Get amazed in a country filled with impressive mountains and with a beautiful historic heritage and colonial architecture, this small country knows how to receive tourists and offer a friendly and warm welcome, which will make your trip a delightful experience.
The Capital Quito is so beautiful, surrounded by green mountains and with the view of 14 volcanoes of more than 4.000 meters high each. Ecuador has the biggest (and very well maintained) colonial center of all America, and blends the modernity of a modern city with churches, convents, parks and beautiful plazas which fascinate visitors around the world. It’s a moved capital but with the style of a mountain town. For its beauty was declared by Unesco World Heritage in 1978. In 2013 won the World Travel Awards as the best place in South America to travel.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Quito International airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive at least 2 hours before the flight.|
Arrive Quito Surrounded by forested mountains and volcanoes at 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the second highest capital city in Latin America. Transfer to your Inn. Overnight: Hotel Mercure (no meals)
City Tour of Quito & Middle of the World Monument. Private tour of Quito’s colonial center, commonly referred to as “old town.” Visit the striking La Compañia church, with an ornate baroque facade built entirely out of volcanic stone. Church of San Francisco, Quito’s largest colonial structure. Its adjacent museum houses much of the church’s original artwork, some of which dates back to the early 1600s. See the Virgin of Quito (El Panecillo), and have a sweeping 360-degree view of Quito and the surrounding valley below. After lunch, travel to zero degrees latitude for a visit to the Mitad del Mundo equatorial monument and enjoy a series of interactive experiments demonstrating the gravitational forces surrounding the site. Overnight: Hotel Vieja Cuba Meals: (B, L)
Travel to the Northern Andes Province of Imbabura, a region known for its ancient volcanoes, pristine highland lakes, and thriving indigenous culture. Stop at the active crater lake, Laguna Cuicocha and enjoy spectacular views of the emerald-green lake as you walk along the crater. A short boat ride to the islets in the middle allows you to observe native birds and witness sulfuric gases bubble up from the still active caldera. Lunch in the artisan community of Cotacachi, one of the best places in Ecuador to find handicrafts leather goods. Visit Otavalo famous market, one of the largest outdoor bazaars in South America, boasts indigenous handcrafts, fruits, vegetables, and livestock. Continue to the historic Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th-century Andean estate, now a charming, boutique guesthouse and your home for the next two evenings. Overnight: Hacienda Cusin (B, L, D)
Fly to the Amazon Basin | and transfer to Napo Wildlife Center, a rustic and luxurious eco-lodge and conservation project that protects and maintains over 82 square miles of Amazonian rainforest. The compound is situated on Añangu Lake, within the territory of the Añangu Kichwa people; its community members now own 100% percent of the Center and its domain. Enjoy a welcome drink and dinner, and opt for alligator observation around the lake as you take in the evening sounds of the jungle. Overnight: Napo Wildlife Center (B, L, D)
Wake up early for a chance to visit the Parrot Clay Licks, a unique sight in which parrots gather by the dozens to dine on the nutrient-rich clay ledges and overhangs along the river. Later, hike along forest trails to the Kichwa community of Añangu to liaise with the locals and learn more about their culture and traditions. Discover the tools and techniques the natives use to adapt to everyday life in the rainforest. Afternoon for rest and relaxation. Overnight: Napo Wildlife Center (B, L, D)
Climb a 120-foot canopy observation tower and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree. Here you cross onto a wooden platform that is built into the tree to experience the view formerly reserved only for the birds. Flocks, spider monkeys and toucans call in the early mornings and afternoons. Afternoon hike into the forest interior where you may see lizards, colorful manikins, or the unique and endemic Golden mantle tamarin monkeys. Afterward, explore the lake and creeks by dugout canoe with great possibilities of running into a Giant otter family. Overnight: Napo Wildlife Center (B, L, D)
Return flight to Quito. Upon arrival travel south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Cotopaxi National Park. At 19,349 feet above sea level, Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and renowned for its almost perfectly conical shape and glacier-clad peak. Cotopaxi is the second highest peak in Ecuador, and is one of few equatorial glaciers in the world. Check in at Hacienda Santa Ana and enjoy a delicious Ecuadorian lunch. After a horseback riding briefing, you will mount up and head east with your native Chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) guide up the flanks of the extinct volcano, Rumiñaui (15,141 f.). Ride through a pine forest towards Cotopaxi and take in magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. Overnight: Hacienda Santa Ana (B, L, D)
Hike in Cotopaxi National Park and soak in hot springs in Baños. After a hearty breakfast, get your blood pumping with a 1-2 hour hike to Refugio Jose Rivas, Cotopaxi’s basecamp lodge at nearly 16,000m. Optional ascent past the lodge for an up-close look at Cotopaxi’s glacier cap. Sip a hot cup of tea and descend the flanks of Cotopaxi by vehicle. Enjoy awe-inspiring landscapes at Lake Limpiopungo. Later, travel to Baños, located in a lush valley amidst the verdant slopes of Tungurahua Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador that almost constantly emits gas and vapor. Overnight: Hotel La Floresta (B)
Free morning in Baños. Have a natural spa treatment, walk around the village, hike up one of the surrounding hills for a bird’s eye view of Banos, or explore waterfalls in the breathtaking Pastaza River Canyon. This afternoon admire the snowcapped Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain (20,697 feet), as you travel south to the town of Riobamba. Overnight: Hacienda Abras Pungo (B)
Set out for Alausi where you’ll board the Devil’s Nose round-trip train to Sibambe, a town inaccessible by road. The route, which includes a series of hair-raising switchbacks through the Andes Mountains, affords incredible views of Chimborazo and Carihuairazo, and is Ecuador’s most famous railway; it is a true triumph of engineering. Continue south to the meticulously constructed Inca ruins of Ingapirca, the largest known archeological complex in Ecuador. Arrive in Cuenca a well-preserved colonial city. Overnight: Hotel Carvallo. (B, L, D)
Full day to explore Cuenca, one of the most beautiful cities in South America and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cuenca boasts a wonderful blend of three cultures, Cañari, Inca, and Spanish. The Cañari people inhabited the region for thousands of years, before the Incas arrived in the middle of the 15th Century. A guided City Tour allows you to explore magnificent churches, beautiful old buildings, flower and handcrafts markets, and art galleries, and workshops. Admire magnificent historic houses perched on cliffs high above the rushing Tomebamba River, which separates Old and New Towns. Depending on personal preferences, your tour may conclude with a visit to a ceramic art gallery, a Panama hat factory or an artist’s workshop. Overnight: Hotel Carvallo. (B)
Transfer to airport heading to Quito. End of services. (B)