15 Day Yoga Exploration Retreat
Do you want to experience yoga while traveling to different magical places in the world? Then this retreat in Ecuador is for you! This small country is often referred to as representing the whole world in a nutshell.
Have you ever practiced yoga at high(er) altitude? Challenge your body and mind at the Llu Llu Llama Eco Lodge located in Isinlivi at 9,416 feet altitude. Photographs don’t do it justice!
From the mountains of Isinlivi we will travel to the sacred valley of Vilcabamba, a green and fertile valley, surrounded by jagged hills. This abundant valley is known as the valley of longevity. Vilcabamba is also home to Izhcayluma, which houses the most beautiful yoga studio in Ecuador.
On our way into the Amazon, our next stop is at the Reventador Lodge. From here you can observe one of the most active volcanoes of Ecuador, the Reventador.
After arriving in the Cuyabeno Reserve, we will be practicing yoga in the mystical Amazon Rainforest.
Practice amongst the symphony of nature and really connect to the elements in the lush rainforest.
We finish our yoga and wellness tour in what might be one of the best lodges of Ecuador, Papallacta Lodge: home to the best natural hot springs. On a clear day, you can see the impressive snowcapped top of the Antisana Volcano which is 5,704 meters (18,714 feet) high.
Short Yoga tour itinerary
Day 1 – Saturday: Arrive in Quito – Isinlivi
Day 2: Yoga in the Andes – Quilotoa Lake
Day 3: Yoga in the Andes – Cotopaxi Volcano
Day 4: Otavalo – Quito – Loja – Izhcayluma Lodge
Day 5: Yoga at Izhcayluma
Day 6: Yoga at Izhcayluma
Day 7: Yoga at Izhcayluma
Day 8: Yoga at Izhcayluma
Day 9: Izhcayluma – Loja – Quito – Hosteria Reventador
Day 10 – Monday, 7:00 am: Reventador – Lago Agrio – Start of Cuyabeno Amazon Tour
Day 11: Bird and monkey watching
Day 12: Bird watching and looking for special flowers
Day 13: Exploring the mystical Amazon Rainforest
Day 14: End of the Cuyabeno tour – Papallacta Lodge
Day 15: Papallacta –> airport and back home, or to the Galapagos
Last but not least, you can extend your trip by visiting the unique Galapagos Islands with us! Inquire to find out more about the experience.
Day 1 - Saturday: Arrive in Quito – Llu Llu Llama Mountain Lodge
After arriving in Quito we will pick you and the group up from Quito Airport and travel to the rustic Llu Llu Llama Mountain Lodge in Isinlivi.
After a short briefing about the itinerary of our two-week journey, you’ll have time to settle in before your first yoga session or the tour.
For this gentle yoga session, we will experience the effects of being at a higher altitude (around 2870 m, 9416 feet). This is an interesting feeling that makes the body feel heavier and the mind lighter.
After yoga, how about enjoying a glass of wine in our solar-heated jacuzzi?
Overnight with dinner and breakfast in Llu Llu Llama Lodge.
Day 2: Llu Llu Llama and tour to the Quilotoa Lake
We start our second yoga class before sunrise, experiencing nature awakening in the Andes around us as the first sun rays pass over the mountains.
After breakfast at 8 am, we will depart to the famous Quilotoa Lake at 3914 m (12841 feet) altitude. According to local stories, Quilotoa is “the lake of the God of duality”, the God of eruptions that take away all that is in its way and the God of depths.
The Crater Lake will literally take your breath away! It’s just a 30-minute hike down from the viewpoint to get to the lakeside and 1-hour hike back up the 280-meter vertical ascent, but at a high altitude.
Our next stop is the village of Quilotoa. Culturally this is an interesting village because it is an important center for handicrafts. We will also have a simple lunch in Quilotoa before driving back to Llu Llu Llama for a little relaxing and more yoga.
Overnight with dinner and breakfast in Llu Llu Llama.
Day 3: Llu Llu Llama – Cotopaxi Volcano Tour – Llu Llu Llama
After our morning yoga class and breakfast, we head high along the slope of the Cotopaxi Volcano.
With an altitude of 5,897 m (19347 feet) the majestic Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world; only competing against two other volcanoes for the title.
This giant peak boasts a perfectly symmetrical snow-capped cone and picturesque surrounding parkland. The Cotopaxi was also worshipped by ancient civilizations of the area, thought to be the bringer of rain and prosperous crops.
