Arrival in Quito. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Night: Hotel Quito
We will depart Quito at 8:00 AM for the two-hour drive to Mindo. Here we will visit the Butterfly Farm where more than 25 species of beautiful butterflies are on display, along with various stages of their metamorphosis. Exotic birds such as toucans and hummingbirds can also be found in the area. We’ll have lunch in Mindo, then head back to Quito, stopping at Pululahua Volcano, an inactive crater where farmers still dwell.
Night: Hotel Quito.
Departing Quito at 8:00 AM, we will take the Pan-American Highway (also known as Volcanoes Avenue) to Cotopaxi National Park, about a two hour drive from Quito. Here we will visit the Mariscal Antonio Jose Sucre Museum, Limpiopungo Lake (at an altitude of 12,600 ft), and the Cotopaxi Refuge itself at 15,750 ft., enjoying the varied flora and fauna like chuquirahua plants. After lunch in the town of Tambopaxi we will travel to the beautiful, historic Hosteria La Cienega for dinner and a relaxing evening.
Night: Hosteria la Cienega.
After breakfast we will head to Quilotoa Lake, a caldera formed about 800 years ago by an eruption that caused the surrounding earth to collapse and create a “crater lake”. Those in good physical shape (the altitude loss/gain is over 1000 feet) may want to hike down into the bowl. After lunch on the road we will enjoy a city tour of Riobamba, the capital of Chimborazo Province. Dinner and lodging will be at the charming and comfortable Hacienda Araspungo.
Night: Hacidenda Araspungo
After an early breakfast we head for the train station for one of the most incredible and adventurous train rides: the zig-zaggy trek down the Devil’s Nose to Alausi! After lunch we will head to the Ingapirca Inca-Canari Ruins, the only Inca ruins in Ecuador, where we will visit the Ingapirca Complex (“ingapirca” means Sun’s Temple). After enjoying the ruins we will continue to the city of Cuenca for the night.
Night: Inca Real
After breakfast we will embark on a city tour of Cuenca, considered a World Cultural Heritage Site because of its colonial architecture and its position as Ecuador’s third most important city. The tour includes visits to various churches, museums, and markets (both local and flower), plus a stupendous view of the city at El Turi. Afterwards we will visit the Panama Hat Factory where you will have the opportunity to buy your own authentic Panama hat! A visit to a local ceramic store is also planned, and after lunch you will have the afternoon to shop on your own.
Night: Inca Real.
After breakfast we will begin our trek to Guayaquil, stopping on the way to visit Cajas National Park, located 30km west of Cuenca. The park covers an altitudinal range from 11,5000 to 14,000 ft., and harbors the best polylepis forest in the paramo (the polyepis is the only tree that will grow above 9500 ft.). Once in the park we will visit Toreadora Lake, where we will take about an hour to hike around and enjoy a variety of flora and fauna . We will have lunch on the road and spend the night in Guayaquil.
Night: Gran Hotel Guayaquil
After breakfast we will transfer from the hotel to the airport, where we will board our flight to the Galapagos Islands. (Please see the Galapagos link for details on the four, five, and eight day tour packages.) You may wish to add one of our other tours (e.g., Otavalo, Papallacta Hot Springs, or one of our jungle tours) as an extension.
- Private transportation
- Transfer in and out.
- Specific meals included in the program.
- Bilingual Guide
- Entrance fee to Cotopaxi National Park
- Entrance fee to Quilotoa Crater Lake
- Ticket for train ride
- Entrance fee to Ingapirca Ruins
- Entrance fee to Cajas National Park
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