Destinations: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Riobamba, Nariz del Diablo Train, Cuenca – Guayaquil & Galapagos.
Duration: 17 Days / 16 Nights
This tour offers you a diverse number of visits blending an experience of the culture and natural wonders Ecuador has to offer. It includes memorable experiences of being at the Middle of the World, visit patrimonial cities like Quito and Cuenca, walking among the volcanoes at Cotopaxi National Park and Quilotoa Lake, among other wonderful experiences. Of course a trip to Ecuador could not be complete without the famous Galapagos Islands.
Day 1 Arrival to Quito
Upon your arrival to Mariscal International Airport in the city of Quito, you will be welcomed by a member of EPR Travel, who will be ready to assist you and provide you transportation to your hotel of choice.
Day 2 Visit to Historical Center - Mitad del Mundo. (D, A)
During the morning, we will take a tour of the historical center of Quito, which is well maintained, as was built on top of ruin of the northern Inca capital. It is not a coincidence that Quito was named a ¨World Heritage¨ city in 1978.
It is located at the base of Pichincha volcano. The journey thru the colonial complex, churches, historical houses, plazas and convents, will allows one to observe the beauty of all the elements that are the makeup of this city´s beautiful architecture. During this journey we will visit San Agustin, La Catedral and La Compañia de Jesus churches as well as the Basilica, the Virgen del Panecillo and finally the Intiñan museum. After this amazing trip, we will take you back to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
Day 3 Quito – Otavalo (D, A)
On this day we will journey thru one of the most spectacular sceneries that the northern Andes region has to offer. Our route will take us towards the lookout point over Lake San Pablo; and followed by an arrival to the indigenous market of Otavalo and its well known Plazas de Ponchos. It is here that the local indigenous community will have a variety of artifacts and apparel, including multi-colored textiles, ponchos, indigenous jewelry, hats and many other indigenous artifacts from the area. We will then continue towards Peguche, which is a small town that is famous for its colorful Andean textiles made by hand and then delivered to the local markets around the area. While in town we will also visit a house where they specialize in the handmade construction of Andean musical instruments. Once you have been delighted, we will head to a Hosteria in the area for a nice night of relaxation to soak in the day´s Adventure.
Day 4 Otavalo – Quito (D, A)
We will start out with a visit to Cotacachi; a place where beautiful crafts made from leather are manufactured and sold as representation of the excellent craftsmanship from the local community. We will then head south to visit the Cochasqui archeological complex. It has around 84 acres and is located at 3,100 meters above sea level. The complex houses 15 pyramids built with a hardened mud substance derived from volcanic material extracted from the nearby mountains. This material is known as cangahua and the pyramids that were constructed from it take the shape of a large ¨ T ¨. A unique characteristic of these pyramids is that they are built almost exactly on the equatorial line (0º 3` and 35¨) and correspond to a period between the years of 850 B.C. and 1550 B.C. After that we will return to the city of Quito for lodging.
Day 5 Cotopaxi National Park (D, A)
Around an hour south of the capital city of Quito we will find the Cotopaxi National Park and its majestic Cotopaxi volcano. At the foot of this active volcano is Limpiapungo Lake which is the normal habitat for a few species of birds like the Andean seagull, South American coots, and sparrow hawks with a little luck, perhaps the majestic Andean condor. In the afternoon we will visit a place that served as an Inca fortress in the 15 century, and since then, it has been an Agustin convent and a temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission which is the group responsible for helping determine the shape of the earth.
Day 6 Quilotoa Lake – Baños (D, A)
We will follow our route south with Quilotoa Lake as our destination. It is located only 14 kilometers further south of the town of Zumbahua. It is a very small town that sits next to a beautiful crater lake. The crater measures 400 meters deep to the surface of the water and its waters are a pristine turquoise blue color. It is an active volcano but it lays quiet at the moment except for a few underwater smoke plumes that can be seen at the bottom of the lake. We will then head towards Baños de Agua Santa, named as such because of the various waterfalls that surround the city and the Virgen located in its main church.
