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Kaya Klop-Toker, a researcher studying the ecology of amphibians at the University of Newcastle in Australia, tells the story of the most memorable trip of her life. Her trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon, close to where we'll visit on the 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour, was a life-changing experience. The sights and sounds are memories she'll carry with her forever. Only two spaces remain on the 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour taking place June 8th through June 20th. Please be sure to fill out the Ecotour Expression of Interest Form if you are interested in joining any SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour now or in the future. Read on to explore the wonder of the Amazon.
 

If you get an opportunity to spend time looking for frogs in the Amazon, you should take it! In 2008 I spent 10 weeks as a volunteer research assistant in the Ecuadorian rainforest. It was the best 10 weeks of my life. I was based in the lowland rainforest of Yasuni National Park, which is arguably the most biodiverse place on the planet. The journey getting there was in itself quite an adventure.
 
Ranitomeya ventrimaculata ecuador kaya klop toker
This blue and red poison frog (Ranitomeya ventrimaculata) carries tadpoles on its back. They have been seen in bromeliads more than 100 feet above the forest floor.

After arriving in the Ecuadorian capital Quito, I flew to the small town of Trinidad where I caught a taxi with a driver named Darwin (which felt like a very fateful name indeed). Darwin drove me to the Rio Napo, where I unloaded my gear under the shade of a beautiful large cecropia tree, took in the rich smell of the tropics, and waited for my turn to be ferried in a small dugout canoe across the large brown river.

Once across the river, I met my contact and drove another hour through thick jungle, until we came to my destination and home for the next two months. I was volunteering for a research team studying recently discovered frog species that live in bromeliads, high above the canopy, in the branches of emergent trees.
 
frog ecuador kaya klop toker
Ecuador contains an area of one of the highest densities of frogs in the world! That means when you explore at night, you're guaranteed to find frogs.

During both the day and night, we walked through the forest searching for frogs. A walk through Yasuni National Park was never disappointing. In the day, the forest was bright, warm, and quiet – completely opposite to the dark, impenetrable landscape, full of animal calls. In the early mornings, the myriad of bird life would recite their morning chorus, often accompanied by the loud, long, guttural calls of howler monkeys.

However, during the heat of day, the birds and monkeys would subdue their calls and one could walk through the forest in pleasant, tranquil state. This quietness, however, did not equate to a lack of wildlife, and if I paid attention, I was often rewarded with numerous frog and lizard sightings along the path. Poison dart frogs were regularly encountered in the day, as well as hundreds of tiny juvenile frogs, no bigger than my finger nail. Large, languid tegu lizards would saunter across the path, and occasionally an unsuspecting tortoise.
 
brown treefrog ecuador kaya klop toker
This brown treefrog can be found at night among many of species of frog in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

At night we discovered bright-green monkey treefrogs, which frequently walk on their long, skinny legs rather than jump; beautiful chocolate brown treefrogs, which look like the hopping frog confectionary from Harry Potter; and big Smokey jungle frogs with a Latin name that rolls off the tongue: Leptodactylus pentadactylus.

Nightime also revealed the beautifully-colored and aptly-named rainbow boa constrictors, and horrifyingly alien-looking, yet harmless whip scorpions. If it rained a lot and we were lucky, we found miniature snub-nosed salamanders or giant earthworms, commonly mistaken for caecilians until we felt their rough segmentation. Listing all the animals we found would take pages; such is the variety of life in the Amazon. Every time I left my accommodation, I found a unique and fascinating creature. It was like being a naïve child again where everything you see is a new, amazing discovery.
 
Epipedobates bilinguis ecuador kaya klop toker
This poison frog with yellow armpits is Ameerega bilinguis, a frog commonly found in undisturbed, primary forests of Ecuador and Colombia.

Although it has been nine years, the time I spent in the Ecuadorian Amazon continues to remain one of my most exciting memories. I made lifelong friends. I furthered our knowledge of these threatened and enigmatic animals and learned skills that have been valuable to my career in amphibian conservation. However, just the experience of being immersed in the Amazon is enough to make it worthwhile. To be surrounded by jungle that stretches as far as the eye can see, to smell that rich, sweet air, and to see such variation of life is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I hope to experience again.
 

To learn more about SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours, visit:
http://savethefrogs.com/ecotours
 

Cloud forests are truly fascinating ecosystems that contain rich biodiversity and amphibian species found nowhere else in the world. This year during the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour we will spend three nights in the remarkable cloud forest ecosystem of the Mindo Valley. The Mindo Valley is not just beautiful and pristine, but its history contains a unique story of conservation, ecotourism, and sustainable development. The dedicated individuals who live in the Mindo Valley started a movement to protect this incredible landscape because they are passionate about the many plants and animals that call this cloud forest home.

red spotted glass frog melvin grey 550
Red Spotted Glass Frog (Nymphargus grandisonae) photo by Melvin Grey, 2017 Ecuador Ecotour participant

To join SAVE THE FROGS! in Ecuador June 8th to 20th, 2017, please fill out the Ecotour Expression of Interest Form.
You can email trip leader Chelsea Carson (chelsea@savethefrogs.com) with any questions. We are looking forward to frogging the Andes and Amazon with you!

Introduction | Destinations | Meet Your Ecotour Leaders |
Trip itinerary | Prepare For Your Trip | Trip Cost | Contact

Mindo Glass Frogs
We found this beautiful glass frog in the Mindo cloud forests during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

"We never would have imagined the powerful connections we made with both the group and the amazing country of Ecuador and it's beautiful people. We are forever grateful for your friendship. We are forever changed by our experiences. We will see both you and Ecuador again."
-- Kelly Geer, Participant of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour

Introduction

Have you ever wanted to explore the Amazon rainforest, learn from experts about tropical ecology, or experience the beauty of the Andes mountains? How about all three? Well now is your chance to experience all of that and more! 

We are pleased to announce that the June 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour will take place June 8th to 20th, 2017 and will encompass the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains, the cloud forests, dry forests, and an abundance of opportunities to find and photograph amphibians. 

Please complete the Ecotour Expression of Interest Form or send an email to trip leader Chelsea Carson at chelsea@savethefrogs.com if you are interested in joining SAVE THE FROGS! in Ecuador in June 2017 for an amazing 13 days (12 nights) adventure. In an effort to keep our group size small, we are limiting this ecotour to 14 participants.

"Hi Kerry, I'd like to go ahead and sign up for the Ecuador trip. The more I go back and read on the website, the more I realize it's a must-do trip. I'm really looking forward to it!
Thanks, John B., Pollock Pines, CA"

Frogging Ecuador
SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour Trip Leader Chelsea Carson and a beautiful glass frog juvenile near the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon.

