Trip highlights include elegant colonial Quito, scientific mysteries at the equator, trekking at Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, the stunning Quilotoa crater-lake, lush-green mountains and waterfalls at Baños, ancient Inca ruins at Ingapirca, museums at the beautiful white-washed city of Cuenca, handicraft shopping at Otavalo's colourful market, and chill out at the rejuvenating Papallacta hot springs.
Day 1: Arrival Quito - our driver will meet you in airport arrivals and transport you to Hotel Santa Barbara - a charming colonial-style hotel close to the new town part of the city. Free time to relax and acclimatise to your new surroundings.
Day 2: Quito city tour. A full day to acquaint yourselves with the best sites of the city of Quito. In the morning a tour of the beautiful colonial plazas and churches as well as panoramic city views atop the Panecillo. After lunch a trip north to the equator - stand literally in the middle of the world! We also visit the unique Inti Ñan museum where you can prove (or disprove) various scientific phenomena that only hold true at the equator. Overnight at Santa Barbara in Quito. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Cotopaxi National Park, a spectacular day visiting one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. In the morning we visit the surrounding parkland and have time to explore the picturesque Limpiopungo Lake. In the afternoon we go up to the snow line volcano refuge and visit the glaciers. Overnight at La Cienega, one of the oldest and most elegant colonial haciendas in the country. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Quilotoa crater lake. Quilotoa is a real highlight of the tour that will literally take your breath away! An emerald green Laguna inside the crater of an extinct volcano with steep jagged cliffs and views straight down the entire valley of volcanoes. It is possible to trek into the crater to the lake shore (with optional mule ride out for those with tired limbs), and there are also many other fine trekking opportunities in the local area sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Ecuador, as well as a chance to buy local handicrafts. Overnight in a simple hostel in the local village of Chugchilan. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 5: Baños: valley of the waterfalls - a morning transfer to the lush green mountains of Baños, followed by an afternoon exploring the pretty valley of the waterfalls. The Pailon del diablo (Devil's cauldron) is the largest and most spectacular but other smaller ones are also impressive. Overnight at Posada del arte in Baños. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Baños: free - Ecuador's premier resort town has a whole array of potential activities to enjoy: relaxing hot springs, trekking, biking, cannoning and horse-riding to name but a few. You have a free day to enjoy and explore at your own pace. Overnight at Posada del arte in Baños. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Ingapirca ruins - an unforgettable visit to the most impressive Inca ruins within Ecuador: Ingapirca was built in the 15th century on a strategic hilltop with excellent views over the surrounding countryside. A local guide will explain all about the origin and purpose of the ruins as well as a full lowdown on Inca history in Ecuador. Overnight at Posada del Angel in Cuenca. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Cuenca - a full day amidst the white-washed buildings and cobbled streets of Cuenca. An introductory tour to the colonial highlights of the city including its handsome plazas and domed churches, followed by free time to explore the city by yourselves. Overnight at Posada del Angel in Cuenca. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Transfer Otavalo - an early morning flight takes you back up the Andes to Quito with great aeriel volcano views on a clear day. You will be met at the airport by our driver and transported north to Otavalo where there is free time to relax at the pleasant Hotel casa de hacienda. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Otavalo market and surrounds - a full day around Otavlo begins with time to shop at the Indian market of Otavalo, famous across the Americas for it's fine handicrafts and colourful locals. In the afternoon visits to the Andean village of Cotocachi which is renowned for leather goods, and then onto the picturesque Cuicocha volcanic lake. Overnight at Casa de hacienda. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Papallacta hot springs - after the non-stop action of the past 10 days of travel today is time to put your feet up and relax at the stunning mountain setting of Papallacta. Bathe in the rejuvenating waters of the crystal clear natural hot springs and there is also an excellent spa available (spa activities are not included in the tour). Overnight at Hotel Santa Barbara in Quito. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Tour end. After breakfast our driver will transfer you to the airport for your flight out. Includes: (B).
This tour is designed to run starting on any day of the week, however, if you would like to visit Otavalo when the market is at its largest and there are more sellers then this day should be on a Saturday. We also offer a full range of add-on tours and activities that we would be happy to help out with.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Ecuador Local Culture Cultural Journey
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