Experience the lifestyle in the Valles Calchaquies

5 Days / 4 Nights

OVERVIEW

Overview

Cotopaxi, Riobamba, Cuenca

ITINERARY

Itinerary

Highlights of the Andes 5 Days / 5 Nights

On the first day of our program we’ll visit Cotopaxi National Park, a 2-hour drive from Quito.We’ll see bustling towns and small villages on the route, along with beautiful alpine views (weather permitting). As we approach Cotopaxi National Park, we’ll be able to see the snow-capped summits of both the Cotopaxi and the Antisana volcanoes on a clear day.

We’ll visit the Cotopaxi Interpretation center to learn about the history of its major eruptions as well as the local flora and fauna. Later, we’ll go to Limpiopungo Lake and explore the area by foot. Surrounded by beautiful peaks with Cotopaxi looming in the distance, it’s a beautiful setting to starto your discovery of the Andes ecosystem.

Optionally, if you feel like a longer walk, we can drive up the lower slopes of Cotopaxi, then embark on hike to the Jose Ribas mountain refuge (4800m), a small hostel used as a base for climbers preparing to climb to Cotopaxi’s summit. From here you will have spectacular views of Cotopaxi itself and the surrounding volcanoes of the Andes.


Night at Chilcabamba Lodge(standard room)

 

INCLUDED: Dinner, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

After breakfast we’ll leave Cotopaxi and continue our route through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Our drive to Quilotoa will take approximately 3 hours and, along the way, we’ll have the chance to visit indigenous markets. These markets are as authentic and non-touristy as we can find in Ecuador today. They are important for the local indigenous people as they are the center of their social and economic worlds.

 

(*Markets take place in the following days: Tuesday: Latacunga – Wednesday - Sunday: Pujili – Thursday: Saquisili - Saturday: Zumbahua.) 

Then we will visit the volcanic crater of Quilotoa, where we can appreciate a serene, green lake that is over 800 feet deep. The 2-mile-wide caldera was formed by the collapse of the now-dormant volcano following a massive eruption about 600 years ago. We’ll have the option of a short walk of 1.7 km along the crater's slope to take in the fantastic scenery.

 

On the way back, we’ll stop to visit the galleries of Tigua community, where we’ll appreciate the paintings that represent the folklore of this area in ​​the Andes, and that has transcended across generations. We’ll have the option of taking a painting class from a local artist, trying to learn the skills of these master artists and briefly immersing ourselves into their world.

 

 Night at the Abraspungo (Standard Room)

 

INCLUDED: B, L, D, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fees, Accommodation

After breakfast we will e,bark on a 2-hour drive to Alausi to meet the famous Devil’s Nose train. This unique mountain, with almost perpendicular walls, was the biggest complication faced during the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad. To overcome this obstacle, a zigzag railroad was built, enabling the train to climb or descend, first going one way and then reversing. The transition from Andean to coastal vegetation in an incredibly short distance is one of the journey’s most remarkable features. We’ll descend nearly 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) in only 12 km (7.5 miles) of track. This, right on the Equator, translates into a dramatic shift in climate and environment. It is one of the most spectacular railway journeys in the world, and remains an impressive piece of engineering.

 

While recovering from the thrilling descent we’ll enjoy the views of the narrow gorge of river Chanchán and will have the chance to learn a bit about the traditions and worldview of the Puruhua people in Sibambe.  Then, we have two options for departing Sibambe – we can either hike or drive to the Pistishi viewpoint. The scenic, uphill hike takes about an hour. Either way, we have spectacular views of the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) railroad from the viewpoint.

  

The Devil’s Nose Train runs from Tues – Sun, plus some holidays.

 

After admiring the view of the Devil’s Nose, we will drive approximately 2 hours to Ingapirca.

The Ingapirca Ruins are the largest and best-preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. The Inca Empire’s only remaining sun temple, it was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar. The temple served as a venue for ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, and also had strategic military purposes. We will explore the complex, learning about the various structures – from baths to the wineries.

After our time at Ingapirca, we will drive approximately 1.5 hours to reach Cuenca where we will spend the night.

 

Night at the Hotel Victoria (Standard Room)


Included: Breakfast, English speaking guide, transport, entrance fees, excursion, lunch, bedroom

Today we explore and celebrate the traditional craftspeople of Ecuador. The towns of Gualaceo and Chordeleg, are located just 45 minutes east of Cuenca. In these traditional settlements set in beautiful Andean landscapes, we will meet families who are still making textiles the way the "Cañaris" (the pre-Inca inhabitants) did more than 500 years ago. We will also visit the workshops of a traditional jewelry maker, a guitar maker’s workshop that forms part of the ‘Guitar Trail’, and a ‘Chola Cuencana,’ who stills makes her straw hats in the traditional manner. Along the way we’ll have the opportunity to visit an orchid farm that houses more than 2,000 species of orchids, as well as visiting shoemakers, jewelers, the food and fruit market, and more.

 

Night at the Hotel Victoria (Standard Room)

 

INCLUDED: B, L, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

Departing very early from Cuenca, we will begin to make our way to Bucay on Ecuador’s coast. The drive takes approximately 3.5 hours straight through, however we will likely be tempted to stop and take in the views or stretch our legs with a short hike in the stunning Cajas National Park on our breathtaking descent from the Andes. As our drive continues, we make our way through a variety of Ecuador’s incredible ecosystems. Our rapid descent from the Andes into the lowlands is spectacularly scenic, with snowy peaks, misty forests, and finally the coast.

 

On arrival in Bucay, we will visit Hacienda La Danesa. Located in Ecuador’s tropical coastal region with the spectacular Andes Mountains as backdrop, Hacienda La Danesa is a 500 Ha. traditional dairy farm that produces about 2,000 liters of milk per day, as well as fresh cheese for guests every morning. The hacienda also has cocoa and teak plantations and breeds beautiful pinto quarter horses.

During our time at Hacienda La Danesa we’ll be able to choose from the following activities: a tour of the cacao plantation, teak plantation tour, mountain biking and tubing on lazy rivers.

We’ll also enjoy a delicious three-course lunch menu prepared by the Hacienda’s expert chefs.

After lunch, we will drive approximately 2 hours to Guayaquil.

 

Night at the Wyndham Guayaquil (Deluxe)


INCLUDED: B, L, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

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