Ecuador has an incredible array of biodiversity, cultures, landscapes and ecosystems, despite only being the size of Nevada. Ecuador is home to 552 known amphibian species (more than any country on the planet other than Brazil, Colombia and Peru) all within a very small geographical area. Ecuador actually has 58 times as many amphibian species per square mile than does the USA! That means there are lots of frogs to be found, making Ecuador a perfect place for a SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour.

In October 2015, SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger and amphibian biologist Chelsea Carson traveled throughout Ecuador for nine days searching for ecolodges that are clean, comfortable and home to many frogs, and developing a detailed itinerary to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities in multiple ecosystems while minimizing drive times. Our inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour took place June 15-26th, 2016 and was a huge success that we are certain all of the participants and leaders will remember for the rest of their lives. We have optimized the tour to focus in on the absolute highlights and to maximize your enjoyment and delight while on your Ecuadorian frog adventure. The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour has been personally crafted to ensure an amazing, unique and thoroughly unforgettable experience that offers the best in travel, wildlife, culture and education. 

In addition to a wealth of amphibians you can expect to see large quantities of other fascinating wildlife such as reptiles, butterflies, rare mammals, colorful insects, and an array of birds. Led by SAVE THE FROGS! South America Coordinator Chelsea Carson and SAVE THE FROGS! International Campaigns Coordinator Michael Starkey, and assisted by local Ecuadorian amphibian experts, we can assure you that your experience will be one of excitement, exploration, and growth. We hope you can join us in June 2017 for the one of a kind SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour!

mindo frogs
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger photographed this beautiful frog on the grounds of Casa Divina in Mindo during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. We've made a few changes to this year's tour to provide you with the absolute best frogging expedition of your life.

"Good morning! I finally have access to wifi but I'm too exhilarated and exhausted to upload and post pics. I need time to process just the first few days! This is truly an epic adventure with an amazing group of people. One of the best decisions I ever made was saying yes to the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador ecotour. My love for frogs have grown, my appreciation and respect of the earth has strengthened, and my awareness of the Ecuadorean people and culture has been a complement to my life. Thank you, Kerry Kriger and SAVE THE FROGS! for this opportunity. Okay, I'll leave you with one picture. This butterfly just freeing itself from its cocoon after transforming from one life to another is a symbol of me before and after this trip. I'm ready to fly."
- 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist & Author Deborah Blake Dempsey

mindo waterfalls
Waterfall in the Mindo cloud forest

Trip Overview
We will spend the first week adventuring through the Napo River area of the Amazon rainforest, learning about and discovering beautiful amphibian species, conservation efforts, and scientific investigation in the Amazon. We will meet and learn from Ecuadorian scientists and researchers who have in-depth amphibian experience in the Ecuadorian jungle. We will search for monkey frogs, rain frogs, poison dart frogs, and we may see endangered species only found in these locations. Salamander lovers: don’t be surprised if you come across a salamander hanging off a leaf or hiding under a log! Our group will have the opportunity toi hear presentations on amphibian conservation; go tubing on a tropical river; learn about ethnobotany; visit a wildlife rehabilitation center; and explore waterfalls, treetops, swamps, and breathtaking tropical ecosystems.

After traveling through the Amazon for five nights, we will make our way to the mid-elevation Andes at the beautiful Papallacta, famous for the thermal pools and surrounding mountain views. We will relax in the pools, eat great Ecuadorian food, hike along a mountain stream and learn about the paramo ecosystem, a significant change from the hot lowland Amazon.

After Papallacta, we will travel to the cloud forests of Mindo, a world-reknowned location famed for both its herpetofauna and its bird life. Mindo is an ecotourism success story as the forests would likely have been destroyed decades ago if the community had not come together to save the cloud forests and the biodiversity they contain, which was possible only by educating the community about the long-term benefits of ecotourism. In Mindo, you will have the opportunity to find glass frogs with a local Ecuadorian amphibian expert. In the mornings you will be able to find the famed Cock-of-the-Rock birds. In the afternoon, you can zipline above the canopy; search for poison dart frogs; or just relax at your cabin in the cloud forest.

After Mindo we will visit the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve and sleep on the crater rim. You will be able to practice yoga with mountain views, stand on the Equator, and learn about Ecuadorian customs and history. We will finish the ecotour in Quito, where you can shop in local markets, take a tour of the old city, or go for a hike in the Andes high above the city where you may be able to see Cotopaxi, an active volcano. Throughout the ecotour, you will learn all about amphibians and ways to save them, while spending time with like-minded SAVE THE FROGS! supporters!

With so many amazing places to know in one of the most amphibian biodiverse areas on the planet, we can assure you this will be a once in a lifetime experience, so don’t miss your chance to join the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour June 8th to 20th, 2017.

"Hi Chelsea, I am getting caught up with emails and newsletters and was amazed to read about the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador trip.  My husband and I have been talking about a trip to Ecuador for quite some time, and this tour is irresistible!
Regards,
Christine Grant
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada"

el pahuma ecuador
SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist Jessica Scrivener hiking through the cloudforest at El Pahuma, where we will spend an afternoon.

"Hello Dr. Kriger,
I am very interested in the trip to Ecuador! I am a kindergarten teacher at an expeditionary learning school in Lake Tahoe. Every spring for the last 4 years I teach my kindergarteners about frogs and how to save our local endangered frog species the Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog. I would love to expand my knowledge of frogs so I can teach my students from an even more informed perspective. How can I sign up?"
— Rosie S.

DESTINATIONS
We will visit a variety of Peruvian ecosystems and stay in very pleasant ecolodges and biological stations, detailed below.

Villa Da Fiore
The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour officially begins at 6pm at Villa Da Fiore, a quaint Italian hacienda. Having housed SAVE THE FROGS! during our 2016 Ecuador Ecotour, the family owned business knows exactly how to make our group feel comfortable upon arrival into the country. We will spend one night here to have dinner, meet the group, and go over expectations and logistics for our tour. The stunning property is conveniently close to the airport and looks over the agricultural valley of Tumbaco.

villa da fiore

Suchipakari
The Suchipakari Jungle Lodge will provide you with an amazing introduction to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Suchipakari is located along the Pusuno River, a tributary of the Napo River, which eventually leads to the Amazon! The lodge is tucked away to provide a beautiful and secluded experience - we will need to walk about 15 minutes from the carpark to get to the lodge (we can assist you with your luggage!). Suchipakari sits in the middle of the lush green forests, wild jungle, and flowing rivers. We will stay at Suchipakari Jungle Lodge for three nights in their remodeled rooms and cabins, to offer you a luxury stay while also feeling close to nature. Due to high demand from our 2016 ecotour we have increased our stay here from two nights to three, in order to offer an even more diverse experience exploring rivers, waterfalls, jungle, and of course frogs! The lodge offers a pool, a beautiful dining area where the calls of frogs will make your dinner memorable, and many activities in and around the property. Chelsea will offer a yoga session in the gazebo area, where you can stretch, meditate and enjoy the sounds of the forest with a certified yoga instructor. Suchipakari is a favorite SAVE THE FROGS! location and we are sure you will enjoy your stay. 

suchipakari ecotour
The jungle stream at Suchipakari, our destination in the Amazon. Is it lush enough for you?

