2019 Friends and Founders ECUADOR July 27 - Aug 1

Explore Ecuador

Founders & Friends Trips 2019

Ho l a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ecuador i t i nerar y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Tr i p costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Mi nga Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Customi ze your t r i p : Ecuador extens i ons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


S i gnature ser v i ce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hea l th & safet y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


FAQ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Test imon i a l s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Jo i n us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Table of contents


Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Hola! Dear friends,

I am honoured to warmly invite you to join us on a Founders and Friends Trip to Ecuador—a meaningful journey you will never forget. Experience daily life and culture of the Indigenous Kichwa people, immersing yourself in the beauty of the Amazon rainforest as you get to know our founders or executive team and are welcomed into a local community. Build a legacy alongside loved ones and fellow travellers—connecting with the community as you volunteer together on a sustainable development project. In the following pages, read more about this adventure to Ecuador and all the experience has to offer for yourself and your family. This is your time to change the world,

Roxanne Joyal CEO, ME to WE



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Education Water Health Food Opportunity

Day 1 | July 27

Day 2 | July 28

Arrive at Minga Lodge Alli shamushca capay—welcome! Step off the boat at Minga Lodge just in time to take in your first spectacular Amazonian sunset over the Rio Napo. Your lush tropical surroundings will be glowing pink and orange as you snack on local treats like plantain chips and yucca fritters, washed down with a glass of chilled guayusa tea. Introduction and Orientation Explore Minga Lodge, tucked into the jungle overlooking the river, and follow a ME to WE team member along winding pathways and raised walkways to your cottage nestled into the natural hillside environment. Learn about WE Charity’s WE Villages international development model, which works with rural villages and regional governments to support, teach and empower people within five Pillars of Impact:

Depart from North America

A Fresh-Baked, Fresh-Squeezed Start to Your Day Fuel up for the journey ahead with a complimentary breakfast at your hotel, where you will find both western favourites and traditional South American cuisine. Descend into the Amazon Basin Get your camera ready; this journey is one for the books! Jungle cruise river expedition Hop aboard for an unforgettable outboard motor canoe ride up the Rio Napo, an Amazon River tributary situated in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Feel the cool breeze on your face and watch the vibrantly coloured birds fly above as your driver and cultural expert gives you an insider’s view of Amazon River culture.

Evening Arrival in Quito, Gateway to the Amazon

Welcome Dinner Let the aromas of cumin, oregano, garlic and onion be your guides as you make your way back to the dining hall from your cabin, along meandering stone pathways and over a footbridge across the creek. Feast on western favourites and local delicacies like heart of palm, stinging nettle and fish cooked in palm leaves. Add some fire to the meal with a scoop of aji hot sauce, if you dare! Kichwa 101 In this playful and educational group session, you will learn key Kichwa phrases that will help to foster your connection with new friends in the community. Challenge your senses with blindfolded taste tests and other interactive teaching tools, then partner up and practice your greetings with a fellow traveller.

Welcome to Ecuador! Collect your luggage and make your way through customs to the arrival area of Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport, where a ME to WE representative will be waiting to greet you. Relax and enjoy a short ride into Ecuador’s metropolitan capital city Quito. Settle into the Wyndham Quito Settle into the Wyndham airport hotel in Quito. This is a short ride from the airport. You can enjoy the facilities of the hotel and/or have dinner on-site. Get a good first night’s rest before your descent into the Amazon rainforest. Enjoy a leisurely evening with dinner at Wyndham Quito’s gourmet restaurants, or kick your feet up and order room service instead—the night is yours!

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change. Details of specific trip inclusions/exclusions are listed after the itinerary with costing. Accommodation in Quito may change subject to availability.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador Itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

A day in the life There’s no better way to understand the ways of local people than by walking a mile in their shoes. Roll up your sleeves and join a local farmer to help carry out some of their daily activities, such as planting seeds, fetching water from the river and harvesting crops. Kichwa in the kitchen Join our indigenous Kichwa chefs for a traditional cooking lesson and transform exotic and unusual local ingredients into delicious traditional dishes like fish wrapped in palm leaves. Enjoy the fruits of your labour for dinner! Dinner Gather around the dinner table for a family style feast and some down time with the group. Dance night! Enjoy a night of traditional Ecuadorian dance performed by local community members. Don’t be shy—the performers love it when you join in!

will take you as close as comfort allows to see for yourself what has been making all that noise after sundown. Common sightings include frogs, spiders, tree snakes, caymans and owls—but with tens of thousands of species in the Amazon Basin, who knows what curious critters might come say hello! Day 4 | July 30 Rainforest excursion Hike deep into primary and secondary rainforest to discover a myriad of flora and fauna, including seven species of toucan, long-tailed Potoos, gargantuan cebo trees and countless species of insects, spiders and snakes. Quench your thirst with a drink of fresh water from a jungle vine. Lunch Freshen up with a cool face towel at the lodge and refuel for the afternoon with a freshly prepared lunch and energizing glass of chilled guayusa tea.

