Ecuador is a must when you travel to South America and this itinerary, carefully prepared, includes beautiful highlights of Classic Ecuador. Drive through the avenue of volcanos, shop at indigenous markets, and be marvelled by the stunning colonial towns.
On arrival transfer to your hotel.
Discover Quito’s beautiful colonial centre on this morning’s half-day tour. Visit Plaza de la Independencia and San Francisco Convent before heading to Panecillo Hill for great views over the city.
Travel to Otavalo to visit the famous indigenous markets. After some time to browse you will have lunch in a local restaurant before continuing to the beautiful crater lake of Cuicocha.
On your drive towards Papallacta Hot Springs, you will stop to visit a rose plantation. Ecuador is one of the top producers of roses in the world. Lunch will be served at an old beautiful Hacienda. Later, continue your scenic drive towards Papallacta from where you can see the impressive Cayambe volcano (third highest volcano of the Ecuador 5790 metres). As you gain altitude, you will drive through the highland paramo vegetation having great views of the Papallacta Lake. After the lake, take a detour on a dirt road that will take us to the hot Springs and our hotel. Papallacta, a small village located 10,491 feet (3.197 mt) above sea level, famous for its thermal springs (38º C) and lush vegetation.
Midmorning, after enjoying a dip in the hot springs, drive to the Cotopaxi National Park. Turning off the main highway, you will enter the park, crossing the Andean Paramo and an extensive pine tree forest. Gently ascending the flanks of the volcano, passing through fields of ancient lava strewn with boulders, you will arrive at the base of the Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano (5,897metres). This desolated and rugged scenery captivates everyone.
The second day at the Cotopaxi Province starts with a visit to one of the nearby colourful local markets. Then your journey will continue the Panamerican highway until Ambato city to make a stop and visit the Botanical garden and museum of Juan Leon Mera, one of the most well-known writers of the Ecuadorean Literature. As we leave the Panamerican Highway, heading east, we continue our drive through a unique multicolour patchwork of crop fields towards Patate Valley.
This morning you will take a trip to Baños, an area rich in vegetation and orchids, famous for its nearby hot springs that provide hot running water to the local baths. You will see and visit beautiful waterfalls on the way. Lunch will be served only a short hike away from the road at a charming restaurant close to the Pailon del Diablo, an overwhelming waterfall. In the afternoon, you will continue to Riobamba. The city sits at the base of the Chimborazo Volcano, the highest one in Ecuador 6.268 metres.
Today you will travel by train on “one of the world’s most difficult railroads”, due to the geographical obstacles that had to be faced during its construction. The train will take you to the famous “Devil’s Nose” and to Alausí, descending 800 meters in zigzag through a rocky formation. The descent allows us to experience the different climate zones from the highlands towards the coast vast open valleys. You will be picked up in Alausí, to continue the journey to Cuenca. You will make a stop at the Ingapirca Inca Ruins. The Ingapirca fortress was first a religious and administrative complex built by the Cañaris, and later conquered and rebuilt by the Incas several hundred years before the Spanish arrived. This is the most important archaeological Inca site in Ecuador.
In the morning you will visit Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, locally known as “The Athens of Ecuador” in honour of its numerous poets. The city’s cobblestone streets, colonial plazas and religious art treasures recall its distant past, while the flower market on the little Plaza del Carmen and the new and old Cathedrals on the main Plaza Calderón provide some spectacular colours and impressive architecture. A trip along the Tomebamba River takes you to the Inter-American Centre of Popular Art, home to many regional handicrafts while a walk through the city centre will give you a chance to visit the ceramic, textiles, and jewellery stores. Lunch will be served at a typical restaurant. In the afternoon, we will drive to Guayaquil, located on the banks of the Guayas river, and called “The Pearl of the Pacific”. The city has a rich tradition and is proud of its monuments and points of interest such as The Iguanas Park. During your sightseeing tour you won’t only visit the park, but also tourist attractions like La Rotonda, the Moorish style clock tower, the recently reconstructed and impressive Malecon, the Cerro del Carmen hilltops, (providing a magnificent view of the city and of the convergence of the Daule and Babahoyo rivers which form the Guayas River), the Centenario Plaza, Las Peñas, another neighborhood built at the turn of the century, and the Church of Santo Domingo, the city’s first church built in 1548.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.