Anaconda Lodge
We are excited to announce that this year’s Ecuador Ecotour group will be staying for two nights at the unique Anaconda Lodge. Located on Anaconda Island in the heart of the rainforest, the Anaconda Lodge has much to offer. Anaconda Lodge is like nowhere else, not just based on its location - a half hour boat ride down the Napo River - but also its history and how it has integrated into the local community and supported the local people. We will tour a local village, have indigenous guides, and find a multitude of frogs on site. There is no more of an authentic stay within the Ecuadorian Amazon. 

anaconda lodge
Views from Anaconda Island, Ecuadorian Amazon

Papallacta
Papallacta is a luxurious getaway in the paramo ecosystem of the mid-altitude Andes. We will stop at Papallacta for a night, to rejuvenate in the famous thermal hot springs after five nights exploring the Amazon. You will have elegant cabins, delicious food, and 24-hour access to private mineral pools. Apart from its relaxing hot springs, we will be surrounded by the incredible Cayambe-Coca National Park. We will have the opportunity to hike and explore the high elevation ecosystem, as well listen to a presentation from a local park guide.

Papallacta Ecuador
These thermal pools will feel amazing after five nights in the Amazon!

"Perfect. Amazing."
-- Shenandoah Marr, 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist , while soaking in the Papallacta thermal pools

Casa Divina
To continue our frogging explorations our group will head to the town of Mindo. Located in the famous Ecuadorian cloud forest ecosystem, Mindo has a unique history of conservation, sustainable tourism, and species preservation. We will stay in Mindo for three nights at the Casa Divina Lodge, a natural lodge symbiotic with the local environment. The owners Molly and Efrain ensure not only a comfortable stay relaxing to the sounds and sights of nature, but also direct conservation by using local, organic ingredients, hiring native guides, and giving presentations to all visiting groups. There are hiking trails, lounging areas, beautiful accommodations, and plenty of wildlife sighting, including frogs near your cabin! We will also have the opportunity to explore different activities within the community of Mindo, such as zip lining, birding and learning how chocolate is made. 

Casa Divina Ecuador
Casa Divina: our home in the cloud forest for three nights

"This was the crown jewel of the trip in every way. Outstanding accommodations, wonderful setting, spectacular surrounding scenery, great little town, the absolute best staff, wonderful guides, great food and activities."
-- 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist Mike Horton on Casa Divina

El Crater
After three amazing nights at Casa Divina, we will stay one night at the beautiful and luxurious El Crater Hotel, located on the rim of the Pululahua Crater and Geobotanical Reserve. This spectacular site overlooks the reserve and has a breathtaking outdoor landscape to enjoy the natural surroundings and movement of clouds throughout the crater. We will get to visit the famous Mitad del Mundo (Center of the World) where you can stand in both hemispheres at once! 

el crater lodge
The El Crater Lodge is set high in the clouds above the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve.

"The lodges were generally nicer and more luxurious than I expected." 
-- SAVE THE FROGS! Board Member and 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist John Bohrman

Quito
We will spend our final night of the ecotour in the capital city of Quito. Participants will have the opportunity to take a walking tour of the Historical Center. Hikers can ride up the Teleferico (the world’s highest operating cable car) and take a hike high above the city; SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger enjoys this hike so much, he has done it three times! You can also shop in local artisanal markets to bring home souvenirs. We will conclude our tour with a delicious and traditional meal and say our goodbyes to new friends!

Quito frogs
It may be a major city, but Quito does have frogs! We found this frog calling below the Teleferico during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

"It has been a wonderful trip of beautiful scenery, spectacular wildlife, new friendships, rich history, wonderful food, amazing experiences, and boundless new knowledge."
-- George Quiroga, Photographer & Participant on the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour

MEET YOUR ECOTOUR LEADERS
On top of being fun to travel with, your ecotour leaders have lots of experience in ecology, amphibian conservation, wilderness medicine, Peruvian travel, yoga instruction and an array of other skills that will ensure you the highest likelihood of having a safe, enjoyable and throughly unforgettable ecotour.

Chelsea Carson
SAVE THE FROGS! South America Coordinator

"Hello fellow SAVE THE FROGS! friends, my name is Chelsea Carson, and I am looking forward to being a Trip Leader on your SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. I am a conservation biologist with a speciality in herpetology and community service outreach. I recently completed a Fulbright grant researching the effects of land uses on Ecuador's amphibian populations. Since I first visited South America in 2014 I have been in love with the ecosystems, culture, and wildlife. Originally coming to study ecology and conservation, I have focused on amphibian biology and have spent over a year and a half living in South America. With these experiences I have grown to respect and cherish the beautiful ecosystems that this continent has to offer.

I have volunteered for SAVE THE FROGS! since 2013, organizing and conducting a variety of events to increase the knowledge of local issues affecting amphibians. In June 2016 I co-led the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. For 12 days our group of 17 frog enthusiasts had an amazing time exploring the cloudforests, jungle, and Andes. In September 2017, I traveled through Ghana for 17 days as a member of the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition, educating university students and children about the value of amphibians and how to work with local communities to achieve conservation success. In November 2016, I led the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour, taking our group to the Peruvian Amazon and cloud forests as well as Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

I joined the SAVE THE FROGS! staff in November 2016 as the South America Coordinator and have been busy organizing new ecotours and coordinating the logistics to ensure our ecotour participants have a thoroughly amazing experience. I am excited to have your support and I look forward to finding frogs with you in Ecuador in June 2017!"

chelsea carson frogs
SAVE THE FROGS! South America Coordinator Chelsea Carson has been organizing and leading SAVE THE FROGS! events since 2013.

Michael Starkey
SAVE THE FROGS! International Campaigns Coordinator

Michael Starkey is an ecologist and environmental educator with significant experience searching for frogs and other animals deep in the rainforest. He began as a volunteer for SAVE THE FROGS! in 2010 focused on informing the public about the threats facing amphibians. Eventually joining SAVE THE FROGS! staff in a variety of roles, Michael rallies scientists, volunteers, and others to help broaden the conservation mission of SAVE THE FROGS! Michael has given presentations around the world to inform and help nurture a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. Michael has organized and led three SAVE THE FROGS! Belize ecotours and joined the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition in September 2016. Michael will also be leading the SAVE THE FROGS! Costa Rica Ecotour in July 2017.

michael starkey ecotours
Michael Starkey has given presentations on amphibian conservation in the USA, Canada, Belize, Ghana and throughout Europe.

