Day 1 Quito
Welcome to Quito! Depending on arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the town of Quito and the surrounding area.
In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel at 18:00pm for a welcome briefing and there will be plenty of time to discuss details and answer any questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an informational and acclimation day.
Day 2 Quito - Otavalo - Cotacachi - Peguche (51 km)
We take an early departure from Quito and drive north through the majestic Andes. On our way we will stop at a viewpoint to admire Imbabura Volcano and Lake San Pablo.
Once in Otavalo, you will have plenty of time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, filled with the Otavalo Indigenous people wearing the traditional blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair. Learn all about their daily activities, typical food and native language. Explore their famous handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, alpaca throws and rugs, knitted clothing native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices.
In the afternoon, we will drive to Cotacachi to have lunch and witness the impressive leather goods of the town and enjoy the beauty of this small village. There will be some free time for you to explore the shops or simply relax while sipping on one of the best coffees in Ecuador in the main plaza.
Finally we will go to Peguche, a small village known for its waterfalls and wind instruments production
Day 3 Peguche - Papallacta
We'll drive through a unique landscape up to an elevation of 4000 m(13123 ft) through the eastern range of the Andes. This road is situated between two national reserves, Antisana and Cayambe Coca, both located in the high mountain Paramo ecosystem, known for its short vegetation and for being home to some incredible animals such as the spectacled bear, deer, puma, Andean condor, cara-cara and more. After our 2 hour drive through the beautiful landscape, we will arrive at Papallacta Hot Springs Resort, where you can soak in the volcanic water pools surrounded by mountains and colorful flowers and birds.
Day 4 Hummingbirds Sanctuary
Early in the morning, we will drive down along a curvy panoramic road towards the Amazon Rain forest; as we descend from an altitude of 3000 m to 500 m (9843 ft to 1640 ft), you will observe how the landscape and vegetation change drastically between climates.
Our first stop will be the Guango reserve, where we will have the unique opportunity to see many different species of hummingbirds in the wild.
Later, we also stop at the "Guacamayos-Macaw Lookout", located between Antisana and Sumaco National Reserves (low elevation cloud forest), to observe the magic blanket of clouds that covers the Amazon rain forest, until we finally arrive at the Arajuno River, where a motor canoe will take us 20 minutes up the river to the Itamandi Eco-Lodge.
Day 5 Amazon Canoe Ride and Wildlife
In the morning, we will take a motorized canoe down the largest river in Ecuador to "Amazoonico", a rescue center sheltering a number of different animals in danger of extinction such as: Monkeys, Capybaras, Caimans, Ocelots, Toucans, Parrots, and other animals in their natural environment at close range. Later, we will enjoy a cultural activity where an Amazonian Kichwa community will receive us and we learn about their way of life and the interaction they have with the forest. Appreciate the skills of the indigenous women manufacturing handmade pottery (ceramics). This little business helps to support the indigenous people in their daily life.
Today we will also have the chance to learn how to make our own chocolate from the raw fruit.
Day 6 Parrots Clay Lick and the Road of Waterfalls
This morning explore the "Saladero" parrots clay lick. Come back for breakfast and continue our journey driving farther south to Puyo, where we will have a quick look at the balsa carving shop. From here continue onto Rio Verde, located in the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sangay National Park. Here, we will hike down to the second highest waterfall in Ecuador, the Pailon Del Diablo, where pounding water cascades on the rocks and mesmerizes you as you watch from a suspension bridge. You may also take an optional hike behind the falls. After another quick drive, we will arrive at another incredible waterfall called El Manto de la Novia, where we will ride in a cable car traversing the canyon of the Pastaza River.
In the late afternoon we will arrive to Banos. Here in Banos you can also visit a spa or another place to enjoy the hot springs of the area.
Day 7 Chimborazo Volcano
Early in the morning, we will drive through valleys and farming villages to reach the Chimborazo Volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador with an elevation of 6310 m(20702 ft) above sea level; whose summit is also the furthest point from the center of the earth on the entire planet. On a clear day, the majestic peak of Chimborazo dominates the view for many kilometers. There will be a short hike for 0.9 km (0.57 mi) to reach the elevation of 5000 m(16404 ft) where the glacier begins. On the hike, we will spot a few of the animals that inhabit this volcanic wonderland such as the Andean condor, cara-cara, hummingbirds, and the timid vicunas. Once extinct in Ecuador, they have been reintroduced and are now protected; this beautiful animal is related to the alpacas and llamas.
Day 8 Devil's Nose Train - Inca Ruins - Cuenca
After an early breakfast, we will take a scenic drive to the small town of Alausi. Here, we will board the train to the Devil's Nose, where the tracks wind through the countryside in a zigzag formation, creating a travel experience like no other. After the train ride, we will continue our visit towards Ingapirca, the most impressive Inca ruins of Ecuador. We will spend the afternoon learning about this archaeological site, notable for its unique fusion of Inca and native Canari architecture, as well as for its religious meaning. Later, we will head up to Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its colonial architecture.
Day 9 Cuenca - Quito
Starting in the morning enjoy a fantastic Cuenca city tour, visiting the most important buildings and notable places, such as Calderon Square, the New Cathedral, El Barranco and El Turi lookout point. In the afternoon visit a famous Panama hat factory where we will understand the whole process of making this traditional Ecuadorian hat. In the early evening we will take a short 45 minute domestic flight back to Quito, where we will transfer you to the hotel and go out to enjoy a farewell dinner with the group.
Day 10 Quito
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. Take with you your memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a "buen viaje"!