All arrangements will be made through Andean Discovery

Phone: 1-800-893-0916

Daily Itinerary

Ecuador – Corpus Christi Festival – Cuenca, Ecuador

Wednesday, June 19 to Saturday, June 28, 2019

EMS Photo Adventures in collaboration with Andean Discovery, Sudbury, MA

A one of a kind!

During the month of June the town celebrates the religious festival Corpus Christi. This festival takes place over the course of a week. At night many people head to the Plaza Calderon to socialize, listen to music and watch the fireworks. There are many other activities going on during this time. Structures resembling castles with images and effigies depicting saints and angels are burned throughout the night as revelers gather to watch the fireworks.

This is the only photographic adventure that focuses on photographing the Corpus Christi Festival where participants are lead, guided and instructed by a professional photographer. All along, Essdras will share his approach to photographing the location, its people and the extraordinary activities of the festival and documenting the relaxed atmosphere of Cuenca.

Against the backdrop of the exciting and colorful, 460-year-old Corpus Christi Festival, spend a week with, Essdras Suarez, photographing the city with the most laid-back culture in Ecuador—Cuenca (Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca)—and outlying areas.

During this week, Cuenca is full of colors, fireworks, folk dances and traditional music. The Parque Calderon is full of people enjoying the spectacle of burning castles and illuminates while people revel at the sights, enjoying the aromas and flavors of the Corpus candy.

And every night, when night falls, the skies are illuminated with colored lights.

This adventure also includes visits to local artists, a half-day trip to Cajas Parque Nacional. And plenty of opportunities to photograph other activities such as open-air markets, fireworks, flying lanterns and the street vendors that come from all over Ecuador to take part in the festival.

Note: A UNESCO World Heritage Trust site, Cuenca has been celebrating its Spanish heritage and indigenous traditions of Pachamama and giving thanks to the harvest, with a Corpus Christi Festival since 1557. The Festival integrates commemoration, gastronomy, culture, religion and folk arts.

This celebration is a photographer’s delight!

See Essdras’ images taken on the 2017 Adventure

Without a doubt, Corpus Christi Festival is an event not to be missed!

Ecuador – Corpus Christi Festival: Daily Itinerary

Day 1:

Take your flight to Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Quito, Ecuador arriving, more than likely, in the evening or later :

  • If your flight arrives in the evening you will be met by the Andean Discovery staff and transported to the Hotel Casa Gardenia, Quito.
  • Because Quito is located at an altitude of 2900m above sea level, please take the time to let your body acclimatize to the elevation by moving a little more slowly, do not over-exert and drink plenty of water.

Day 2:

  • This morning you will begin with relaxing breakfast at the hotel and, then, gather as a group at 9:30 a.m. in either the breakfast room or lobby to meet your fellow travelers and be briefed on how you will spend the next 8 days—find out what Essdras has in store for you!
  • After the briefing the group go on a tour of Quito’s historic centerOld Town–a maze of colonial splendor and first city to be named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

Lodging: Hotel Casa Gardenia, Quito / Meals: (B,L,D)

Day 3:

  • Early morning flight (8:30) to Cuenca (Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca) located in southern Ecuador’s Andes Mountains.

The city, with its laid-back culture, clean streets and agreeable weather is known for its:

  • Tomebamba River waterfront
  • Handicrafts including Panama hats,
  • Central plaza, Parque Calderón – home to the blue-domed Catedral Nueva and the 16th-century Catedral Vieja, now a religious museum.

Once you are settled into your hotel, join the group for lunch and:

  • Tour Cuenca – Ecuador’s most European city – with its 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial architecture and the city center.
  • Visit the Homero Ortega Panama Hat museum and store devoted exclusively to the lasting legacy of the toquilla straw hat— the famous (but incorrectly known) “Panama hat.” Why the Panama Hat? The misnomer dates back to the era when Ecuador began exporting the hats through the Panama Canal and foreigners erroneously assumed the hats came from Panama. You will be able to photograph the hat-making process.

Lodging: Hotel San Juan – Cuenca / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 4:

  • This morning our driver will take us on a short trip into the highlands to visit Cajas National Park. Between 3100 and 4450m above sea level, the park has a rich variety of unique vegetation, including the “paper tree” forest, and is home to a large variety of animals some of which are endemic or highly endangered.You may even see the South American condor, a Curiquinga, or the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), the largest humming bird in the world.
  • The afternoon will be spend in Cuenca recording the festival activities.