TRIP ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival - Thursday June 8th, 2017
Ecotour participants are expected to arrive by 6pm at the Villa Da Fiore (about a half hour taxi ride from Quito’s UIO airport). We will start with an introduction to your tour leaders and fellow group members and discuss the logistics of what’s to be expected during the upcoming ecotour. We will share a wonderful Italian style dinner at the Villa Da Fiore restaurant and have the evening to connect with the group and prepare for the adventure to come!

south america expeditions
Villa Da Fiore is a perfect place to spend your first night in Ecuador!

Day 2: Descent to the Amazon - Friday June 9th, 2017
After a nice breakfast and enjoying the surroundings of the Villa, our group will board a private bus to make our way to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Suchipakari Jungle Lodge. The drive, which in total is around four hours, will be split up by visiting archaeological sites, exploring caves, stopping for pictures through the Cayambe-Coca National Park, and to eat lunch! We will arrive at Suchipakari in the afternoon and settle into our new home for the next three nights. We then will go on a medicinal plant walk where a local guide will explain and show the flora used by local people. You can always decide to hang back and enjoy lounging by the pool, listening to frogs, and breathing in the pure Amazon air. We will have dinner as a group in the dining area and then put on our headlamps for our first night of frogging! We will explore the Suchipakari lodge area, where SAVE THE FROGS! has found over 10 species of frogs.

Ecuador Frogs
The frogs are easy to find at Suchipakari!

Day 3: AmaZOOnico - Saturday June 10th, 2017
After a delicious breakfast, we will have short presentations by your tour leaders Michael Starkey and Chelsea Carson. We will give you a background on amphibian conservation and SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide efforts on behalf of amphibians. We will head out on a canoe trip to the AmaZOOnico wildlife refuge down river. This scenic canoe ride will take you a half hour down the Rio Napo until reaching the secluded AmaZOOnico reserve. Here you will have the opportunity to see jungle fauna that you otherwise may not have the chance to see. We will learn about AmaZOOnico's efforts to conserve and protect the native wildlife. In 2016, our group came upon a large troop of squirrel monkeys. We will make our way back to the Suchipakari for lunch and relax after for a quick siesta. The afternoon activities will include the option to go river tubing, reading by the river, volleyball, bird watching, and exploring the many trails on site. We will meet for dinner at 7pm. This night we will be accompanied by a local guide and take a night hike into the jungle, so bring your headlamps and come prepared to see frogs! 

squirrel monkey Ecuador Ecotour
George Quiroga photographed this beautiful Squirrel Monkey at AmaZOOnico during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Day 4: Waterfall Hike - Sunday June 11th, 2017
You will want to eat a good breakfast before today's adventure! Our group will travel to a nearby waterfall and natural swimming pools. There are two options for the hike; easy and difficult. Both have the option of enjoying fresh Amazonian water to swim in. Lunch will be provided at the trail by local women employed by the lodge. After lunch we will have the opportunity to stop by a local Kiwcha home and greet native people who work and live off of the land. Here we will try traditional cuisine, observe handmade gifts, and see a day in the life of the Kiwcha community. We will return tired and happy and ready for a delicious meal that evening. We will be frogging along the river near the lodge tonight so pull up your rubber boots and keep an eye out for glass frogs guarding eggs or poison dart frogs in bromeliads!

Chelsea Carson Ecotours
Chelsea Carson observing the surroundings at Suchipakari in October 2015.

Day 5: Arrive at Anaconda Island - Monday June 12th, 2017
After breakfast, our group will have the choice to go on the Mirador (viewpoint) hike to get a bird's eye view of the area, or stay and enjoy the lodge and all that it has to offer. This is a strenuous hike but weaves you through pristine jungle ecosystem, ideal frog habitat, and peaks out to provide a stunning view of the Amazon Basin. You will have time to pack up before eating lunch at 1pm. We will then board the bus and travel a short distance to the river port to meet our water taxis to the Anaconda Lodge. Upon arrival at the Anaconda Lodge we will settle into the authentic experience by listening to the lodge's history through a presentation by the owner Fernando. We will have the opportunity to partake in some river activities like tubing and canoe rides to see the spectacular new surroundings. Dinner will be served at the lodge’s main dining area. Anaconda Lodge is known for its fresh, local ingredients, and incredible meals, as well as unforgettable sunsets. After dinner we will go exploring on a night walk! Here we are sure to encounter a variety of frogs, reptiles, birds, and possibly mammals!

napo river
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson visited the Anaconda Lodge in October 2015. You will be traveling down the Napo River in a boat like this for a half hour to arrive at the lodge!

"Thank you for the frogging trip of a lifetime to Ecuador, Kerry and Chelsea!!"
- SAVE THE FROGS! Board Member Choti Singh, who has participated in SAVE THE FROGS! belize and Ecuador Ecotours

Day 6: Final Full Day in The Amazon - Tuesday June 13th, 2017
We will awake to the sounds of birds and look over the Arajuno river as the sun rises against our backs. There is a beautiful lookout area which offers expansive views of the rivers and wildlife near the dining area. Keep an eye out for local fisherman preparing for the day's catch. The day will consist of adventures around the lodge and the neighboring Kiwcha community. Anaconda Lodge works closely with the local people and has created a chocolate cooperative. We will have a chance to meet the harvesters and producers and learn how cacao becomes the chocolate we eat!
We will return back to the lodge for both lunch and dinner throughout the day's activities and there will be plenty of opportunity to sit and enjoy nature. We ask you to join us this night as we go out for the last excursion frogging in the Amazon! We will have our senses ready to observe as many creatures as possible. 

anaconda island lizard
A lizard on Anaconda Island

"I didn't expect to be with such a great group of adventurers and make the connections with everyone that I did which will lead to life-long friendships."
-- SAVE THE FROGS! 2016 Ecuador Ecotourist Jessica Scrivener

Day 7: Thermal Pools at Papllacta - Wednesday June 14th, 2017
Enjoy a relaxing morning walking through the lodge's trail system and join us for a series of presentations and workshops given by Michael and Chelsea. You will have the opportunity to learn about amphibians and ecology, take a Spanish language lesson, and do yoga. We will then pack up and have our last meal at the Anaconda Lodge. After lunch, we will head uphill into the Andes and to the soothing waters of Papallacta. The trip will take around 3 hours and will bring us to a luxurious stay in private cabins and thermal pools. Our group will unwind and clean up from 5 nights in the Amazon and enjoy an elegant twist on local cuisine at the restaurant on site. Spend as much time as you would like this evening bathing in the many hot pools around the property.

