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THE BEST OF ECUADOR

THE BEST OF ECUADOR

$1493 per person

Discover the beauty of the Ecuadorian Andes and cloud forest regions. Enjoy extreme biodiversity such as butterflies and bird watching. Experience the cloud rain forest with beautiful waterfalls and witness chocolate making at its source in the tropical paradise of Mindo. Venture back to the highlands to visit Cuicocha crater-lake and the famous indigenous market of Otavalo; and then, live a unique experience sharing an organic lunch prepared, side by side, with local people in the heart of the Andes. Relax and acclimatize at a luxury hot springs resort before you visit the Cotopaxi National Park and admire the highest active volcano in the world. Immerse yourself in the cultural and natural wonders that make Ecuador one of the most unique countries in South America. We promise you will never want to leave!

Unique Experiences:

  • Organic cooking lesson with traditional fresh ingredients, side by side with local people in the heart of the Andes.

 

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6+ Age
7 Days
  • Departure
    Quito / Ecuador
  • Included
    Activities
    Land Transportation
    Fees and entrances to parks and museums
    Meals detailed in the itinerary
  • Not Included
    Domestic flights
    Airport tranfer in & out
    International flight
1
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN QUITO CITY

Meet your AJ trip leader and group at 6:00pm.

Welcome to Quito! The largest, best-preserved colonial city of America - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and is located on the equator in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano.
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 (please request in advance). In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel’s lobby for a welcome briefing at 18:00 hours. At this time we will discuss the details and questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an acclimation and information day.
Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito.

Meals included: none.
2
DAY 2: EQUATOR, CRATER AND CHOCOLATE

On the first day of our adventure, we will drive north of Quito to witness the equator monument complex. Visiting the middle of the world is a mandatory stop once you are in Ecuador, you’ll have the opportunity to be able to stand on both sides of the hemispheres, north and south, at the same time and feel the neutral forces of the equator.

On our way, we will also stop for a view of the Pululahua crater, the third largest inhabited volcano crater in the world, hosting more than 400 people.
After, we will reach the little town of Mindo, nestled into the cloud forest. This area is filled with a wide variety of plants and animal life – perfect for a nice introduction to the diversity of Ecuador. Mindo and its surrounding cloud forest are a birdwatcher's paradise, especially for hummingbirds!
In the afternoon we will visit a chocolate distributor, where you can take a tour of the process of the cocoa, from harvesting the seed to the final product, like as a delicious brownie or a cup of real hot cocoa.
Accommodation: Séptimo Paraíso or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.
3
DAY 3: MINDO CLOUD FOREST

We will explore the pristine cloud rain forest of Mindo, crossing cable cars and hiking along waterfalls, surrounded by a lush green forest filled with toucans, hummingbirds and colorful birds. In the afternoon, you will have some free time to enjoy the several optional outdoor activities offered in this area.

You can go whitewater rafting or "tubing" (several large inner-tubes tied together) as our steely-nerved guides steer you through thrilling rapids. Or try a canopy zip-line (sailing along one of 13 zip-lines over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest.)
One of the highlights of today is the visit to the butterfly nursery, where we watch gargantuan butterflies dry their wings after emerging from their jewel-like cocoons. You can dip your fingers into a banana concoction and then be thrilled as butterflies the size of birds land on your hands for a snack.
  Accommodation: Séptimo Paraíso or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.
4
DAY 4: OTAVALO MARKET

Drive back up into the highlands and reach the Pan-American Highway heading north on the way to the famous indigenous town of Otavalo. Here, admire the endless number of handicrafts from the local people. Take time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, which are filled with Otavalo indigenous people wearing the traditional blue ponchos. Visit their handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices. In Otavalo, there will be enough time for shopping and cultural interaction.

In the afternoon, we will drive to Cotacachi to witness the impressive leather goods of the town and enjoy the beauty of this small village. There will be some free time for you to explore the shops or simply relax while sipping on one of the best coffees in Ecuador in the main plaza.
Later we will arrive at the beautiful, historical hacienda of Pinsaquí where we will stay overnight. Enjoy a typical Andean cocktail as welcome, and learn about the history of this place.
  Accommodation: Hacienda Pinsaquí or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.
5
DAY 5: CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE & PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS

Today we will first visit Cotacachi Cayapas ecological reserve to see the breath taking scenery of the crystalline-clear waters of this active volcano and the amazing surrounding landscapes. At the end of an hour long hike along the rim of the Cuicocha Crater Lake, we will take a boat ride to the center of the crater to observe the activity of this volcano, watching bubbles coming up from the center of the caldera.