Lodging: Hotel San Juan – Cuenca / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 5:

  • Spending the day in Cuenca, the group will focus on the many Corpus Christi street activities and look for those most unique opportunities to photograph people enjoying themselves.
  • After dinner be ready for a sunset drive to Mirado de Turi (“Viewpoint of Brother” in Quechau) where one gets the best view in Cuenca – a marvelous lookout point for panoramic photographs.

Lodging: Hotel San Juan – Cuenca / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 6:

  • Today visit the Yunguilla Reserve, one of the most visually stunning valleys of the Azuay province. The small 200 hectares reserve protects a remnant of Andean Mountain Scrub which is the last suitable habitat for the Critically Endangered Pale-headed Brush-finch.

The brush-finch is one of the Ecuadorian endemics and one of the rarest birds of the world with a population no greater than 240 individuals. Additionally, the Reserve houses the Little Woodstar, another endangered bird and a host of birds categorized as “Near Threatened and Restricted Range” species.

  • After lunch in Cuenca you will have some time to organize your photographs and begin to select potentials to share with the group on Thursday.
  • Join the group in an afternoon meeting with Essdras, where he will show some of his captures, give advice on and discuss issues pertaining to “street photography.”

Lodging: Hotel San Juan – Cuenca / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 7:

  • Travel into the hills surrounding Cuenca to visit the ceramic art gallery and workshop of Eduarado Vega, a artist known worldwide for his work. Inspired by the people, animals and landscapes of Ecuador, he makes a wide range of beautiful, useful and durable pieces. And, his shop sitting high on a hill offers a great panaorama of Cuenca.
  • We will return to Cuenca for lunch and spend part of the afternoon enjoying and photographing Corpus Christi events.
  • Return to the hotel to take time to look over your images and select a three to five to share with your fellow travelers.

Lodging: Hotel San Juan – Cuenca / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 8:

Today will be a busy one spent outside of Cuenca:

  • First our driver will takes us to the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex. It is the first and largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. Here you will learn about the Canari and Inca cultures and photograph construction styles dating back 500 year and its most significant building– The Temple of the Sun.
  • Next, you will travel to the picturesque artisan villages where we will learn about the artisan activity of the southern Ecuadorian Andes in:
  • Chordeleg where you will meet some of the artists and learn about Ecuadorian jewelry and see some of the elaborate and prized jewelry created for the most demanding of clients.
  • La Macona a city well known for the production of the famous “makanas” or shawls made with the technical weaving known as “IKAT”, which consists of different techniques that give threads unique designs to these items.
  • In the afternoon, you will return to the hotel for a bit of leisure before joining Essdras for a review and critique of everyone’s photos, then, enjoy a farewell dinner

Lodging: Hotel San Juan – Cuenca / Included Meals: (B, L, D)

Day 9:

This day will be spent in Cuenca.

The morning will be spent visiting:

  • The Cementerio Patrimonial Cuenca has a history dating back to 1843 and cemetery location dates back to the time of the Inca. The cemetery is unlike any you have likely seen. Surrounded by towering, white, burial chambers housing thousands of crypts you will find architecturally ornate mausoleums, beautifully maintained grounds and elaborate stone walkways.
  • Andrea Tello’s Jewelry gallery and store. Andrea Tello is one of Ecuador’s most internationally famous artists, having exhibited her work at the Louvre in Paris and representing the whole of Latin America in events for UNESCO. You will view a video showing how artists create the elaborate filigree jewelry and have time to peruse the gallery.

Taught by her grandfather, Andrea is a fourth-generation filigree jeweler, working with silver, gold, and other metals. Her work is inspired by the symbolic patterns found in the clothing of Andean women and represents her history, culture, and heritage as well as her personal identity.

Late morning:

  • Have group lunch
  • Pack for the flight back to Quito and be prepared to check out at 2 p.m. Luggage will be held in the hotel storage until we are ready to leave for the airport.
  • Wander the Feria Libre Mercado – one of the biggest Outdoor Markets in Cuenca where the farmers bring their crops to sell to the public. If you like fruits and vegetables it is a great place to shop. They have every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable.

