Journeys worth taking

Ecuador

Huaorani

Hidden tribes

Visit one of the most isolated ethnic groups on Earth

Lodging

Eco Lodge

Nights

From 3

Trip Details

Guided Excursions

Price

From $801 + transport costs

Transport

Overland drive, flight & canoe

Pygmy miles

1,301

Experience
Experience
Itinerary
Pygmy miles
Accommodation
Practical info

Experience

Journey

A visit to the Huaorani deep within the Amazon jungle is a once in a lifetime experience. Just your journey to the lodge is an adventure. You will need to drive, fly and canoe down the Shiripuno River to reach the Eco Lodge. Here, the forest is unbroken and seemingly unending. Far away from modern life, you will learn how the Huaorani hunt with blowguns, fish the river and use plants for medicinal use. Your local guides will point out flora and fauna and teach you about their relevance to the Huaorani. You will also learn and see first hand how oil exploration effects indeginious population. The Huaorani own and operate the Eco Lodge; your visit helps them sustain their way of life which is currently threatened by oil exploration. 

The Huaorani own and operate the Eco Lodge; your visit helps them sustain their way of life.

Activities

Trekking

You will learn about the Huaorani culture and the surrounding Amazon rainforest through guided hikes.

Survival Skills

The Huaorani will teach you how they hunt monkeys and birds through the use of blowguns, how to start a fire without matches, what fruits and vegetables sustain them and how to identify medicinal plants.

Camping

You will visit Apaika Community inside of the Yame Reserve and campout at Nenquepare, a small Huaorani village that benefits from this community initiative.

Wildlife Viewing

There will be several guided excursions into the jungle and surrounding lakes to find fauna including Squirrel Monkeys, Capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), Caimans and Anaconda. Also, expect to see a variety of bird life.

Boat

You will explore the rivers of the Amazon by a motorized dugout canoe.

Place

The Huaorani, also known as the Waorani or Waodani, are an indeginous group located in eastern Ecuador 50 miles south of Coca in the Amazon Rain Forest. Approximately 4,000 people speak the Huaorani language, which has no known related languages. Currently, illegal logging practices and oil exploration threaten their way of life. 

The Huaorani place great importance on the forest - as a source of both protection and as a provider of their way of life. It is so important, that the word for forest in Huaorani also means world. This can be seen in the way hunting carries ethical ramifications. For example, deer are not hunted as their eyes are considered too similar to humans. The Huaorani also derive their spirituality from the forest and its animals. The afterlife, which is located in the east, is guarded by a snake and those who have lead an immoral life will be turned away by the serpant to return west, to live again in the world, often as termites. 

Itinerary

Track

Itinerary

The award winning Huaorani Ecolodge is situated at the headwaters of the Amazon and run by the Huaorani, one of the most isolated ethnic group on earth. This is a life changing experience where you will learn how to use a blowgun, climb trees, smear your face with red achiote, and take a two day meander down the Shiripuno river in kayaks or dugout canoes watching tropical birds and monkeys and listen to an indigenous leader relate the tribe’s fight against oil exploration and with luck meet Moi Enomenga a conservation hero honored by National Geographic and the Buffett Foundation.

Day-1

Journey to the Huaorani

Volcano Avenue - An adventurous day that starts with beautiful mountain scenery and ends with a memorable trip down a remote, lowland jungle river. A morning pick-up at your hotel followed by a drive through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. After leaving your hotel and the bustling metropolis of Quito, you will be treated to the beautiful scenery of the Ecuadorian countryside on a drive through the impressive Avenue of Volcanoes. This is an area of 14 majestic volcanoes, some of them active and others dormant. The scenery also includes views of old colonial haciendas, indigenous villages, and natural areas. On days with good weather, you may see the huge, cone-shaped volcano known as Cotopaxi Volcano, and the active Tungurahua Volcano.

Driving through beautiful Baños - Baños (bah-nyos), named for thermal baths that draw thousands of visitors per year and known for its adrenaline-pumping adventure sports and melcocha taffy, is the first major town on the way. Your journey will continue past Baños through a lush green landscape punctuated by tree ferns, patches of cloud forest, waterfalls, and rushing rivers.· Heading into the Amazonian lowlandsAfter Baños, the road winds its way down into the steamy lowlands of the Amazon basin. As the air grows warmer, you’ll start to notice changes in vegetation with bananas and tropical palms dominating the countryside.

