Ecuador: Expedition for the
Earth’s 2018 Destination

View the frequently asked questions about traveling in Ecuador here.

Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries, yet its location at the equator means that it spans
two hemispheres. With its Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforests, and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
has incredible diversity for such a small country.

The expedition begins in the city of Quito in the high Andes, surrounded by beautiful valleys and
spectacular mountains. As soon as you step off the plane, you will notice the altitude as Quito sits at 9,350ft/2,850m. This city has been described as “where the old meets new”. Its historical, cultural, and contemporary heritage makes it one of the wonders of the world. In 1979, UNESCO declared Quito’s historic centre a World Heritage Site. In 2004, the city was named the Cultural Capital of the Americas. You may wish to arrive early in Quito so you have more time to explore the city for yourself!

The first place you will visit on the Expedition is Termas Papallacta, this fascinating area contains cloud forests, waterfalls and many flora and fauna including the Paper Tree (grows 10m high), Andean Condor, Hummingbirds, Pumas, Dwarf Deer, Mountain Tapirs.

You will also visit Cotacachi-Cyapas Ecological Reserve and hike around the spectacular lake, Cuicocha (Guinea Pig Lake).

Cuicocha is a 3 km (2 mi) wide caldera and crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano in the
Cordillera Occidental of the Ecuadorian Andes. Its name comes from the Kichwa indigenous language and means “Lago del Cuy” or Guinea Pig Laguna in English. It was given this name due to the guinea pig shape of the largest Island in the middle of the laguna. These animals play a significant part in the everyday life of Ecuadorians, as they reproduce rapidly and need a minimum of food and care to survive.
They make for a high protein meal especially for populations living in high altitude. 

The caldera was created by a massive eruption about 3100 years ago that generated about 5 cubic kilometres (6.54 billion cubic yards) of pyroclastic flow and covered the surrounding area in volcanic ash up to 20 cm (8 inches) deep. The volcano has been dormant since that time.
The Cuicocha Lake, a crater lake within the Cuicocha caldera contains four dacitic lava domes which form two steep forested islands: Yerovi, the smaller, and Teodoro Wolf, the larger. People are prohibited on both.The rim of the caldera is extremely steep — so steep, in fact,
that the accumulation of sediment is insufficient for most hydrophyte vegetation. An older lava dome from the Pleistocene forms part of the eastern rim. The lake, which is 200 m (656 ft) deep at its deepest point, is highly alkaline and contains little life.It has no known outlet.

The intra-caldera islands, on the other hand, support some wildlife, most notably the silvery
grebe, which lives around the reeds and feeds on small fish, frogs, crayfish, small water snakes,
seeds of water plants, and insects. The bird is found in upper temperate and lower páramo zones
throughout the Andes, but little is known about the species. In 1974 a census was taken of the
population of grebes at Cuicocha and 44 birds were found.

Cuicocha forms the southern end of the Cotacachi-Cyapas Ecological Reserve. During the
second day of Inti Raymi (or Sun Festival) every summer solstice, indigenous shaman use
Cuicocha as a bath for ritual cleansing and purification.

The Otavalo region of Ecuador is surrounded by numerous interesting mountains, volcanoes
and lakes, and presents exciting opportunities for hiking enthusiasts. Fuya Fuya is a volcano
that exploded approximately 165,000 years ago, this area would have been the site of two active

A volcanic explosion marked the end of the activity and now we are left with three lakes and a handful of peaks, including Mt. Fuya Fuya. The mountainous Mohanda lake region is about 17km south of Otavalo and is part of a chain of mountain ranges, all of them with interesting names like Fuya Fuya, Cerro Negro, etc.Fuya Fuya partially collapsed around 165,000 years ago, creating a large caldera to the west. A new volcanic cone and other lava domes subsequently extruded inside the caldera, probably during the Late Pleistocene.

As you approach the summit, Laguna Mojanda looks fabulous from the summit and its colour changes depending on the amount of cloud cover and direct sunlight. Wild grass and short plants bearing little bright flowers grows at strategic places on the trail, offering support while hiking on slippery surfaces. The high altitude grasslands and shrublands, which lie above the cloud forests, are collectively known as páramo.


To learn more about Ecuador check out:

Lonely Planet's Guide

National Geographic's Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador's official travel site


Sponsors and Partners

Nova Scotia Nature Trust

The Nature Trust is Nova Scotia’s leading land conservation charity, focused exclusively on protecting the province’s outstanding natural areas. Since 1994, the Nature Trust has worked together with landowners and local communities to protect the places they love. To date the Nature Trust has protected more than 10,000 acres, from unspoiled lakeshores, coastal wilderness and old growth forests to important wildlife habitat.

Visit the Nova Scotia Nature Trust website »

Become a Sponsor

Join as an expedition sponsor and gain many marketing and promotional benefits OR send representatives to Ecuador!  Sponsor an employee or a valued customer and take advantage of unique opportunities to promote your company’s own Ecuador 2018 charity challenge. Encourage employees, customers and the general public to support your efforts to reach your fundraising goal in support of land conservation in Nova Scotia.

We invite you to join us for this exciting, unrivaled initiative that goes beyond charity runs, relays and sports events, golf tournaments and dinners that flood the charity/sponsorship market. It’s a unique adventure, to a unique destination, and it’s raising funds for a unique cause.  We look forward to helping you to meet your company’s charitable, marketing and environmental goals!

Become an expedition sponsor today. Contact the Nature Trust at (902) 425-5263 or to get a sponsorship package.


Nova Scotia Nature Trust
PO Box 2202
Halifax, NS
B3J 3C4

Phone: (902) 425-LAND (5263)
Fax: (902) 429-LAND (5263)


Let us know what you think of our Expedition for the Earth campaign:

Enter the security key:

Request More Info

Phone (cell):
Phone (home):
Phone (work):
Enter the security key: