Photo by: Karen Schulman
Location: Ecuador

Ecuador: The Spirit of Ecuador

  • 10 days in the Ecuadorian Andes with accomplished photo instructors and tour leaders Joel and Karen Schulman.
  • Spend 3 nights in a lovely Villa in the Village of Nono, set in the Cloud Forest with hummingbirds, local cultural visits, and warm hospitality.
  • Half-day tour in Colonial Quito, with a visit to the Solar Museum of Intiñan, at the Equator.
  • Wander the quaint cobblestone streets of Cuenca, visit local craftsmen and women, and explore the Ingapirca Archeological Site.
  • All accommodations are in the heart of your photographic locations.
  • Enjoy unique visits and impromptu stops for special photographic moments.
  • Your leaders will offer photography education, assistance, and evening photography programs.

Latin America and Caribbean








per person, double occupancy*

This tour is not currently scheduled. Contact us if you want details when tour dates are announced, or if you are interested in running a private trip for your group.

*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 8 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-7 participants. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $395.

Tour Overview

Welcome to a land of endless discovery. Visiting Ecuador is finding a paradise full of wonder and astonishing natural attractions. The country is rapidly becoming a prime destination for photographers and naturalists because the land is being wisely protected with a system of national parks and private reserves. This itinerary has been designed to provide you with the premier photo locations that Ecuador has to offer, as well as immerse you in the Ecuador the...

Welcome to a land of endless discovery. Visiting Ecuador is finding a paradise full of wonder and astonishing natural attractions. The country is rapidly becoming a prime destination for photographers and naturalists because the land is being wisely protected with a system of national parks and private reserves. This itinerary has been designed to provide you with the premier photo locations that Ecuador has to offer, as well as immerse you in the Ecuador the typical tourist does not get to see.

The program begins in the Colonial City of Quito, with its best-preserved, least altered historic center in Latin America. Then you will travel south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes, staying in an amazing traditional Hacienda surrounded by gardens. The tour continues to the quaint village street scenes of colorful Cuenca, with its cafes and galleries tucked among the narrow cobblestone streets, and where you will also get to photograph in the surrounding artisans’ villages.

Return north to Nono, one of many small villages in the hills above Quito, that Strabo Tours feels is very special. One of your tour leaders, Karen Schulman, made a wonderful friend, Lorena Tapia de Morillo, on a previous visit to Ecuador. Her lovely guesthouse (see article last page) will be your home base to explore this less traveled, unique, cloud forest region of Ecuador. Here you’ll have opportunities to photograph the warm, local people of the village, colorful hummingbirds in the cloud forest, a private nature reserve, and much more. You will enjoy lunch in a traditional hacienda, and have a cooking lesson and dinner in your home away from home.

Travel the Eco-Route of the Hummingbirds, and focus on the rich land, the people, and crafts. Take time to learn about the people of this country and about the historical perspective of their fine crafts. Many of the indigenous people who live in these areas still maintain their cultural manifestations through dress, language (Quechua), and festivities.

Photo Leader TBD

Tour Itinerary

September 16: Home - Quito, Equador

Today fly to Quito, Ecuador. At 9,000 feet in elevation, Quito is one of the world’s highest capitals, and one of South America’s most historic and charming cities. The majority of flights arrive late evening and there will be a group transfer to your accommodations in the heart of Quito (time TBA, estimated 11PM). Your lodge is a beautiful house converted into a boutique hotel, located in one of Quito’s charming neighborhoods. Overnight Quito

September 17: Colonial City of Quito

There will be an introductory meeting and breakfast this morning with your photo leaders at approximately 9AM. Meet your local guide in the hotel lobby at 10AM, and enjoy a tour of Colonial Quito, including winding streets and architecture that reflect the Indian and Spanish culture dating back to the sixteenth century. Quito is also an important World Heritage Site of plazas, churches, and cathedrals. Some of your stops include Independence Square with its Presidential Palace, the dazzling gold-leafed La Compañia Church, and the San Francisco Square. After lunch we will visit the Solar Museum of Intiñan, at the Equator, before returning to the hotel with time to relax and prepare for your journey tomorrow. Overnight Quito (B, L)

September 18: Riobamba

This morning we will have an early transfer south, capturing the breathtaking landscapes along the route. There will be time to photograph at Pujili, one of the many indigenous markets that has taken place for decades for the locals by the locals. They come together every week to exchange fruits, vegetables, and their handmade ceramics and pottery, as well as woven goods. Not too far away you will enjoy the beauty and splendor of Quilotoa Volcano Crater Lake, formed when the volcano collapsed and the resulting crater was filled with a startling emerald-green lake, the color resulting from volcanic minerals. Continuing south, you will arrive in late afternoon light to photograph the gardens of your beautiful hacienda. Overnight Riobamba (B).

September 19-21: Cuenca

Depart early this morning for the historical Ingapirca ruins. Ingapirca means “Inca wall” in Kichwa. It is Ecuador’s most important set of pre-Columbian ruins. The sun temple stands on a hill with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. It is highly impressive, and the site has a fascinating history. Given time afterwards you will photograph a lovely church not far from the ruins. Continue south to Cuenca, your destination for the next three evenings.

