Welcome to our Indigenous Homestay Experience and Andean Bear Conservation Tour; an unforgettable adventure that immerses you in the rich culture and natural beauty of one of Ecuador’s hidden gems teeming with diverse wildlife. This journey offers insights into the lives of an indigenous community and the conservation efforts to protect its unique wildlife. This is one of our specially curated cultural tours in Ecuador that promises a transformative experience that goes beyond the ordinary.
Be hosted by an indigenous family in San Clemente, a place where time seems to stand still, and ancient traditions are the fabric of everyday life. Participate in various community activities, giving you a deep dive into Ecuador’s culture. Then prepare for an exciting encounter with the majestic Andean Bear in one of Ecuador’s wildlife sanctuaries.
This journey is not just a trip; it’s an enriching and transformative experience that will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper understanding of Ecuador’s cultural richness and stunning biodiversity. Read more about the content of this experience in the day-to-day itinerary further below.
Please note that this tour has a different (stricter) cancellation policy: read more in the FAQ section.
Why not extend your journey to delve deeper into the rich culture and stunning landscapes of Otavalo and Ibarra? Explore all our tours around Otavalo and Ibarra!
Imagine spending a full day in a hands-on cultural experience, partake in a family weaving workshop that uses traditional vegetal fibers. This is an opportunity to learn centuries-old techniques from the Kichwa people and create your own piece of art. Followed by a late morning at Parque Cóndor, where you can marvel at the majestic Andean Condor. This unique experience allows you to learn about local conservation efforts on condors and other raptors while enjoying close encounters with these incredible birds.
If your extra time is reduced, consider a half-day cooking class at Kawsaymi, a small-scale local restaurant renowned for its authentic Ecuadorian cuisine. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn how to prepare traditional dishes under the guidance of a local young cook.
Are you intrigued by the vibrant culture, wildlife, and delicious food of Otavalo and Ibarra? Why not delve deeper into what this enchanting Ecuadorian region has to offer? We’ve meticulously crafted an extensive guide that covers everything from must-see sights to hidden local hangouts. This guide is brimming with travel tips, recommendations, and insider advice to enrich your journey. Click here to explore our detailed Otavalo & Ibarra Travel Guide.
Your journey begins at the Ibarra bus station, where we will pick you up to take you (in approximately 1h by car) to the heart of the indigenous community of San Clemente.
San Clemente, a place where time seems to stand still and ancient traditions are the fabric of everyday life, is a must-visit on any Ecuador cultural tour. Upon your arrival, you’ll be warmly welcomed by a host family who will provide you with a delicious, home-cooked lunch. This is your chance to taste authentic Ecuadorian cuisine, made from locally sourced ingredients and prepared with love. You’ll then spend the rest of the day participating in various community activities, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture as part of your Ecuador culture trip.
When night falls, you’ll continue to experience the hospitality of the San Clemente people, as you enjoy dinner and share stories with your host family. You’ll then rest up in comfortable accommodations, ready for the exciting day ahead.
After breakfast on day two, a private transport will whisk you away to a unique Andean Bear Conservation Tour at the Mirador Del Oso Andino (in less than an hour). This project, which is a highlight of any Ecuador wildlife tour, is dedicated to the conservation of this majestic creature, also known as the Spectacled Bear. After a nourishing lunch, a local guide will introduce you to the project and its important work. You’ll then set out on a guided walk (around 1 h), with the chance to spot these elusive animals in what can be considered one of many Ecuador wildlife sanctuaries.
Your second night will be spent in shared cabins, providing a rustic and authentic end to an unforgettable day.
On your final morning, after a hearty breakfast, you’ll be transported back to Ibarra’s bus terminal (1.5 h), where your journey began. As you leave, you’ll carry with you unforgettable memories of one of Ecuador’s hidden gems and its rich culture and biodiversity.
