2013  Chautauqua Program - Travel Course to Ecuador

Ecuador's Cotopaxi Volcano (19,600 ft asl)


Ecuador - Experiments at the Equator, Volcanoes, and the Amazon Basin

July 28 - August 4, 2013

Instructor: Dr. Ed Barnhart

Course Description:

Ecuador is a land of amazing natural wonders, beautiful indigenous traditions, and a largely unknown ancient past.  During this one week course, participants 
will visit and learn about Ecuador’s tallest volcanoes, its rich history, and the incredible bio-diversity of its lowland Amazonian jungles.  In addition, every step
 along the way will be lined with indigenous villages, each producing unique and colorful works of traditional art.

The course will begin and end in the picturesque colonial city of Quito, right along our planet’s equator.  Just north of Quito stands the exact line of the Equator, 
where the course will begin by conducting a series of experiments to test both the truths and myths about what happens as one stands either directly upon, or 
just to the north or south of the line.  Books say a lot of different things about what can happen at the Equator, but participants in this course will be able to 
talk about it from personal experience.  Then travelling south of Quito, the course focus will shift to volcanology.  First, participants will explore Volcano 
Cotopoxi National Park to view its 19,600 ft snowcapped volcano (the tallest active volcano in Ecuador) and learn from the park’s visitor center.  Then on 
their second day in the highlands they will visit Lake Quilotoa, formed in the crater of a collapsed volcano estimate to have imploded just 800 years ago. 
Shifting gears once again, the course will then descend into the Amazon basin for two more days of ecology studies.  Travelling first through the town of 
Baños, called “The Gateway to the Amazon”, participants will arrive to the Amazonian town of Puyo.  From Puyo, multiple treks into the Amazon will be 
made in order to learn about the flora and fauna of the world’s largest rainforest.  Though it will seem that the group is a world away from where they 
began, a short 5 hour drive will get them back to Quito for a final evening of dinner and course closing ceremonies.
Click for a more detailed itinerary 

For people interested in: 

Botany, biology, ecology, chemistry, geography, environmental studies, archaeology, anthropology, art, history, sociology, philosophy and other related 
social sciences fields.


While not required, participants are encouraged to have at least some knowledge of the history and geography of Ecuador.  Dr. Ed Barnhart can recommend 
readings for those interested in learning more before the trip.  The week will involve extreme changes in altitude, from passes over 12,000 ft asl down into the 
Amazon basin and back up again. Participants should consult their personal physicians and consider obtaining altitude sickness medications prior to the journey. 
Both the hikes in the volcanic regions and the treks into the Amazon may involve hours of walking.  Participants in weak physical condition are encouraged to 
build strength and stamina before the trip.


About your instructor:

Dr. Ed Barnhart has worked in Mexico and Central America for the last twenty years as an archaeologist, an explorer, and an instructor.  During his four years as the student of Dr. Linda Schele (world renowned for finally breaking the Maya code of hieroglyphics in 1973) he developed a strong background in Maya hieroglyphics, calendar systems, iconography, and archaeoastronomy. During his graduate career, South American iconography and shamanism were also major foci of his studies.  From 1998 to 2000 he was the Director of the Palenque Mapping Project, an archaeological survey that discovered over 1000 new structures in the Maya ruins of Palenque.  He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and is now the Director of the Maya Exploration Center, a non-profit research center based in Austin, Texas and Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.  He and his team are currently investigating archaeoastronomy and ancient geometry in the ruins of Central America, South America, and Cambodia.  Visit www.mayaexploration.org for more information about Dr. Barnhart and the Maya Exploration Center.




                       $1600.00  for double lodging

                       $1900.00 for single room lodging

Costs include:

Lodging in Quito

Lodging in Baños

Lodging in Puyo

Private ground transportation

Private water transportation in the Amazon


Final group dinner at closing ceremonies

Museum entry fees

Ruins/park entry fees


Participants are responsible for arranging their own flight reservations to and from Quito.  Since participants come from all over the country, recommending a single flight is impossible.   As of October 2013, the average flight from the USA to Quito is running about $500-700.


Costs do not include:

Airfare to/from Quito

lunches and dinners (except the last night)

travel insurance

tips for service providers (drivers, waiters, maid staff, etc.)

Hotels during the course:



To secure a place in the course a deposit of $300 to Ahau Travel is required.

 The balance payment will then be due 60 days before the course. 


We request your deposit by check to:

Ahau Travel

3267 Bee Caves Rd

Suite 107-161

Austin, Texas 78746


Or you can pay with a credit card through Paypal.com with the button below

When it becomes available, you must also fill out the 2013 Chautauqua Program registration form and pay the $100 registration fee at:



Participants in Dr. Barnhart’s courses always ask about whether they need pre-course immunizations.  Dr. Barnhart is not a medical professional and this is a question he cannot and should not answer.  Each participant should consult his or her personal physician before the course.



For money in Ecuador, we highly recommend an ATM card and/or a credit card. ATM's are everywhere in Ecuador and available 24-hours a day. You can also use a credit card with a pin number (if you know the pin number). Travelers checks are very difficult to exchange and you could end up spending the entire day at the bank.

As of March 2000, Ecuador decided to abandon the Ecuadorian Sucre in favor of American Dollars. Therefore, no exchange into another currency will be necessary for this travel course.



The bridge crossing over waterfalls in Baños



      Detailed Itinerary for the 2013 Ecuador Course


Suggested Reading List


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