Ecuador/Peru Tour

The information on this page is relevant to our Summer 2023 tour to Ecuador. Our next tour will be May 2025 and will have similar topics, so feel free to explore this site and let us know if you might be interested in joining our 2025 tour!

Aerial View of Banos, Ecuador

On Campus Lectures: May 8-9
Tour Dates: May 10-26


Quito, Northern Highlands, Amazon Jungle, Baños, Guamote, Ingapirca, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Puerto Lopez, and more!


Undergraduate: 6 credits of tuition + $500 tour fee
Graduate: 4 credits of tuition + $750 tour fee
Guests (taking no classes): $3,500 + airfare

Students may apply subsidies, grants, loans etc. Please contact your financial advisor for specific details on what your financial aid will cover.

It is possible to participate with less credits, please contact Erica for more information.


The following are the courses offered as a part of the tour package. Most undergraduate students take 6 credits and graduate students 4 credits, however arrangements may be made for a different number of credits. Please contact Erica Bradfield for more information or for potential alternate courses. Those joining the tour as guests (without taking courses) will register as guest participants.

  • PSYC355 Cultural Psychology (2-3 credits)
  • RELG360 Top: Comparative Spirituality (3 credits)
  • CIDS575 Cultural Psychology in Development (2-3 credits)
  • CIDS575 Comparative Spirituality in Development (2-3 credits)
  • ANTH440/BHSC440/PSYC475/SOCI475 Topics (1-3 credits with instructor permission)
  • Other options may be available, please contact Erica Bradfield for more information

Click here for a table about how PSYC355 can apply to your major


If you have any questions or would like to sign up, please contact:
Erica Bradfield
School of Social & Behavioral Sciences Department, Buller Hall 211

ITINERARY (Subject to Change)

Click on each day to see more information

Students taking the tour for academic credit will attend classes on the Monday and Tuesday after May graduation.

AU bus to Grand Rapids Airport for our flights to Quito, Ecuador. Evening arrival and transfer to hotel. Overnight in Quito.

Included Meals: Dinner (in-flight)

Tulipe Archaeological Site
Tulipe Archaeological Site

Breakfast at the hotel before boarding the bus towards Mindo and the Cloud forest. The cloud forest is a bio diverse region home to hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, and plants. We will visit the Tulipe Archaeological Site, home of the Yumbo people who lived in the area surrounding Quito from 800 to 1660 AD. Next we will visit a Cacao artisan factory to lean about the process of creating chocolate. Finally we will stop to see hummingbirds and orchids, often considered to be the oldest plants in the world, before returning to our hotel in Quito.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Dr. Burnett with a Monkey
Otavalo Weaving

Breakfast at the hotel followed by a scenic drive to the provence of Imbabura, north of Quito. Here we will learn about the Otavalo Community, known worldwide for their textiles and weaving patters which pre-date the Spanish conquest. Arriving in Peguche, we will visit two artisan centers - one to learn about the weaving process and the other to learn about Andean musical instruments such as the pan flutes, drums, and guitars. Overnight in Quito.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

People in a boat on the Napo River
Boat on the Napo River

Breakfast at the lodge followed by a morning bus trip descending from the Andes, down into the Amazon jungle basin. Upon arrival in Misahualli, we will board the boat which will take us to our Jungle lodge. After lunch, we will re board the boat to head up the Napo river to learn about the traps and medicinal plans used by the local inhabitants. Overnight in the Jungle.

(Note: Activities in the amazon program may be reorganized or substituted by the experienced lodge guides)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Parrot in the trees and a group of people on a balsa wood raft
Parrot & Balsa Rafting

During our time in the Amazon, we will experience jungle life through various activities: a rainforest walk with a guide explaining the Quichua use of plants; a float down the river on a balsa raft to learn about the transportation methods of the river; a visit to a Quichua family to learn about the production of Chica and traditional blowgun use; visits to ceramics and woodcraft workshops; walks to overlooks to see the river and villages; relaxing tubing trip down the river; local agriculture tour; Cayman spotting at Isla Anaconda; and a visit to AmaZoonico, a refuge for confiscated and injured animals. Overnights at the Jungle lodge.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinners

Aerial view of Baños
Aerial view of Baños

Departing the Jungle, we will take a bus to Baños with a stop in Puyo to better understand the use of Balsa before visiting an Orchid Garden. Upon reaching Baños and checking in to our hotel, the rest of the afternoon will be free time to explore in small groups. Baños is a common destination for outdoor and adventure travelers and is known for it’s large number of waterfalls, unique landscape, and warm climate. Overnight in Baños.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Waterfalls of Baños
Waterfalls of Baños

After breakfast at the hotel, we set out to explore the impressive waterfalls of the area. Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron), drops approximately 100 feet into a small area resembling a cauldron before flowing on to the Amazon basin. We’ll also have the chance to take a cable car to see Manto de Novia (Bride’s Veil), a 132 foot double waterfall.