Cuenca’s beauty and colonial atmosphere are best experienced on foot, where you will photograph the tangible and intangible essence of the city. Begin your first morning here with a walking tour of what is considered the French Route of Cuenca. The first French Mission was built in 1739. During the tour you will photograph magnificent churches, beautiful old buildings with wrought iron balconies and carved wooden doors. You will learn of the history of life experiences, anecdotes, beauty and tradition. After lunch you will be able to visit and photograph in a traditional Panama hat factory.

The next morning you will head out with your photo leaders and your Ecuadorian guide to explore additional locations surrounding Cuenca. Visit the Las Herrerias neighborhood, which houses many blacksmith workshops, where you can photograph the artists working as well as their beautiful wrought iron artwork.  You will also explore some of the most beautiful small artisan villages outside of Cuenca – Gualaceo, Chordeleg and San Bartolome – known for their traditionally handcrafted jewelry, pottery, leather goods, handmade guitars and macanas (shawls), that women have woven from alpaca wool for centuries. One evening during your stay you will photograph sunset at Mirador de Turi, from the Church of Turi, where there are amazing views of Cuenca’s famous, romantic skyline. Overnight Cuenca (B, L; B, L; B)

September 22-24: Nono

You will have an internal flight today, taking the group from Cuenca Airport back to Quito. You will be transferred upon your arrival to your home away from home for the next three evenings in the Village of Nono. There will be a photography stop along the way and then continue on to your Villa, get settled in and enjoy a photo shoot in the gardens.

The first day in Nono you will be immersed in the village with opportunities to interact with and photograph the smiling faces of this region. Your host will introduce you to many friends and a heartfelt project developed to assist the indigenous population of the region. The Village of Nono is the perfect destination for nature lovers, hikers, birders, photographers and those who enjoy meeting local people and learning about culture and history. Return to your guesthouse to enjoy a cooking lesson and dinner.

The following day you will travel the EcoRoute of the Hummingbird, surrounded by magnificent mountains, bathed by creeks and waterfalls, and decorated with wildflowers, bromeliads and orchids. This area is known as “Boca Mountain” where there are strong winds from the east, and the fog from the cloud forest produces moisture everywhere you look. Enjoy a delicious lunch at a lovely hacienda. Overnight Nono (B, L, D; B, L; B, L)

September 25: Nono-Quito-Home

The majority of flights depart Quito in the evening, therefore you will have another day to enjoy this unique area that most tourists never get to experience. The Yanacocha Reserve offers hikes of various activity levels and your guide will seek out flora, fauna and beautiful hummingbirds for you to photograph. Return to your Villa, where there  will be time to pack for your flight out and enjoy your farewell meal with your new Ecuadorian friends in their guesthouse. Please note, due to the evening flight, you will arrive home tomorrow, September 26. (B, L, D)

September 25: THE STORY OF VILLA DORIS: BLESSED IN THE CLOUDS, We found Ecuador’s best kept secret!

Written by Lorena Tapia de Morillo

Fourteen years ago, my Argentinean husband, an intrepid traveler who loved taking me off the beaten path, drove us on a route he discovered that links Quito with the village of Nono and the valley of Tandayapa. It is now known as the Eco-route of the Hummingbird. I fell in love with the amazing green scenery, the wildflowers and the terraces cultivated with corn and potatoes. This ecosystem is called the cloud forest. Imagine a place where the clouds bathe the mountains and hummingbirds play with the flowers! This is what Nono is about.

We decided this was the perfect spot for having a country house. To our surprise, big cattle haciendas and tiny adobe houses surrounded this little town, which had been founded in colonial times. But none of the smaller houses were for sale. Nonetheless, several neighbors accepted our offers, in which we had to bring cash (no credit cards or checks were accepted at that time in the village). They then changed their minds, sending us sadly back to Quito.

Three months later on a weekday, my husband came to our office in Quito with great news: he had bought a property for us! After seeing the property, I expressed: “What have you done, Carlos? How could you waste our savings on this?” My husband could see beauty above the mess.

But the land was now ours! The ravine needed to be brought back to life as well as the tiny 40 – year old adobe house. Our dreams started from zero and as I normally say when we have difficult times “let ́s put some heart to it.” Carlos built, re-built, recycled and gave shape to our dreams. The tiny adobe house started with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a small kitchen-dining area. After rebuilding a few times, our lovely cottage grew to be the perfect guest house to accommodate small groups wanting to explore the real Ecuador. The ravine turned into a lovely garden full of trees and flowers, home now to many species of hummingbirds (depending on the season), other birds, and animal life.

The visit of a great friend to us, Mrs. Karen Schulman, an American photographer, nature lover and adventurer, changed the destiny of our house. She was surprised by the scenery, the closeness to Quito, the charm of the local people who by then, were already our beloved neighbors. Through Karen we learned that tourists want to see the true soul of our country, experience its people, its culture, its living history.

Villa Doris, named after my mother-in-law who died when we bought the land, is now a wonderful place for our guests to experience what is blessed in the cloud forest. Our staff is well trained, and my husband’s son opened a restaurant in town (which is praised by our clients as one of the highlights of Ecuador). We work with the local women who have learned to embroider as a traditional craft and great native guides who want to share their love of Ecuador with you. Learn about medicinal plants, explore walking paths in the forest reserves, horseback riding, biking, visiting a hacienda or birdwatching.

We love what we do and want to share our country with you! Come visit Ecuador and our lovely guest house, experience our paradise and take home wonderful memories, the smile of our people and the gratitude of our family who put our soul into making this paradise possible for those who want to be part of the magic.

Carlos, Lorena & Elisa

Nono – Villa Doris