A cultural tour of Ecuador
(Departures Sep, Oct & Nov)
Geographically Ecuador is a small country yet uniquely endowed with a dramatic topography and a variety of climatic zones, vegetation, birds and wildlife. Without ever leaving the country, the traveller can move in a matter of hours from jungle-rainforest to the high slopes of the Andes, and then down to the Pacific coast, while observing a breathtaking panorama of scenery and nature. En route, through Ecuador’s wonderful world of nature, you will be able to follow the courses of rivers broad and narrow; rest along the shores of pristine lakes; explore mysterious caves and marvel at unique plant and animal species that have evolved undisturbed on isolated islands in the pacific, the Galapagos. From the highlands to sea level, Ecuador’s fascinating diversity is echoed by its people whose cultural origins and traditions continue to be formed by their immediate geographical environment.
Day 01: Arrive Quito
We are welcomed at the airport and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel, Quito (2 nights)
Day 02: Quito
Explore Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 2,850 m. Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.
Our visit includes Independence Square with the Government Palace and the Cathedral; the Panecillo Hill, followed by a visit of the Equatorial Line Monument called “Middle of the World” where we get a truly rare experience to stand in both, the Northern and Southern Hemi¬spheres simultaneously. (B)
Day 03: Quito / Papallacta
Continue to a beautiful flower plantation where friendly staff will explain and show us a great variety of flowers. We visit the field of “summer flowers” or the greenhouse of the roses. Have a closer look at how bouquets of flowers are made in the “Bouquetería” or experience at the laboratory on how different species of flowers are grown and improved. Followed by a transfer to the small Andean village Papallacta, famous for its thermal baths. We visit the baths of the Hotel Termas de Papallacta to enjoy the pleasant effect of the warm, odourless thermal water surrounded by a wonderful landscape. Overnight: Hotel, Papallacta (1 night) (B)
Day 04: Papallacta / Otavalo
We explore the Indian handcrafts market in Otavalo, filled with a colourful variety of handicrafts, foods & herbs and authentic tools & household articles. You will meet Indians wearing their typical clothing, selling their products and animals. Afterward we visit Laguna Cuicocha, a crater lake at an altitude of 3000 m.
Overnight: Hotel, Otavalo (1 night) (B)
Day 05: Otavalo / Cotopaxi
We drive to Cotopaxi National Park, one of the most attractive ecological reserves of the country; and visit Laguna de Limpiopungo at an altitude of almost 4,000 m in the Paramo region and enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Cotopaxi. Overnight: Hotel, Cotopaxi (1 night) (B)
Day 06: Cotopaxi / Riobamba
We visit the colourful and original market of Zumbahua, the volcanic lake of Quilotoa and continue on to Riobamba at the foot of Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain.
Overnight: Hotel, Riobamba (1 night) (B)
Day 07: Riobamba / Cuenca
We board a train to ride along the legendary Devil’s Nose enjoying the spectacular descent to the coastal plain.
Note: Due to weather conditions or technical problems the train ride is subject to reconfirmation.
From here we drive to the city of Cuenca, visiting the Inca ruins of Ingapirca along the way. A box lunch will be provided. Overnight: Hotel, Cuenca (2 nights) (B, L)
Day 08: Cuenca
We explore the Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca, which is set in a valley surrounded by the Andean mountains in the south of Ecuador. This inland colonial town, now the country’s third city, was founded in 1557 on the rigorous planning guidelines issued 30 years earlier by the Spanish king Charles V. Cuenca still observes the formal orthogonal town plan that it has respected for 400 years. One of the region’s agricultural and administrative centres, it has been a melting pot for local and immigrant populations.
Cuenca’s architecture, much of which dates from the 18th century, was ‘modernized’ in the economic prosperity of the 19th century as the city became a major exporter of quinine, straw hats and other products. Visiting the main square with the Old and New Cathedrals, the historical buildings located along the Tomebamba River, the Todos los Santos Ruins, the flower market and a Panama hat factory. The afternoon is free for you to explore as you wish. (B)
Day 09: Cuenca / Guayaquil
We travel to Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil to visit the many monuments and museums on the Malecon 2000 along the Guayas River.
Overnight: Hotel, Guayaquil (1 night) (B)
Day 10: Depart Guayaquil
Transfer to the airport for your flight out OR take an optional extension tour to visit the Galapagos Islands. Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’.
Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch – that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835. (B)
CALL NOW for more DETAILS 415-331-3791
-Hotels as mentioned (or similar)
-Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch)
-Sightseeing and transfers on seat-in-coach basis
-Services of local English speaking guides
Does Not Include:
-Any airfares / Airport taxes
-Visa & Insurance
-Drinks & Beverages
-Tips / Gratuities