Thermal Pools Ecuador
Thermal Pools at Papallacta

Day 8: Enter The Mindo Cloud Forest - Thursday June 15th, 2017
We will wake up for an 8am breakfast and then meet in the Papallacta nature center for an hour of presentations and a guided hike. Our local guide Patricio will give a speech about this unique ecosystem and lead us on a tour through the cloudforest. After the hike you have the option of taking a final dip in the pools or going further around the native environment. We will have lunch in Papallacta at a local restaurant and then all board the bus to Mindo. Make sure to observe the scenery during the bus ride as we descend from high alpine Andes into the verdant cloud forests of Mindo. Upon arrival at Casa Divina in Mindo you will have the option to wander the grounds, where there is a butterfly garden, or participate in a Spanish lesson given by Chelsea. Dinner will be at Casa Divina. Afterwards, prepare yourself for a night of frogging to bring a close to an adventurous day!

mindo mountains on road to mindo
Andes Scenery Near Mindo

Day 9: Exploring Mindo - Friday June 16th, 2017
Mindo is an incredible place for birding. Early risers can head out at 5am for the rare opportunity of viewing the Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Breakfast will be at 8am followed by a morning filled with optional classes. Michael and Chelsea will be giving a plethora of courses this morning including wilderness medicine, Spanish, and yoga. We will then break for lunch with our new skills fresh in our minds. Afterwards there will be the option for exploration around Mindo or a rest at the peaceful lodge. You can walk to the Butterfly Farm and enjoy an encounter with these graceful creatures or take a cable car ride across the cloud forest to a waterfall hike. Take your time with these activities and relax upon returning to the lodge or participate in a guided meditation class with Chelsea. Dinner will be at Casa Divina and then frogging will begin at 730pm with a local frog expert!

Frogging Expedition Ecuador
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger found these beautiful Pristimantis frogs in amplexus at Casa Divina.

Day 10: Final night of Frogging Ecuador! - Saturday June 17th, 2017 :  
We will awake to the sounds of singing birds and the sight of light being shed over the forests and then have another adventurous and ecologically packed day. Morning activities will start around 9am with the option to swing among the canopy on a zipline tour or hike to a beautiful waterfall. After indulging in the outdoors we will all meet for lunch in the town of Mindo at a local restaurant. Here you will be able to sample the favorite local dishes and get to know the people of the town. After lunch you will have the opportunity to stick around town, pass through the local shops, explore the Orchid Garden, or have a chocolate tour with plenty of samples! Regardless of how you choose to spend your last afternoon in the land of clouds we will meet back at Casa Divina at 5pm for amphibian education and information on volunteering for SAVE THE FROGS!. Dinner will be at 7pm followed by another locally guided night hike to search for our frog friends!

Epidobates darwinwallacea
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry kriger photographed this poison dart frog (Epidobates darwinwallacea) during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Day 11: The Middle of The World - Sunday June 18th, 2017
After a delicious breakfast surrounded by the lively cloud forest ecosystem we will say our goodbyes to Mindo and Casa Divina and head to the Middle of the World. We will settle into our lodging for the night at the beautiful El Crater Lodge and then head to the world famous Mitad del Mundo monument. We will all eat at an authentic restaurant inside the museum grounds and then you will have the opportunity to explore and take pictures on both sides of the hemisphere. Chelsea will offer a yoga class in the early evening on El Crater's spectacular grounds. Our group will gather for an informal presentation in the dining area to discuss a few of Ecuador's ecosystems we did not have the chance to visit...this time! Dinner will follow the discussion and you have the freedom to spend the night however you wish.

mitad del mundo
Beautiful artwork at Mitad del Mundo (The Middle Of The World).

Day 12:  - Monday June 19th, 2017
After eating breakfast at El Crater and enjoying the breathtaking views of the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, you may join Chelsea and Michael on an informative hike down into the crater and around the reserve. We will all be packed and ready to leave for Quito at 11:30 to make it into the city for lunch. We will then head back to our hotel and drop off our belongings and the group will split into two groups. One option is to take a tour of the Historical City and shop the local artisan markets; the other is to ride up the Teleferico high above the city and and receive a beautiful view overlooking the whole capital city, with the option to hike the slopes of Rucu Pichincha, an extinct volcano. The afternoon and early evening is yours to spend as you please and we will meet in the hotel lobby at 7:15 to walk to our final meal together! The group will have a wonderful dinner with local cuisine and tradition with the option to go salsa dancing that night! 

Hiking Ecuador
If the weather is clear you may see Cotopaxi (5,897m) from the top of the Teleferico!

Day 13:  - Tuesday June 20th, 2017
Enjoy your final breakfast of the ecotour at our Quito hotel. We can help you arrange transportation to the airport. We will say our goodbyes as everyone departs to return to their homes or continues on their travels. We will leave with wonderful memories and full hearts after another incredible SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour!

teleferiqo quito
Views from the Teleferico, high above Quito.

PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP
Traveling in Ecuador may be a different experience than what you are accustomed to, so we have written a few things we would love to pass along!

Physical Fitness
Most of our hikes will be easy to moderate. Expect guided hikes to last 2-3 hours. We will travel slowly on the trails so that we will have a better chance of viewing wildlife. It is important to know that the trails may be slippery and muddy, so having good footing and closed-toes shoes are essential! Adventurous explorers will have the option to take more strenuous hikes. While we do have scheduled activities planned for you, there will be times where you will have the choice of how to spend your time. Would you prefer to go on a morning jungle hike or bird watch from a hammock on your balcony? The choice is yours! Wear sunblock and stay hydrated. Quito and the Teleferico are located at high altitudes and close to the equator. While this is exciting, it comes with a few cautions: in particular, the sun is strong and the air is thin! Make sure to hydrate, wear sun protection, and get plenty of rest.

teleferico mikeh jessicas kka 
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger with STF! Board Member Mike Horton and bat biologist Jessica Scrivener at the highest point of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Altitude
The highest you will have to be on this ecotour is in Papallacta, which is at 3,300 m (10,827 ft), though you will have the option to go above 3,945m (12,943 ft) atop the Teleferico. Stay aware of how you feel and stick within your comfort level while hiking and participating in active adventures. You will always be able to opt out of a hike and just chill out looking at the surrounding mountains! Chelsea is a certified Wilderness First Responder and Michael is certified in Wilderness First Aid. They will have resources and advice if you feel any of the effects of altitude sickness.

teleferico cotopaxi
Quito and Cotopaxi from the trails above the Teleferico

"Thank you all - Kerry, Chelsea, Emily and Kathlyn - for being awesome, knowledgeable, and fun trip leaders. YOU are what made this trip an epic experience. May you each continue to follow your dreams and experience you deepest heart's desires."
-- SAVE THE FROGS! Eciuador Ecotourist Deborah Blake Dempsey

Planning to explore Ecuador before or after the Ecotour?
There is plenty to do in Ecuador so if you have extra time to enjoy the country, we are happy to advise you on hotel lodging and recommended locations. Please contact Chelsea Carson with your possible schedule if you seek travel advice: chelsea@savethefrogs.com

Ecotour Ecuador
A golden mushroom in the Amazon jungle

Currency
Ecuadorian currency is called the UNITED STATES DOLLAR! That's right, you can use dollars throughout Ecuador. It is wise to have cash and a major credit card or two on you, lest you want or need to purchase something not included in the Ecotour. There are currency exchange companies in Ecuador, or withdrawing from an ATM is a good option as well (be sure to inform your bank you will be in Ecuador).