Later, we will head to Peguche, a small village located in the heart of the Andes, where you will live an unforgettable cultural experience, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American highlands. You will taste a traditional delicious lunch in which locals have used the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields to share precious moments of conviviality with you.
In the late afternoon, we will reach the luxury volcanic hot-springs resort of Papallacta, where you will have the chance to relax at the spa resort surrounded by the view of the majestic Andean mountains.
  Accommodation: Papallacta Spa Resort.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.
6
DAY 6: COTOPAXI - QUITO

After breakfast, following a last dip in the open-air hot springs, we will drive south on the Pan-American Highway to the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi. The snow-capped volcano is surrounded by the national park, home to abundant plant life, a rich fauna and Inca ruins. We will begin our visit at the interpretation center at the entrance of the park, before continuing our drive across the páramo to the Limpiopungo Lake. During a short walk around the lake we can observe a variety of birds and enjoy the stunning views of the almost symmetrical cone of the Cotopaxi volcano. Afterwards, drive back to Quito for our last dinner.

Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito.

Meals included: Breakfast.
7
DAY 7: 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"!

Meals included: Breakfast.

WRITE A REVIEW

Accomodation
Destination
Value For Money
Overall
Transport
Meals

What's Included?

  • Transportation: Private and comfortable land transportation.
  • Accommodation based in double occupancy:  5* hotel in Quito, cloud forest lodge in Mindo, hacienda in Otavalo, 4 star spa resort in Papallacta.
  • Meals: 6 breakfasts and 1 lunch.
  • Activities: Equator Line museum tour, Hiking to waterfalls in the cloud forest, Visit Butterfly farm and chocolate factory, Organic fair-trade coffee tasting in Intag Valley, Visit Otavalo indigenous market, Organic lunch cooking with local people, Hike and boat ride at Cuicocha crater lake, Volcanic hot springs, Visit Cotopaxi National Park.
  • Out-door gear: Hiking sticks.
  • Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure leader and local guides.

What is not included?

  • International flights.
  • My Own Room supplement USD $465.
  • Travel insurance (mandatory).
  • Airport transfer (international flights).
  • Meals not described in the itinerary (Budget for not included meals USD $ 180).

  • Personal expenses.

  • Tips.

IMPORTANT DETAILS

ITINERARY DISCLAIMER: 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.

DRIVING TIME: 2 – 3 hours driving a day.

BIKING TIME: From 3 to 4 hours a day. Please check the maps and full biking information in the full itinerary.

SEASON: All year.

PROVINCE: Pichincha, Imbabura, Napo, Cotopaxi.

TERRITORY: Highlands and tropical rainforest in Ecuador.

ALTITUDE: From 1510 meters (4,950 ft.) to 4000 meters (12,631 ft.).

AVG. TEMP.: Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy. This program will run from the high Andean Mountains to the cloud forest, involving some short hikes.

ADVENTURE GEAR: High quality MTB (Disk brakes and front suspension), Shimano Deore parts, gloves, helmets. For canyoning: harnesses, waterhelmets, ropes, wetsuits, watershoes and carabiners.

ACCOMODATION: All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are travelling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same sex. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact AJ prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.

MEALS: Travelling 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.

YOUR TRIP LEADERS AND GUIDES: All AJ guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed from the Tourism University to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid respondents. They all have approved several extra training courses for kayaking, rafting, biking and horse riding, besides this they all are Ecuadorian and have a fantastic personality. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips. In some locations and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service and make sure we practice sustainable tourism involving local indigenous people in our operation.

In the Galapagos Islands, minimum 4 participants for the AJ trip leader service are required.

SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM: Clients receive interpretation and education about the ecology and conservation of the Andes, Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands, and learn about the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation of both local people cultural identity and the environment. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage and we prefer to work with local suppliers. Your visit will encourage the local communities to support responsible eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative for their living.

HEALTH INFORMATION: Please inform AJ of any existing medical conditions (i.e. pregnancy, diabetes, etc). Yellow fever, Hepatitis B vaccination and Malaria Medication are recommended when traveling to the tropics. Please ask your doctor for advice.