Amazon, Avenue of the Volcanoes & Cuenca


Guided Amazon adventure; Guided colonial Quito tour; Otavalo Valley-cultural centre; Famed 'Avenue of Volcanos'; Overnight at historic hacienda; Chimborazo Forest Reserve; Colonial Cuenca


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sun 08 Jan 2017Sun 22 Jan 2017 $2690 USD
Sun 19 Feb 2017Sun 05 Mar 2017 $2690 USD
Sun 09 Jul 2017Sun 23 Jul 2017 $2690 USD
Sun 08 Oct 2017Sun 22 Oct 2017 $2690 USD
Sun 15 Oct 2017Sun 29 Oct 2017 $2690 USD

Optional Single Supplement: $620 USD (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

From the frenetic pace and man-made aesthetic beauty of the capital city of Quito, we make headway for the tranquility and natural splendour of one of the world's few remaining untouched wilderness regions; the Amazon rainforest. We keep a vigilant eye for colourful flora and teeming fauna as we explore the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle. Along the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes', a striking passage that snugly rests between the major cordillera ranges, we admire the contrast between the equatorial lushness in the valley and the snow-crested peaks of the surrounding mountains. This is a nicely-priced option for those who want to experience all the delights of the mainland without a costly Galapagos cruise.

Regions visited: South America
Countries visited: Ecuador

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive in Quito
Arrive in Quito and transfer to our hotel. Quito (2788 m / 9,200 feet) is Ecuador's lovely capital city, nestled against Pichincha Volcano high in the Andes.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Quito - Amazon
Today we fly to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Cuyabeno Lodge.*

Our 30-minute flight takes us from Quito to Lago Agrio where we will meet our naturalist guide and continue by bus to the Cuyabeno Reserve bridge where we will continue our trip by boat for an other hour and a half. From the boat we will have the chance to see some of the wildlife of the reserve, like monkeys and many bird species such as the colourful macaw

Cuyabeno National Park is the largest protected area of Ecuador, covering about 603,380 hectares of mostly pristine jungle. The lakes and narrow rivers are the secret of wildlife visibility of Cuyabeno. Throughout the Amazon region, most national parks lack narrow rivers and can only be seen from very wide branches of the Amazon river and from trails through the jungle. In Cuyabeno, on the other hand, the shores are so close on both sides that you feel that you are part of the jungle. The Cuyabeno Amazon Rainforest Lodge is one of the longest established jungle lodges within the Amazon region and is operated by international conservationists who helped create and protect the park.

Seven detached cabins made of wood with thatched roofs scattered throughout the grounds, each sleeping two people in double or twin beds. All rooms have a balcony or terrace and private bathrooms with hot water showers.

Upon arrival we'll have some welcome drinks and, after a little break, go for the first jungle walk on the Chorongo Trail where we can learn more about the local flora and fauna. After dinner an optional night walk.

Please note that groups of fewer than 8 participants will not be accompanied by an Adventures Abroad Tour Leader for this Amazon portion (you will be very capably looked after by lodge staff & guides).

* As this is an early morning flight, passengers with flight routings that land in Quito late on Day 1 might consider arriving a day earlier in order to rest up and avoid a "painfully early" start on this day.

Overnight in the Amazon.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3 Amazon
You will experience a pristine rainforest gallery that is home to 1,500 species of trees, hundreds of climbing vines, and exotic flowers, as well as 550 species of tropical birds, 13 species of monkeys and 1,000 beautiful butterflies. Guides with extensive knowledge of the Amazon wildlife and biodiversity can give guests the true experience of the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle. All of our jungle adventures will be guided by a naturalist guide.

This morning we'll visit the canopy tower where we will have the chance to spot more bird and mammal species. This afternoon we can enjoy an easy canoe ride and perhaps fish some piranhas! After dinner, an optional canoe trip to see some caimans.

Overnight in the Amazon.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 Amazon
Today we visit a local Siona community, an integral part of any complete tour of the Cuyabeno Reserve. This ethnic group lives along the Cuyabeno River in a community named Puerto Bolivar.

You will be able to experience native culture as it has existed unchanged for millennia. The local Shaman will instruct you in some of their religious practices and explain their medicinal knowledge, passed down from ancestors whose intimate relationship and deep understanding of the natural resources and rhythms of the jungle are the basis for many of our modern pharmaceuticals.

Overnight in the Amazon.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 Amazon - Quito
Today we transfer to the Cuyabeno Reserve bridge where the bus will be waiting to take us back to the Lago Agrio Airport for our flight back to Quito.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Quito - Otavalo Valley - Ibarra
Today we journey north to the Otavalo Valley region.