A sweet trip to the cacao farm The production of cacao represents one of the main sources of income for the community members in the region. Meet with one of WE’s cacao farmers who has dedicated his life since a young age to cacao production within Ecuador. Then sweeten your afternoon as you learn how to make chocolate from scratch using cocoa beans right on the grounds of the WE ALC where the beans originated. Customize your very own chocolate to suit your taste buds by adding fresh coconut, banana or get creative and spice things up with your very own concoction! Dinner Share stories and photos with friends over a stunning sunset dinner perched above the Rio Napo. Tune in to your senses and enjoy the warm breeze on your skin, the richness of spices in your mouth, and the emerging sounds of jungle fauna all around. Curious critters: Wild Amazonian night hike When the sun goes down, the rainforest comes alive. Grab your flashlights and set out on an adventurous night hike with an experienced local guide who

Day 3 | July 29

Community orientation and volunteering Rise and shine! After breakfast, join your group and a ME to WE team member for a short jungle walk or canoe ride to the nearby community where you will help build local infrastructure as part of a WE Charity development project. Gain insight into the community mindset of the Kichwa people as you listen to the inspiring story of how Craig and Marc Kielburger witnessed a spontaneous and powerful community movement—a minga—years ago that inspired the formation of ME to WE, and the naming of Minga Lodge. Lunch Back at the lodge, sit down with new friends on the indoor-outdoor dining terrace and revel in the excitement and anticipation of upcoming opportunities and activities.

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change. Details of specific trip inclusions/exclusions are listed after the itinerary with costing. Accommodation in Quito may change subject to availability.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador Itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Farewell dinner at Plaza Grande Located in Quito’s main square, one of the most historic areas of the city, the Plaze Grande boasts views of the Government Palace and Panecillo Hill. Being the evening with a cocktail on the terrace and then enjoy a sumptuous meal while you reflect on an impactful week full of new and exciting experiences. Drive to Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport Your driver will pick you up from dinner, and drive you straight to the airport for your flight back home, or on to your next adventure!

Day 6 | August 1

Lunch Reconvene with the group back at the lodge for lunch and a bit of down time before carrying on with the remainder of your day. Kick your feet up for a quick afternoon siesta in your hammock or join friends for a game of cards in the shade. Shamanic ceremony and weapons training Let a local shaman guide you and your fellow travelers to a nearby vantage point high above the river for a traditional cleansing ceremony and blessing. Next, channel your inner Kichwa hunter and learn how to throw a spear and shoot a blowgun from an indigenous weapons expert. Test your precision alongside a friend as you both take aim at targets of papayas mounted on sticks. Farewell celebration Celebrate your week of new experiences and meaningful contributions to community development projects alongside friends and team members with one final family style feast.

Day 5 | July 31

Depart for Quito Say goodbye to the steamy Amazon and its amazing people and way of life, as we drive to higher ground back to the city of Quito. Visit historic Quito Explore Old Quito, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site, on a walking tour of the area. While your tour leader enchants you with stories of Old Quito’s rich culture and history, feast your eyes on 17th and 18th century Spanish colonial architecture. Often referred to as Latin America’s best tourist destination, Ecuador’s capital city boasts countless beautiful old churches, striking architecture and winding cobblestone streets with mountains and hills surrounding the downtown proper.

Optional early morning bird watching Travel to our 300 hectare forest reserve and look to the trees, where it’s not unusual to spot more than 30 species of birds in one hour, including local celebrity species like Whitehawk and Blackhawk eagles. Braided & beaded: Alternative income initiatives in the Amazon Sit with a group of skilled female artisans to learn how they generate income through traditional jewelry making. From sourcing to production, every step towards creating these uniquely Ecuadorian red, black and white jewellery pieces is local, with many pieces made from nuts and seeds collected in the rainforest. Local women also produce more modern loom beaded bracelets and items featuring traditional South American motifs.

