowing through it. Lunch and visit a kichwa community, where you can learn typical dances, how to make guayusa, and make the famous chicha.

Day 9:

After breakfast we will first visit the headquarters of a cocoa-cooperative and learn how this farmer-owned and operated chocolate association was able to grow and prosper enough to compete against the large multi-national chocolate companies. We will stop in Misahualli, to see monkeys and have lunch. We then visit a family owned cacao farm; to reach the cacao grove we will have to take a motorized canoe across a river to an island. The farmer we visit will share with us his experience and dreams about cocoa production.  Return to Huasquila lodge for dinner

Day 10:

After breakfast we will drive back towards Quito. We stop at Termas de Papallacta to soak in the hot springs.  After lunch we drive back to Quito and tour the Old Colonial District of Quito, discovering the main plazas, squares, churches. We will have a farewell dinner in the evening.

Day 11: 

Flight back to the USA.

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