Leaving Baños along the Pan-America highway we will see Chimborazo, an almost 15,500 foot inactive volcano whose summit is considered the farthest point from Earth’s center due to its proximity to the equator. Reaching our hacienda, we’ll enjoy a Lava rock dinner before relaxing for the evening. Overnight in Riobamba.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Locals perusing the wares at the Guamote Market
Guamote Market

Departing Riobamba, we will arrive at Guamote which is famous for its Thursday market, crowded with colorfully dressed locals displaying different types of potatoes, vegetables, fruits, animals, clothing, baskets, and other local items. This market, instead of being a tourist market, is an opportunity for locals to buy and sell and is a great opportunity to learn about the customs and traditions of the community. After the market we will travel on to Ingapirca. Overnight in Ingapirca.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Pictures of the archaeological site of Ingapirca and the historic area of Cuenca
Ingapirca (top) & Cuenca

Morning visit to Ingapirca, the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador. Ingapirca sits in an area settled by the Cañari people who refused to be conqured by the Incas. Eventually the Inca and Cañari lived together peacefully and the astronomical observatory was built under Inca Huayna Capac. Though the purpose of the castle complex of Ingapirca is uncertain, the ruins are an excellent example of Incan mortarless stone construction.

In the afternoon, we will tour the colonial area of Cuenca, a UNESCO world Cultural Site, and some of the artisan centers famous for the Panama hat, gold and silver jewelry, and embroidery. Overnight in Cuenca.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

A lake at Cajas National Park with a mountain in the background
Cajas National Park

After breakfast at the hotel, we will spend the day at Cajas National Park, a jagged landscape of hills and valleys characterized by páramo vegetation, which is an ecosystem found only in the Andes mountains between the timberline and the permanent snow line.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

a group of women weaving Toquilla Straw Hats
Weaving Toquilla Straw Hats

Our excursion into the valleys surrounding Cuenca will explore the talented artisans and workshops found in the area. In Sig Sig, we will learn about the making of Toquilla Straw Hats, declared by UNESCO as a part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ecuador. Moving to Gualeceo, we’ll learn about Ikat cotton weavings, called ‘Macanas’. Finally, in San Bartolomé we will visit the workshop of artisans who make guitars by hand. Upon return to Cuenca, we will visit a local Jewelry workshop. Overnight in Cuenca.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Cacao growing on a trea
Cacao Growing

Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a bus ride through the panoramic southern highlands. As we descend into the lowlands we will start to see plantations of bananas, tropical fruits, and cacao. Along the way, we will visit the Cumanda Agroturistic Ranch to learn about the process of growing and preparing cacao plants into beans and then to chocolate. We'll also have a chance to savor some of the tropical fruits grown on the ranch. Arriving in Guayaquil, we will check into our hotel and then enjoy some free time to explore Guayaquil. Overnight in Guayaquil.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Los Frailes Beach
Los Frailes Beach

Departing from Guayaquil, we will drive the Route of the Sun into the coastal region of Ecuador. Along the way, we will visit the Agua Blanca community which showcases the pre-Columbian cultures of the Ecuadorian Coast. We will also stop at Los Frailes beach in the Machalilla National park to take in the beautiful coastline. Overnight in Puerto Lopez.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Blue Footed Booobie bird standing on a rock over the ocean
Blue Footed Boobie at Isla de la Plata

After breakfast, we’ll board the motorboat that will take us out to Isla de la Plata in the Machalilla National Park. Often referred to as ‘the other Galapagos’, the island is a paradise for birds, tortoises, whales, crabs, and other wildlife. The group will be able to participate in hiking and snorkeling activities. Upon return to the mainland, we will transfer to the Manta airport for a short flight to Quito. Overnight in Quito.

Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

collage - looking over the rooftops of quito and the equatorial monument from above
Quito (top) & Equatorial Monument

After breakfast, we’ll begin out tour of Quito’s Historical Center, the largest and best preserved historical center in Latin America and the first city in the world to be declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. We’ll have the chance to visit Plaza Grande and see important buildings such as the Archbishop’s Palace, The Metropolitan Cathedral, The Government Palace, examples of colonial art, and El Panecillo Hill.

After lunch, we will head just north of Quito to visit the Equatorial monument, which marks the halfway point between the north and south poles, and the Intiñan museum to explore Andean astronomy and cultural traditions. In the evening, we’ll transfer to the airport for our overnight return flights to the US.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner (late evening, in-flight)

After late evening departure from Quito, we should arrive back on campus early Friday afternoon.

Included Meals: Snacks provided in-flight

Check back soon for more information as this page is updated whenever we get new information.