This eight-day escapade will take you to three of Ecuador’s microclimates: The high-altitude Andes, the majestic cloud forest, and the pristine Amazon jungle basin. This is a fast-paced adventure, covering lots of terrains and giving you a brief but wide exposure to the diverse mainland. Pairing this tour with a 4 or 5 day Galapagos cruise makes for an extremely complete Ecuadorian adventure in under two weeks.
While in the Andes you will visit colonial cities, indigenous towns & markets, Incan ruins, volcanos, and their adjacent hot springs. The cloud forest and Amazon jungle will connect you with nature & local communities. The changing climates will require you to pack for some chilly nights, some hot & humid afternoons, and a bit of swimming in brisk plunge pools and toasty volcanic hot springs.
Please note that this trip does not include a tour of the Quito area, please advise if you would like to add or modify this.
The day starts with an early morning departure from Quito towards Otavalo. Along the way, we will stop at the panoramic lookout of the Laguna San Pablo and Imbabura volcano. The town of Otavalo is home to South America’s largest handicraft market. You will be immersed in a world of color and craft. Meander up and down the aisles searching for the perfect alpaca scarf or perhaps a one-of-a-kind item will grab your attention and put your bartering skills to the test. In the afternoon we will head a bit further north, to the town of Cotacachi. Here you will find high-quality leather goods, such as jackets, luggage, and belts. This is a great opportunity to pick up a practical souvenir at a great price. We will finish the day off with a visit to Peguche, back towards Otavalo. Hand-crafted musical instruments and a sacred waterfall make this village worth the visit.
Overnight at Otavalo Hacienda Meals included today: None, but we will help accommodate your preferences
After Breakfast, we will wind through the Andes to arrive at the volcanic hot springs of Papallacta. This can be a fully relaxing day at the springs and spa, or we can mix in some easy to moderate hiking trails before you pamper yourself in the evening. Keep an eye out for condors, deer, and maybe a spectacled bear throughout the day. Papallacta is a special place in the Andes and for many visitors a true highlight of Ecuador. It can often be cold and rainy, which makes the pools that much more enjoyable.
Overnight at Papallacta Resort Meals included: Breakfast
An early morning departure has us descending upon the Amazon Rainforest. We will wind down the slopes of the Andean Cloud Forest to arrive at the Guango Reserve, where we will observe a variety of hummingbird species. A bit further on we arrive to the Guacamayos-Macaw lookout, giving us an opportunity to search for more wildlife and observe the Amazon canopy. After this, we will board our motorized canoe at the Arajuno River, taking us to the Itamandi Amazon Lodge for the evening.
Overnight at Amazon Lodge Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
We depart the lodge in the morning by canoe, to arrive at the AmaZOOnico. This is a professional conservation center where shelter is provided to animals in danger of extinction. We will visit a local Kichwa community, where we will have a chance to learn about their culture and way of life. We may get a chance to participate in the preparation of a typical meal or learn how to make chocolate from the world’s finest cacao.
Overnight at Amazon Lodge Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
As we head further south towards Puyo, we will stop for a chance to observe a traditional balsa wood workshop. Along the way we’ll drive through Sangay National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is home to one of Ecuador’s most intense waterfalls, Pailon del Diablo. After this we can choose how to spend our time in the Baños area. Exploring some more waterfalls is a great option, or we can allow some free time for the adventure seekers. We can help arrange rafting, zip-lining, or even bridge-jumping. For those who prefer something a little more relaxed, Baños offers great hot springs options, some with amazing views.
Overnight at hotel in Baños Meals included: Breakfast
Today we will arrive to the infamous Chimborazo Volcano. With a peak of 6310 meters above sea level it’s the furthest point from the center of the earth, drawing international mountain climbers seeking to conquer the behemoth. You will have the chance to make a short trek to the volcano’s glaciers before we head to the mountain lodge for the evening.
Overnight at Chimborazo Mountain Lodge Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
We start our morning boarding the Devil’s Nose train. At the time of its construction, this rail line was considered an engineering marvel, with its daring switchbacks that descended from the Andean peaks down to the Pacific coast. The section we will cover begins in Alausi and provides us stunning views, and local community interaction. In the afternoon we will take a trip back in time, as we visit the restored Ingapirca ruins, an important religious site of the Incan Empire. This is a long day that will have us arriving in the city of Cuenca in the evening.
Overnight in Cuenca Hotel Meals included: Breakfast
Our final day will have us exploring the historic colonial center of Cuenca. We will climb the skirts of the city, arriving to a stunning viewpoint where you will find it difficult to put your camera down. In the afternoon we will visit a factory where Panama Hats are crafted, and learn about the traditions and cultural significance of this functional and fashionable Ecuadorian product. An evening flight will have us back in Quito, where you can grab your international connection, or head back to your hotel in the city.
Meals included: Breakfast
|Rates – Per Person||3-4 Star Hotels|