Community Tourism in Ecuador

Experience life in a rural indigenous community in Ecuador

A major part of the work of our foundation is to promote social entrepreneurship and sustainable development. Various communities that we are involved with are developing community-centered tourism as a potential source of income to improve the lives of their families. These projects often involve women as much as or more than men, making a significant contribution to equality and creating opportunities for women to develop new skills and abilities.

We can arrange visits to the communities listed below and will be happy to make recommendations on how you can incorporate a visit to an indigenous and developing community as part of your time in Ecuador.

Estero de Plátano - Pacific coast community in Cabo San Francisco

The fishing and farming village of Estero de Plátano sits in a picturesque bay on the Pacific coast of Ecuador in the Cabo San Francisco area of Esmeraldas province. The Cabo San Francisco is one of the last places where the rainforest still reaches the sea in Ecuador, and is home to a stunning variety of wildlife. In addition, the recently-declared Reserva Marina Galera-San Francisco, although only 3% of the size of the Galapagos Islands, is reported to contain greater biodiversity.
The population is a mix of the original Chachi culture mixed with Africans from a slave ship that ran aground in 1533 and mestizos from other parts of Ecuador. While some farm small plots in the rainforest, others are fishermen. in July to September the humpback whales migrating from the Arctic to Hawaii pass very close to Estero de Plátano and can be seen breaching from the shore.
Yanapuma Foundation has worked with this community for more than 7 years, sending volunteer groups, interns and research students to carry out a wide variety of projects. Currently the foundation supports up to 12 youth from the village with scholarships to study at secondary school to improve the educational level of the community and allow them to develop micro enterprises in tourism and related activities.

  • Stay in a local hotel/hostel or with a host family
  • Explore the rainforest and local agriculture, waterfalls and rivers
  • Volunteer some time with local youth
  • Beachcomb along the coastline
  • Go out with local fishermen to fish or snorkel
  • Explore other small communities further along this wild coast

Sinchi Aqua - Kichwa women´s project in the Amazon rainforest

Sinchi Aqua is a visitor center and lodge created by a group of Kichwa women (Sinchi Warmi) in the Amazon province of Napo as a means of improving the living standards of their families. Women founded and led, the Sinchi Aqua centre provides a reliable income to the involved families through their unique focus on cultural and ecological tourism. The center also includes fish ponds, vegetable gardens and traditional agriculture systems of the region.
Sinchi Aqua Centre is located about 45 minutes from the town of Tena in the Amazon region. Tena is about 6 hours from Quito by bus.

  • Learn about the traditional crafts of the Kichwa women
  • Visit Misahualli town square with monkeys
  • Learn about native healing and shamanism
  • Take a motorized canoe down the Napo River
  • Visit an Amazon animal rescue center
  • Learn about the traditional agriculture of the jungle

Experience the Tsa'chila culture of Santo Domingo province

The Tsa'chila were hunter-gatherers who lived in the rainforests on the western slopes of the Andes up until as recently as the 1960's. Now numbering around 2500 members scattered over 7 territories in the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsa'chila, our foundation is working with them on sustainable development projects in a number of areas. These include sustainable cacao production, developing vegetable gardens and teaching about nutrition and diet, reforestation with native species, and micro-enterprise development in 4 of the 7 comunas.
The Tsa'chila culture is very distinctive with their own language, traditional dress, and deep knowledge of plant-based healing and shamanism.

  • Stay in rustic cabañas in a Tsa'chila cultural center
  • Eat traditional Tsa'chila dishes
  • Bathe in the river or rustic shower
  • Learn about Tsa'chila culture, beliefs and history
  • You can also study Spanish here with your own teacher!
  • Experience a ritual cleansing with herbs, smoke and music

Andean culture and agriculture -

The Kichwa community of Agato is set in the Andes mountains close to the market town of Otavalo. Farming and crafts production are the main activities. Our foundation sends groups of volunteers to Agato throughout the year to carry out infrastructure development projects with the community.
Visitors can enjoy the tranquility of this idyllic spot with plenty of hikes, as well as visiting the famous Otavalo market on the Saturday. Other local attractions are Cuicocha Lake and Peguche waterfall. We can also arrange for visitors to take Spanish classes in Agato.

  • Learn about the traditional Kichwa agriculture and way of life
  • Hike the local landscape
  • Visit Otavalo market and other local sites
  • Study Spanish in Agato