Hakuna Matata Explore Tour offers you an unforgettable experience, full of adventures off the beaten track. Explore culture, animals, and plants of the rainforest. Also, engage yourself in an undiscovered world of the rainforest community. All of that you find less than 125 miles away from Quito in our comfortable Lodge on a spacious terrain including a tropical garden and a private protected forest and beach on the river.The short distance to Ecuador´s capital is one of the reasons you can enjoy the complete jungle experience in a relaxed way including some advantages – due to the location at about 2,000 feet above sea level there are no tropical diseases and no mosquitoes – ideal terms for a stay in the jungle. This program offers you a remarkable experience of ancestral cultures and the highlights of the Amazon jungle.
© Hakuna Matata
Hakuna Matata Explore Tour
Within 3 hours from Quito, you will arrive in our exclusive Lodge. During your drive, you will notice how the vegetation changes from the landscape of the Andes into the rainforest. After passing the gate to the Amazon Rainforest you will be in a mountain jungle paradise – Hakuna Matata is your private hideaway in the tropical forest. During your trip, you came closer to sea level by about 7,200 feet and are located on about 2,000 feet now. There are different options to reach our Lodge, you can take a public bus or order a private transfer. Taking the last one, you will have the option to stop at the hot springs of Papallacta to relax in these famous thermal waters (optional, entrance fee not included).
If you decide to skip the rest in the hot waters and arrive early in our jungle paradise you can add a tour by foot or by the horse in the afternoon to your free day. In case you decide on horseback riding you will choose one of the hotel owned horses and take a tour through the forest and rivers. If you rather take a walk you can explore the area on different hiking paths.
Your guide will explain the flora and fauna and share ancestral information about plants that are used for medical reasons. However, you can also participate in our chocolate tour (all tours are optional, please let us know if you want to add this tour to your program when booking). Spot!
© Hakuna Matata
After an early wake up you will leave the Lodge with your guide at 5.30 am to enjoy a day filled with adventures and experiences. You will drive to the calm and small Arajuno River which is a branch of the huge Napo River, here you will board your canoe. The Arajuno River winds its way through the forest, passing high shores abundantly covered with vegetation. While watching birds you will realize how calm and little sailed the river is. While watching birds you will realize how calm and little sailed the river is. The magnificence of birds will stun you – you will discover egrets, red-rumped cacique, tangaras and more species.After landing with your canoe there will be a short walk to the salt lick which attracts birds. It is recommended to bring binoculars to better observe the landing of the birds on the trees and afterward their way to the salt lick. There are a lot of parrots and parakeets, mostly the dusky-headed parakeet. You might be lucky and also see free-living monkeys, but don’t wonder about their noises that might fright away the birds. In the case of rain, your guide
There are a lot of parrots and parakeets, mostly the dusky-headed parakeet. You might be lucky and also see free-living monkeys, but don’t wonder about their noises that might fright away the birds. In the case of rain, your guide will decide how to change the program and might switch around some points of the program.
© Hakuna Matata
Once you’ve had your fill of bird watching, your guide will lead you to the next station, the indigenous community Santa Barbara with 23 families who are adding up to 120 inhabitants. The leader of the community will greet you and introduce you to some traditions and customs, including the production of “chicha”, a traditional drink that is up for tasting when it is done. Surely you are hungry by now and for that reason, there will be a rarity forSurely you are hungry by now and for that reason, there will be a rarity for you – you will join an original buffet of the rainforest with the community.There will be carachama and bagre – both from the family of the catfish, bocachico – a fish from the salmon family, barbequed chontacuro-worms (optional) – a specialty in the region, yucca, maduro-bananas, salad from hearts of palm, tea from the guayusa leaves which is known for its ability to constrain hunger, fruits and cocoa. All of the above is harvested or caught freshly and prepared for you on the spot – enjoy this once in a lifetime
In case you do not feel filled up already the guide carries some sandwiches and fruits – also for the case if you feel a little bit hungry early in the morning. Strengthened by this wholesome and organic meal, you will be able to immerse deeper into the culture of the community, typical dances. During a short walk afterward, you will see the ceiba which is the giant of jungle trees and has impressive buttress roots before you have the opportunity to buy some handicrafts made by the community. The sales revenue will go all into the community cash point which is used to buy canoe parts, pens, cloth or other objects for the community.
Jatun Sacha Reserve
© Hakuna Matata
After a short farewell by the mayor of the community, you will head to the 6,200 acre big Jatun Sacha Reserve. This amazing protected area consists of tropical rainforest in which again you will discover new flora and fauna, like bamboo, the walking palm which moves up to 4 inches a year and the pampil palm which you already held in your hands today, in form of the 3.2 feet long blow
gun.About 1.5 hours later you will be back in your canoe to get to the car which drives you to the little town Misahualli where you will eat a typical “almuerzo” – lunch – before you can take a walk to the beach to be greeted by many capuchin monkeys. At around 3 pm you will be back at the Lodge to take pleasure in relaxing at the pool or in a hammock with a cocktail or keep on exploring the area. In the evening another 3-course meal is waiting for you which you can enjoy in the special atmosphere of the jungle.
Photo: © Hakuna Matata
Today is your day! You can choose any activity that you prefer at the lodge. Horseback riding, taking a walk in the Amazon, chocolate tour, a day of rafting, or maybe just taking a free day to rest and enjoy in the swimming pool.
The most famous activity is the chocolate tour. There, you will learn to produce chocolate from the bean to the bar, starting with the pure fruit, the cocoa beans and ending up with the brown gold. You could also use your time differently and relax at the pool, in a hammock or just keep exploring the area.
After taking pleasure in a rich and flavorful breakfast, you can enjoy the last moments in the lodge. After that, comes the check out.
You have two options, either you go back on the same road to Quito or you drive back to the Andes on an alternative route to the quaint town of Baños to keep on traveling from there.
*If you prefer a 3 days tour, the third will be deleted
Rafting is not included in 3 days tour