Ecuador – Heart of the Andes

9 Days / 8 nights, from $3150 per person

Highlights: Quito, Center of world, Otavalo Market, Avenue of the Volcano’s, Cuenca, Cajas National Park, Guayaquil

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Trip Itinerary:

Day 1: Quito

Meeting upon arrival in Quito, The Capital of Ecuador. Transfer to hotel. Time to relax and adjust to the elevation. (9,350 feet) If your flight arrives in the morning from another South American destination optional tours will be available.

Day 2: Quito

Tour of Quito, explore this urban jewel and its treasures of art and architecture. Quito’s colonial quarter is the largest and best preserved in all of South America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through Independence Plaza, where the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace are located. Continue to the Monastery of San Francisco one the of the greatest religious buildings of the New World; discover the impressive façade, atrium and main altar. Next we drive to the Equatorial Monument, 25 Kms. (16 miles) North of Quito, which marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot in each hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which highlights the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Return to Quito for overnight. (BL)

Day 3: Quito

Today we head north out of the city to the village of Otavalo, here you will experience the traditional way of living of the Otavalo people, learn about their history, customs, handicrafts and their music. Visit the famous Otavalo market where you will be able to witness a traditional market where locals from the highlands and the surrounding villages come to shop, trade and sell goods from fresh fruits and vegetables to textiles, wood products and leather goods. The market is a great place to shop for art, blankets, rugs and other handicraft items. After time allowed for shopping we will continue to small indian town of Peguche. The people of Peguche are famous for their weavings, done with a pedal shuttle loom and the ancient back-strap loom where the finest belts or fajas are woven. Peguche is also known for the music groups and shops where Andean musical instruments are produced, such as the large panflutes or zampoñas, quena flutes, drums, charangos and guitars. The artisans will delight you by playing the instruments they manufacture. Enjoy a traditional Andean lunch, time to explore before returning to Quito. (BL)

Day 4: Quito – Cotopaxi National Park

Morning departure from Quito to visit Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 88,920 acres, surrounding the breathtaking Cotopaxi Volcano, which stands at a lofty 19,347 feet above sea level. Tour of the park offers stunning views of Cotopaxi and the opportunity to discover the unique flora and fauna that lives in the national park. At the foot of the volcano lies a charming hacienda, where lunch will be served in a dining room of original Inca walls that have been perfectly preserved throughout the centuries. After lunch stroll through a rose plantation where there are many varieties and colors. Continue to the town of Patate, here you will spend the night in hacienda that is more than 300 years old. (BLD)

Day 4: Baños – Route of the Cascades / Riobamba

After breakfast, drive along the gorge of the Pastaza River to the town of Baños (Baths) located at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano. This area is known for its thermal waters and the Cascades to El Pailón del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron) an impressive waterfall. After lunch at a local hacienda, explore the town of Banos. Continue to the village of Riobamba, en-route we will drive over a pass offering views of Ecuador’s highest mountain Chimborazo (20,564) before arriving at your hotel. (BLD)

Day 5: Riobamba / Devil’s Nose / Cuenca

Morning departure and drive along the Andes mountains offering some of the most stunning views that you will ever see. Arrive at the town of Alausí and board the train that will take you down the thrilling 800-metre (2630-foot) zigzag descent of the “Devil’s Nose”. At the bottom you will have the chance to get off the train and walk around the town of Sibambe. Visit the local museum “Condor Puñuna” built and run by the Nizag community, see the display of local handcrafts, fruits, medicinal plants, try some of the local coffee. The train whistle will sound off to let you know it’s time to re-board. Return to Alausi and continue by car south visiting the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca en-route. Lunch at a local restaurant. Arrival in Cuenca at dusk, transfer to hotel. (BLD)

Day 6: Cuenca

Today you will explore Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city. Famous red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make Cuenca a city that travelers always wish that they had more time to spend in. Visit the Plaza of San Sebastian, a colorful artisans market, the Museum of Modern Art, which featuring an excellent collection of contemporary art. Continue to the flower market in the small plaza in front of the El Carmen de la Asunción Cathedral. Time to stroll through the main square, surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral, the Court of Justice, the Municipal Palace, the Governor’s Palace and the Church of El Sagrario. Enjoy lunch will be at one of Cuencas local restaurants before we visit a place where you can observe the process of making the famous Panama Hats. Remainder of day at leisure. (BL)

Day 7: Cuenca

Day at leisure to wander and explore this beautiful city on your own. (B)

Day 8: Cuenca / Guayaquil

Morning departure to Guayaquil with a visit along the way to Cajas National Park, a protected area with more than 230 lakes and an elevation of more than 10,000 feet above sea level. The park offers great walking and hiking trails with spectacular views and an abundance of wildlife. Enjoy at a hacienda in the park before transferring to the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city for overnight. (BL)

Day 9: Guayaquil

Visit the main attractions at the Port of Guayaquil, starting with the Centennial Plaza that honors the heroes of Guayaquil’s independence, continue along 9th of October Boulevard to the heart of the business district and the Plaza of the Administration and Government. Walk past the famous Clock Tower and statue of South America’s liberator, Simón Bolívar. Then on to Barrio Las Peñas, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Guayaquil, where the wooden buildings have been beautifully restored and home to many art galleries. At the appropriate time transfer to the airport. (B)

B = Breakfast | L = Lunch | BL = Box lunch | D = Dinner


Price from $3150.00 per person based on two passengers traveling together sharing a double room

Included in Price

  • 3 nights hotel accommodation in Quito
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation along the Avenue of the Volcano’s
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation in Cuenca
  • 1 night hotel accommodation in Guayaquil
  • Breakfast daily
  • 7 lunches
  • 3 Dinners
  • Private and shared transportation and guide
  • Guided tours mentioned above
  • Entrance fees for tours and activities included unless specified NOT included

Not Included in Price

  • International airfare
  • Rate does not include Foreign Government departure fees or taxes, which will be collected locally if it is not already included in your international plane ticket
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Alcoholic drinks with meals
  • Personal expenses
  • Meals that are not specified
  • Travel insurance from third party (recommended)
  • Optional activities not mentioned in quote
  • Extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.)
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