Antarctica & Arctic
Explore all that Ecuador has to offer - from haciendas and colourful markets to spectacular volcanoes and waterfalls. Immerse yourself in local culture and soak up the beautiful scenery.
Destinations > Ecuador > Handpicked Ecuador
Seven nights accommodation, meals as per itinerary, sightseeing with bilingual local guides and transfers as specified.
Discover a country of astonishing contrasts where cultural riches are surpassed only by breathtaking landscapes. Travel through the heart of Ecuador’s dramatic Avenue of the Volcanoes and rest by night in historic haciendas. Explore the charming colonial towns of Quito and Cuenca and be awed by gorgeous scenery in the Cajas National Park.
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Discover charming Cuenca and Quito, two of the most beautiful colonial cities in Latin America.
Visit Otavalo, an indigenous town with one of the most well-known and colourful artisan markets in South America.
See the breathtaking, snowcapped Cotopaxi Volcano in the Avenue of Volcanos, one of Ecuador's most recognisable sites.
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Arrive in the beautiful city of Quito, the world’s first city to be declared a
UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Standing at an altitude of 2,850m, Quito is the
second-highest capital in the world after La Paz in Bolivia. The first three nights of your
journey will be spent here.
Begin exploring this vibrant mountain city with a colonial city tour. Packed with architectural treasures, Quito’s exquisite Centro Historico is the largest and most well-preserved historic centre of any Latin American city. Picturesque plazas and baroque 17th century cathedrals contrast spectacularly with the snow-covered peaks beyond.
Explore Independence Square, the heart of colonial Quito, flanked by the Archbishop’s Palace and the Presidential Palace. See the Metropolitan Cathedral, one of the most important churches in the city and El Sagrario Church with its beautifully decorated dome. Visit the impressive La Compania Church which, with its ornate golden altars and perfect symmetry, is one of South America’s greatest baroque masterpieces. Continue to the Plaza of San Francisco where you’ll find the Church and Convent of San Francisco. This vast complex displays a rich sample of artistic and cultural heritage and is one of the most significant religious sites in Ecuador. Finish your city tour at Panecillo viewpoint with a spectacular panoramic view of the city. (B)
Today you will drive north from Quito, across the colourful valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe, to the traditional Andean town of Otavalo. Along the way, you will be able to spot the two Andean Cordilleras (mountain ranges) that run parallel through Ecuador from north to south, offering an impressively varied topography: active volcanoes, snow-capped mountains, green valleys, farmland, and historic haciendas.
Discover Otavalo’s artisan market, one of the most well-known and colourful indigenous markets in all of South America. A place where locals from around the region meet to exchange local produce, goods and textiles; countless stalls are piled high with ponchos, woollen goods, beautiful tapestries, hats, sweaters, indigenous jewellery and much more. For visitors, the markets offer the possibility of interacting with locals as you bargain on the variety of woven goods, textiles and jewellery, or simply appreciate the skill, elegance and beauty of the clothing and handicrafts.
The tour also offers a range of additional options, including visiting villages such as Peguche where you can see locals weaving on traditional looms or an Andean wind instruments workshop, or Cotacachi which offers options such as leatherwork including bags, jackets, hats and belts. Enjoy a traditional Andean lunch before returning through the countryside back to Quito. (B)(L)
Today you'll have an early departure from Quito south, along the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Cotopaxi National Park. The breathtaking snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano dominates the landscape and is the highest active volcano in the world. Despite the altitude, the Park is home to numerous birds and varied plant life, which can be seen on a light hike. Northeast lies Ruminahui Volcano and between the two mountains the plain and lagoon of Limpiopungo, which on a clear day reflects the beauty of the surrounding peaks. Depending on the day of the week, you'll visit an indigenous market.
Continue along a series of temperate valleys through charming villages of Latacunga, Salcedo and Ambato before turning east and heading to the picturesque and bustling town of Banos. Nestled amidst mountains, at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano, Banos is well known for its thermal baths and impressive array of adventure sports. (B)(L)(D)
After breakfast visit beautiful Agoyan waterfall, the gateway to the Amazon. Travel by road along the Pastaza River canyon to the so called "Route of Waterfalls" where you'll find Cascada de la Virgen, the Brides Mantle, Machay and Pailondel Diablo waterfalls, all of which lie along the riverbed of the Pastaza surrounded by green lush vegetation. At the tallest waterfall, Pailon del Diablo (the Devils Cauldron) you'll have the option to walk down to observe the waterfall from a breathtaking suspension bridge. In the afternoon, pass by the foothills of Chimborazo Volcano, the highest summit in Ecuador, to the city of Riobamba where you will spend the night at the delightful Hacienda Abraspungo. (B)(L)(D)
After breakfast visit la Balbanera, the first Spanish church built in the country. Surviving centuries of earthquakes, it is built in the Baroque style and was cobbled together with local rocks, volcanic rubble, and adobe and is still in use today. Travel south to Guamote, a small town where 95% of the population is Indigenous, to visit its traditional market where people from the surrounding communities sell fruits, hats, clothing as well as sheep, pigs, guinea pigs and cows.
A boxed lunch is provided and then you'll continue south for a 2 hour drive to visit the Incan Archaeological site of Ingapirca, which means "Wall of the Inca" and it is the most important Incan relict in Ecuador. This citadel was built in the fifteenth century on an ancient route that connected Quito to Cusco. The Solar Temple and the surrounding buildings follow the system of construction found in the ancient Incan capital. You'll visit the archaeological site and also the site museum displaying pottery and metal artefacts found, not only at this site, but also at the surrounding archaeological findings. Continue to the charming colonial city of Cuenca, your home for the next two nights. (B)(L)(D)
Cuenca is known as the jewel of Ecuador for good reason, it is arguably Ecuador’s most beautiful city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cuenca’s red-tiled roofs, flower-filled plazas and narrow cobble stone streets are reminiscent of a splendid past, while it’s many museums, cloisters, markets and churches are all testimony to a rich historical legacy. The facades date back over five centuries and have been kept intact due to the unique privilege of being the only city in the Ecuadorian Andes which has not been hit by major earthquakes. An impressive setting along the Tomembamba River, world-class restaurants, and a variety of art galleries, cafes and bars all add to Cuenca’s charm.
Today you will enjoy a city tour visiting the Cathedral, Main Square, flower market, San Francisco and Santo Domingo churches and the Central Bank Museum with permanent archaeological, anthropological, colonial and republican art collections, including interesting photography documenting the city's history. In the late afternoon, you'll visit a Panama hat factory where a wide variety of goods made from "toquilla" fibre like bags, dolls and many different hat styles and colours, and prices. At the end of the tour, soak up breathtaking panoramic views of the city from Turi Viewpoint. (B)(D)
Travel from Cuenca to Guayaquil, stopping en-route at the magnificent El Cajas National Park. The park, which is located in the western Cordillera of the Ecuadorean Andes, covers an area of 28,544 hectares and boasts no less than 235 lakes of glacial origin. At an altitude of 3,200-4,000 metres above sea level, the park’s humid Andean cloud forests act like a sponge and the park is a vital water source. With its incredible scenery, it is also a photographer’s dream. You will stop at two of the park’s lakes, Llaviucu Laguna and Laguna La Toreadora, where you can take some amazing photos. Arrive in Ecuador’s second largest city, Guayaquil, late in the afternoon where your journey ends. (B)(L)
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