Our Highlights of Ecuador Tour combines the best of Ecuador! The itinerary includes visits to Quito and Cuenca, both World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO. Otavalo is known for its Indian market and proud Otavaleños. Baños is the adventure capital of Ecuador, here you can go mountain biking and rafting. The highest stops in this trip are Chimborazo Volcano and Quilotoa Crater Lake.
You will also get to ride on the Devil´s Nose train, which back in 1902 was the most incredible feat of railway engineering the world had seen. In Guamote, a small village located in the beautiful Andean mountains, we visit a local project and the authentic local market!
Day 1: Quito City Tour & Middle of the World
Today you will discover the best Quito has to offer. We will visit the Old Town of Quito where we will see the beautiful colonial churches, buildings, plazas and “La Ronda” which is one of the oldest and most historical streets in Quito. Here we will visit local workshops where we can see various traditional handicrafts. We continue to Panecillo hill where we can enjoy a spectacular view of the city. In the afternoon we will visit the Equator, where we learn interesting facts and experiments which are only applicable at the Equator. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2: Quito – Otavalo
On the way from Quito to Otavalo we make some stops to take pictures and try local fruits. In Otavalo we will visit the famous Indian Market, which is known for its handicrafts, tapestries and textiles. Here you have time to wander around and buy some souvenirs. In the afternoon we take you to Cotacachi where you can shop for leather goods. We will stay overnight at the historical Hacienda Pinsaqui, which was built in 1790. The most famous guest was General Simón Bolívar, the liberator of Ecuador, who often spent the night at this Hacienda.
Day 3: Surroundings of Otavalo – Hacienda La Cienega
Today we visit the surrounding areas of Otavalo. After breakfast we take a back road to see the rural life of the indigenous from Otavalo. We will visit Ilumán, Peguche (here we will visit a workshop where the local family makes musical instruments) and the mystical Peguche waterfall. Then we drive to Agato, where we will see master weaver Miguel Andrango. He makes traditional weavings on back strap looms using handspun wool and natural dyes and products. In the afternoon we drive south to the 300 year old Hacienda La Cienega.
Day 4: Hacienda La Cienega – Quilotoa Crater Lake – Baños
Early in the morning we leave the Hacienda and drive towards the beautiful turquoise Quilotoa Crater Lake. We will make a stop in Tigua, where we will visit the painting workshop of Alfredo Toaquiza; one of the Indian artists from the region who paints the colorful Tigua paintings on sheep skin. Upon arrival to the Quilotoa Crater Lake, you have the opportunity to hike into the crater to the lake, which because of the altitude is a great but challenging walk. Afterwards we drive towards Baños, located at the foothills of the active Tungurahua Volcano and surrounded by beautiful green mountains.
Day 5: Baños: Road of Waterfalls
After breakfast we will visit the Road of the Waterfalls, with beautiful scenic views. We stop at Manto de la Novia waterfall, here where we go across the Pastaza river canyon in a cable car. After this you can watch or do puenting, which is bungee jumping from a bridge. Than we hike to the Pailón del Diablo waterfall, which is the most impressive waterfall in the area. Return to Baños where you can go to the local hot springs, get a massage or get ready to go salsa dancing in one of the many bars of Baños.
Day 6: Baños – Chimborazo Reserve – Guamote
Chimborazo Volcano is the highest mountain of Ecuador, having an elevation of 6310m. From the parking lot we will hike to the refuge, which is located at 5000m. In the Chimborazo reserve we also can observe wild vicuñas, a relative of the llama. Afterwards we drive to the peaceful village Guamote. At the community project, where we stay overnight, we will receive an introduction and we will visit the local school.
Day 7: Guamote – Local market (on Thursdays) or Visit to the communities
On Thursdays you are able to visit the colorful indigenous market, which is one of the biggest traditional markets in Ecuador. When you are in Guamote on other days you can visit the communities near Guamote and learn more about their culture. It is also possible to do a countryside horseback riding trip or cooking class! Overnight in Guamote.
Day 8: Guamote – Alausi – Devil´s Nose Train Ride – Ingapirca Ruins
In the morning we drive from Guamote to Alausi. In Alausi, you will start the Devil´s Nose train ride. During the ride you will be able to observe the famous switchback on the Devil´s Nose mount. After the train ride we drive further south to Ingapirca, which is an Inca-Cañari archaeological site. We check in at Posada Ingapirca.
Day 9: Ingapirca Ruins – Cuenca
Today we will discover the Ingapirca Inca-Cañari Ruins. After this interesting visit we drive to Cuenca, which is the third most important city of Ecuador. In the afternoon we will do a walking tour to see the Old Town of Cuenca. We will visit the New Cathedral with its beautiful blue domes, the colorful flower market, and we will see a Panama hat shop. We will continue to the "Barranco" neighborhood with its colonial style terraced houses located next to the Tomebamba River and we go to the 10 de Agosto local market, where you can observe all kinds of fruits, vegetables and local food stalls. Overnight in Cuenca.
Day 10: Cuenca – Cajas National Park – Guayaquil
Today we will see beautiful landscape changes while driving from Cuenca to Guayaquil. We will make a small stop at the Cajas National Park. Cajas is a glacier valley with more than 200 lakes, where we can see observe the beautiful flowers and plants around the area. From here we drive to the coast. During the ride we will see incredible changes from the Andes to cloud forest and then finally the coast plateau where we see banana and cocoa plantations and rice fields. Arrival to Guayaquil where we can visit the interesting Malecon 2000 (boardwalk).
Day 11: Transfer to the airport
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
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