About Us
Exploring Cacao in Ecuador

Join Us in Ecuador

Exploring Cacao and Chocolate Production in Ecuador is an opportunity for you to be right on the ground exploring the cacao fields and learning directly from the farmers and chocolate manufacturers who are working to save fine-flavor cacao in Ecuador. Join Steve De Vries (see bio below) as we explore fine-flavor cacao and chocolate in Ecuador.

Program date & fee

Exploring cacao production in Ecuador

Next program: June, 2016

Registration fee (does not include travel to and from Ecuador):

Cost for this program has not been confirmed but note that the registration fee in prior years has been approximately $2500 US, single occupancy, for your budget planning.

Program at-a-glance

Cacao growing in Ecuador

One-week (seven-nights) program

During this week-long (seven-night) adventure, you'll meet the people intimately involved with Ecuador cacao on their farms, plantations, collection centers and factories, from Quito through the Andes to Quevedo City, La Mana, Mindo and Kallari regions.

Registration details

Cacao pod

Registration will open about 6 months before the program start date.

Registration fee includes:

Seven (7) nights lodging (including sales tax and lodging tax).
Seven (7) breakfasts
Six (6) lunches including farewell lunch
Seven (7) dinners
All in-country land transportation and tour guide
All entry fees to tours and attractions specified in itinerary
Program does not include:
International airfares
Any expenses not specified in program (personal expenses, alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, laundry, etc.)
Equipment rental or supply (if necessary)
Personal insurance
Any medical expenses

Would you like to be notified when registration opens for this program?


This program is delivered in English.

Note re shared rooms – Ecole Chocolat will pair students wishing to share a room in the order of receipt of their deposit. Please be prepared to pay the single room registration fee if we are unable to pair you with an appropriate roommate.

Program participants must be 17 years of age or older. Also note that the program involves a lot of standing for long periods and walking (with bags at times) so good mobility and strength are important. Because we go into small towns, access for the handicapped is minimal.

Our minimum requirement for this program to run is 8 students and the maximum is 13 students. You'll want to wait to book your flight to Ecuador until we confirm that the minimum number of students have registered.

Program certificate:

Students completing the program will receive an Ecole Chocolat Certificate of Achievement.

Itinerary details

Cocoa beans

To learn more about cacao and Ecuador, see: Brief History of Cacao in Ecuador by Jeffrey Stern.

Program itinerary:

**Legend for meals included in your tour:
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

* Itinerary subject to change. Every effort will be made to keep the itinerary as it appears here. However, the final itinerary may vary due to schedules, availability and factors beyond our control.

Sunday: D

Independent arrival in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Monday: B, L, D

We'll start our cocoa adventure after breakfast as we travel to Hacienda la Victoria. Overnight in Guayaquil.

Tuesday: B, L, D

We'll travel and spend the day visiting cacao collection centers and a farmers' cooperative in order to understand the commercial chain for cacao in Quevedo, Limon, La Mana, and El Empalme. Overnight in Quevedo City.

Wednesday: B, L

After breakfast, we'll visit the INIAP research center where we will learn about the efforts being done to improve the quality of Ecuador cacao. Then we travel to Mindo - a small town in the Andes cloud forest. Overnight in Mindo.

Thursday: B, L

After breakfast, we'll learn from and work with Mindo Chocolates in their chocolate factory. After lunch, we'll cross the Andes to arrive to Huasquila Amazon Lodge where we'll spend two nights.

Friday: B, L

After breakfast, we'll go by boat across the river to one of the Kallari farms and then on to the collection centre operated by Kallari in Tena. Overnight at the Lodge.

Saturday: B, L

After breakfast, we'll travel back to Quito. We check into our hotel and enjoy a Farewell Dinner.

Sunday, B

Independent departures from host hotel.

What our graduates have to say

"What I have learned is more than I expected. PRICELESS! Many thanks for an amazing week – will be back." Maya, 2012

"Very inspiring trip. Chocolate will never taste the same.If I can help educate others to appreciate the struggle to bring chocolate to the table after what I've seen, I will be most grateful! " Melanie, 2012

"I took the trip to learn more about the ‘bean to bar’ process. It’s not my intention to start my business in this area but rather to add to my own education in order to explain to my future customers what chocolates are really about. Learned a lot and want to do it over again next year if possible. On top of all this I made some good friends and I know I will always be able to reach out to any member of the group and get – with high probability – their support." Jean-Paul, 2012

Cancellation policy:

Our Ecole Chocolat Master Chocolatier Programs only accommodate a limited number of students and are usually full, with a waiting list. As the programs involve a travel component, we need to contact those on the waiting list in enough time so they can make travel arrangements. If you have to cancel, we'll do everything in our power to find a replacement but can't guarantee that we'll be successful. No refunds will be given after 45 days prior to the program start date. Make sure you're totally commited to the program before paying your registration fee. We also suggest that you take out travel insurance when booking your travel to and from the program country, in case of an emergency.

Back to list of our other Master Chocolate Programs

Steve De Vries

Steve De Vries

Steve De Vries opened De Vries Chocolate with a tagline of “one hundred years behind the times” in 2005 after six years of studying chocolate – for three years as an intense hobby and three years full-time after selling his glass company.

He produces both bulk chocolate for use by chefs, candy makers and chocolatiers and retail bars that can be found in specialty food shops.

Steve is intimately involved in the whole process of chocolate making, from working directly with growers to being hands-on with the manufacturing process, using all antique equipment. He has learned that with chocolate, changes in production processes can mean major improvements in flavor.

Cacao tress on the farm

Cacao trees at the Limon Hacienda farm.

Pulling cacao beans from the pod

Pulling the beans from the pod.

Fermeting cacao beans in boxes

Fermenting the cacao beans in boxes.

Fermented cacao beans being dried

Drying fermented cacao beans.

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