In early years the Otavalo Valley was filled with farmers who raised crops in fertile lands where they lived. In the 14th century the Inca expansion reached north into the Otavalo area. The Caraquis who inhabited the area resisted the invaders. For 17 long years fierce fighting continued as the defiant Caraquis refused to be subjugated by the Incas. The Spanish arrived a few years after the Incas. They established a Hacienda system of workshops where Otavalenos were forced to work 15 hour days weaving fabrics. Today this weaving tradition forms the basis of a lucrative industry that has allowed the Otavaleno indigenous peoples to join the world economy while retaining their traditional values and skills. During our time in the valley we will have a chance to visit with the local Otavalenos and see them working their craft. We visit a traditional home with adobe walls and visit with the owners who raise guinea pigs, a local delicacy.

Our hosteria is located nearby the colonial town of Ibarra (2121 m / 7,000 feet), known as the "White City" since many of it houses are colonial style, red-tiled and whitewashed.

Overnight in Ibarra.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Ibarra - Otavalo Market - Avenue of Volcanoes - La Cienega
This morning we visit Otavalo to experience the market. This market is centered around 'Poncho Plaza'. All day long, the whir of cotton candy machines, Andean pipe music, and Quichua, the native tongue derived from the Incan tongue, drift across the square. A blinding maze of coloured textiles spills from the square across the town.

We depart Otavalo to follow in the footsteps of the German scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, and rediscover what in 1802 he called the "Avenue of Volcanoes," a 325 km (202 mi) long valley between the major cordillera ranges. Massive and standing alone, the volcanoes provide brooding, snow-covered contrast to the green equatorial lushness. We see snow-capped summits, mystical brooks and rivers, terraced farmlands, small villages and fascinating cultures.

The area is also home to a number of exceptional haciendas, some of which date back to the 16th century. La Cienega Hacienda is located near the village of Lasso near the foot of Cotopaxi and has been witness to centuries of important events in the history of Ecuador.

Overnight at Hosteria La Cienega.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 La Cienega - Banos
Today we continue our journey to Banos. This small town's elevation gives it an extremely agreeable climate and the surrounding mountainsides are brilliant green against the white summit of the Volcano Tungurahua. En route we have a short walk to view one of the most impressive waterfalls in South America, the Devil's Bowl.

The word Banos means "baths" and, as the name indicates, the highlight is the numerous hot spring baths in the area. Today we have opportunity to visit the hot springs as well as wander the streets and market of this picturesque town. You can also hike into the nearby hillsides, along farmers' donkey trails through fields of corn, passion-fruit, and various other local products. A must-see is the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of the Holy Water, credited with performing many miracles in the Banos area.

Overnight in Banos.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Banos - Riobamba
After lunch in Banos we travel through open farmland flowing over the high ridges of the Western Andes. On arrival in Riobamba we will have a walking tour including the cathedral and the restored 1920's era Post Office, with free time for independent wanderings.

Overnight in Riobamba.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Riobamba - Chimborazo Reserve - Quito
We depart Riobamba and head for Chimborazo Reserve for a scenic drive around the base of this almost perfectly-conical dormant volcano. Chimborazo (6310m / 20,833 ft), the highest summit in Ecuador, is the gem of the reserve along with the neighboring Carihuairazo Volcano. In the Indian language, Chimborazo means "mountain of snow". It is an enormous mass of overwhelming scale. Alexander Von Humboldt made an unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain in 1802, and believed it to be the highest mountain in the world. This distinction lasted until the discovery of Mt. Everest fifty years later. Chimborazo was finally climbed by Edward Whimper in 1880. The Reserve of Chimborazo was created in October of 1987 to protect the extensive moors, the flora and the fauna of the region.

We will make several photo stops on our drive, and enjoy this starkly beautiful volcanic landscape. We have a chance to see a vicuna, an endangered species. Vicuna are the smallest of the Camelid family standing at just 2ft 8"-3ft 7" at the shoulder. They are extremely refined and delicate to look at, cinnamon in colour with an apron of long white hair on their chest. The vicuna produces one of the finest fibres of any animal in the world. We also visit an interesting indigenous community at the foot of the mountain where they have been successful in creating a responsible travel and tourism industry.

We continue north to Quito.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Quito: City Tour
Today we tour old Spanish Colonial Quito, preserved by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As we enter the streets of Old Quito we step into the past, surrounded by centuries-old architecture. We stop at the commanding Legislative Palace, whose murals record Ecuador's history. We will see Quito's most beautiful religious buildings, including the cathedral, the Independence Plaza, San Francisco Church, and visit one of Quito's most impressive religious buildings, La Compania church, whose ornate facade and solid gold altars make it one of the most famous of South American churches. We visit the famous Panecillo Hill with its towering winged statue of the Virgin of the Apocalypse with views of north and south of Quito and the surrounding mountains.

