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Wonders of Ecuador

Duration
8 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,311

FIRST-CLASS | PRIVATE-GUIDED: This introductory Ecuador tour takes you to the centre of the world, through some of the most enchanting sights and villages of the Andes. From the Equator to the sea, explore the best of Ecuador.


This 8-day Ecuador tour proves good things come in small packages.

Touch down in Quito, the city of eternal springtime and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s easy to get lost in the colonial streets and enchanting architecture, but a guided tour covering the highlights will help you get your bearings before visiting Old Town Quito. Then, head north to Latitude 0’0’0”, the very centre of the world. Not only can you take a photo straddling the equator, you’ll be amazed at the tricks gravity can play in this unique spot.

Travel along the Panamerican Highway to Otavalo, where indigenous Ecuador still thrives, producing some of the world’s most beautiful textiles. If your visit falls on a Saturday, you can enjoy the main market, but there are souvenir bargains to be had at any time. Visit a rose planation in the afternoon, before returning to Quito. Your second big Quito day trip takes you to the Mindo Cloud Forest. While this is a spectacular region in its own right, you can enhance your visit with tubing, riding a cable car, or visiting the local orchid farms, butterfly gardens, and waterfalls.

Leave Quito behind and head for an Andean Hacienda almost 10,000 feet above sea level. Surrounded by these spectacular mountains, keep an eye out for Andean Condors among other wildlife. This region presents the Andes at their most impressive with petrified lava rivers and lakes, alongside indigenous markets. Then continue on to Cuenca, home to the Ingapirca Inca ruins, a fascinating stop on the Inca road between the ancient capitals of Quito and Cusco.

Spend a day in Cuenca proper, roaming its churches, markets, and museums. Did you know the Panama Hat originated here? You do now. Another piece of Cuenca heritage is the orthogonal town plan, which has observed for four centuries now. Your journey ends in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, with a decidedly more tropical climate than the rest of Ecuador. If you’re still hungry for adventure, consider a few days sailing the Galapagos, or head south into Peru.


 

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Duration
8 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,311

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrival in Quito

Upon arrival into Quito you will be met and transferred to your hotel. A document kit with detailed program information will be available, as well as luggage and hotel registration assistance. Overnight in Quito.

Duration4 Nights
Accommodation

Hotel Reina Isabel

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Location View map
  • starstarstar

    Hotel Reina Isabel



    This chic hotel with spa and brand new gym facilities is situated in the heart of the lively Mariscal district.

    This chic hotel with spa and brand new gym facilities is situated in the heart of the lively Mariscal district.

    Facilities

    • Bar
    • Airport Shuttle Service
    • Bathroom with shower
    • Car Rental Available
    • Fitness Facilities
    • Room Service
    • Sauna
    • Television
    • WiFi

    More Details

Day 2

Quito and Equatorial Line

Ecuador is history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers and lush tropical forests, spectacular snowcapped volcanoes and some of the most exciting wildlife on earth. The place to start your journey is the 'Mitad del Mundo', a site located just 45 minutes north of Quito, where a monument marks the equator at its closest point to the city. Archaeological evidence shows that both pre-Inca and Inca civilizations recognized and celebrated the equinox, the day the sun is directly over the equator.

You will visit the "Ciudad Mitad del Mundo," a group of buildings designed to explain the significance of the site, as well as the Initñam Museum, located right on the Equator. Here you will have the chance to plant your feet in two hemispheres at the same time! Back in Quito, you will visit the city's impressive colonial center, the reason Quito was the first city to be named a world heritage site. First on the agenda is a walk through the main plaza, the 'Plaza de la Independencia', where you will see the Government Palace, the Cathedral, and some of the most important churches built around the XVI and XVII centuries, including the Convent of Santo Domingo.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Otavalo

Today you will visit the Quitsato Sundial, a cultural-tourist area located on the equatorial line near the Cayambe volcano, where you will learn about the astronomical knowledge of the region's pre-Hispanic cultures. You will have the chance to see the famous roses of Ecuador in Hacienda la Compañía in Cayambe town. The name of this hacienda is La Compania de Jesus because it belonged to the Jesuit order when they were established in Ecuador 300 years ago. In 1767, when the King Charles III expelled them from Spain and all their colonies, they had to leave these lands. This Hacienda has been in the Jarrin Family for five generations, it is still a family house, but over the past 15 years they have been offering different activities and services for visitors from around the world.

