All of Ecuador’s colours and contrasts are featured on this incredible exploration: Otavalos outdoor market, Cotopaxi National Park, Avenue of the Volcanoes, Devil’s Nose Train and UNESCO World Heritage sites like Cuenca.
It’s insider moments like…the sweet perfume of 3,000 roses filling the Jarrin family’s hacienda, as you join them for local treats like ‘llapingachos’, cheesy potato cakes, after exploring their rose plantation. It’s staying at a restored 17th century hacienda once owned by King Phillip III of Spain. And it’s meeting artisans who make Andean flutes and woven Panama hats; creating pottery; and tasting spiced cinnamon ‘canelazo’ rum and ‘colaciones’ candy.
Descend down in elevation, taking in the changing flora and fauna.
See an active volcano; learn about the animal and plant life at the park museum.
See the sights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site including distinct architecture, flower markets, the main square and the Governor’s Palace
Take in Ecuador’s diverse landscape while zigzagging down a steep mountainside
See the sights of the city; stroll the public markets and learn about traditional crafts.
See the dozens of colonial landmarks that dot this UNESCO World Heritage Site; visit the Equatorial Line Monument.
Welcome to Ecuador, a colourful country featuring dramatic topography, diverse climates and undeniable charm. A local host greets you at the airport for a transfer to your lovely hotel in the village of San Pablo del Lago, just outside Otavalo, ideally situated at the base of the Imbabura Volcano. Hacienda Cusin, founded in 1602, is one of the oldest haciendas in all of Ecuador. Enjoy the rest of your day to relax and get settled.
Depart mid-morning to meet a local family who introduces you to the Andean tradition and A Local Speciality of flutemaking, including a musical interlude using the handmade instruments. You’ll even get the chance to try playing the instruments yourself! Enjoy a Welcome Reception lunch with your Travel Director and fellow travellers at a traditional hacienda. Visit the public market alongside native Otavalenos and put your bartering skills to the test. Stroll through the different vendor stalls offering a variety of handcrafted items in search for the perfect keepsake.
Your morning is at leisure before heading to Cayambe where you will meet a local family for a A Be My Guest lunch at the Hacienda La Compania, a beautiful home and rose plantation. Tour the grounds including the charming chapel and learn about the aromatic roses grown here before indulging in a delicious meal of Ecuadorian specialities. Arrive in Quito and enjoy the evening to relax.
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with colonial treasures. Learn all about the religious and cultural influences of this bustling city, located just 14 miles (22 kilometres) from the Equatorial Line. Visit a candy shop to watch a third generation candy-maker create a traditional Ecuadorian candy called colaciones, a A Local Speciality. Stroll along La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in Quito and an artist mecca during the 1930s. Eat lunch at a local restaurant and try another A Local Speciality, canelazo, a delicious spiced cinnamon rum drink. Continue to the Equatorial Line Monument and don’t miss the chance to stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time! Later, meet a A Local Expert, an organic Ecuadorian chocolate-maker, who tells you all about the production process and brings samples for all to enjoy. Indulge in a Regional Meal this evening featuring delicious local cuisine and live entertainment.
Travel south along the Pan-American Highway, through stunning landscapes of valleys and mountains before arriving at Cotopaxi National Park, the site of an active volcano standing 19,642 feet (5,987 metres) high. Meet a A Local Expert who shares his knowledge and passion for this spectacular natural wonder. Continue on to Limpiopungo Lake where you’ll observe a great number of high-altitude birds, and occasionally, wild horses. Return to the valley where lunch awaits at a 300-year old hacienda. Venture back to the main road and continue along the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” Riobamba awaits as you continue alongside massive Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador.
Head south to the train station in Alausi where you board the Devil’s Nose Train, an engineering feat of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The railway allows you to discover the topographic obstacles of Ecuador’s diverse landscape as you zigzag down the steep mountainside. Disembark at Sibambe to visit the local museum built and run by the Nizag community. See the display of local handcrafts, fruit and medicinal plants and try the local coffee. After your train journey, enjoy a picnic lunch and then visit the Inca ruins of Ingapirca, considered the most important archaeological site in Ecuador.
Discover the charm of Cuenca with a A Local Expert and admire the red-tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and flowery plazas. Founded as a Spanish settlement in 1557, the beauty of its landscape combined with the harmony between old and modern architecture has prompted UNESCO to name Cuenca a World Cultural Heritage Site. Today’s highlights include the Todos los Santos ruins, flower markets, and the main square surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral. Then visit a few surrounding communities including an arts and crafts village for a A Unique Insight into the ancient weaving process of Panama hats and other items made of toquilla straw using traditional methods that date back to pre-Columbian cultures. Also, enjoy the chance to create your own pottery while visiting a local pottery maker. The evening is yours to explore.
Journey to Guayaquil through El Cajas National Park. Watch the ever changing fora and fauna as you travel through the beautiful cloud forests to the coast for a visit to a cacao plantation. Here, learn all about growing and harvesting of cacao and enjoy a delicious lunch. Arrive in Guayaquil and enjoy a short city tour. Tonight, toast an unforgettable holiday during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Your Ecuadorian adventure comes to an end with a transfer to the airport for your fight home, or extend your stay in Guayaquil at the Hotel Oro Verde.