Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met and transferred to your colonial-style hotel, where you will stay for the next two nights.
Colonial architecture in Quito
Lodging: Hotel Fuente de Piedra or similar
Day 2 Colonial Quito / Equator/Otavalo
A visit to Quito’s old town takes you back to the time of the Spanish Colonial Period, where the mixture of European and indigenous influences is evident in the paintings, sculptures and carvings. Admire architectural monuments, monasteries, the Parliament Building and the Panecillo Hill on a short sight seeing tour of the city center.
En route to Otavalo, you will find yourself directly between the northern and southern hemispheres during your visit to Cayambe. Here you will see the Globe of Guachala monument and be able to stand on two hemispheres at the same time.
Next, have lunch and continue on to Otavalo in the Andean Highlands. Enjoy your stay at a loacl hacienda.
The Middle of the World
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hacienda Las Palmeras or similar
Day 3 Otavalo
This morning visit "Huarmi Maqui", a women's community where you will be introduced to their weaving process. Following the demonstration you will help prepare lunch using typical Andean ingredients.
After lunch visit Otavalo market which is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. For more than 4,000 years, Otavalo's market has served as the social and economic heart of the region. Today, it is Ecuador's most popular destination after the Galapagos Islands. On Saturdays, the usually-sleepy town awakens to a cacophony of chickens, cows, and sheep, and trading of hemp, saddles, vegetables, grains, and textiles among the brightly-dressed Otavalenos Indian population. Although there are plenty of tourist trinkets to be had, visitors come primarily for the authentic local atmosphere. The market winds down by early- to mid-morning, so you will be sure to arrive early and well ahead of tour buses that arrive around this time.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hacienda Las Palmeras or similar
Day 4 Otavalo/Papallacta
Famous for its thermal springs and lush vegetation, Papallacta is a small village located about 10,500 feet above sea level. Enjoy the day exploring the town, relaxing in the thermal springs, or hiking in the area. Have lunch at a local restaurant where you can sample the freshly caught trout.
The volcanos are stunning
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Papallacta Hot Springs Hotel or similar
Day 5 Papallacta/Cotopaxi
This morning, depart for Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and the central feature of the park. The volcano offers climbing experiences to suit all skill levels. You can explore the Andean moorlands (páramos), hike up to the snow line (15,800 feet), or drive around to enjoy the landscapes provided by other close volcanoes like Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, and Quilindaña. The park is home to deer, pumas, condors, wild horses, llamas, highland foxes, and rabbits, though these highland creatures can be difficult to spot. The plant life you will see is diverse and unique, having adapted to the harsh conditions of the strong sun, fierce winds, and cold weather.
Have lunch at Tambopaxi lodge, which offers amazing views over the Volcano on clear days and then a short hike through the highland plateau.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hacienda La Cienega or similar
Day 6 Cotopaxi/Patate
Continue south on the Avenue of Volcanoes driving through farmlands, towns and possibly some local markets. Visit Ambato and the Juan Leon Mera House who was the author of Ecuador's National Anthem.
Have lunch and then drive to Patate enjoying great views of the landscape.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hacienda Leito or similar
Day 7 Banos/Riobamba
Drive to Banos located on the edge of the cloud forest and the foothills of the Tungurahua.
Then make your way to Riobamba, enjoying the many sites along the way. En route take a short hike to a charming restaurant to have lunch close to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall. Continue on to Riobamba, the first city founded by the Spanish in Ecuador. At 9,000 feet the city is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes at sits at the foot of the Chimborazo Volano where you have the world's highest view from the center of the earth. Riobamba's street life and cultural traditions are a testimony to this strong and diverse indigenous presence.
Meet the locals
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hacienda Abraspungo or similar
Day 8 Devil's Nose Train/Cuenca
Start your day early with breakfast and then you'll be off to the Riobamba train station by 5:45 am. For 5 hrs you will experience the adventure of going from the high Andes to the lowlands through the Devil's Nose, with its impressive descent down the steep cliff. Head to Ingapirca where you'll visit this important archeological Inca site and have lunch at a local restaurant. Continue your drive to Cuenca for an overnight stay at a charming, centrally located hotel.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hotel Victoria or similar
Day 9 Cuenca/Guayaquil
To most visitors, Cuenca is the prettiest colonial city in the country. UNESCO declared it a World Cultural Heritage City in 1999. Let Cuenca’s cobblestone streets, graceful wrought-iron balconies, and flowered plazas captivate you. Its marketplaces and handicrafts are living testimony to the region's rich indigenous and artisan heritage. The handsome sunlit domes of the cathedral, the quiet convents and museums, and the city's romantic Tomebamba River flanked by overhanging houses are part of an experience that no one should miss. The architectural remains of Pumapungo include walls, channels, and cobblestone corridors surrounded by agricultural terraces once used by the Canari people. A visit to the archeological complex is complemented with an informative walk through gardens of native plants and a small aviary of indigenous birds. Have lunch at a local restaurant.
Transfer to the airport this afternoon for your short flight to Guayaquil. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Then enjoy a city tour, of "The Pearl of the Pacific". Drive through the colorful streets of one of Ecuador’s most important port cities. Visit the Public Market, the waterfront and the docks, and Simon Bolivar Park, which is famous for its tree iguanas. Also, admire the watchtower, La Rotonda, Old Santa Ana Fort, and Las Penas, a charming colonial section of town that is occupied by artists. (You may also return to Quito if you prefer another afternoon to explore on your own and enjoy a night tour of the old town.)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Hotel Macaw or similar
Day 10 Onward
You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.
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