Late afternoon, return to the hotel and prepare to take a 8:20 pm flight to Quito.

Lodging: Quito Airport Wyndam Hotel / Included Meals: (B, L)

Day 10:

  • Take an early morning flight home.
  • Extend your South American adventure and make arrangements with Andean Discovery for a five to seven-day trip to the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu.

Ecuador – Corpus Christi Festival: The Details

Group Size: This will be a small group adventure – minimum of 8 – maximum of 12 participants.

Cost Per Person:

  • Double occupancy: $4,125
  • Single occupancy: $4,815 (an additional $690 for a single room)

The package includes:

  • All accommodations (standard 4-star hotels)
  • Professional Andean Discovery guides
  • Private ground transportation, internal flights and airport transfers:
  • Internal flights from Quito to Cuenca and return
  • All ground travel in a private mini van
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Most meals
  • Park fees and entrances

The package does not included:

  • The cost of transportation to and from Ecuador – including all costs associated with that activity such as baggage surcharges, taxes and fees.
  • Gratuities and personal expenses such as: alcoholic drinks, phone calls and snacks.
  • Medical insurance

Booking Conditions: Andean Discovery, Sudbury, MA

Registration Deadline: February 21, 2019

  • A $500 per person deposit is required to secure your reservation.
  • The deposit can be made by credit card (Visa or MasterCard), personal check or wire transfer.
  • Note: there will be an added service charge if paying by credit card.
  • After making your reservation, you will be invoiced

Final Payment – Deadline: March 19, 2019

  • Full payment will due no later than 90 days prior to your departure.
  • Full payment must be in the form of a personal check or wire transfer.

How to Make a Reservation:

Phone Andean Discovery [www.andeandiscovery.com] at 1-800-893-0916 and their personnel will take your information and means of payment.

Additional Important Details

Visas: Citizens of the United States, Canada and most European countries are not required to obtain a visa for non-working stays. Length of stay varies by country.

Passport: A valid passport for more then 6 months.

Luggage: Domestic airline regulations permit 20 kilos (44 pounds) per suitcase, maximum two suitcases per person.

Airport Departure Tax: $25 USD Departure Tax is charged for international flights departing from Ecuador.

Specific Requirements:

  • Return ticket (for air, land or sea travel).
  • Proof of economic means to support yourself during your stay (may be requested by Immigration authorities upon arrival).

Health Risks

  • No inoculations are required for entry.
  • However, it is recommended to get vaccinations for hepatitis A and B and typhoid.
  • Check online with the CDC for specific requirements for the country into which you will be traveling.

Ecuador Travel Information


  • VISA, Mastercard, American Express, and Diner’s Club are the most widely recognized cards in Ecuador.
  • Credit cards are useful for purchases in hotels, shops, restaurants, and for cash advances from Automated Teller Machines or banks.
  • We recommend you should also carry some cash, especially in out-of-the-way places such Andean or coastal villages. Carry mostly $1, $5, and $10 bills, and make sure they are in good condition or you could have trouble using them as everybody checks for fraud bills if it’s a 5 or higher.

Local Taxes and Tipping:

  • With each purchase, you pay a tax of 12% IVA. Sometimes it’s included in the price so you don’t think that there is a tax.
  • For hotels and restaurants services you pay another 10% service tax, kind of as an automatic tip.
  • Tipping is completely to your discretion, but because of the 10% service tax in restaurants and hotels most people don’t feel the need to tip, but if you are pleased with the service, feel free to leave a tip.

While enjoying the festival’s activities, you will spend some time touring this colorful city and its architecture, stop at a hat-making factory, visit studios of local ceramists and take time to wander the largest market in Cuenca.In addition, you will be making excursions outside of Cuenca to visit the:

  • Cajas National Park – with a richness of unique vegetation, animals and birds
  • First the Inca complex at Ingapirca, the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador
  • Picturesque artisan villages of Chordeleg, San Bartolome and Guanaco
  • The Yunguilla Reserve, one of the most visually stunning valleys of the Azuay province

Participants: Min 8 / Max 12

Tour Location: Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador

Dates: June 19-28, 2019

2018 Price: Double $4,125 / Single $4,815

Deposit: $500

Registration Deadline: Feb. 21, 2019

Final Payment: Mar. 19, 2019