We will be ascending from the parking lot at 4600 m (15091 feet) to the José Rivas Climbers Refuge at 4864 m (15958 feet) altitude!
Day 4: Llu Llu Llam – Quito – Loja – Vilcabamba - Izhcayluma
Yoga and free morning in Llu Llu Llama Mountain Lodge.
The lunch package is included today.
Late morning we drive for 2h30 min. back to Quito Airport, to fly at 15:20 in 45 minutes to Catamayo Airport in Loja.
Here our private transport will be waiting for us to drive 1h30 min, through the countryside and over winding roads with great views, to the Izhcayluma Eco Lodge.
The Eco Lodge of Izhcayluma is surrounded by a garden of 10 hectares, full of different plants and flowers.
They have a swimming pool, massage room, bird watching platform and the prettiest yoga studio of Ecuador, with great views at the Sacred Mandango Mountain!
The naturally shaped restaurant offers beautiful views over the Vilcabamba Valley. This valley is also called “The Valley of Longevity” and the Izhcayluma viewpoint offers the best sunset views over this valley!
In the evening we will have our first meditation and soft Yin Yoga session at the impressive Yoga Shala of Izhcayluma.
Those who’re not tired yet can have a drink at the quaint and friendly bar of Izhcayluma. This is the ideal place to meet interesting new people from all over the world.
Day 5: Izhcayluma and Vilcabamba
Breakfast is served in the spacious restaurant with a panoramic view over the Vilcabamba valley.
After a healthy breakfast that includes real fruits, fresh yogurt, and homemade bread and granola, you have time to explore the beautiful surroundings of the valley and/ or pay a visit to the small village of Vilcabamba (a 25-minute walk downhill).
For the afternoon we have scheduled a special class of “Air Yoga”. When it’s a clear sky after dark, you can spot the Milky Way from the reclining chairs next to the swimming pool.
Day 6: Horseback riding tour or hike to the waterfall
This After meditation, yoga, and breakfast, you can decide to either walk yourself or get carried around on a horse through the amazing surroundings of the Vilcabamba Valley.
For the horseback riding, it is not important if you have experience or not, just let us know before and we pick you the right horse. All you have to do is: “Let go, relax and enjoy the amazing ride!”
Later that afternoon you can relax at the swimming pool, enjoy a relaxing yoga class and/or treat your body and mind with a massage and Reiki session. We have included one of these treatments in our tour package, for today, or later this week.
Day 7: Optional: Hike through the cloud forest of Podocarpus National Park
Today After yoga and breakfast, you can decide to relax today, or participate in a hiking tour into the Podocarpus National Park.
The entrance of the Podocarpus National Park is at a 50-minute taxi ride from Izhcayluma. This National Park is named after the Podocarpus tree, the only native conifer of Ecuador.
The cloud forest and paramo of this nature reserve offer a great place to observe various orchid species and other flower and plant species. Podocarpus is also home to many bird species, including various hummingbird species!
If you are really lucky you might even see a spectacled bear! The park rangers see these animals only about once every 6 weeks, but who knows… if retreat magic aligns.
From the entrance, you can choose to make a long and very adventurous hike of 5 hours (over only 5 km) through the park. Note: this hike is not for people with vertigo.
However, you can also do a short hike of around 2 hours in total up and down, to an impressive viewpoint (mirador) over the surroundings and the nearby town of Loja.
The extra adventurous folk who still have energy left can even decide to mountain bike the very scenic route from the entrance of the National Park back to Vilcabamba/Izhcayluma (4 hours).
Day 8: Last day at Izhcayluma Lodge
This morning we start with a short meditation session. You will be surrounded by the spirits of the sacred plants that grow in the Vilcabamba Valley and accompanied by the first rays of sunlight and the calls of many birds.
The meditation is followed by a ‘Rise and Shine’ yoga class.
Late morning and early afternoon you have time for yourself again to make a short hike, relax and/ or read a book in one of the many hammocks.
For this afternoon we have scheduled a complete full body massage from the very experienced masseuses at Izhcayluma.
Before sunset, we have scheduled a special surprise yoga class to see if you can surprise yourself about the flexibility of your own body and mind.
Day 9: Izhcayluma – Loja – Quito – Revantador Lodge
Today we have to get up very early 4:30 am to catch the morning flight back to Quito.