Day 7 Avenue of the Volcanoes – Riobamba (D, A)
The town of Baños, located on the skirts of Tungurahua volcano, is currently in its eruptive process and possesses natural barriers that have allowed this beautiful city to go on unaffected by the volcanoes activity. Among the activities planned for the day, we have a journey thru the route of the waterfalls, ending with its largest waterfall, known as the Pailon del Diablo. It is named that because of the large hole at the base of the falls that forms the shape of a cooking pot. In the afternoon you can relax with a volcanic rock massage and then continue towards the city of Riobamba.
Day 8 Riobamba - Chimborazo – Royal Palace (D, A)
Riobamba is located in the province of Chimborazo and sits on the side of a very large volcano by the same name. At the foot of the volcano there are several indigenous communities that thrive from the natural resources it provides. We will head towards the Palacio Real where we will find an indigenous community known as the Kichwa Puruha. In this community the women of the group have dedicated to the agriculture, cattle ranching and the hand crafted art pieces, as well as the raising of llamas and alpacas. Because of this, they call themselves the ¨llamingueras¨. The name Palacio Real was given to this community in the times of the Spanish conquest when Simon Bolivar resided there for a short time and mentioned to the town that he had ¨slept like in my palace¨. Finally we will return to Riobamba for a visit to the Museum of Religious Art of the Conceptas sisters; where we can admire religious jewels, Imagineering, the unique art style from the Escuela de Quiteña and Andean furniture.
Day 9 Train to Nariz del Diablo - Ingapirca – Cuenca (B,L)
Pittoresque andean villages, inhabitants with their colourfull clothes and fantastic landscapes are some of the things you can enjoy on this day. We travel by road to Alausi, where you board the train to ‘Devil’s Nose’. From here the train descends some 300 mtrs over a zig-zag rail. In the afternoon you visit Ingapirca, located at 3230 mtrs above sea level. This is the most important and most impressive archeological site in Ecuador. The stone temple, dedicated to the sun, is built in a round form. You continue your way to Cuenca.
Day 10 Cuenca (B,L)
Cuenca with its narrow cobblestone streets is the third most important city of Ecuador and is known for its buildings in colonial style.The city was originally built by the Cañari around 500 B.C. and was at that time named Guapondeleg. The city was taken by the Incas some 500 years before the arrival of the Spanish. The Incas named it Tomebamba. Todays visit includes the new and old catedral, the flower market, the Pumapungo museum and the famous Panama hat factory.
Day 11 Visit to Chordeleg - Gualaceo (B,L)
We start the day with a visit to Chordeleg, about an hour east of Cuenca, famous for its filligrain silver and gold jewellery and ceramics. There will be plenty of time for shopping. We continue to Gualaceo, where we visit two markets: the fruit and vegetable market and the market where ikat is sold, the textile that is made with precolombian techniques.
Día 12 National Parc Cajas – Guayaquil (B,L,D)
After breakfast we leave for National Parc Cajas With its more than 200 glacier lakes it is an incomparable example of the Andean highlands or páramo. Enormous cliffs break the uniformity of the high planes, at an altitude of 3700 mtrs. You can see the flora and fauna tipical for these highlands. We go on to Guayaquil, where we wil arrive at the end of the day and we will visit de Malecón 2000.
Day 13-17 Tour a Galápagos
Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to the Galpagos islands. On arrival you will be transferred to your ship or hotel.
Visiting Galápagos is a once in a lifetime experience. The direct contact with the wildlife guarantees an unforgettable experience. The islands are inhabited by numerous endemic species among which are sea lizards, pinguins and all sorts of birds. The crystalclear waters enable you to see all kinds of fish, sea turtles, sealions and sharks.
You can do these tours by boat, small or bigger, from a hotel on one of the islands or a combination of the two. Meals are included from lunch on the day of arrival to breakfast on the day of departure.
On day 17 you return to Guayaquil or Quito, where you spend the night.
Day 18 Flight back home (B)
Transfer to the airport to catch your flight back home.
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