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change. Details of specific trip inclusions/exclusions are listed after the itinerary with costing. Accommodation in Quito may change subject to availability.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador Itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Trip costs

$4,450 USD PP Shared accommodation

$500 USD PP Single supplement

Inclusions ►► One nights hotel accommodation in Quito ►► Accommodation at Minga Lodge (four nights) ►► All meals and drinks while at Minga Lodge (beer and wine included) ►► All activities as outlined in the itinerary ►► Entrance fees to sights in Quito ►► Meals as indicated in Quito ►► Return airfare from Quito to Coca ►► Ground transportation throughout the duration of the trip ►► ME to WE professional facilitators Exclusions ►► International airfare to and from Quito ►► Meals in Quito (one dinner on the first night) ►► Travel insurance: out-of-country medical, trip cancellation and interruption insurance ►► Gratuities are not expected but appreciated, and are shared among all staff. We humbly suggest $10-15 per adult per day. *Please note that arrival and departure transfers are included in your trip cost. Pick-up time at the airport begins at 2:30 p.m. on your arrival day, to accommodate check-in at the hotel, which begins at 3 p.m. Should you decide to extend your stay by arriving earlier or departing later than the scheduled times of your ME to WE Volunteer Adventure, airport pick-up and drop-offs can be arranged at an additional cost.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador Itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Minga Lodge

A tropical hideaway designed with its environment in mind, the picturesque Minga Lodge is located on the edge of the Rio Napo. After a day of volunteering in indigenous Kichwa communities, Minga Lodge offers serene and comfortable spaces to refresh and recharge.

►► Self-contained cabin-style accommodations with organic flair, suitable for individuals and families alike. ►► Inspired common spaces that include an al fresco dining platform overlooking the Rio Napo, offering spectacular sunset views. ►► Eco-friendly conveniences including hot water,

power and en suite washrooms. ►► Enjoy family style meals prepared fresh daily by expert chefs, including western favourites and Ecuadorian specialties. ►► We have a 17-year record of travel safety for our guests.



Customize your trip: Ecuador extension

Customize your trip: Ecuador extension

FROM $695 USD PP Based on double occupancy

O t o v a l o a n d C o t o p a x i From Quito, drive overland to the regions of Otovalo and Cotopaxi. Both offer a unique glimpse into Ecuadorian life—from vast, open-air markets, to snow-capped mountains in the highlands. Recharge and refresh at traditional and welcoming haciendas, set high in the Andean mountain range. Embark on optional daily hikes and excursions provided by our partner haciendas, leading you to breathtaking vistas, trickling waterfalls and tranquil villages.

Includes two nights full board accommodation and all land transfers. Optional activities extra.

G a l a p a g o s I s l a n d s Embark on a breathtaking adventure, bringing you face to-face with the vast biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. Be expertly guided through the flora and fauna of this famous archipelago on an unforgettable journey. Located 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland, enjoy a remote paradise made famous by Charles Darwin and mingle with the vast array of natural wonders—on land or by sea! No matter which option you choose, we are happy to create the perfect adventure for you and your family. Book early to secure your spot—Galapagos trips sell out very quickly.

FROM $3,295 USD PP Based on double occupancy

Price subject to availability and occupancy. Land and sea-based options available. Includes three nights full board accommodation, domestic flights and all land transfers. Optional activities extra

M a c h u P i c c h u a n d b e y o n d Start your journey in Peru’s bustling, coastal capital of Lima, before travelling to the ancient city of Cusco. Spend a day wandering the cobblestone streets, exploring Inca ruins and admiring beautiful Spanish architecture, all with the backdrop of the cloud-topped Andes mountains. Then, begin your journey to Machu Picchu itself, travelling through the Sacred Valley aboard a glass-topped Vistadome train. Along the way, take in stunning views of Peruvian villages nestled beside lush forests and rushing rivers. Your final ascent to Machu Picchu begins the next day!

FROM $3,195 USD PP Based on double occupancy

Price subject to availability and occupancy. Includes international flight from Quito to Lima, domestic return flight from Cusco to Lima, all land transfers and four nights full board accommodation.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Our signature service

Don ’ t wo r r y abou t t he de t a i l s , ou r t eam i s on ca l l t o p r ov i de :

International and domestic flights on world- class airlines Our ME to WE Travel Team members are experts at buying the best flights and finding you the top sales on international airfare. Whether you want to fly first class, or snag the most cost-effective deal, our team can book your travel from door-to-door. Travel insurance Whether it is medical, cancellation or lost baggage (or any combination of the above), we are able to create and purchase the plan that will give you and your family peace of mind. Passport and visa information If you are unsure about what is needed to enter Ecuador, we will walk you through any and all requirements and make sure you have everything you need to begin your journey worry-free!

