7-DAY THE BEST OF ECUADOR
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!
- Organic cooking lesson with traditional fresh ingredients, side by side with local people in the heart of the Andes.
DepartureQuito / Ecuador
IncludedActivitiesLand TransportationFees and entrances to parks and museumsMeals detailed in the itinerary
Not IncludedDomestic flightsAirport tranfer in & outInternational flight
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN QUITO CITY
Meet your AJ trip leader and group at 6:00pm.
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.
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.
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.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner.
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.
For lunch, we will head to Pijal, a small village located in the heart of the Andes to visit one of the AJ sustainable projects called Sacha WarmiKuna (women from the mountain). This is one fantastic effort developed by AJ and the local women with the main purpose to support their families and encourage the position of the women in the local society, providing them an alternative side work beside housekeeping, as a new option for an in-come. Once at the project you will experience an unforgettable cultural encounter, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American woman and their skills for textiles and a deep culinary knowledge coming from the past generations. You will be part of the preparation of “Aji”, a local spicy salsa which is part of their identity, you will also share precious time with them and a tasty traditional lunch in which local women have used the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields. Later we will learn more about the weaving process of their textiles. Don’t miss the amazing opportunity to have the chance to give back, by buying handmade scarfs here. Later we will arrive at the beautiful, historical hacienda of Pinsaqui where we will stay overnight. Enjoy a typical Andean cocktail as welcome, and learn about the history of this place.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.