Part of the tour to La Compañia includes a visit to the greenhouses and the post-harvest room, where they will explain the process for growing exportation roses. Ecuadorian roses are highly appreciated around the world due to their variety and quality. You will also have the opportunity to visit the chapel and the house, the former dating back to the beginning of XVII century, built by the Jesuit order. The sculptures located in the altar belonged to the famed "Escuela Quiteña de Artes." The style of the house is French neoclassic. Everything is perfectly maintained and preserved, including the ceiling, wall paper and floors from 1919, when the house was built. This house is decorated with original furniture, and has a rose exhibition with roses grown in the rose farm.

Afterwards, you will head to the town of Otavalo. This is truly one of the most interesting towns in Ecuador, where the local Kichwa indigenous culture is not only plainly visible, but in the ascendency. The town's famous craft market is one of the most visited sites in Ecuador, and with good reason. The market is filled with interesting, colourful and sometimes rare objects and crafts. The market is held every day on one of the town squares at the foot of the majestic Mt. Imbabura. And to help you navigate the market, you will be given a short explanation of the market and provided with a map of the area.

As part of your day at the market you will visit the workshop of some artisans in Peguche in a small store covered with bright designs, most with an indigenous motif. The workshop uses only pure wool and Alpaca; the weavers card and spin it themselves and then dye it with natural inks made from mosses (for yellow) or seeds such as 'Achiote' (for red). After visiting Otavalo, you will be returned to the hotel in Quito.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 4

Mindo

Leaving Quito after an early breakfast at your hotel, you will stop at the Pahuma Reserve to take a short walk to the rushing waterfall and orchid display. It is a 650 hectare (~1,500 acre) cloud forest reserve located only one hour from Quito. The lush vegetation is fed by abundant moisture from the mist-laden air and provides home to a multitude of epiphytes ("air plants") including bromeliads, orchids, mosses and ferns. The astonishing diversity of species that make up the reserve provides limitless enjoyment for visitors interested in orchids, birdwatching or simply taking in the sights and sounds of the forests and its three spectacular waterfalls.

You will then continue on to Mindo to admire and enjoy the interactive butterfly garden where, surrounded by hundreds of colorful butterflies, you will be able to observe the four stages of a butterfly's life. While you are in the garden you will be able to feed one or more of the 25 different species of butterflies. Finally, set out in Mindo for a good walk to the waterfall, and with luck, admire some of the species of hummingbirds that exist in this area. Following you exploration of Mind, you will be driven back to your hotel in Quito.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 5

Quito, Cotopaxi and Riobamba

After breakfast, you will set out to visit Cotopaxi National Park where, weather permitting, you will be able to see the snowcapped summits of the Cotopaxi and Antisana volcanoes. You will also visit the Interpretation Center to learn about the history of this spectacular volcano's major eruptions, as well as the local flora and fauna. You will then visit Lake Limpiopungo and explore the surrounding area on foot. If you feel like a longer walk, a two hour hike will take you to Mt. Cotopaxi's J.Ribas refuge (4,800 meters above sea level) where you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the volcano and the surrounding Andean peaks. After exploring the Cotopaxi region, you will be driven to Riobamba to check-in to your accommodations for the night.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hosteria La Andaluza

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Location View map
  • starstarstar

    Hosteria La Andaluza



    Set in a charming country estate featuring 2 restaurants and 2 bars, Hosteria La Andaluza offers rooms with free Wi-Fi and plasma TV in Riobamba. Breakfast is provided and BBQ. Volleyball and basketball courts are featured. Hosteria La Andaluza is 134.8 miles from Quito and …

    Set in a charming country estate featuring 2 restaurants and 2 bars, Hosteria La Andaluza offers rooms with free Wi-Fi and plasma TV in Riobamba. Breakfast is provided and BBQ. Volleyball and basketball courts are featured.

    Hosteria La Andaluza is 134.8 miles from Quito and 144.8 miles from Guayaquil. Urbina Train Station is 5 miles away.

    Facilities

    • Bar
    • Fireplace
    • Flat Screen TV's
    • Games Room
    • Hairdryers
    • In Room Heater
    • Mini Bar
    • Room Service

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Day 6

Riobamba, Ingapirca and Cuenca

On the way to Cuenca you will have the opportunity to pay a quick visit the oldest church in Ecuador, La Balbanera; a stone edifice that dates back to 1524. When the Spanish came to Ecuador, one of the first places they settled was Riobamba area (after conquering what was then part of the Inca empire).