Ecuador Ecotours
A monkey near Misahualli, banks of the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon

Crime Prevention
While we will be traveling in a group and the risk of experiencing crime is low, please be aware that Ecuador, specifically within the cities, has had issues with crime. Usually it is petty theft, but it is commonly aimed at tourists so take safety measures when walking about. We recommend leaving all valuable items in a safe at the hotel and only carrying what you need. A money belt inside your clothing and/or an over the shoulders bag (not an easily snatched purse) is also a good option for carrying necessary items.

el crater pululahua group photo.jpg
In the clouds at the Pululaua Geobotanical Reserve during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Visa requirements
No visa is required for citizens of the United States. If you are not a United States citizen, then please check your country's laws about traveling to Peru.

Frogging Amazon
You know the frogging is going to be good when you see this! 

Passport requirements
Your passport must be valid for at least six months past the date you plan to depart Ecuador or you will not be allowed into the country. So please ensure your passport does not expire within six months of your departure date!

Dietary preferences
The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour to Ecuador can accommodate most dietary preferences and/or requirements, including vegan and vegetarian. We will sample an array of Ecuadorian culinary delights. Please inform us in advance of any dietary needs, in as much detail as possible. When possible please also take into account that you will be traveling in a foreign country somewhat unaccustomed to certain dietary restrictions, so although we will do our best to accommodate everyone please be flexible if it allows.

Water and Food
While Ecuador has decent water filtration we recommend not risking drinking the tap water during your time here. This also goes for the street food, and make sure to watch out for juices, unpeeled fruit, uncooked vegetables etc that may have been washed in the water. Most of the lodges and hotels we stay at will have large jugs of drinkable water and are used to catering to tourists. We do recommend traveling with some type of filtration device (e.g. PUR filters or Steripen UV light) unless you are the type of person who likes buying plastic bottles of water!

"Overall the food was spectacular."
-- 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotoursit Mike Horton

ecuadorian cuisine
Dessert at Casa Divina

Vaccinations & Medication
Check the Center for Disease Control's Ecuador webpage for specific information about what vaccinations or medications you may need, and ask your doctor. All participants should be up-to-date with all routine vaccinations before traveling abroad. Malaria is present within Ecuador but is not a huge threat. However if you would like to get malaria medicine please follow your doctor's instructions. You will not easily be able to find malaria medication once in Ecuador.

suchipakari mossy frog 1
We found this beautiful camouflaged frog at Suchipakari.

Patience
Latin American time is slower than US time! While we have worked very hard to avoid any delays or alterations in the schedule, in Latin America sometimes there are delays and changes. This only means to remain patient and remember to just enjoy your surroundings! We are going to be in some of the most amazing tropical ecosystems in the world, so if any changes in timing happens, rest assured the scenery will be worth it.

Alcohol
Looking for frogs at night is not the world's safest activity. As such, drinking and frogging really don't mix. We request that you not get anywhere remotely close to drunk prior to frogging. If you do feel the need for a dinnertime alcoholic beverage, we strongly suggest limiting it to one drink. Post-frogging, feel free to let loose at the bar.

Professional Development for Students and Teachers
Teachers seeking to fulfill professional development or continuing education requirements may be able to claim this trip as a tax-deduction (ask your tax professional for details). Please let us know if you have any questions. Students seeking to receive university credit may be able to acquire credit through your university's internship program; if you are interested in this option, please contact us. Students wishing to receive SAVE THE FROGS! Academy credit as part of this expedition should also contact us.

What To Bring
This list will help your trip planning (we will send you a more detailed version once you confirm your participation):
• Field Clothes
• Headlamp
• Swim suit
• Walking shoes
• A rain jacket and rain pants
• Warm layers (Papallacta is cold at night)
• A water bottle
• Camera
• A notebook and pen
• Comfortable clothes for travel and yoga
• A nice outfit for dinner in Quito
• A smile and willingness for adventure!

ecuadorian dessert.jpg
You will eat fabulous food during the ecotour!

"Thanks so much Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson for setting up an ecotour that I couldn't say no to and that I'll never forget!!! This has been the best month of my life! :) My heart is so full from this trip! I'm anxious and sad about going back home. But I'm also very inspired and excited about what the future may hold for myself and SAVE THE FROGS!. I look forward to helping the frogs by helping you guys in any way that I can."
- Jessica Scrivener, 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist

TRIP COST

The June 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour pricing is as follows: 
- Ecotour for one person: $3,295
- Ecotour for a party of two: $6,440
- Ecotour for a group of three: $9,585
- Ecotour for a group of four: $12,680
- Full-time students save an additional $100

- Full-time teachers save an additional $100
- Save $35 per person if you pay by check or money order

- All participants must be active SAVE THE FROGS! Members (free memberships will be announced very soon).

Included with your ecotour payment is all lodging, in-country transportation, world-class tour guides and their scientific expertise, park entrance fees, tips, and all meals. You are required to cover your costs of airfare, snacks, alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, and possibly a departure tax when you leave the country. Note again that you will be required to pay your own airfare to Ecuador (estimated at $750 roundtrip from the USA).

To secure your space on the ecotour you will need to send us a $1,000 per person non-refundable deposit via check or credit card. Full payment is due by April 8th, 2017. Failure to pay in full by April 8th, 2017 may result in forfeiture of your deposit money and your space on the eco-tour.

All proceeds support SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide amphibian conservation efforts, enabling us to protect amphibians and promote a society that respects and appreciates wildlife and nature. A portion of these proceeds will go directly to our ongoing South American conservation efforts.

mindo casa divina lunchtime.jpg
Lunchtime at Casa Divina in Mindo.

Register for the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour
If you are interested in this trip, please email Chelsea Carson at chelsea@savethefrogs.com so we can get you registered for this amazing adventure!

suchipakari Ecuador
The Suchipakari lodge area comes alive with frogs at night. Enjoy the pool during the day or relax in the covered area.