Please note, this tour is exempt from our standard cancellation policies. Due to the cancellation rules set by our local providers, we are unable to provide any refund if the trip is cancelled less than 30 days prior to your travel date. Once the tour is confirmed, the full amount is payable and non-refundable. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
As the tour is set to start around 11 am, plan your arrival ahead of time (according to your possibilities) and give yourself the chance to stretch your legs, use the restroom, grab a drink or some snacks before getting back on a car. The ride to San Clemente will take about 1 h.
There’s approximately a 50% chance of sighting a wild bear. However, it’s crucial to maintain a minimum distance of 50 meters for your safety and the bear’s comfort.
In San Clemente, you can immerse yourself in a variety of enriching experiences. These include enlightening community tours, scenic trail walks with detailed narratives about medicinal plants and organic gardens, and learning about the intricate Andean solar calendar. You may also have the opportunity to participate in local community and family events, or cultural nights with music and dance. The exact activities may vary depending on the season and weather conditions. However, you can always partake in traditional household tasks such as assisting with farm work or engaging in meal preparations.
In San Clemente, each house is different but you can count on a private bathroom with hot shower, and a cozy atmosphere for your dinner and breakfast. Also, all houses have beautiful gardens full of flowers, and as such, birds.
In Pimampiro, with Danilo, you will stay in a separate cabin one minute walking from his house, which will be for you and your fellow travelers. It has a private bathroom; on some cabins it’s on the outside. We can’t guarantee the hot shower.
No, this is an easy outdoors activity. As everywhere in the Ecuadorian Andes, you do need to be aware of the altitudes.
The tour is primarily a private affair, with the exception of the guided excursion to spot spectacled bears, which might be shared with other visitors.
The Otavalo and Ibarra region in Ecuador typically experiences temperatures ranging from 10°C (51°F) to 21°C (70°F) throughout the year. Precipitation is also a common feature in this region, with moderate rain being observed.
Therefore, if you’re planning a trip to the Otavalo and Ibarra region in Ecuador, you should prepare for mild to warm temperatures and potential rain showers.
If you want to see the price for your situation, please select an amount of travelers (number of adults, children, etc) on the right side of the website (or the top, on mobile). You will then see that total price for your party right above it. The price of this tour varies according to the amount of people.
As for the optional English-speaking guide/translator, the additional price depends on the group size as well: please select the corresponding option during the booking process.
Please refer to our article What to Pack for your Trip to Ecuador for all your questions about packing for your Peru trip. Whether you’re going to the jungle or the mountains, you’ll find the answers you need.
Welcome to our community of San Clemente!
We the Karanki people, hail from a lineage that predates the Incan civilization. Once possessing our unique language, we now communicate in a dialect of Kichwa, but continue to preserve our distinct music, dance, cuisine, and attire.
We have four principal celebrations – Inti Raymi, Kolla Raymi, Kapac Raymi, and Paukar Raymi. Each of these is uniquely tied to specific dates in our calendar and corresponds with the seasons of the Andes Mountains. During these periods, we express our deepest respects to the symbiotic relationship between Mother Earth and her people.
Come and marvel at our beautiful and intricate embroidery work, a craft primarily practiced by women, who weave fine and dense stitches with threads of various colors, creating a tapestry that mirrors our diverse and colorful culture.
Music is also at the heart of San Clemente, filling the air with melodies that echo their heritage and history, using mostly string instruments like “charango”, guitar and violin.
Education holds a critical place in our resilient community, with a strong focus on environmental awareness. We believe in nurturing a new generation of professionals who can contribute to the harmonious development of the community. This involves harnessing modern technologies without losing sight of our ancestral knowledge, cultural identity, and native language.
“I became best friends with bears!”
That’s Danilo Vasquez, a local farmer that is now a prominent figure in the field of wildlife conservation, particularly focusing on bears. He is a founding partner of MOA, also known as Mirador del Oso Andino, an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the Andean bear population by keeping a suitable habitat where bears and men can coexist.
The organization Danilo commands not only works towards the direct conservation of these bears but also encourages voluntary work and initiatives like “Adopt a bear” to involve the community in their efforts.
Danilo’s field work, photos and the guided Andean Bear Conservation Tour provide a unique glimpse into the lives of the Andean bears and help raise awareness about the need for their conservation.