Other attractions along the way include the Laguna de Colta, which in the Puruhá language is known as "Kulta Kucha", which translates to Duck Lake. The lake is host to several species of native birds and a myriad of colorful fish. Soon, you will drive south to Ingapirca, an Inca observatory and fortress. This is the most important Inca site in Ecuador, where the emperor and his entourage would rest during trips to this northern segment of the empire. The ruins represent the largest and best preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. It was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar, and the temple served ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, and also had strategic-military purposes.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Hotel Carvallo

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  • starstarstar

    Hotel Carvallo



    Hotel Carvallo is set in a renovated house dating from the 19th century. Guests can enjoy 4-star décor and services. Boasting a colonial-style central courtyard, draped curtains and canopy beds, this luxurious hotel is right in Cuenca's historical district. WIFI is free. Carvallo is 1 …

    Hotel Carvallo is set in a renovated house dating from the 19th century. Guests can enjoy 4-star décor and services. Boasting a colonial-style central courtyard, draped curtains and canopy beds, this luxurious hotel is right in Cuenca's historical district. WIFI is free. Carvallo is 1 block from Calderon Park. Guests can enquire about car rental and currency exchange services at the tour desk.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Restaurant(s)

    More Details

Day 7

Cuenca

One of the first things to notice when entering Cuenca is the magnificent skyline marked by brilliant church domes, and after breakfast today you will set out on a city tour which is highlighted by the city's colonial architecture. Cuenca's winding rivers, graceful ironwork balconies and beautiful gardens, are part of the pleasant atmosphere of this historic city, declared a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in December 1999. This is the perfect place to discover by foot, and is ideal for those looking to blend into the relaxed setting of a truly romantic colonial city.

Walking along Cuenca's cobblestone streets or watching the people go by in the town square dominated by the great cathedral is both peaceful and inspiring. With approximately 400,000 inhabitants, this city is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the country due its architecture, surroundings and small town ambiance. Cuenca is traversed by four rivers and surrounded by green valleys and its people create some of the finest crafts in the country.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 8

Cuenca, El Cajas National Park and Guayaquil

Today, you will visit El Cajas, a 70,000 hectare (~172,970 acre) National Park, which hosts several ecosystems from cloud forests to rocky lunar landscapes. However, it is the lakes (there are more than 200 of them) scattered among jagged peaks that best characterize the reserve. Most of El Cajas lies at 3,000 meters above sea level, with grassland covering most of the rugged terrain. The frost and ice that can be found above 4,000 meters is a deterrent to most vegetation, but the tiny and hardy Quina tree clings to life here, higher than any other tree in the world. Keep a look out for these 200-year-old specimens tucked up against hillsides in pockets of primary forest, clothed in a green palette of mosses and ferns and fighting each other for sunlight.

In El Cajas there is a good chance of seeing the wild llamas that were reintroduced to the park in the late 1990's. The park's other animal inhabitants, such as the spectacled bear, puma, and tigrillo, are more elusive. The long list of birds that can be seen here includes hummingbirds, toucans and magnificent Andean condors. After visiting El Cajas National Park, you will be driven to Guayaquil Airport, where services end. From Guayaquil, you can arrange your return flight home, spend a night or two exploring Ecuador's most important port city, or perhaps carry on your adventure to the Galapagos Islands. Please speak to your Destination Specialist if you would like to arrange any services or accommodations.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

2023: Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • Private arrival and departure airport transfers
  • 4 nights in first-class accommodations in Quito
  • 1 night in first-class accommodations in Riobamba
  • 2 nights in first-class accommodations in Cuenca
  • Private-guided tour of Quito and the equatorial line
  • Private-guided tour of Otavalo and rose garden
  • Private-guided tour of the Cotopaxi region 
  • Private-guided tour of Balbanera, Laguna de Colta and the Ingapirca ruins
  • Private-guided tour of Cuenca 
  • Private-guided tour of El Cajas National Park 
  • Breakfast daily (excluding Day 1), 2 lunches

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas if required
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Meals not specifically noted in the itinerary
  • Beverages unless specified
  • Airport taxes
  • All international and domestic airfares and airfare taxes unless specified

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please enquire.

TB CONDORTQUI1123SG: WOE 2
8 Dec 2023
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