MAGICAL ECUADORIAN ANDES
The different natural landscapes and the beautiful colonial cities of Quito and Cuenca are waiting for you in Ecuador. The Magical Andes will let you experience famous train rides, indigenous villages, colorful markets, the largest Inca site in Ecuador and, of course, the majestic snow-capped volcanoes.
DAY 1 - SATURDAY
Your journey begins with a visit to the capital of Ecuador. It is located at 2,850 meters above sea level, at the slopes of the Pichincha volcano and nestled in a green Andean valley. Quito, one of the oldest cities in South America, is also one of the few cities that has preserved numerous monuments and artistic treasures of the Spanish colonial period. The colonial centre of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. We will begin the tour with a walk through the narrow streets to visit some of America's oldest and most beautiful churches such as El Sagrario and La Compañia and the famous plazas of Santo Domingo, La Merced and San Francisco. We will continue to "El Panecillo" hill, to meet the winged virgin and enjoy a fascinating view of Quito. Then we will stop for lunch at the restaurant El Tianguez.
In the afternoon we will drive to the famous Equator Monument "Middle of the World", which is located in a dry valley on the northern outskirts of Quito. Here we will visit the Museo del Sitio Inti Nan, which was built by a private anthropological foundation next to the official equator monument. This beautiful solar museum has exhibits of different indigenous culture and their traditional way of life. During this visit we will also see the startling evidence that demonstrate the exact location of the equatorial line.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY
We will exit Quito and head south, towards the Cotopaxi province. Our first stop will be the indigenous market of Pujili, a show of smell and colors. We will continue through winding roads that pass the most beautiful landscapes of the Ecuadorian Andes, to reach the picturesque Crater Lake Quilotoa. From the crater rim it’s possible to walk down to the turquoise lake shores, a hike worth taking. No need to worry about the way back, because there are horses and mules to help with the ascension. We will have a boxlunch to help recover our strength while enjoying one the unique magic and beauty of this crater lagoon.
DAY 3 - MONDAY
In the morning we will drive to the Cotopaxi National Park to do a short hike at the feet of the snowcapped colossus and discover its diverse flora and fauna. Afterwards we will continue to an altitude of 4,500 meters, where the view changes to a bizarre and barren landscape. Here we will have the opportunity to ascend to the José Ribas refuge, at 4800 meters where there is a short path that leads to the edge of the impressive Glaciers.
Later we will visit one of the many rose plantations that have made Ecuadorian roses famous all over the world. Here we will see the different kinds of roses and learn about the whole production process. We will also have lunch at the plantation, called "Nevado Roses", before continuing to Baños, the lively pilgrimage town with its famous thermal springs and its beautiful cathedral.
DAY 4 - TUESDAY
In the town of Baños, located at an altitude of 1,800 meters, prevails a pleasant climate. It is recommendable to visit the beautiful Cathedral and enjoy the extraordinary scenery before starting with the day´s adventure: “The route of the waterfalls”, which runs along the Pastaza River Gorge. The highlight of this route is located by Rio Verde, where we will have a short walk through the cloud forest t to reach the thundering waterfall known as "Pailon del Diablo" (Devil's cauldron).
In the afternoon, our tour continues to the highest volcano in Ecuador, Chimborazo (6,310 m), where we will be greeted by a desert like landscape and herds of shy vicuñas. From here it is possible to walk to the Edward Whymper shelter that offers a great view from an altitude of 5.000 meters.
DAY 5 - WEDNESDAY
We will depart early in the morning through picturesque landscapes and small villages to reach Alausí´s train station, where we will hop on board one of the most famous train rides in the world. The ‘Devils Nose’ as it is known, is an unforgettable train ride down an almost sheer rockface; the train makes switchbacks all the way down the cliff and then back up again. After this, we will enjoy a Lunch Box on our way to the next highlight: Ingapirca archeological complex, the largest Inca site in Ecuador. We will learn about the Inca and Cañari cultures by touring through the beautiful temples and fortifications. In the late afternoon we will continue to Cuenca.
