Day 1: Arrival in Quito. Arrival in Quito, greeting at the airport and private transfer to Hotel in Quito. This service includes tips to porters at airport and hotel. Balance of day at leisure. Overnight 2 nights in Quito.
Day 2: Private Scenic Tour of Quito. In the morning your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel for your private half day scenic tour of this ancient city. The capital of Ecuador has a setting that few cities can match. During the 13th century it was the prosperous center of the Kingdom of Quitus. It later became the northern capital of the Inca Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Colonial architects built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Day 3: Indigenous Ecuador. The tour includes Calderon, a village known for its decorative bread dough figurines, the valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe, the Otavalo indigenous market, landscapes of towering volcanoes with amazing opportunities for taking pictures, the crater lagoon of Cuicocha, and finally the leather-making village of Cotacachi. Overnight at a local hacienda of a very good standard.
Day 4: Chaski Antawa. The Chaski Antawa Train (messenger train) rides on the railroad built at the beginning of the 20th century connecting the northern highlands with the tropical coast. From Ibarra, the train climbs down to the warm, dry valley of Ambuqui, going through sugar cane plantations, magical landscapes, and tunnels, and crossing bridges that span large canyons and gullies. The 26-km ride to Salinas plunges from 2,200 down to 1,500 meters above sea level (7,216 to 4,920 feet) in only about 2 hours. Other sites include the village of Mascarilla; an Afro-Ecuadorian community known for its unique clay masks, And Otavalo and its famous indigenous craft market, the largest in South America. Back to Quito, overnight at a hotel of your choice.
Day 5: Quito to Riobamba. Transfer to the old train station of Quito to start the adventure. The one car autoferro, which resembles a bus that runs of metal wheels along the train tracks, is ready to depart towards the south. As the autoferro advances along the ancient railway, the mood aboard makes you adjust to another tempo, and leisurely enjoy the way of traveling of past centuries. One of the highlights of the trip is to ride the roof with a panoramic view of the stunning Andean region of Ecuador. The autoferro ascends to the station of El Boliche, within the National Recreational Area of the same name, which is covered with pine trees, planted in 1928 as a scientific experiment to prove that foreign conifers could adapt to high-altitude ecosystems. White-tailed deer and many bird species have found an excellent refuge in these forests.
Continue the voyage along the Avenue of the Volcanoes among magnificent natural scenery, to visit an Indian market. Farm products, wares and handicrafts are displayed everywhere on the plazas and the colorful fruits, vegetables and costumes provide countless opportunities for taking pictures. After lunch, continue toward the impressive mount Chimborazo, and visit the train station of Urbina, the highest point in the Quito & Guayaquil railway. Here is an Indian hut to observe the way of life of the inhabitants of the Andean region, the produce of the Andes and a loom to see the weaving process. There are also llamas and sheep. At the house of the station - which is used for climbers to acclimatize before ascending the Chimborazo- a typical hot drink of cinnamon and firewater (canelazo) is served. There is also a small workshop where tagua nut objects are being hand made. Continue on to Riobamba for a short visit of the city. Overnight 1 night in Riobamba.
Day 6: Riobamba to Cuenca. After an early breakfast, transfer to the train station to board the autoferro for a scenic ride to Alausi. Twist and turn over the Andes, tunneling through rocky impasses, bridging ravines and river gorges. Ride past Cajabamba, Riobamba`s original location, now beneath a huge scar on a hillside from the devastating earthquake of 1797. On the shore of Colta Lake is the Church of Balbanera, the oldest in Ecuador, built by the Spanish in 1534 . Arrive to Alausi and prepare to go down the Devil?s Nose switch backs, one of the most impressive feats of rail engineering in the world, and back to Alausi. Disembark in Alausi, and board the motorcar to continue the trip by road along the Andes towards the south.
Arrival to Ingapirca for a visit to the Inca Ruins of Ingapirca. Upon arrival at Ingapirca stop at the on-site museum, and admire the stone fortress with several trapezoidal doorways and stone walls perfectly fit together, without mortar, of the Inca construction. There is an elliptical platform, known as the Temple of the Sun used for religious and ceremonial purposes, the barracks, the stone Inca Face and the zoomorphic carvings. Box lunch en-route. Continue on to Cuenca to arrive at dusk. Overnight 2 nights in Cuenca.
Day 7: Cuenca. Cuenca is Ecuador`s third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. Today guests will enjoy a full day to discover, at a leisurely pace, the beauty and charm for which Cuenca has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site. This is a walking tour in the colonial downtown area of Cuenca, an opportunity to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of its people, the colorful parks and plazas, religious monuments and handcraft shops, plus an explanation of Cuenca`s history. Lunch is served at one of the cozy restaurants of the area. In the afternoon, visit a workshop where Panama straw hats of the best quality are made and then drive up to the hill of Turi to admire the city. The last visit is to the Museum of the Central Bank, and its very interesting ethnographic museum featuring lifesize figures of the many different Indian groups that inhabit Ecuador.
Day 8: Cajas National Park & afternoon flight onto Guayaquil. Excursion to Cajas National Park. A jacket and walking shoes are necessary when heading for the area of Cajas, 19 miles (30 Km.) west of Cuenca. Cajas is lake country, a protected 28,800-hectare area starting at 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level; the region shows remains of intense volcanic activity and glaciation. The highest point is reached on the road at Three Crosses, the water divide of those than go to the Pacific and to the Atlantic.
The wind and drizzle can make it very cold, but the scenery surrounding these 230 lakes is splendid, for walking and hiking, for observing flora, fauna and bird life. The vegetation includes small forests of quinua trees, a high protein grain. These dwarf forests are home to many species of birds like hummingbirds and the gray-breasted mountain toucan. The cold lakes of Cajas are full of trout, which is prepared in various ways for lunch. Return to Cuenca in the afternoon and transfer to the airport for the return flight. Upon arrival in Guayaquil you will be meet at the airport by a local guide and driver for your transfer to your hotel. Overnight for 1 night in Guayaquil.
Day 9: Guayaquil to Galapagos Islands. Today after breakfast you will fly to the Galapagos Islands, the flight take approximately 2 hours. Arrive normally before midday and you will be transferred to your selected cruise. Please see Cruising the Galapagos under Galapagos Islands in Ecuador to select your cruise and cabin type. Please check the departure dates of each of the flights, we will re-arrange your itinerary to fit if needed with consulting. Dates for all cruises should be checked
Last Day: Departure from the Galapagos. On the last day after breakfast we fly you back to Guayaquil to connect with your on-going flight.
- Standard (minimum 3 stars)
- Superior (minimum 4 stars).
* Luxury Packages are also available.
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South America Ecuador Local Culture Railway Trips Cultural Journey