Shell Airfield and Flight to Huaorani Territory - The drive eventually ends at Shell, a principal Amazonian town named after the oil company with the same name. Shell also hosts the third busiest airport in Ecuador and this is where you will depart for the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon.· A flight and boatride into a remote jungleAround noon, you will board a light aircraft for a quick, 35 minute flight to the Huaorani community of Quehueri’ono (keh-werioh- noh).

Landing in Huaorani Territory - After being warmly greeted by the Huaorani, people from the community will take you downstream in a shallow dugout canoe called a quilla (kee-yah). Keep your camera, binoculars, sunscreen and hat with you because your luggage will be taken to the lodge in a separate boat. Rubber boots and rain ponchos will be given to guests at this time. As you travel down the beautiful Shiripuno River, keep binoculars and camera ready for such birds as striking Yellow-rumped Caciques, kiskadees, kingfishers, and egrets among other species.·

Arrive at the Huaorani Ecolodge - Upon arrival at the intimate, safe, and comfortable Huaorani Ecolodge, you will get the chance to settle in and have lunch before taking a guided, introductory hike on the rainforest Discovery Trail. On this walk, you will learn about the Huaorani culture and the surrounding Amazon rainforest. After dinner, you have the option of resting up for the next day of your adventure or going on an exciting night hike with your local guide.

Day-2

Survival and hunting techniques

This second day of the tour is hunting day! Huaorani survive in the forest by hunting monkeys, birds, other animals, fishing in the river, and gathering fruits, tubers, and vegetables. While you will learn about basic hunting techniques, don’t worry, no animals will be killed. One of the main goals of this project is the preservation of traditional Huaorani practices to keep Huaorani culture alive and protect the rainforest.

After breakfast, a Huaorani guide will take you on a long nature hike into the forest.The local guides will teach you how to set traps, make fires without matches, build a quick jungle shelter, use a blowgun, swing a machete, and catch fish in small creeks. Your guide may also show you which insects can be eaten, identify medicinal plants and explain their uses, and show you where they find clay for making pottery.

A swim and visit to the local Huaorani community - While hiking through the rainforest, you will enjoy views over the vast jungle canopy before eventually reaching the cool waters of a jungle river. While taking a dip in the river, local community members may join you to cool off in the waters.

Lunch - After going for a swim in the heart of the Amazon, you will be treated to a tasty lunch before a relaxed, informal visit at the Huaorani community. You will probably be invited to enjoy a bowl of “chucula” (a sweet drink made from ripe bananas) and may get the chance to admire such beautiful handmade artifacts as woven hammocks and bags, traps, blowguns, and necklaces made from jungle seeds.

Handicraft Market Visit - You will also have the chance to visit the Bi-cultural Ecology Education project and learn how to harvest manioc, a Huaorani staple. If you like, you can visit the community’s handicraft market to purchase some of their hand-crafted products. Hand-crafted goods help the Huaorani maintain their culture, and buying such crafts provides direct support to the Huaorani families who make them.

Canoe Ride - At the end of the afternoon, a pleasant canoe-ride takes you back to the lodge. After dinner, your naturalist guide will give a half hour talk on a subject of interest. Or, if you would prefer to go on a night hike, just let your guide know!

Day-3

Canoe ride and night safari

An exciting day of hikes through pristine rainforest, canoe rides on oxbow lakes, and chances to see exotic rainforest wildlife!·

A guided hike through primary rainforest - The day starts out with breakfast or an optional early guided walk in the forest followed by breakfast. This is followed by a three hour walk through primary forest with immense towering trees, crystal clear streams, and a myriad of bird calls from the jungle. The trail leads to a hilltop crowned by a massive Ceibo tree over 40 meters (131 feet) tall.