Immunization information At ME to WE, our participants’ health is our top priority. We always recommend visiting a travel doctor a minimum of six weeks before your departure date. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, we are happy to recommend a travel doctor that is familiar with ME to WE Trips. Once you arrive in Ecuador, we take care of all your transportation, so you can sit back and enjoy the spectacular wildlife and landscapes of the Amazon unfolding in front of you. Your experienced local guide will welcome you into the communities and be an invaluable resource for in-depth information about the places and people you visit. Travel recommendations From Quito, you are at the perfect gateway to explore either the Galapagos, inland Ecuador or even Peru. Whatever you choose, we are more than happy to arrange the next leg of your journey! On-ground transportation and local guide

Whether you’re preparing for your trip or experiencing the real deal on the ground, we take care of all the details! Leave the planning to us—including flight arrangements, packing lists and information about vaccines and visas. While in country, we encourage you to focus on what’s really important: being in the moment. That’s why we ensure every detail is accounted for— from world-class accommodations and meals, to in-country transportation and excursions with your local guide.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador Itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Health & Safety Your safety is our top priority! We take care of all the details to ensure you stay safe and healthy throughout your trip including: ►► Flight, luggage and medical insurance ►► Airport arrival assistance ►► 24-hour security staff ►► Filtered water available at all times “ The water we will drink is f iltered. The food is prepared by their own kitchen, their own chef. We have these wonderful facilitators around us that are fountains of knowledge, but they also make sure that everything is seamless.

Donna MacFarlane ME to WE Immersive Volunteer Trip, 2013



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is the weather like in Ecuador at this time of year? A: Because Ecuador is so geographically diverse, different regions experience different climates. Minga Lodge, however, is located in the Amazon rainforest, and therefore weather is generally hot and humid. The average temperate hovers around 26 degrees Celsius. The best times to visit Ecuador, especially in the Amazon, are June, July and August when wildlife thrives in the jungle! Q: What time zone is Ecuador in? A: Quito is on ECT (Ecuador Time), and is the same as Toronto (Eastern Standard Time). However, they do not have Daylight Saving Time, so the region is an hour behind during DST periods. Q: Can I bring a laptop, iPod, expensive camera etc.? A: We suggest travelling as lightly as possible to minimize the risk of damage to or loss of your possessions. The rooms and cabins at Minga Lodge are able to be locked. We ask that you leave your key with reception if you choose to lock your room during the day. Q: Is there Filtered water? A: The water at our Lodge comes from natural springs, is purified before use to prepare food and is chlorinated in all other areas of the lodge. Our lodge provides filtered water stations so you can refill your water bottle throughout the day.

Q: What is the electrical voltage in Ecuador? A: Plugs in Ecuador take 240v. Moreover, Ecuador’s outlets are the same as those in North America—two flat, parallel prongs. Q: What will my meals be like while I’m in Ecuador? A: Participants can expect to eat meals consisting of traditional cuisine, which includes beans, rice, meat, salads, soups and potatoes, as well as western favourites. This food is prepared with great care by our local lodge staff. Minga Lodge is also able to accommodate any dietary needs—just let us know before you leave for your trip.

Q: Is there a minimum age for the trip participants going to Ecuador? A: We welcome participants of all ages to our trips—there is something fun and different for everyone!

Q: Can I bring gifts for the kids? A: We ask that you do not. ME to WE and WE Charity work in solidarity with the communities we are partnered with. Put simply, your gift is your presence. We ask that our trip participants do not bring candy, toys or presents for community members, as we would like to promote fairness for all children. A portion of your trip cost goes to in-country communities to support their basic needs.



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador itinerary

Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Tracy’s story

Unforgettable, unbelievable, transformational—our trip toMinga

Lodge was all that and more for my husband, our youngest son

and myself. Through building, community visits, soccer games

and other daily adventures, we established a real and enduring

connection with our hosts. The extraordinary facilitators and

staff, the amazingly accomplished and like-minded fellow

travellers and flawlessly executed agenda demonstrated the

inherent nobility of ME to WE’s mission—showing us how we

can live up to our best selves every day.

Tracy Simpson Founders and Friends Trip 2015

Tracy and family with young Mondana locals Founders And Friends Trip 2015



Founders and Friends Trip: Ecuador itinerary

Trip dates: Trip dates: July 27 — August 1

Lily’s story

The Ecuador experience is truly a special blend of adventure

and social action. As a mom with three boys this trip was

a serious highlight of all our travels. The true shout-out

goes to the jungle guides who really know how to make it a

memorable experience.

Lily Kanter Founders and Friends Trip 2016

Lily and her husband Mark with young Mondana locals Founders and Friends Trip 2016



Join us!

R o x a n n e J o y a l C E O , M E t o W E

1 . 8 7 7 . 6 3 8 . 6 9 3 1

s p e c i a l e x p e r i e n c e s @ w e . o r g




TICO # 50017614

25 Photographs courtesy of Scott Ramsay and V. Tony Hauser

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