A Powerful Year-End Deep Dive with the Achuar

Dates: December 27, 2014–January 8, 2015 Passed
Leader: Pat Usner
Cost: $2,995


This journey will bring you into intimate contact with our founding Achuar partners in the heart of their pristine rainforest territory with stays at the special community lodge of Ti’inkias and the highly acclaimed Kapawi Lodge.

Prior to entering the forest, we’ll have the ideal introduction to Ecuador and indigenous life-ways through an inspiring home-stay with the Karanqui, Quichua people of San Clemente on the flanks of the sacred Imbabura volcano.

Pat Usner will be accompanied by her longtime husband, Dave Usner, who has been to the rainforest many times since their first visit to this region in 1989. Dave will be an asset to this journey, offering his support, experience and good cheer to Pat and the group.


We recommend having a day or more on the front and back side of the formal itinerary to acclimate, rest, integrate and see Quito if you wish. Those personal reservations for hotel and airport transfer can be made through Cafe Cultura. Pachamama Journeys will arrange lodging at Café Cultura for Saturday night.

Saturday, December 27

Arrival in Quito. Group stays at the charming hotel, Café Cultura.

Sunday, December 28

After breakfast and an orientation meeting at Café Cultura, we’ll head north to the scenic Andean region of Otavalo where we’ll explore the open-aired indigenous artisan market displaying the crafts and culture of the Otavalan Quichua people. Next, we’ll visit with a Quichua elder shaman for a healing and purification ceremony, before arriving at San Clemente, an indigenous-owned community-based project situated on the flanks of the sacred Imbabura volcano. Dinner and accommodations with our gracious host families.

Monday, December 29

Breakfast with families followed by activities in the community, including agricultural practices (oxen plow, planting/harvesting crops, grinding corn, etc.), forest hike to learn about native medicinal plants, discussions about the Andean cosmo-vision, and a traditional feast with local foods grown in the community. Evening dinner with families followed by cultural sharing and celebration, including traditional Andean music.

Tuesday, December 30

After breakfast and farewells with our indigenous families, we’ll embark on a beautiful drive, visiting the center of the world (equator) along the way – descending the Andes through the avenue of the volcanoes and the mysterious cloud forests until we reach the gateway to the Amazon rainforest. Dinner and evening discussion about entering the rainforest at our quaint hotel, El Jardin, located on the outskirts of Puyo.

Wednesday, December 31

Head to the nearby town of Shell where we’ll take a 45-minute flight deep into the Amazon rainforest to the Achuar village of Chichirat. After a traditional Achuar greeting with their traditional beverage, nijaamanch (known as chicha) and visit with the local elder and his family, we’ll walk to the Bobanaza river for a beautiful motorized canoe ride down to the village of Ti’inkias. Then we’ll walk 30 minutes to the simple encampment built in traditional Achuar style that will be our home for three days and nights.

Thursday, January 1

Early morning dream sharing ritual with Achuar families followed by time in the village participating in cultural practices, including weaving, ceramic bowl making, blowgun practice, etc. Return to encampment for breakfast and rest. In the afternoon, we’ll hike through the forest to a beautiful black water lagoon, which we’ll explore in dugout canoes and kayaks. On the return, we’ll take a refreshing swim in the oasis-like natural pool close by the community followed by cultural exchange where the Achuar will share ancestral chants, music and traditions. We’ll be invited to share, too (feel free to bring small instruments, songs and dances for sharing) and we’ll end with traditional Achuar feast from local foods.

Friday, January 2

After a gentle morning that will allow time for journaling and reflection in the pristine and peaceful environment, the group will set off on a jungle excursion to learn about medicinal plants, traditional forest uses and the Achuar cosmo-vision and spirituality. They’ll be some quiet and contemplative solo time in the forest. In the evening, we’ll be invited to participate in a traditional ceremony with an elder Achuar shaman.

Saturday, January 3

After breakfast, we’ll have a debrief meeting with the shaman and then some integration time before gathering our belongings and heading to the river for our journey to Kapawi Lodge. We’ll pass through the community to say our farewells and express our gratitude and then embark on the 4-hour relaxing boat journey down the Bobanaza River and up the mighty Pastaza River, taking in the magnificence of the forest from the water. We’ll arrive at the acclaimed Kapawi Lodge where we’ll be for two nights.

Sunday, January 4

After some free time to reflect on our experiences in the comfortable and peaceful environment of Kapawi, we’ll set out on a hike with our Achuar guide to learn about traditional uses of the rainforest. Later in the afternoon, we’ll go out on the river to swim and float in kayaks or canoes with the option of fishing – mingling with the legendary pink river dolphin if we’re lucky. Evening walk to explore the unique nocturnal forest life with Achuar guide, before sleeping at Kapawi

Monday, January 5

Morning bird and animal watching on the river. Depart Kapawi and fly to the small town of Shell where our bus will take us to the cozy and inviting Hacienda Manteles in the Patate valley of the Andes, with sweeping vistas of the magnificent Tungurahua volcano. Free time for rest, reflection and enjoyment of the gourmet food and comfortable environment.

Tuesday, January 6

Relax and enjoy the verdant surroundings, with the option of hiking into the nearby majestic Llanganates National Park and its enchanted cloud forest, rivers and waterfalls of immense beauty. Later in the afternoon, we’ll participate in an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium – a powerful inquiry and discussion that will deepen the context and meaning of our journey, having just been in the rainforest that inspired the Symposium’s creation and purpose.

Wednesday, January 7

A day of completion, commitments and celebration. Morning circle to share experiences, learnings and commitments. After lunch at Hacienda Manteles, we’ll drive back through the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Quito, having our farewell dinner and lodging at Café Cultura

Thursday, January 8

Departures for home or next destinations

Itinerary is subject to change