Peccaries, Leaf-cutter Ants, and a canoe ride - The trail then follows a path that parallels the Shiripuno River and crosses small tributaries, including one that occasionally hosts groups of White-collared Peccaries. You will probably see tracks of these wild, rainforest hogs, may smell them, and might even glimpse them. You will also see a huge Leaf-cutter Ant nest before reaching a small oxbow lake. A walk along the lake leads to a river where a canoe will take you back to the lodge.· Another canoe ride, a visit to a salt lick, and nocturnal animals

Lunch - After a delicious lunch at the lodge, you will canoe back downstream to an oxbow lake known as the “Cocha Pequeña”. At the lake, you will have a very good chance of seeing the extraordinary Hoatzin (one of the few birds that feeds almost exclusively on leaves), Squirrel Monkeys, Capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), Caimans, and might even see an Anaconda.On the way back to the lodge, you will watch a salt-clay lick that is often used by various animals and birds. This is an excellent site for viewing rare wildlife and birds as many animals gather here to feed on the mineral-rich clay.

The return trip from the clay lick offers a chance at seeing nocturnal animals. Since many of the rainforest animals are nocturnal, this is your best opportunity to see some of these elusive creatures. You may spot various snakes, frogs, bizarre bugs, kinkajous, owls, and other animals.

Day-4

Waterfalls and conservation

Before the return journey and after being treated to a delicious breakfast, you will have the opportunity to hike the community trail to visit an impressive waterfall, one that has special impor- tance for the Huaorani. Once there, you can take a dip in the energizing waters to recharge for the trip back to Quito. The fairly easy walk is three hours altogether, and your naturalist guide will be sure to point out any special plants and animals you may come across.

Once back at the campsite, the group will bid farewell and start the return journey downstream in canoe. This will begin the “toxic tour,” an introduction to how the oil industry has impacted the Hua- orani lands. The group will head to the border between traditional Huaorani territory and that of the petroleum companies, though it all used to belong to the Huaorani. Here you will see the road built by oil companies in the early 1970s, which crosses the river, and transitions from forest to “civilization.”

Roads are symbols of modern deforestation, providing access and means for human populations to grow at a rapid rate. This affects indigenous peoples by displacing them from the best and most accessible agricultural soils (which aren’t particularly well suited to begin with), reducing the amount of land available for their hunting and gathering practices, and encouraging them via settler example and government policy to increase their reliance on agri- culture and timber extraction.

On this short tour, you will witness the crude reality of our collective thirst for oil as you ride alongside miles of pipelines, which go from the Huaorani community of Tihuino to Lago Agrio, the oil hub of el Oriente, to be pumped across the Andes to the port of Esmeraldas. This brief journey through oil territory illustrates the reality of the threat facing the rainforest and the Huaorani people. You will also realize why your visit to Huaorani Lodge was so important!

After a 2-hour overland ride down the auca road, you will reach the banks of the Río Napo and the town of Coca, where you will catch your flight to Quito.

Pygmy miles

Pygmy Miles Total

Challenge
Motorized Vehicle
Hiking
Bicycle
Sustainability
Miscellaneous
801pygmy miles

Base Miles

A 4 day / 3 night trip costs $801 per person. For every $1 you spend with us, you earn 1 Pygmy Mile.

140pygmy miles

Quioto to Shell

You will travel 140 miles overland from Quioto to Shell. For every 1 mile you drive to reach the Huaorani Eco Lodge, you receive 1 Pygmy Mile.

160pygmy miles

Shell to Huaorani

You will fly 160 miles from Shell to the Huaorani territory, located in the dense jungle 50 miles south of Coca. For every 1 mile you fly to reach the Huaorani Eco Lodge, you receive 1 Pygmy Mile.

200pygmy miles

Community Tourism

The Huaorani Eco Lodge is owned and operated by the Huaorani. By choosing a journey that provides economic stimulus for a local community, you are helping them sustain their way of life. Learning about and interacting with the Huaorani, further broadens the perspectives and knowledge of both you as the traveler and the Huaorani as the host.

150pygmy miles

Start a fire without matches

During your stay with the Huaorani, they will teach you a few skills to survive in the wild. If you're able to start a fire without matches, we will reward you with an extra 150 Pygmy Miles.

