Northern Andes, Otavalo, “Chaski Route” & Train
Day 1: Quito – Otavalo – Cuicocha – Karanki Magdalena Community
Departing from Quito to the north, we will ride across the colorful valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe. A ride through the breathtaking Andean setting offers great photo opportunities and after two hours of traveling through the riveting countryside, we will arrive at the province of Imbabura.
Walk through the famed craft market of Otavalo, which is the most famous and picturesque in South America. For visitors, the market offers the possibility of approaching Ecuadorians at a more intimate level as you negotiate prices of a variety of woven goods, bags, hats, flutes or simply appreciate the skillful and generous people responsible for the elegance and beauty of the clothing and handicrafts.
Cuicocha comes from the Kichwa indigenous language and means “Lago del Cuy” or Guinea Pig Lake in English. It was given this name due to the guinea pig shape of the largest island in the middle of the lake. These animals play a significant part in the everyday life of indigenous people as they make for a high protein meal especially for populations living in high altitude.
The ride continues through a marvelous Andean setting we head into the indigenous community of the Karanki Magdalena. Bike or horseback ride through a wide array of colorful patchwork on the eastern foothills of the Imbabura volcano.
Day 2: Magdalena – Train ride to Salinas – Ibarra – Karanki Magdalena harvesting techniques
After breakfast, embark on a train journey engineered in the early 20th-century that connects the northern Ecuadorian Andes and the Pacific Coast. The ride descends into the warm, dry valley of Salinas, across sugarcane plantations, magical landscapes, through tunnels and over bridges spanning canyons and patchwork fields.
Enjoy a unique lunch at the Salinas Afro-Ecuadorian community restaurant, implemented by Go Galapagos – Kleintours in an effort to boost tourism in support of this fascinating area. The menu has been carefully put together through with the community to share the local savoir-faire with our high-quality standards.
Back in Ibarra, we will enjoy a city tour to reach one of the highest points in the city and have a panoramic view. Taste a helado de paila, which is a typical refreshing fruit sherbet.
In the Karanki Magdalena Community, learn from the community members about local planting techniques of potatoes, quinoa, lupin, corn, beans, wheat and other vegetables depending on the harvesting season.
Day 3: Peguche – Condor Park – Quito
After breakfast, we head to Peguche, famous for the textiles produced on traditional looms and it’s handcrafted wind instruments where you can purchase their goods directly from the artisans. visit the Parque Condor which is a sanctuary for a variety of birds of prey including our national animal the Andean Condor. Learn more about the birds inhabiting the highlands, their protection, conservations, and threats.
Return to Quito.