Volcanoes and the beautiful south
Venture down the avenue of volcanoes to Ecuador's hidden southern charms...
Explore Ecuador's lesser-trodden paths and be rewarded with spectacular scenery and fascinating cultural history. Whilst most visitors head to the Amazon and Galapagos Islands, this route through the centre of Ecuador - tracking the famous Avenue of Volcanoes - provides a stunning array vistas and hikes. Climb an ice-capped volcano, hike around crater lakes, trek Ecuador's National Parks or take a horse-ride across your hacienda's estate...this is definitely an itinerary for those who love the great outdoors! Of course, all those activities deserve a their rewards, so curling up at night in luxurious hotels and homely haciendas is the perfect way to finish each day. What better way to end a trip than at a cocoa plantation - gorging on Ecuador's world-famous artisan chocolate!
Arrive in Quito
Arrival to Quito’s international airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the city. Stay for 2 nights at the Illa Experience Hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure in Ecuador's capital.
Enjoy a private walking tour of Quito, considered one of South America's most beautiful cities. The city lies in a narrow valley at the foot of Pichincha Volcano. Visit some of the main sites, including the Plaza de la Independencia, the cultural heart of the colonial city, La Compañia and San Francisco churches. We will also climb the nearby Cerro Panecillo that has one of the best views across the city and the surrounding mountains.
This morning we will explore the small market town of Otavalo, located 2 hours north of Quito. The Otavalo Market is one of South America's most important areas for ethno-tourism and its regular markets attract traders and artisans from as far away as Peru and Bolivia. The market is a rich confusion of goods and styles from across the region, with jewelry, rugs, woven linen bags, woodcarvings and leather goods on display. Stay 3 nights at Hacienda Zuleta on a full-board basis.
Foothills of Volcan Cayambe
Escorted by your own private guide, enjoy a day at leisure to explore the beautiful Hacienda Zuleta and the surrounding areas. Choose from different activities, such as horseback riding, hikes around the Hacienda’s trails, condor preservations projects or Zuleta’s own cheese factory.
Visit Cuicocha, a turquoise crater-lake located 30 minutes away from Otavalo and at an altitude of 3,100m. Located in the Western Cordillera of the Andes, at the foot of Cotocachi volcano, this lake has a beautiful scenery. Walk along a segment of the trail that goes around the lake.
Cotopaxi National Park
head south to the Cotopaxi National Park, where you shall find the world's highest active volcano. This National Park has an impressive mountain scenery. Cotopaxi is a classic volcanic cone, snow covered and rising an imposing 5,897m from the valley floor below. Hike around the Limpiopungo Plateau, where we will explore flora and fauna of the paramo (high altitude Andean grasslands). Stay the night at Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, on a full-board basis.
Chimborazo National Reserve
After breakfast, continue south to visit Volcan Chimborazo. This mountain is Ecuador’s highest peak at 6,263m. Admire the volcano’s particular landscape and the flora and fauna. The high mountain shelters of this volcano have been named in honor of the explorers who reached the summit for the first time in 1880, Englishman Mr. Edward Whymper and the Italian Carrel brothers. Overnight at Hacienda Andaluza on a full-board basis.
Devil’s Nose Train Ride
Continue down to Alausi to take the Devil’s Nose Train to Sibambe. This famous railway is a triumph of engineering. From Alausi the track drops 800m down a ridge and into the gorge of the Río Chanchan. This is known as the 'Devil's Nose', one of the most exciting train rides in the world. The train returns to Alausi where you will meet your driver. From here, continue south along the scenic Pan-American Highway to Ingapirca - the largest Incan Empire archeological complex in Ecuador. After exploring the ruins, you will be transferred to the beautiful city of Cuenca, to stay for 3 nights at Hotel Cruz del Vado.
Take private city tour around the most important neighborhoods and streets of Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage city. Visit the downtown historical area, the central market, Abdon Calderon Park with its new and old cathedral. Continue the tour to the Homero Ortega factory to observe the complete process of manufacturing of the ‘Panama hat’ which is undoubtedly of Ecuadorian origin and manufacturing. Finally, visit the 'Turi' for a panoramic view of the city of Cuenca.
Today is a free day. Stay and take in more of Cuena, or arrange an excursion outside of the city, to El Cajas National Park or Baños de Cuena.
Hacienda la Danesa
After breakfast, your driver will take you approx. 4 hours north-west to reach Hacienda La Danesa, a traditional Cocoa and Milking Farm in the Ecuador’s lowlands. After a delicious lunch, visit the cocoa plantation to learn the history and process of the cocoa in Ecuador and taste 100% pure raw chocolate. After experiencing the cocoa process, the farm will offer you a unique gastronomic experience inspired in a Farm-to-Table ethos with products that are produced at the farm. Stay 2 nights on a full-board basis.
Hacienda la Danesa
Today you can enjoy from several inclusive activities on your package that include horseback riding, biking, traditional farm milking, hiking or tubing down a lazy river.
After breakfast, take a 90-minute transfer to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s economic capital. Your private city tour will include Parque Seminario, also known as 'Parque de las Iguanas' due to the colonies of land iguanas that can be found there and a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Guayaquil. Walk to the Malecon 2000 to visit Torre Morisca and La Rotonda before your transport takes you to the bohemian neighborhood of Las Peñas, which was declared as a Cultural Heritage Site in 1982. Dropped at Hotel del Parque to stay for 1 night.
Transferred to Guayaquil international airport in time for your flight home.
Please note the cost of this itinerary does not include international flights and is on a B&B basis, unless otherwise indicated. The itinerary includes private transportation service.