This afternoon we travel 22 km (14 miles) north of Quito to the Equator line monument, known as the "middle of the world," where you can stand with one foot in the Northern and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. We also visit the excellent on-site ethnographic museum with exhibits pertaining to the many indigenous peoples of Ecuador.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to logistical reasons, this is a "floating day" that may occur at a different point of our programme.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Quito - Cuenca
Today we fly south to Cuenca, located in the highlands of Ecuador at about 2500 m (8,200 ft) above sea level. The center of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site because of its many historical buildings.

Depending on the timing of our flight, we may accomplish some of our sightseeing today upon arrival.*

*NOTE: Smaller groups will likely be met and managed by one of our local guides for the Cuenca portion of this tour.

Overnight in Cuenca.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Cuenca: Walking Tour & Museo del Banco Central
Once the site of an Inca settlement, Cuenca (2648 m / 8,738 feet) today is considered Ecuador's most beautiful city. Its historical connection with Spain is marked by narrow cobblestone streets, quaint parks and romantic plazas. Charming adobe houses, wrought iron balconies, and religious art treasures capture the spirit of centuries long past. Cuenca, almost hidden away in a southern valley, was isolated until recent times; it wasn't until 1960 that paved roads were built to Quito and Guayaquil. Today Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city, is surrounded by small villages whose citizens create intricately detailed jewelry, beautiful ceramics, and masterfully designed hand-woven shawls.

This morning we have a leisurely walking tour along the main plaza, Parque Calderon, and enter the old Cathedral, renovated for the visit of Pope John Paul in 1985. We also see the Monastery of El Carmen and visit La Inmaculada Concepcion while strolling the cobbled streets.

This afternoon we visit the Museo del Banco Central, which contains a permanent collection of black and white photos of 19th and early 20th century Cuenca, as well as displays of art and archaeological pieces, and ethnographic dioramas.

We also visit a Panama hat factory. In 1835 Manuel Alfaro, a Spanish entrepreneur, arrived in the port of Guayaquil in the province of Guayas. He settled in nearby Montecristi and quickly realised the economic potential of the toquilla hat setting up his own chain of production from the straw plantations to circuits of weavers. His hats were soon being exported from the ports of Guayaquil and Manta to Panama which was quickly becoming an important centre and staging post for international trade and travel. Here Alfaro opened a commercial centre selling his hats, cacao and pearls, thus beginning the association of the Ecuadorian toquilla hat with Panama.

Overnight in Cuenca.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Cuenca - Ingapirca - Cuenca
A scenic mountain drive brings us to Ecuador's most important Inca site, Ingapirca, located in the Canar Valley, but still at 3165 m (10,445 feet). En route we travel through the beautiful countryside worked by the Canari indigenous people for centuries.

On arrival we visit the site museum and the site itself, where we can admire the Inca's superb mortarless stonework of the Temple of the Sun. Ingapirca is a monumental complex, built up on top of other Canari ruins some 500 years ago by the Inca empire. On top of the elliptical platform was built a structure made of well finished stones. The temple is surrounded by a labyrinth on one side, other walls, terraces and chambers in ruins, and a cliff.

Return to Cuenca.

Overnight in Cuenca.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Cuenca - Quito - Depart
Today we fly back to Quito in time to connect with our homeward flights (most international flights depart Quito close to midnight). LAND ONLY passengers should book flights no earlier than 9 pm.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Mercure Alameda Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Quito
Country: Ecuador

Quito ALAMEDA Hotel Mercure offers: Rooms with Wi-Fi, located near the financial and commercial center of Quito, restaurant, coffee shop
... coffee, lunch), bar, 24-hour front desk, non-smoking rooms, lift, safe, soundproofed rooms, luggage storage.
Read More.

Hotel Valgus Suites

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Cuenca
Country: Ecuador

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants); lunches in Amazon. All accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers.


Tour Leader gratuity, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered throughout the year. The cool and dry season runs from May to October. Outside this time you will encounter warmer and perhaps rainy / misty conditions in the highlands but serious heat / humidity are only a consideration in the Amazon.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops of interest. Roads are in good condition though winding on some stretches. Numerous walking tours on uneven surfaces. Most people are not seriously affected by altitude (3000-3300 m / 8,500-9,500 ft)- check with your doctor. Flights via scheduled local carrier.


Well-located, heated / air-conditioned (except Amazon), mid-range (3 star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout. The Amazon lodge is a little more rustic, but still very nicely appointed. Porter service is usually in Ecuador though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader and driver.

Group Size

10-18 (plus Tour Leader)