What will I find?
Excavations have recovered the most fantastic anthropomorphic (human-shaped) ceramics; zoomorphic (animal-shaped) ceramics; regular household ceramics (bowls, plates, pots); burials with elaborate and unusual grave goods; typical household objects of stone, ceramic and metals; stone and bone tools; exotic shell and stone trade goods from as far away as Central America and Chile and; perhaps if we are lucky, we might find the extremely rare and enigmatic stone U-shaped thrones.
It is uncommon (but not unexpected) to find gold and silver artifacts and others made of semi-precious stone. Of course, we cannot guarantee what you will find in your excavation unit before it is excavated.
Our archaeological experience and project goals guide our decisions about where to excavate. To date, there is no shortage of artifacts being discovered.
Can I keep what I find?
No. All cultural material excavated at Agua Blanca belongs to the Government of Ecuador and it is illegal for you to keep and/or attempt to export cultural property from the country. It is also illegal for you to transport cultural property over international boundaries and import it into your own country. It is a serious crime.
If you choose to ignore this law, you can expect a 20-year, all-expense paid stay, in a 2m x 3m room with all the soup you can eat, courtesy of the Government of Ecuador.
However, you can handle and photograph anything and everything you find.
In addition, Archaeology Vacations has a large selection of high quality authorized reproductions that are perfectly legal for you to purchase and take home as souvenirs.
Is this just a treasure hunt?
No. This is one of the most comprehensive archaeology projects ever proposed in Ecuador (and likely South America).
We submitted a detailed scientific proposal to the INPC (approved September 30, 2016) meeting the same standards required of all archaeology projects throughout Ecuador, including those conducted by leading universities from around the world.
The work is done to professional archaeological standards and we report our findings in very detailed archaeological reports. The excavations at Agua Blanca are conducted under the direction of two professional archaeologists with more than 60 combined years of field experience.
A professional archaeological supervisor is assigned to each group of 4 excavators to assist in all your archaeological work. This will ensure that excavating, recording, photographing and recovering archaeological data ia done according to the highest standards possible.
A professional laboratory supervisor is working in the field lab to provide instruction and assistance to those who wish to work conserving artifacts already excavated.
You can learn more about our research program here.
Will there be an opportunity to interact with local Ecuadorians?
Yes. The archaeological site of Agua Blanca is located within the modern community of Agua Blanca. Every day, we will travel into the community. If you choose to participate in activities such as horseback riding, birdwatching, hiking or making use of the spa/thermal water facilities, you will be interacting with the friendly Agua Blanca community members.
Archaeology Vacations is working in close co-operation with the community leaders at Agua Blanca to ensure that the archaeology program has as many social benefits as scientific benefits and as a result, Agua Blanca is a partner in this project.
You can learn about our social benefit program here.
What level of physical activity can I expect?
Low to Medium - similar to gardening.
There will not be any heavy lifting but your knees and hips should be in reasonable working order. There is lots of bending, kneeling and getting up and down.
Of course, it is your vacation and you can put in as much (or as little) effort as you wish.
Unfortunately, because the site is relatively remote, we are unable to provide services to those with mobility issues. The site is not appropriate for those with mobility issues.
Are local medical services available?
Puerto Lopez is about 15 minutes away by car in the event that medical care is required. Please ensure that you have appropriate medical insurance to cover your specific needs for the duration of your trip.
Do your adventures include international airfare?
No. Since our guests arrive from all over the world, it is not possible to include airfare in our prices.
The two nearest airports are in Manata and Guayaquil. The capital (Quito) is served by most major international air carriers. Your travel agent should be able to help you make all the arrangements.
What clothing should I pack for one of your adventures?
Once you book a package, our 'Adventure Details' document will give you a suggested packing list to guide your packing decisions.
With respect to the archaeology, we recommend closed-toe shoes; loose, light clothing that you won't mind getting a little dirty; a brimmed hat and gardening-type gloves.
The general climate is hot and sunny with temperatures hovering around 30°C. Weather information for the area can be found here.
Do I need a travel visa to visit Ecuador?
Requirements for travel visas vary widely depending on your nationality so we suggest you contact the Ecuador consulate in your country or a travel agent for more details.
If you do require a visa you can arrange them yourself or use the services of a travel agent or visa processing company.
Please ensure that all your travel documents, including your passport, are in good order before you start your adventure.
What vaccinations are recommended for this adventure?
The only one qualified to provide you with medical advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic. There is no substitute for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional to make sure all matters related to your health are properly addressed before you start your adventure.
I have no archaeology experience. Is that a problem?
We assume that all of our guests have no experience. We will teach you everything you need to know. By the end of the first day, you will have new-found confidence. Archaeology supervisors will be on-hand to answer all of your questions; to guide your activities and; to ensure that you are becoming a successful excavator.
How many people are on each excavation crew?
We keep our crew sizes small to ensure the archaeology experience is more personal for you and easily manageble for us. After all, we are dealing with artifacts that are thousands of years old and we want to make sure that we all do everything properly.
Maintaining a small crew size ensures this. You can expect up 20 archaeologists per crew (including yourself of course). We maintain a supervisory crew with a ratio of 1 supervisor for every 4 crew members.
The supervisor is there to ensure that all documentation is properly filled out, all data are properly recorded and the scientific requirements of the work are being fulfilled.
Why do you all your adventures start on Monday?
We assume that everyone who arrives will have have no experience excavating archaeological sites. This gives us the opportunity to provide instruction to the group simultaneously on techniques and procedures at the beginning of the week.
As the week passes, each crew gains experience together at approximately the same pace.
The professional archaeological supervisors will be able to offer the same level of assistance to each group of 4 people, rather than having their time monopolized by a regular stream of new people needing instruction.
We expect that by Friday, everyone will be advanced-level archaeologists!
Of course, our full day and 1/2 day packages can start any day of the week.
Are there any age restrictions?
Because we are dealing with delicate and irreplaceable cultural treasures, we accept independent bookings from guests 16 years of age and older.
I am a single traveller, will I be charged a single supplement?
What hotel are we staying at?
Archaeology Vacations has partnered with Hotel Ancora located in Puerto Lopez, steps from the beach and a short 15 minute drive from the Agua Blanca archaeological site. You can visit the hotel website here.
Hotel Ancora offers you a peaceful, comfortable and luxurious stay. At the end of your day, you can wash off the dust, enjoy a relaxing drink by the pool or head over to the beach and watch the sun set.
Are there other accommodations options?
If you select an excavation-only package, then you can stay anywhere you wish. There are many local options ranging from hostels to hotels in and around Puerto Lopez, as well as accommodations within the community of Agua Blanca itself. Contact us and we will send you a list and help you choose.
Are airport transfers included in your price?
If you have selected one of our all-inclusive packages then we will arrange transportation from the Guayaquil or Manta airports to the hotel. Otherwise, transportation will be your responsibility. Please contact us with any questions.
Is tipping included and if not, how much should I budget?
Tips are not included in our prices. Tipping is entirely at your discretion.