From Quito Airport we travel directly in 5 hours to the rustic Hosteria El Reventador.
Just before we arrive we make a short stop to walk in 10 minutes to a viewpoint towards La Cascada Magica.
On a clear day, it is possible to observe the El Reventador Volcano from the lodge. The 3562 m (11686 feet) high stratovolcano, is not very high but belongs to Ecuador’s most active volcanoes.
The lodge and volcano are located at the edge of the rainforest and partly surrounded by a humid cloud forest. This is the favorite habitat of the iconic orange Cock of the Rock bird.
After a late lunch, you will have time to relax at the swimming pool before our sunset yoga class.
Overnight with breakfast in Hosteria El Reventador.
Day 10, Monday: Reventador - Lago Agrio – Start of Cuyabeno Amazon Tour
6:30 am is indeed a very early time to depart. But this will allow us to enjoy spectacular sunrise views on our way from the cloud forest into the Amazon Basin.
It takes around 2 hours to reach the city of Lago Agrio, located at the edge of the Amazon basin.
After a late breakfast, we meet up with our guide and other international travelers who will join us on our way to the Amazon Lodge. Together we will travel about two hours through the Amazon lowlands and passing many farmlands and some small communities.
Our final destination is the National Cuyabeno Amazon Reserve. Here we will either stay at the Cuyabeno Lodge or in the Sionoa Lodge, both located close to Laguna Grande.
The Cuyabeno Reserve is unique in the whole of South America for its geographical characteristics and location. It is like an enormous hollow bowl with a narrow exit, which causes a large area to be seasonally flooded with scenic interconnected lakes, creeks and rivers.
Arriving at the Cuyabeno Bridge, one of the official entrances into the Cuyabeno Reserve, we will get into canoes and navigate for a one and a half hour trip deep into the Cuyabeno Reserve.
It is a fascinating ride on this tributary of the Amazon River, that will take us first to the largest lake in the reserve, the Laguna Cuyabeno also known as Laguna Grande.
This is the perfect spot to explore the Amazon, and our Amazon Jungle Lodge is one of the few accommodations located close to Laguna Grande.
Upon arrival at the lodge, you can take a hot shower, relax a bit and have a late lunch.
After some rest, you may enjoy a swim in the lake and with any luck, spot a few (pink) Amazon dolphins!
Right after watching the sunset above the great lake, we have our first yoga session in the Amazon rainforest.
Once the curtain of night falls and dinner is finished, you will silently head out onto the lake again; this time in search of Caimans, a close relative of crocodiles and alligators, but less aggressive.
You can spot them with flashlights, which reflect in their eyes like bright orange charcoals. Occasionally, with a bit of luck, your light beam may also catch the green eyes of a wandering ocelot, puma or even a jaguar!
Day 11: Birds and monkey watching
8:00 This morning we will join a short bird watching tour, during which our experienced guide will help us in spotting birds.
Blue and yellow macaws might fly noisily across the Cuyabeno Lake, while hoatzins whisper their hoarse sounds as they scope the Macrolobium trees for food.
You may also hear the mysterious swelling sound of the howler monkeys or see a troop of squirrel monkeys bounding through the treetops. In fact, 10 species of monkeys have been recorded in the reserve.
Return to the lodge for breakfast. After breakfast, we will explore the Amazon rainforest in the “terra firma” forest where our naturalist guide will teach you more about the many medicinal plants and traditions of the Amazon.
Before lunch, we will have our second yoga class in the Amazon Rainforest.
After lunch and a short siesta, we will look for birds and orchids in the flooded igapo (Brazilian Portuguese for Amazon swamp) with macrolobium trees covered in abundant epiphytes. At the end of the day, you can enjoy a sunset swim in the lake.
This night we take you on a walk through the woods with a flashlight. During such walks, we may find some of the strangest creatures.
Colorful tree frogs are also everywhere, but it is very difficult to find them. And the moment you think you finally have one in your camera, they leap away to never be seen again!
Day 12: Bird watching and looking for special flowers
This This morning we will wake up before dawn to have a spiritual yoga class accompanied by the sounds of the Amazon nature stirring around us.
We then have a good and healthy breakfast before we travel downstream on the Cuyabeno River and deeper into the Amazon Reserve.