The waiver you will sign
In order to take part on this trip, you will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging the inherent risks of ecotourism in Ecotour, and legally releasing SAVE THE FROGS! and affiliated trip operators and personnel from legal damages and consequences. Please do not apply unless you understand this and the implications. That being said, we strive for a safe trip!

Backpacking Ecuador
The view from El Crater Lodge


Cancellations and Refunds
You must notify us directly if you need to cancel your trip. If you need to cancel your trip, contact Chelsea Carson at: chelsea@savethefrogs.com

-- If you cancel before May 8th, 2017 your entire trip will be refunded, minus your deposit (as deposits are non-refundable).
-- If you cancel after May 8th, 2017 you forfeit your entire trip fee.

SAVE THE FROGS! regrets that it cannot make exceptions to the reservation and cancellation policy for any reason, including personal emergencies. The reservation and cancellation policy applies to all reservations. You may want to consider purchasing travel insurance from a third party, so that if an issue arises (such as health or family concerns or airline issues), then your travel insurance could likely provide you compensation.

el crater lodge
The dining area at El Crater Lodge, on the crater rim of the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

Not just a frogging tour!
While frogs will certainly be the focus of our SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour, we will have opportunities for:

- Amazon jungle experiences
- Hiking
- Frogging
- Yoga
- Spanish Lessons
- Wilderness Medicine Classes
- Shopping at local markets
- Amazon canoe ride
- Swimming
- Tasting exquisite Ecuadorian cuisine

With a group of SAVE THE FROGS! participants and your dedicated tour leaders there will be lots of smiles, laughs, and learning going around. We hope to see you in November 2016 for this once in a lifetime experience!

Yoga Ecuador
Chelsea Carson leads a SAVE THE FROGS! Yoga Session at El Crater Lodge.

"Just finished an incredible yoga session led by Chelsea Carson with my new #savethefrogs friends on the rim of an extinct volcano, high up in the clouds, near the Equator line dividing the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the Earth surrounded by the beautiful Equadorian landscape. Then listened to our group leader Kerry Kriger play the bamboo flute while we soaked in the energy of the Earth.
— George Quiroga

Group Size

To keep our group small, we are limiting this ecotour to a total of 14 participants. There will also be two SAVE THE FROGS! Tour Leaders and at times a local Ecuadorian amphibian expert, making for a grand total of 17.

Arriving in Ecuador
The ecotour begins in Tumbaco, Ecuador (on the outskirts of Quito) the evening June 8th, 2017 at 6pm. We will stay in Tumbaco that night and we will head to the Amazon the following day. We recommend arriving in Quito's UIO airport anytime on June 8th - or to be extra safe regarding plane delays you could even arrive a day early. If you plan to arrive early, please ask Chelsea for suggestions on lodging and things to do.

Ecuador Guided Tours
Lodging at Suchipakari

Speaking Spanish
Trip Leader Chelsea Carson speaks Spanish and thus you will be fine without thorough Spanish knowledge. That being said you will likely be able to connect with local people more easily if you speak Spanish. We will offer some Spanish lessons during the Ecotour and encourage you to ask us how to say words or phrases you want to know. In this day and age there is a wealth of free language learning materials online, so regardless of how old you are or how competent with acquiring new languages you think you are, you CAN learn Spanish. Three great iPhone apps for learning Spanish are iTranslate, DuoLingo and iTranslate Voice.

mindo casa divina
Casa Divina has very comfortable rooms!

Ecuador: a perfect place for a SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour
With so many amphibians and such a depth of culture, Ecuador is a perfect place for SAVE THE FROGS! conservation and ecotour activities. We will be sharing our amphibian knowledge and passion to the local ecosystems and people and we cannot wait to have you join us on the tour. We look forward to seeing you in Ecuador in June 2017!

pristimantis ecuador
Pristimatis, Ecuadorian Amazon

Contact
Please email Chelsea Carson (chelsea@savethefrogs.com) or Michael Starkey (starkey@savethefrogs.com) with any questions and please fill out the Ecotour Expression of Interest Form to inform of us of your interest in joining us in Ecuador.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU IN ECUADOR!

suchipakari

People who like new experiences, adventures, and fringe explorations in wild nature love SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours. SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours are defined by lasting friendships, impressions, experience, and adventures, where you’ll meet like-minded people and have experiences of a lifetime.

The 2016 Ecuador Ecotour had people of all ages—from college-aged to senior—from a variety of backgrounds, brought together by a common love of frogs, wildlife, and adventure. The trip included many firsts for the participants, including rescuing an ocelot, ziplining through the canopy, even the first time out of the country or flying solo for some.

Read the profiles of some of the 2016 participants to get a feel of what it’s like to travel with SAVE THE FROGS! We know the best places to go and the best experiences along the way.  

jessica scrivener llamas ecuador ecotour 2016
Jessica Scrivener posing with her new favorite animals

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am an intern coordinator and keeper at Lubee Bat Conservancy in Florida. I feed and take care of more than 200 animals, representing nine different species of fruit bats, a tortoise, sugar glider and two prehensile-tailed skinks. I also assist in non-invasive research and public education. My hobbies are hiking and walking my dog.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: I was very interested in seeing Poison Dart Frogs, a species of cat, and a species of monkey and managed to see them all and so many more!

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: Probably our stay in the Amazon because going to the Amazon has been a life-long dream of mine and we got to see poison dart frogs, squirrel monkeys, and help assist in the transfer and rescue of a baby ocelot.

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: It was my first time out of the country, river rafting, zip-lining, hiking at that high of elevations and trying all of the different food.

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: I would have never expected us to have a baby ocelot at a lodge we were staying at that needed our help. I also didn't expect to be with such a great group of adventurers and make the connections with everyone that I did which will lead to life-long friendships.

deborah dempsey waterfall hike ecuador ecotour 2016
Deborah Blake Dempsey after the waterfall hike that changed her life

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a writer and finance manager. My hobbies outside of work are cooking, reading, walking, camping and traveling.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: To learn more about amphibians, STF, conservation, and research ideas for The Hoppernots book series.

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: No "one" moment, but from the second I left my house for the airport to Ecuador to the moment I boarded the cab to return home. I went with an open mind and no expectations other than to learn and experience something new to enrich my life and my stories. Everything about me was pushed - mind, body, and soul - and I came home a richer, more peaceful human because I opened myself up to what Ecuador and being with 16 other strangers for 12 days could teach me.

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: Ziplining was a first and it was beyond what I could have hoped for. Flying in the cloud forest over the Andes upside with arms open wide and a reaching soul was nothing short of breathtaking. Night frogging was a first too! To be embraced by the darkness of night and a shining light stuck on my forehead looking for frogs and finding sleeping birds hidden in trees, snakes curled up wishing not to be bothered, spiders on a mission, finding strange, hairy, and colorful moths, and roaches the size of my hand was enlightening, and of course, the beautiful and majestic frogs I came to see was the first I was looking for and more. What an adventure! [We would like to add the Deborah was the most fierce and daring on the ziplining trip, even going upside down with her guide when most of the other participants were scared!]

