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Ecuador: Adventure on the Highlights of the Andes 05 days
From US$2,358

Ecuador: Adventure on the Highlights of the Andes 05 days

Flexible Booking!
Created: Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Ref ID: 1204679
price per person From
Based on 2 adults
Created: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Day 1: Quito – Cotopaxi

We start in Quito with a 2-hour drive through the Andes to Cotopaxi. We will see bustling towns and small villages in route, along with beautiful alpine views (weather permitting). As we approach Cotopaxi National Park, you will be able to see the snow-capped summits of both the Cotopaxi and the Antisana volcanoes on a clear day. We will visit the Cotopaxi Interpretation center to learn about the history of its major eruptions as well as the local flora and fauna. Later, we will go to the windswept Limpiopungo Lake and discover the area by walking around it. Surrounded by beautiful peaks with Cotopaxi looming in the distance, it’s a beautiful setting to begin your discovery of the Andes ecosystem.

Optionally, if you feel like a longer walk, we can drive up the lower slopes of Cotopaxi, then embark on hike to the Jose Ribas mountain refuge (4800m), a small hostel used as a base for climbers preparing to climb to Cotopaxi’s summit. From here you will have spectacular views of Cotopaxi itself and the surrounding volcanoes of the Andes.

Overnight at Chilcabamba Lodge

Included: Dinner, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

The text "Cotopaxi" does not require translation as it is a proper noun. It is the name of a volcano in Ecuador.

Day 2: Cotopaxi – Quilotoa – Riobamba

After breakfast we leave Cotopaxi and continue our route through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Our drive to Quilotoa will take approximately 3 hours. Along the way, we will see indigenous markets. These markets are as authentic and untouristed as we can find in Ecuador today. They are important for the local indigenous people because the markets are the center of their social and economic worlds. (*Markets take place in the following days. - Tuesday: Latacunga – Wednesday - Sunday: Pujili – Thursday: Saquisili - Saturday: Zumbahua.) Then we will visit the volcanic crater of Quilotoa, where we can appreciate a serene, green lake that is over 800 feet deep. The 2-mile-wide caldera was formed by the collapse of the now-dormant volcano following a massive eruption about 600 years ago. We’ll have the option of a short walk of 1.7 km along the crater's slope to take in the fantastic scenery. On the way back, we will stop to visit the galleries of Tigua community where we can appreciate the paintings that represent the folklore of this area in the Andes, art that has transcended and up to the third generation. We have the option of taking a painting class from a local artist, trying to learn the skills of these master artists and briefly immersing ourselves into their world.

Overnight at the Abraspungo

Included: Breakfast, Luch, Dinner, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fees, Accommodation


Day 3: Riobamba – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca

After breakfast we will drive for 2 hours to Alausi to meet the Devil’s Nose train.

The biggest complication faced by the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad was the Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle, a zigzag railroad was built, enabling the train to climb or descend, first going one way and then reversing. The transition from Andean to coastal vegetation in an incredibly short distance is one of the journey’s most remarkable features. We descend nearly 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) in only 12 km (7.5 miles) of track. This, right on the Equator, translates into a dramatic shift in climate and environment. It is one of the most spectacular railway journeys in the world, and remains an impressive piece of engineering. While recovering from the hair-raising descent you will enjoy the views of the narrow gorge of river Chanchán and will have the chance to learn a bit about the traditions and worldview of the Puruhua people in Sibambe. We have two options for departing Sibambe – we can either hike or drive to the Pistishi viewpoint. The scenic, uphill hike takes about an hour. Either way, we have spectacular views of the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) railroad from the viewpoint. If you prefer, we can also have transportation waiting to drive us to the viewpoint.

The Devil’s Nose Train runs from Tues – Sun, plus some holidays. After admiring the view of the Devil’s Nose, we will drive approximately 2 hours to Ingapirca. The Ingapirca Ruins, are the largest and best-preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. The Inca Empire’s only remaining sun temple, it was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar. The temple served as a venue for ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, and also had strategic military purposes. We will explore the complex, learning about the various structures – from baths to the wineries. After our time at Ingapirca, we will drive approximately 1.5 hours to reach Cuenca where we will overnight.

Overnight at the Hotel Victoria

Included: Breakfast, English speaking guide, transport, entrance fees, excursion, lunch, bedroom

Cuenca Ecuador

Day 4: Cuenca

Today we explore and celebrate the traditional craftspeople of Ecuador. The towns of Gualaceo and Chordeleg, are located just 45 minutes East of Cuenca. In these traditional settlements set in beautiful Andean landscapes, we will meet families who are still making textiles the way the "Cañaris" (the pre-Inca inhabitants) did more than 500 years ago. We will also visit the workshops of a traditional jewelry maker, a guitar maker’s that forms part of the ‘Guitar Trail’, and a ‘Chola Cuencana,’ who stills makes her straw hats in the traditional manner. Along the way we will have the opportunity to visit an orchid farm that houses more than 2,000 species of orchids, as well as visiting shoemakers, jewelers, the food and fruit market, and more.

Overnight at the Hotel Victoria

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation


Day 5: Cuenca – Bucay – Guayaquil

Departing very early from Cuenca, we will begin to make our way to Bucay on Ecuador’s coast. The drive takes approximately 3.5 hours straight through, however we will likely be tempted to stop and take in the views or stretch our legs with a short hike in the stunning Cajas National Park on our breathtaking descent from the Andes. This park, virtually unknown outside of Ecuador, is home to Lord of the Rings type landscapes, along with incredible flora and fauna. As our drive continues, we make our way through a variety of Ecuador’s incredible ecosystems. Our rapid descent from the Andes into the lowlands is spectacularly scenic, with snowy peaks, misty forests, and finally the coast. On arrival in Bucay, we will visit Hacienda La Danesa. Located in Ecuador’s tropical coastal region with the spectacular Andes Mountains as backdrop, Hacienda La Danesa is a 500 Ha. traditional dairy farm that produces about 2,000 liters of milk per day, as well as fresh cheese for guests every morning. The hacienda also has cocoa and teak plantations and breeds beautiful pinto quarter horses. In the Olsen family for over 50 years, the exceptional service, ‘deep green’ environmental practices and authenticity will create an experience every guest will remember. La Danesa is also committed to improving local standards of living through tourism, and implements strict policies to create jobs in the neighboring communities, start-ups and sourcing local ingredients. During your day at Hacienda La Danesa you will be able to choose from the following activities: a tour of the cacao plantation, teak plantation tour, mountain biking and tubing on lazy rivers. You will also enjoy a delicious three-course lunch menu prepared by the Hacienda’s expert chefs.

After lunch, we will drive approximately 2 hours to Guayaquil.

Overnight at the Wyndham Guayaquil

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

price per person From
Based on 2 adults
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This Package includes
Destinations 4
Accommodations 4
Tours 1
Tour summary
Meeting point
Pick up at Quito Hotel
  • 01 nights accommodation in Quito
  • 01 nights accommodation in Riobamba
  • 02 nights accommodation in Cuenca
  • 01 nights accommodation in Guayaquil
  • Daily Breakfast
  • 04 lunch
  • 03 dinner
  • Ground Transportation
  • Activities described in the itinerary
  • English speaking guide
  • Entry fees
  • Domestic and international airfares
  • Tips
  • Personal Expenses


Cotopaxi: Chilcabamba Lodge

Riobamba: Abraspungo hotel

Cuenca: Hotel Victoria

Guayaquil: Wyndham Guayaquil

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