There are many colorful flowers in the Cuyabeno Nature Reserve, but it takes a bit of an effort to find them. Orchids and Heliconias are among the more spectacular flowers, which we will try to find today.
In the late afternoon, you can enjoy a sunset swim in the lake. After the swim, we will practice a smooth yoga class.
Dinner is followed by a nightly walk through the woods: grab your flashlight and check-out the rainforest’s nocturnal critters such as translucent tree frogs, armadillos, bats, nocturnal insects, and frogs.
Tonight you can enjoy a quiet read in the evening while relaxing in one of the hammocks and listening to the sounds of the jungle or have a drink and socialize at our small jungle bar.
Day 13: Exploring the Mystical Rainforest surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake
This morning we will also start with a spiritual yoga class at dawn. After breakfast, we will enjoy a paddling canoe journey to feel the silence of the lagoon and at the same time enjoy a thousand sounds of birds and insects.
In the afternoon you can relax a bit and prepare for an active yoga class later in the afternoon.
For the evening we have included an excursion to discover other little lagoons or to hike along one of the small paths in the Cuyabeno Reserve, spotting all kinds of wildlife.
Day 14: Friday, end of the Cuyabeno Tour and private transport to the Papallacta Lodge
Today we will have to leave early to exchange the sounds and tropical climate of the rainforest for the fresh mountain air and steam at the Papallacta Lodge.
Depending on the traffic it takes again about 4h30 min. to travel by with our private bus to the Papallacta Lodge. This lodge is very well located between the snowcapped Andean Mountains and features the best hot springs of Ecuador.
From these pools, you have a splendid view over the Andean Mountain range and the Volcanos Antisana, Cayambe and Reventador. Can you think of a better way to relax and treat both body and mind?
Our late lunch is included, and dinner is extra. There will be a late afternoon/sunset yoga class.
Overnight with breakfast in the Papallacta Lodge.
Day 15: Papallacta Lodge – Quito Airport - Onwards
After our last yoga and meditation session, you have free time again to relax in the hot springs. Optional to book a massage.
Depending on your flight time we will depart in the morning, or afternoon to the airport of Quito (1h30 min.).
Now it’s time to say goodbye to the beautiful Ecuadorian country sights, but we are sure that you will never forget your stay and always carry some of its natural spirits with you.
Important note: Most of the hotels/ lodges where we stay during this tour aren’t just standard hotels, but are specially selected places with their own personal charm. Because of this there can be a variation in the rooms we will receive for our group. Naturally all rooms will be of good quality, but there are likely to be differences in size, interior and location.
Note 2: the itinerary of the tour above is to give an impression of the possibilities, but due to local, unpredictable (weather) conditions it might be necessary to make (small) changes.
Optional: you can decide to extend this tour with an excursion to the Galapagos Islands.
Inclusive in this Yoga and Wellness Tour
– 3 Nights with breakfast and dinner in the Llu Llu Llama Lodge, based on two people per room
– 5 Nights with breakfast in the Izhcayluma Lodge
– 1 Night with lunch and breakfast in Hosteria Reventador
– A complete 5 days tour into the Cuyabeno Amazon Reserve, incl.: 4 Nights in an Amazon Lodge; 4 Times breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Amazon; Different guided tours through the Amazon, guided by an experienced English speaking naturalist guide
– 1 Night with lunch and breakfast in the Papallacta Lodge
– All transport over land with private transportation
– A half day tour to the Quilotoa Lake, incl. transport, English speaking guide, entrance fees and local lunch in Quilotoa
– A half day tour to the Cotopaxi Volcano, incl. transport, English speaking guide, entrance fees and a lunch package
– 2 Flights within Ecuador
– Two full body massages (one with Reiki) in Izhcayluma
– Different Yoga classes a day + free meditation options
The costs within Ecuador, for one Yoga teacher to be able to travel with the group, exclusive extra meals that are not mentioned in the itinerary
An additional salary of 80,- US$ a day for the yoga teacher who accompanies the group.
Not inclusive in this Yoga tour
– International flights
– International airport taxes (if not included in your ticket)
– (International) banking fees
– (Soft) drinks and alcoholic drinks
– All meals that are not mentioned in the itinerary
– Additional price for a one person booking
– Everything that isn’t clearly mentioned in the itinerary and inclusive list above
Optional: For those who are interested it is also possible to extend this Yoga and Wellness tour with a tour to the Galapagos, flight departing from Quito