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: The waterfall hike at Ruta de las Cascadas. It was one of the hardest physical things I've done in a long time, but it was more of a mental challenge. I wanted to stop -- again and again I did -- but something inside me kept my feet moving as well as my newly found best friend Bertuus (aka my walking stick of sanity). When I finally arrived at the waterfall and plunged into the cooling waters, surrounded by such beauty, something strange and wondrous happened. Like a baptism, I came up like a new person. The water washed away all the "hardship" of the walk to the waterfall. The walk back was a breeze. I even wondered why I thought the walk there was so bad. It was challenging, but not a bad challenge. I overcame a mental block I had and didn't know it. I can honestly say I am much fiercer after the waterfall.

hiking andes save the frogs ecuador ecotour
Michael Horton with SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger on the left and Jessica Scrivener on the right, climbing the mountain overlook above Quito, Ecuador's capital

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a retired endangered species biologist. My hobbies are writing, reading and pursuing adventures.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: Explore South America, hike, bird watch, and search for frogs

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: Bird watching the first morning at Casa Divina [We would like to add that Michael’s wife, who was also on the trip, told us that a birder was born that day. The new obsession with birding, which lasted the rest of the trip, was born that morning. Mindo and the incredible guides do that to people!]

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: First time in South America

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: I didn't expect to have such wonderful people on the trip. Some of these folks will likely be friends for the rest of my life.

Suchipakari amazon boat Choti a
Choti Singh riding on a Napo River tributary on the way to AmaZOOnico, a wild animal rescue center in the Amazon

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I assist people with developmental disabilities navigate behavior and mental health challenges to integrate successfully into community living. My hobbies include being in nature around wildlife, photography, spending time with my animals.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: To be on a STF! Ecotour; go to South America for the first time; see Ecuador; visit the Galápagos Islands; be amongst the incredible fauna and flora of the rainforest and cloud forest!

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: There were so many! Saw iconic frogs, wild toucans, squirrel monkeys frolicking around me, the serenity of tubing down the river...

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: Many firsts! First time on that continent, in Ecuador, ziplining!! First time to see a glass frog in the wild!

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: Ziplining was a trip!

In June 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! led a group of 17 Americans through the rainforests and cloud forests of Ecuador for 12 days on the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador EcotourBelow are the reflections and photos of ecotour participant George Quiroga, a professional photographer and wildlife enthusiast who joined us in Ecuador. Please be sure to fill out our Ecotour Survey if you are interested in joining a SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour, so we know when and where you would like to travel and so we can update you when new ecotours are announced.

I am finally unwinding and have some time before my flight home to reflect on my days in Ecuador these past couple of weeks. It has been a wonderful trip of beautiful scenery, spectacular wildlife, new friendships, rich history, wonderful food, amazing experiences, and boundless new knowledge. There has been adventure, physical challenges, emotional moments hearing of local tragedies, but also the jubilation of discovering awesome creatures, breathtaking scenery, and the camaraderie developed with like-minded enthusiasts along the way.

Thank you to George Quiroga for preparing this video!

 Phyllomedusa George Quiroga

Life is a balance between happiness and sadness and this trip was no exception. For all of the happiness that we created along the way, there were also a few sad moments. Seeing the aftermath of a juvenile ocelot that had been beaten with a stick by children was balanced by its rescue by our hosts and cared for with the loving attention from the animal experts in our group. Saying goodbyes as our trip came to an end was a sad moment but pales in comparison to the heartfelt tears of our group leader, Chelsea Carson, as she recounted her eyewitness accounts of seeing the destruction and assisting the victims of this year's devastating earthquake. There was also the moment when local authorities rode with our rafting groups to assist in the unsuccesful search and rescue efforts of locating the missing school children after their school bus plummeted off a bridge into the chilly, raging Rio Quijos river below. There was also the sadness of seeing the devastation of Amazon rainforest caused by gold mining and deforestation along the Napo River. Even learning of the detrimental effects of Chytrid fungus (www.savethefrogs.com/threats/chytrid) on amphibian populations gave me a deeper glimpse into how delicately our environment is balanced and how impactful we humans are.

bird eating George Quiroga

However, as a counterpart to the sadness, the bulk of the trip was filled with joy, peace, fascination, excitement, and breathtaking moments. The scenery and wildlife was the eye candy. The sounds of frogs croaking during the night hikes, the birds and insects singing and buzzing during the day, the wind sweeping up mountainsides and the rain dripping through the jungle were music to my ears. Hiking waterfalls and steep mountain trails at high altitudes in inclement weather, practicing yoga with our excellent instructor and leader, Chelsea, and trekking through jungles in the dark was pleasure. Tasting the delectable treats of new foods and recipes was magic to my mouth and satisfying to my stomach. Being up close to delicate and tiny frogs, colorful snakes and lizards, huge spiders, beautiful butterflies, colorful birds, and bizzare, alien looking insects filled my mind with visual dreams of wonder. The relationships and bonds formed between our cheery band of froggers, that had previously been strangers, along with all of the hosts, guides, and drivers along the way, was soothing to my psyche and a satisfying social experience. We had a positive energy that bonded our group and further enhanced the experience.

Photo by George Quiroga

Then there was the newfound knowledge. Learning about the lives of each member in our group, the environment, the history of the country and the local people, the information from our expert wildlife guides, and the diverse knowledge from all the members of our group was the icing of this trip. The in-depth personal stories and factoids on food, culture, frogs, biology, zoo keeping, conservation, environment, and travel I gladly absorbed and hope to retain. I'm looking forward to creating beautiful art from the images and videos captured and using them to document and share our story of this beautiful time together. A deep thank you to the SAVE THE FROGS! crew, the participants, and all of those directly and indirectly involved in making this trip a success. Love, joy, and peace to you all. May your journeys be safe and filled with joy and may our paths cross again.

‪#‎savethefrogs‬

bird bananas George Quiroga

Please fill out this very short survey so we can give you advanced notice of upcoming ecotours before we announce them to the general public, and to incorporate your input into upcoming SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours.

 Ants George Quiroga

 

 

 

Please watch this short video recorded by SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour Trip Leaders Dr. Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson. The video is filmed at a stream in the Amazon Rainforest at Suchipakari, where our ecotour will spend two frog-filled nights! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0JuUPbaHl8&feature=youtu.be

Only one space remains on the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS Ecuador Ecotour!

The space will go to the highest bidder on this eBay auction:
www.ebay.com/itm/-/272139532994?

"This sounds like the most amazing experience!"
-- Wendy Raymond, California

Frogwatching Ecuador 2016

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