Safari 4×4 Andean Community, $300, 3 Days Tour

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PIÑÁN IS A SMALL INDIGENOUS VILLAGE IN THE COTACACHI-CAYAPAS ECOLOGICAL RESERVE. THIS VILLAGE IS VERY ISOLATED AND PROBABLY HAS NOT CHANGED A LOT IN THE LAST 100 YEARS. NOT MANY PLACES LIKE THAT ARE LEFT IN ECUADOR. AROUND 40 FAMILIES LIVE IN PIÑÁN. WHAT FIRST STRUCK ME WAS THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN THE VILLAGE. I LEARNED THERE ARE AN AVERAGE OF EIGHT PEOPLE IN EACH FAMILY. THERE IS A SCHOOL, BUT NO MEDICAL FACILITY.

THE PEOPLE LIVE IN HUTS WITH ROOFS MADE OF GRASS FROM THE PÁRAMO (HIGHLAND MOOR). THIS IS THE WAY MOST INDIGENOUS HOMES USED TO BE BUILT. THERE IS NO INTERNET THAT I SAW AND NO CELL PHONE SERVICE. THE VILLAGE DID NOT GET ELECTRICITY UNTIL EIGHT YEARS AGO. THERE ARE NO CARS, THOUGH I SAW A FEW MOTORCYCLES. MOST OF THE VILLAGERS GET AROUND BY HORSE OR WALKING. THEY MAKE THEIR LIVING RAISING LIVESTOCK. THOUGH IN RECENT YEARS, THEY HAVE BEEN TURNING THEIR ATTENTION TO TOURISM. THEY BUILT A TOURIST FACILITY THAT HAS LODGINGS AND A DINING ROOM.

GETTING TO PIÑÁN IS NOT EASY. FROM IBARRA OR COTACACHI, IT’S MORE THAN A FOUR-HOUR DRIVE ON A REALLY BAD ROAD. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A 4-WHEEL-DRIVE VEHICLE OR A SPORTS MOTORCYCLE, YOU WILL PROBABLY NEVER MAKE IT THERE. BUT IT IS WORTH THE BUMPY RIDE. THE AREA IS BEAUTIFUL. PIÑÁN IS 3,112 METERS (10,209 FEET) ABOVE SEA LEVEL.

ITINERARY

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