GO 5: Ecuador Highlights
Ecuador highlights include iconic cities like Quito and its most popular sites of visit. The Otavalo Indigenous market, the largest in the continent as well as Peguche and Cotacachi knowns from its weaved and leather goods. An overnight stay at the Karanki Magdalena Community and a train ride from Ibarra to the Afro-Ecuadorian community in Salinas. On the way to Baños, admire the volcanic landscape until arriving to Cuenca, one of the oldest cities in the continent and to visit the Cajas National Park.
From: $ 1631 per person
More about GO 5: Ecuador Highlights
Day 1: Quito
Welcome to Quito or Guayaquil! A representative will greet you and transfer you to your hotel. You will have free time to explore the city or relax and settle in.
Day 2: Quito Colonial City Tour & Middle of the World
Take a walk through bustling streets and squares of the largest historical old town in the Americas; a multi-ethnic, artistic and a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. Afterward, our guide will take our guests to visit the Middle of the World Complex situated at 0∞0í0î latitude to be with one foot in the northern and the other foot in the southern hemisphere. Return to the hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 3: Otavalo Indigenous Market & Surroundings
Visit the famous indigenous Otavalo open-market and wander around various stands set in the central square. There is the chance to shop for hand-made textiles, wooden decorations, Andean musical instruments, hats, jewelry and a variety of local souvenirs. Our guide will take you to visit the nearest town called Peguche which is known for its weavers and to visit a workshop on wind instruments. The next town is Cotacachi, were its residents are skilled manufactures of leather goods to later, head to the Magdalena Community for an overnight stay at one of the families’ homes.
Day 4: Magdalena Karanki Community – Train Ride to Salinas (B L)
The Magdalena Community is a group of houses located on the slopes of the Imbabura Volcano, where they welcome guests to be part of their families and host traditional activities for a cross-cultural experience. There are also outdoors mild adventure activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking or hiking by the Andean pastures. Guests will be taken by car to Ibarra to get on the Liberty Train. The train ride will go through the magical landscapes of the highlands where it goes through mysterious tunnels, across bridges, spanning canyons and gullies filled with unique biodiversity. Travelers will arrive at the Afro-Ecuadorian community of Salinas, well known for its agricultural activities, to spend the lunchtime and to visit the town. We will head back to the road in our return to Quito for an overnight stay.
Day 5: Quito – Cotopaxi – Baños – Riobamba (B)
After breakfast, we head south of the Highlands on our way to Baños. In the way, there is a chance to admire the green landscapes of the agricultural activity of the region, as well as stunning views which feature snowed-capped volcanoes such as one of the highest volcanoes on the Earth, the Cotopaxi. The Cotopaxi is part of a National Park with its same name and is open for the public to explore and climb to the rest stops. Arriving in Baños, there is a slight change in the weather, a bit cooler located near the Tungurahua Volcano. There are adventure tours, as well as thermal waters were guests can relax or visits around the town and the nearby waterfalls. Baños is the transition between the Andes and the Amazon regions. We continue on the road headed to Riobamba for an overnight stay.
Day 6: Riobamba – Devil´s Nose Train Ride – Ingapierca Ruins – Cuenca (B BL)
We will start the day with a drive through some of the most picturesque indigenous areas and fruit plantations to take the Devil’s Nose train. This train is one of the most scenic attractions with zigzagging rails bordering the mountain until arriving at the Chimborazo Forest Reserve and Sangay National Park. Chimborazo is the volcano which stands furthest from the center of the Earth! We continue our way south to arrive at the Ingapirca Ruins which are two complexes of Cañari and Inca quarters bringing together the Imperial Court accommodations as well as a Sun Temple. The visit includes the site museum which exhibits pieces of lytic, ceramic and metallurgy from the pre-Inca and Inca period in the region. The last stop of the day is Cuenca for an overnight stay.
Day 7: Cuenca (B)
We start off the day with a city tour in Cuenca which is filled with colonial history and more than 20 churches with various styles, surrounded by the archeological remains of pre- Inca cultures such as the Cañaris. Cuenca is also part of the Highlands region, 2,535 meters (8,316 ft) above sea level and a city crossed by four rivers and part of an Andean Valley. In 1999 the UNESCO declared it as Cultural Heritage Site for its unique architecture which blends with its surroundings. In the modern part of the city, there are restaurants, shopping centers, spas, bars and the Tueri viewpoint which will make you appreciate a panoramic view of the city. Cuenca is also famous for its handicrafts such as ceramics, embroidery, jewelry, and Panama hats.
Day 8: Cuenca – El Cajas National Park (B)
In a 40-min drive from Cuenca, we will arrive in El Cajas National Park. This area is known for its beautiful landscapes with at least 200 lagoons, between moorlands we will find the famous lagoon La Toreadora and take an inspirational walk through the beautiful countryside, alpacas and the Polylepis Tree (paper tree). Fauna is also one of the main attractions, there are more than 150 bird species, and during hikes, you can see wild ducks, rabbits, and with luck the Andean Condor. After lunch, we will drive to Guayaquil for an overnight stay.
Day 9: Guayaquil
If you are taking an international flight, we will transfer you to the international airport in Guayaquil. You can also extend your stay in Ecuador with our other land tours.