DAY 6 - THURSDAY
After breakfast we will start our tour of the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, declared World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1999. The promenade along the Rio Tomebamba, the imposing new Cathedral and the daily flower market are just a few of highlights that this city has to offer. The Tour also includes a visit to a workshop and museum of the famous Panama hat, the finest braided hats of the world.
We will have lunch at "El Maiz” restaurant specialized in fusion cuisine. The afternoon is left free for you to explore this charming and historical city on your own.
DAY 7 - FRIDAY
After breakfast, we will head to the west to cross El Cajas National Park. This reserve, although it is mostly above the tree line, has an astounding variety of plant and animal life. In addition to rugged ridges and deeply incised, box-shaped valleys, there are nearly 240 different sized lagoons. We will drive to an altitude of almost 4,200 meters above sea level, to reach the most western watershed between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. After this our route starts descending to the coastal region, passing through beautiful and changing landscapes as the altitude drops and the vegetation grows in size and variety. We will drive through extensive cocoa, bananas, rice, and sugar cane plantations to enter the bustling metropolis of Guayaquil, the largest city in the country. Once there, we will get to our Hotel (Grand Hotel Guayaquil / Hotel Hampton Inn or similar) to then do a city tour in Ecuador´s main Port. This city is best explored on foot, so we will start from Parque Bolivar to then continue by the Plaza de Administración, the Moorish Clock Tower and finally the "Malecón 2000" and the artist district of Las Peñas, with its spectacular panoramic view of the lazy Guayas River and its green mangrove belt.
DAY 8 - SATURDAY
Transfer from your hotel to airport for the flight back to Quito or your next Adventure in Mainland Ecuador or the Galapagos.End of services
1 DAY EXTENSION (Option 1)
• After breakfast we will head downtown to visit the compact Parque Centenario with its imposing Grecian-influenced statuary before continuing to Guayaquil’s original fire station, a vital service in a city ravaged by fires throughout its history. We will see some of the surviving wooden buildings from the beginning of the XX century close to the neo-classical Masonic Temple. Along Guayaquil’s main boulevard,9 de Octubre, we will admire the restored Plaza San Francisco and the neo-classical architecture of the Banco Central before arriving at the majestic Plaza Civica, where the grandiose Government Palace and City Hall stand. From here, you tour heads to the award-winning river-front esplanade, Malecón 2000, stretching from the stunning 1907 market hall (Crystal Palace) built by Eiffel to the old worker’s neighborhood, Las Peñas at the foot of Santa Ana hill where Guayaquil was founded, now home to many artists and galleries. • Afterwards, we will head back to the Hotel to freshen up and have a free afternoon to explore the city.• Accommodations in Hampton inn or Mansion del Rio boutique Hotel (Double room) (Breakfast Included)
1 DAY EXTENSION (Option 2)
• In the morning, after a hearty breakfast, we leave the city of Guayaquil and drive west towards the Pacific Ocean to visit the Cerro Blanco Forest reserve. This private reserve, with approximately 6000 ha of territory, preserves an important mass of tropical dry forest, one of the few patches of this type of forest still remaining in the Guayas province. The reserve boasts an impressive variety of birds (more than 190 species) such as the Guayaquil Green Macaw, the Crane Hawk and the Snail Kite. The peculiar landscape is dominated by towering ceiba trees and it´s wildlife is almost as impressive as the birds that inhabit this ecosystem. In addition to the avifauna there are numerous mammals that inhabit the area, and though they are harder to see, there is always the possibility of spotting howler monkeys, ocelots, pumas, jaguars and peccaries, amongst other species. Our guide will help us to watch the animals, which are usually hidden from untrained eyes. After a walk through a forest path we will visit the reserve's wildlife rescue center and organic farm. • Afterwards, we will head back to the Hotel to freshen up and have a free afternoon to explore the city. • Accommodations in Hampton inn or Mansion del Rio boutique Hotel (Double room) (Breakfast Included)
Price per person sharing: ---- GBP (subject to change and availability)
The program includes:
• English speaking guide and private transportation
• Accommodation in double room
• Meals described on the program
• Services described on the program
The program does not include:
• Meals not described on the program (Quito and Cuenca)
• Beverages (alcoholic and non alcoholic)
• Other services
• Supplement for single room occupancy
• Tips and personal expenses