Quito│Otavalo│Tren de la Libertad │ Amazonas │ Puyo │ Guamote│Chimborazo│ Cotopaxi
In the morning you will visit the colonial old town of Quito (UNESCO World Heritage Site) where you take a stroll through the narrow streets to the beautiful plazas and splendid churches. You then continue to the equatorial monument “Mitad del Mundo”. In the afternoon you travel north to Otavalo.
In the morning you will explore the surroundings of the Cuicocha Crater Lagoon during an 4-5 hour hike through the flora of the Andean highlands. After a traditional lunch in Cotacachi, you will visit a small archaeological museum. In the afternoon you stroll through the Otavalo market where you can try the exotic fruits and vegetables.
A train ride full of contrasts takes you through Imbabura today. Starting in Otavalo, the train ride takes you to Salinas where you can enjoy the culture and history of the Afro-Ecuadorians. Along the way the train makes many stops, where you will get insights into the history, music, gastronomy, craft, and above all the spectacular scenery of the northern Andes.
Enjoy a walk early in the morning through the streets of the Andean town of Otavalo to observe the lively market activity in Plaza de Poncho and the Andean culture of the Otavaleños. Afterward you continue over an Andean Pass of 4050m altitude into a valley at 3300m where thermal springs feed the most beautiful Spa in the country. In the afternoon you reach Hakuna Matata, the cozy rainforest lodge in the midst of a private protected forest.
This morning you will go on a hike through the protected rainforest of the lodge. Your nature guide will point out the particularities along the way, from medicinal plants, to the animals that hide in the dense green scenery. The destination of the hike is the small village of Santa Rita, where a delicious jungle lunch awaits you. Afterwards, the experts from Pacari show you how to make delicious chocolate from the local cocoa beans. After returning to the lodge, you can enjoy the afternoon at your leisure.
In the early morning you head to the small river of Arajuno and together with your guide you ride in a canoe to a clay lick, where you can observe hundreds of parrots and parakeets. You continue in the canoe to the indigenous Quichua community of Santa Barbara to taste many local dishes in a typical jungle buffet with the community. Later you drive to the small jungle town of Misahualli for a typical “Almuerzo” (Lunch). After a small walk through the village and its surroundings you return to the lodge.
After breakfast you drive to Puyo where you will visit an Animal Rescue Center to observe some tropical animals of the Amazon region and meet some monkeys face to face. From here you continue deeper into the rain forest to the small jungle town of Macas. Here you can relax in the afternoon in a nice rainforest Hosteria.
A short drive will take you to Shuar territory where you will go for a hike through the rain forest to a sacred waterfall. Here you will perform the waterfall ceremony of the Shuar. Afterwards you can refresh yourself with a soak in the waterfall and try the typical food of the Shuar. Later you continue to the Atillo Lakes, crossing the Andean highland to Guamote.
Visit the traditional Andean Market of Guamote in the early morning. Later you explore the area of Guamote and visit one of the surrounding small villages to get an insight into the life of the Kichwa population. In the afternoon you travel to Riobamba, surrounded by the mountains of Chimborazo, Carihuayrazo, El Altar, and Tungurahua. The city is considered to be the most important agricultural center of the Ecuadorian Andes.
OPTIONAL TRAIN RIDE OVER THE “DEVIL´S NOSE”:
After visting the market of Guamote you will drive to the small train station of Alausi and begin the famous train ride. Here the train manages the most difficult passage – the”Devil’s Nose” – where it manages over 100m in altitude difference in zigzag sweeps before it reaches Sibambe in the valley. After a short stay you will return to Alausi and drive back to Guamote to meet with the group again.
Today the trip takes you from Riobamba up to the heights of the mighty Chimborazo volcano. On the way you stop at one of the Indigenous Kichwa Communities that live here at heights of over 3000m. From here you drive up to the mountain hut Hermanos Carrel at 4800m altitude! The adventurous can hike from here to the Whymper hut at over 5000m altitude! In the late afternoon you will reach the small town of Latacunga.
A short drive takes you to the village of La Victoria, which is famous for the traditional manufacture of ceramics. Continue to the Andean market of Zumbahua and experience the noisy and chaotic market before heading to the beautiful crater lagoon, Quilotoa. On a short hike you can enjoy the changing views of the lagoon and the surrounding Andes Mountains.
In the morning you drive to the 400 year old Hacienda La Cienega where you will enjoy a coffee break in this nostalgic atmosphere before visiting a nearby flower farm to experience the many colors and fragrances of the wide rose fields. Afterwards you will explore the Cotopaxi National Park. During an easy hike around Limpiopungo Lagoon you will learn about the typical vegetation of the Andes and, with good weather, will have fantastic views of the impressive Cotopaxi. In the mountain refuge Tambopaxi you will have lunch surrounded by the mountains Sincholagua and Cotopaxi before returning to Quito.