Pathway through the Andes from the Pacific Coast
Day 1: Guayaquil – El Cajas National Park – Cuenca
Depart from Guayaquil going from sea level to up to 4,000 making it possible to observe some of the different habitats responsible for Ecuador’s diversity: Andean moorlands, the cloud forests and the subtropical and tropical rainforests, along with some tropical crops such as cacao, bananas, sugar cane or rice.
El Cajas National Park is a natural reserve is famous for its more than 200 lagoons, such as La Toreadora which is home to various bird species and endemic plants like the Polylepis tree. We will enjoy of a hike through this protected reserve, admiring the scenery of the moorlands.
Cuenca is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Ecuador and also a Unesco’s World Heritage Site. It is a city of facades dated from the last five centuries. We will visit the Cathedral, the Main Square, the Flower Market, San Francisco and Santo Domingo churches and the Central Bank Museum with permanent archaeological, anthropological, colonial and republican art collections, including photographies documenting the city’s history.
Day 2: Cuenca – Ingapirca Ruins – Alausí
After breakfast, visit the Incan archaeological site of Ingapirca. These relics is one of the biggest construction made by the Incas in the fifteen century connecting Quito and Cuzco. The Solar Temple also holds a museum displaying pottery and metal artifacts found in the surrounding archaeological findings.
The afternoon continues north, we’ll go south to Alausí, along the way see la Balbanera, the first Spanish church built in the country.
Day 3: Alausí – Devil’s Nose Train – Baños
After breakfast, we arrive at Alausí, we will take a spectacular train ride through the Devil’s Nose, a highlight on railway engineering of the early twentieth century. Box lunch is provided to later head to Riobamba for a panoramic tour of the city’s plazas and churches and a spectacular view of the biggest volcano from the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo (6,310 m).
Our journey continues in the afternoon, in a ride to Baños. During the afternoon ride to reach Baños, Known for its hot springs and waterfalls, also considered Gateway to the Amazonia.
Day 4: Baños – Cotopaxi – Quito
After breakfast, We head down into the Pastaza River canyon to the so-called “Route of Waterfalls” where we find Cascada de la Virgen, the Bride’s Mantle, Machay, Pailón del Diablo, all of which lie along the riverbed of the Pastaza and surrounded by green lush vegetation.
The Cotopaxi (5,897 m) is the highest active volcano in the world, located in the middle of the moorlands which is home to numerous birds species and varied flora. The natural location is great for adventures of various skills, there is the opportunity for a light hike around the park. The surrounding include the Rumiñahui mountain (4,557 m ) and between the two mountains the plain and lagoon of Limpiopungo and to view the surrounding mountains Pasochoa, and Sincholagua.
After the visit, we will head back to Quito.