Total Pygmy Miles

1451pygmy miles

Accommodation

 

Huaorani Eco Lodge

Ecuadorian Amazon

Huaorani Ecolodge provides accommodations in a style harmonious with the surrounding environment and the Huaorani culture. The lodge is cozy, providing accommodation for a maximum of ten people housed in five comfortable, traditionally built, palms thatched cabins, which include:
- A pair of twin beds (which can be joined to create a double if desired and triples for small families with a young child); a private bathroom equipped with a shower and flush toilet;
- Electricity is supplied 24 hours a day by solar panels.
- Environmentally friendly soaps and shampoos are provided
Furthermore, the lodge features a dining area with a lightly stocked bar and a “Casa de Hamacas” (Hammock House) on the edge of the Shiripuno River.

Practical info

Price

Price of full board accommodation

4D/3N $801 per person $365 per child
5D/4N $906.00 per person $453 per child

Prices are per person based on double occupancy; single travellers are welcome and can share a cabin with another visitor of the same gender. Should you require a single room, this can be accommodated by paying a single supplement fee of 50%. Discounted rates for children 12 and under.

Transportation

The basic transportation package costs $250 and consists of: pick up at your hotel in Quito and transfer through the valley of the volcanoes to Shell, flight on chartered light aircraft from Shell to Huaorani Ecolodge, motor canoe ride, overland drive from the Shiripuno River Bridge to Coca. An additional return flight from Coca to Quioto is $116 (which most people also book). Entrance fee to the Huaorani natural park $20, Airport tax $7.60.

Price with round-trip transport

4 day / 3 night program with return transportation to Quioto and all taxes and fees 
$801 + $250 + $116 + $20 + $7.60 = $1,194.60

5 day / 4 night program to the lodge costs 
US$906 + $250 + $116 + $20 + $7.60 = $1,299.60

Inclusions

Included:
  • Accommodations at the lodge
  • All meals & drinks (except soft drinks and alcoholic beverages)
  • All activities detailed in itinerary
  • Local Huaorani guide
  • Bilingual naturalist guide (English, Spanish)
  • Last night accommodation at campsite
  • Use of rubber/Wellington boots upto sizes: European 44; American M 10.5 / F 12; British M 10 / F 9.5
  • Biodegradable soap and shampoo
Excluded:
  • Soft Drinks and Alcoholic beverages
  • Rubber/Wellington boots greater than European 44, American M10.5 / F12, British M10 / F9.5)

When

jan
feb
mar
apr
may
jun
jul
aug
sep
oct
nov
dec
not available
average
optimal

The rain forest, as the name predicts, is generally wet all year round. However, the official wet season in the Amazon begins in April and can last into September. The dry season (or dryer season) is from October to March. A particularly good time to visit the Amazon is from June to August - a time when animal activity is at its peak.

How

Join a guided tour

You can visit the Huaorani whenever you want as there are no fixed departure dates. You will, however, join other adventurous souls at the eco-lodge on guided excursions as detailed in the itinerary. The Eco lodge is small and intimate with a maximum capacity of 5 dwellings. 

Service categories

Consult & Book

Pygmy Elephant will help you understand the Huaorani's product offering and can combine a trip to the ecolodge with other activities, transfers, tours, hotels and lodges.

Pygmy Elephant provides: 

  • Transfer arrangements: from Quito on to other destinations
  • Pre-departure support: what to pack, arranging travel insurance and informing on travel advisories
  • 24 hour customer service: if something goes wrong, we have your back
  • Best Price Guarantee: if you find a better price on the internet, we'll match it
  • Pygmy Miles: receive discounts off future travel

Challenge Level

Technical Ability

Level : Low

Mental Strength

Level : Medium

Physical Conditioning

Level : Medium

  • No special skills are required to visit the Huaorani. Still, an adventurous disposition is needed to make the most of your trip.
  • You will be staying in simple, yet comfortable huts with limited power. Showers are not heated, although are refreshing considering the ambient temperature. The inbound flight can be a bit nerve racking if you've never flown in a small plane before.
  • Hiking and canoe excursions require a good level of physical fitness, although they are not comparable to long distance treks. Furthermore, you will need to limit what you take to the lodge to only the essentials. You luggage should be a maximum of 10 pounds. We can help you arrange for your luggage to stay behind in Quito. 

Talk to our Adventure Expert

Our Managing Director, Andrew, has been to over 40 countries in his quest for the perfect adventure. He has biked the death road in Boiliva, trekked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, cycled from Brussels to Florence and hiked the five sacred mountains of China. Pygmy Elephant is how he spreads his love for adventure and self discovery in the world.