EC12 ECUADOR TOUR

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Andean Explorer

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Guided colonial Quito tour; Otavalo Valley - cultural centre; Famed 'Avenue of Volcanos'; Overnight at historic hacienda; Cotopaxi Forest Reserve

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before any applicable taxes. The pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person costs without airfare to/from the tour; however, we can book flights from your home airport for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 18 Feb 2019Thu 28 Feb 2019 $1990 USD
Mon 08 Jul 2019Thu 18 Jul 2019 $1990 USD
Mon 07 Oct 2019Thu 17 Oct 2019 $1990 USD
Mon 14 Oct 2019Thu 24 Oct 2019 $1990 USD
Mon 03 Feb 2020Thu 13 Feb 2020 $1990 USD
Mon 06 Jul 2020Thu 16 Jul 2020 $1990 USD
Mon 28 Sep 2020Thu 08 Oct 2020 $1990 USD
Mon 26 Oct 2020Thu 05 Nov 2020 $1990 USD

This tour will replace tour code EQ1 from 2019 onward

Optional Single Supplement: $484 USD (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


Join us on an exploration of the rural and urban charms of one of South America's most rewarding destinations; Ecuador. 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 and we get our fill of historic sites of interest when we visit the colonial "White City" of Ibarra. Our browsing in local marketplaces gives us valuable insight to the country's contemporary culture and the lifestyles of its people.

Regions visited: South America
Countries visited: Ecuador


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Quito
Arrive in Quito and transfer to our hotel. Welcome to Ecuador!

Quito (2788 m/9,200 feet) is Ecuador's lovely capital city, nestled against Pichincha Volcano high in the Andes.

Overnight in Quito.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 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.

Overnight in Quito.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 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. In Otavalo city, we'll have a
chance to wander through the colourful handicraft stalls.

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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Ibarra - Avenue of Volcanoes - La Cienega
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.

We’ll take the Pan-American Highway southwards and take a side road to discover the impressive volcanism, flora, and bird-life that this national park protects. A visit to the Interpretation Center and the Limpiopungo Lake as well as a short easy hike will let us enjoy this natural wonder.

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 (Lasso area).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 La Cienega - Cotopaxi - Pillaro - Banos
Today we continue our journey to Banos. En route we will visit Cotopaxi volcano, where we can have an interesting walk in the Paramo (moorlands), enjoy beautiful views, and learn more about the flora and fauna or the area.

We continue our journey, stopping in Pillaro where we will visit a traditional workshop of masks that are used in the Pillaro Devil parade, an important cultural expression of the local indigenous people.

We arrive in Banos, a small town whose elevation gives it an extremely agreeable climate and the surrounding mountainsides are brilliant green against the white summit of the Volcano Tungurahua. 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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Banos - Devil's Bowl - Riobamba
Before departing Banos, we'll have a short walk to view one of the most impressive waterfalls in South America, the Devil's Bowl. At El Manto de la Novia we can experience a cable car ride over the Pastaza River Canyon.

After lunch we'll 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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Riobamba - Devil's Nose Train - Ingapirca - Cuenca
Today's adventure involves one of the more interesting and impressive pieces of railway in South America, the Devil's Nose. The greatest complication faced by the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad was this mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle, a zigzag railroad was built, which climbs more than 500 meters in less than 12 km with steep ascents and descents. By any standard an impressive piece of engineering! We
travel by trail as far as Alausi where we'll break for lunch.

Afterwards we’ll start our way to Cuenca, detouring to visit the Archaeological Complex of Ingapirca, the best-preserved and most important Inca site in Ecuador. Though not on the same scale as, say, Machu Picchu, the ruins include a large oval construction once used for ritual and astronomical purposes. Just outside the ruins, the Museo Sitio de Ingapirca displays a skeleton, tools, and other artifacts recovered from the area.

Once the site of an Inca settlement, the Cuenca of today 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.

Overnight in Cuenca (2648 m/8,738 feet).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Cuenca: Walking Tour & Museo del Banco Central
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 realized 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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Cuenca: At Leisure
Today is yours to explore and experience this charming town on your own.

This city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been named the best city in which to retire by Travel and Leisure magazine; indeed, these days more than 8,000 US and Canadian citizens make Cuenca their home.

Overnight in Cuenca (due to the informal nature of the day, and for a break from the group meal dynamic, we don't include your evening meal today)

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 10 Cuenca - Cajas National Park - Guayaquil
Today we travel by road to Guayaquil via Cajas National Park.

The park contains hundreds of clear, cold lakes, streams and rivers. Weather-permitting (which can be highly changeable at this altitude), the park can provide an excellent opportunity for us to hike the grassland of Paramo Region or visit a forest of polelypsis trees, the highest altitude tree in the world. Recently the park's management introduced llamas and alpacas as part of a breeding program to re-introduce these animals to the southern
highlands. Keep your eyes peeled for the many bird species that make the park their home, especially for the silhouette of a soaring (and extremely rare) Andean Condor which can sometimes be spotted here riding the thermal up-drafts.

We continue to the coast with a stop at a cocoa plantation and learn about its cultivation and the production of Ecuadorian chocolate.

Our destination is the main port city of Ecuador, known as a gateway to Pacific beaches and the Galapagos Islands. Stretching along the Guayas River is the waterfront Simón Bolívar promenade, home to La Rotonda monument.

Overnight in Guayaquil.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Departure
Departure from Guayaquil.

BUEN VIAJE!

Included Meal(s): 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.

Hosteria La Cienega

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hosteria La Cienega
Country: Ecuador

Hosteria La Cienega is a historic hacienda located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Situated just an hour and
... half from Quito, Ecuador on the outskirts of Volcano Cotopaxi and surrounded by the cordillera’s most beautiful snow-capped peaks, the manor has been receiving guests for the last twenty-five years. Rooms are cozy and full of character.


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 ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants). All transport, 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 arriving/departing on tour dates and for any Land & Air customer arriving early/departing late and booking their extra accommodation through us.

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuity, 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 at lower altitudes.

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.

Baggage handling service is usually in Ecuador though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports.

Our difficulty rating of "Level 2" reflects the generally ambitious nature of our program, with some full days of travel, walks at sites that may be quite large and feature uneven/cobbled surfaces, and some remote locations. Most people are not seriously affected by altitude as we do not surpass 10,000 ft on this trip, but those who may be affected should check with their physician.

Accommodation

Well-located, heated/air-conditioned, mid-range (3-star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout. Single rooms are limited in number and are likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, local guides at some locations, local driver.

Group Size

Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader