Ecuador HighLights 10 days
Discover the MAGIC of ECUADOR traveling through the Avenue of Volcanoes in the high Andes Mountains towards the best tropical Amazon destinations and explore outdoor town of Baños, Unesco classified city of Cuenca and local indigenous market in Otavalo. On your journey you will learn about all the different local tribes and their cultures. The Ecuador Highlights trip is the perfect combination of cultural experiences, wildlife spotting, adventure activities and natural wonders that make Ecuador one of the most mega-divers countries on Earth.
- Visit a native local family in the middle of the Amazon jungle and look for the smallest monkey in the world (Pygmy Marmoset
- Breathtaking zig-zag train ride through the rocky slopes of the Andes and the switchbacks of the Devil's Nose
OTAVALO INDIAN MARKET
THE SWING TO THE END OF THE WORLD
SOAKING IN VOLCANIC HOT SPRINGS OF PAPLLACTA
BAÑOS OUTDOOR TOWN
HUMMINGBIRDS SANCTUARY IN THE CLOUD FOREST
CULTURAL ENCOUNTERS WITH LOCAL TRIBES
AMAZON HIKING IN PRISTINE RAINFOREST
PARROTS CLAY LICK
AMAZOONICO RESCUE CENTER
TUBING ALONG ARAJUNO RIVER
DEVILS´NOSE TRAIN RIDE
INGAPIRCA INCA SITE
CUENCA UNESCO CITY
PANAMA HAT FACTORY
Day 1: Quito
Welcome to Quito! The biggest, best-preserved colonial city of America was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and the second most important city of the old Inca Empire. Depending on arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area. Adventure Journeys can help you to organize a day trip. In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel for a welcome briefing and there will be plenty of time to discuss details and answer any questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an informational and acclimation day.
Accommodation:Hotel Mercure Alameda or similar visit website
Day 2: Otavalo Market
We get an early departure from Quito and drive north through dramatic mountain sceneries. On our way we will stop at a viewpoint to admire Imbabura Volcano and Lake San Pablo.
Once in Otavalo, you will have plenty of time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, filled with Otavalo Indigenous people wearing the typical blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair and to learn all about their daily activities, typical food and native language. You will explore their famous handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, alpaca throws and rugs, knitted clothing native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices.
Then we will continue to Cotacachi, which is famous for its leather articles, where you will have time for lunch. Finally we will go to Peguche, a small village known for its waterfalls and wind instruments production.
Accommodation: Hacienda Pinsaqui or similar visit website
Day 3: Papallacta - Hot Springs
On this day, we will drive through an unique landscape up to an elevation of 4000 meters through the eastern range of the Andes. This road is situated between two national reserves (Antisana and Cayambe Coca), both located in the high mountain Paramo ecosystem, known for its short vegetation and for being the home of some incredible animals such as the spectacled bear, deer puma, Andean condor and the cara-cara.
After appreciating the amazing views that this landscape offers, we will arrive at Papallacta Hot Springs Resort, where bliss awaits as you soak in the volcanic water pools surrounded by mountains and colorful flowers and birds.
Accommodation: Papallacta Spa Resort visit website
Day 4: Amazon Itamandi Eco - Lodge
Early in the morning, we will drive down a curvy panoramic road towards the Amazon Rainforest; as we descend from an altitude of 3000 meters to 500 meters, you will observe how the landscape and vegetation change drastically.
Our first stop will be the Guango reserve, where we will have the unique opportunity to see different species of hummingbirds in their natural habitat. These small creatures are famous for their incredible ability to flap their wings rapidly, as well as for their bright colors.
Later, we also stop at the "Guacamayos-Macaw Lookout", located between Antisana and Sumaco National Reserves (low elevation cloud forest), to observe the magic blanket of clouds that covers the Amazon rainforest, until we finally get to the Arajuno River, where a motorized canoe will take us for 20 minutes up the river to the Itamandi Eco-Lodge.
Accommodation: Itamandi Amazon Eco-Lodge visit website
Day 5: Amazon Itamandi Eco - Lodge
In the morning, we will take a motorized canoe down the largest river in Ecuador, Napo River, on our way to the "Amazonico", a rescue centre sheltering a number of different animals, some in danger of extinction. We can observe different species of Monkeys, Capybaras, Caimans, Ocelots, Toucans, Parrots, and other animals in their natural environment at close range.
Later, we will enjoy a cultural activity. An Amazonian Kichwa community will receive us and we will learn about their way of life and the interaction they have with the forest. We will appreciate the skills of the indigenous women manufacturing handmade pottery (ceramics). This little business supports the indigenous people in their daily life.
Today we will also have the chance to learn how to make our own chocolate from the raw fruit.
Accommodation: Itamandi Amazon Eco-Lodge visit website
Day 6: Baños
On day six, we will drive farther south to Puyo, where we will have a quick look at the balsa carving shop. Continuing our journey, we will stop at Rio Verde, located in one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Sangay National Park. Here, we will hike down to the second highest waterfall in Ecuador, the Pailon Del Diablo, where pounding water cascades on the rocks and mesmerizes you as you watch from a suspension bridge. You may also take an optional hike behind the falls. After a quick drive, we will arrive at another incredible waterfall called El Manto de la Novia, where we will ride in a cable car traversing the canyon of the Pastaza River. In the late afternoon, we will soak in hot springs in the town of Baños, located right on the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano which has been active since 1999. It erupts approximately every few months and delights visitors with lava and steam displays that can be viewed from a number of safe view points in the region.
Accommodation: La Floresta or similar visit website
Day 7: Chimborazo Volcano
Early in the morning, we will drive through valleys and farming villages towards the Chimborazo Volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador with an elevation of 6310 meters above sea level, whose summit is the world farthest point from the center of the earth. On a clear day, the majestic peak of Chimborazo dominates the view for many kilometers.
The visit to this amazing national park includes a short hike for 0,9 km (0,57 miles) to reach the elevation of 5000 meters where the glacier begins. On the hike, we will spot a few of the animals that inhabit this volcanic wonderland such as the Andean condor, cara-cara, hummingbirds, and the timid wild Vicuñas. Once extinct in Ecuador, reintroduced and now protected, this beautiful animal is related to the alpacas and llamas.
Accommodation: Chimborazo Lodge or similar visit website
Day 8: Devil's Nose Train - Inca Ruins - Cuenca
After an early breakfast, we will take a scenic drive to the small town of Alausí. Here, we will board the train to the Devil's Nose, where the tracks wind through the countryside in a zigzag formation, creating a travel experience like no other.
After the train ride, we will continue our visit towards Ingapirca, the most impressive Inca ruins of Ecuador. We will spend the afternoon learning about this archeological site, notable for its unique fusion of Inca and native Cañari architecture, as well as for its religious meaning.
Later, we will head up to Cuenca, known for its colonial architecture and beautiful scenery. The old town of this city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Accommodation: Hotel Victoria or similar visit website
Day 9: Cuenca City - Cuenca
In the morning, we will enjoy a fantastic city tour, visiting the most important buildings and notable places in Cuenca, such as Calderon Square, the New Cathedral, El Barranco, and El Turi lookout.
In the afternoon we will visit a famous Panama hat factory, where we will understand the whole process of making this typical Ecuadorian hat. In the early evening we will take a 45-min domestic flight back to Quito, where we can have our farewell dinner.
Accommodation: Hotel Mercure Alameda or similar visit website
Day 10: Quito - Departure
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. Take with you your memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a "buen viaje"!
- Transportation: Airfare Cuenca-Quito one way, airport transfers (national flights), private and comfortable land transportation, train, motorized canoe
- Accommodation based on double occupancy: First Class hotel in Quito, colonial hacienda in Otavalo, 5-star Spa Resort Papallacta, Itamandi Eco-lodge in the Amazon, 3 or 4 star hotel in Baños, 5-star Andean lodge in Chimborazo, 3 or 4 star hotel in Cuenca
- Activities: Indigenous Market, volcanic hot springs, encounter with indigenous people, road of the waterfalls, hiking up the glacier of Chimborazo, trekking, bird watching in the Amazon, canoeing and wildlife observation in the rainforest, Amazoonico Animal Rescue Center, chocolate making with indigenous people, train to Devil's Nose, cultural visit of Cuenca.
- Meals: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
- Gear: hiking sticks, life jackets
- Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure Trip Leader and local guides
- My Own Room supplement $350
- International flights
- Airport transfer (international flights)
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Meals not described in the itinerary - estimated budget USD $180 USD
- Travel insurance,
- Airline tickets,
- Credit or debit card (see personal spending money),
- Pocket knife,
- Fleece top,
- 4 shirts/t-shirts,
- 1 pair of short,
- 2 pairs of long trousers,
- 1 pair hiking pants/track pants,
- Sport sandals,
- Toiletries (biodegradable),
- Watch or alarm clock,
- Quick dry clothing,
- Rain coat,
- Rain pants,
- Waterproof binoculars,
- Bug spray,
- Sun cream,
- Sun Hat,
- Waterproof camera if possible,
- Swimming suit,
- Waterproof back pack,
- Water bottle,
- Tennis shoes,
- Hiking shoes,
- Money belt,
- First-aid kit(should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
- Dry bag for all your belongings
It is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described; however, due to our travel style, on occasions it may be necessary or desirable to make small changes. Weather conditions and unpredictable local circumstances may lead us to make alterations to the route and/or travel times. Hotels and flight schedules might change according to availability. Any mention to specific wildlife in the itinerary or trip details is not a guarantee that it will be seen during the trip.
From 2 to 3 hours driving average from place to place.
All-year (best from May to October)
Pichincha, Imbabura, Napo, Pastaza, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Cañar and Azuay.
All Inter-Andean Valleys and Andes ranges, Amazon Rainforest upper part, cloud forest and canyons.
From 500 to 5000m (1600 to 16500 ft).
Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF
Easy. This program will run from the high Andean Mountains to the Tropical Rainforest of the Amazon, which involves the hiking in flat areas of the Amazon, hike down the Pastaza canon to the Pailon Del Diablo waterfall for 1 km. Optional hike up to Chimborazo Volcano Base Camp 5000m.
Life jackets, hiking sticks.
Guides are certified as Wilderness First Aid Responders. We carry a complete first aid kit.
All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are travelling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same gender. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact AJ prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.
Traveling with Adventure Journeys you will have the possibility to experience and taste local food and snacks. Your guide will help you identify typical food and suggest the best places to enjoy it. Some meals are not included in order to give you some flexibility about where what and with whom to eat. You have the option to share these meals with the group, however, there is no obligation to do this. If you have any allergies or food restrictions, please inform AJ prior to your departure.
SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM
Clients receive a conservationist interpretation of the ecology of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest and the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation to support responsible ecotourism as a sustainable alternative to surrendering to the oil industry's destructive appetites. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage.