Explore the Chocolate Trail in Ecuador with ‘The Chocolate Man’

Departures: Ecuador

Explore the Chocolate Trail in Ecuador with ‘The Chocolate Man’

The word chocolate is thought to come from the word “xocoatl”, what the bitter drink brewed from cacao beans was called by the Aztecs. Historians now think cacao was cultivated as far back as 1400 BCE in Mesoamerica and may have been used as currency it was valued so highly. It took the Europeans conquering Mesoamerica and their taste for sweets to convert the bitter beverage to the chocolate we consume today. Embark on the Chocolate Trail through Ecuador with Bill Frederick, the ‘Chocolate Man’ and immerse yourself in the cultivation and production of this still highly prized fruit, known as the “food of the gods”.


We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit the communities we visit. For this trip, our donation will go to a non-profit organization we support that is having a very positive impact in Ecuador: THE NATURE CONSERVANCY—an organization that has worked in Ecuador since 1984, strengthening protected areas, helping communities adopt sustainable livelihoods, and protecting watersheds to improve water quality and quantity.


Starting at $3390*

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.


February 28 — March 10, 2018

Day 1

Depart for Ecuador

Depart home for Quito, arriving in the late evening. We’ll be met at the airport and transferred to our lovely boutique hotel for overnight.

Day 2


Morning visit to colonial Quito, a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls and, rising above, the steeples and cupolas of the city´s many spectacularly decorated historic churches. We’ll walk through the main plaza and La Ronda Street as we learn about Quito’s iconic buildings and traditional handcrafts.

This afternoon, enjoy a chocolate tasting with one of Ecuador’s premier chocolate makers. Our chocolate experience starts with a history of Ecuadorian cacao and ends with chocolate tastings.

Welcome dinner this evening.

Day 3


Early morning departure over the Andes to the Amazon providince of Napo. Arrive in a small colonial town north of Tena, where our chocolate trail activities begin. We’ll be able to see the entire process of cocoa production as we visit the community plantations and working farms where the beans are taken from their brilliantly colored pods in the first stages of being turned into delicious Ecuadorian chocolate—acknowledged as being amongst the best in the world.

A delicious lunch will be served in the host community at the house of a local family chosen by the Cocoa Cooperative. Overnight in our riverside hotel.

Day 4


Early morning start the day Amazon style by drinking delicious guayusa tea with a Kichwa family. Learn about the tea, where it comes from and what it means to the Kichwa people. Afterwards, enjoy a tropical breakfast of local fruits before visiting a local farm to see the first stage of guayusa tea production, where we learn how to find Guayusa bushes before trying some delicious local foods as part of our traditional Ecuadorian lunch.

Head back to the lodge for a short walk in the jungle, passing by an amazing waterfall falling into a natural swimming pool, the perfect spot for a refreshing bath in the jungle on hot days. Our indigenous guide will help us spot tree frogs, insects, and medicinal plants.

Day 5


After breakfast, we continue our journey southward to Baños. Upon arrival, explore the many waterfalls and natural beauty that this area is known for. For a spectacular view of Pailon del Diablo falls, cross over by cable car – watch for the mist!

Day 6


In the morning, we’ll head south towards the area around Chimborazo, to Riobamba. On our way there, we’ll visit the community of Sumak Kawsay and enjoy lunch with them. Afterwards visit a unique cultural museum called “The Llama” followed by a hike.

Day 7


Enjoy the most spectacular train ride in all of Ecuador this morning! Called ” the most difficult railway in the world”, take the Devil’s Nose train up and around steep Andean mountains. Alight at Sibamba, where we’ll learn about the local community.

Transfer to Cuenca from Sibamba by road. Once in Cuenca, we‘ll explore the northern part of the Inca Empire at Ingapirca, an Inca astronomical observatory and fortress. This is the most important Inca site in Ecuador, where the king and his entourage would rest during trips to this northern part of the Inca Empire.

Day 8


Today we’ll explore the villages of Gualaceo and Chordeleg, just 45 minutes east of Cuenca. Amongst beautiful landscapes we’ll meet families still making textiles the same way as the “Cañaris”, the native inhabitants, did 500 years ago.

Visit an orchid farm that has more than 2000 species of orchids, considered one of the best of the world. Stop at food and fruit markets, and explore the local artisan shops like shoemakers, jewelers, and others.

Evening at leisure to explore Cuenca.

Day 9


We continue south from Cuenca towards Guayaquil, with a stop in El Cajas National Park this morning. This gorgeous park contains 70,000 acres of protected land, and includes many ecosystems, from cloud forest all the way to rocky, lunar landscapes. Scattered among the jagged peaks are over 200 lakes, what are most characteristic of this region.

Arrive in Guayaquil, evening at leisure.

Day 10


Enjoy a full day of everything chocolate! Start with fresh cocoa juice and delicious fried plantains with cheese from the region. Once refreshed, dive into the entire chocolate production process – from the processing of the cocoa from its seed, all the way through the final product – “chocolate”. See each step in the process—the sowing, the plantation, the harvest, the fermentation and the drying, and finally the arrival of the raw product to our chocolate factory where we’ll savor the delicious final product.

Celebrate the incredible journey we’ve experienced with a farewell dinner at a locally owned and run Ecuadorian seafood restaurant.

Day 11


Say goodbye to the people of Ecuador! Transfer to the airport in Guayaquil for flights home.

Extend your stay!

Explore the intriguing Galapagos islands by boat or by land, or spend more time in Ecuador’s richly diverse Amazon with an extension! Ask for more details.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy. Airfare not included.