10 Days Ecuador Highlights

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10 Days

Tour Detail

Embark on a journey through Ecuador, where you can experience the wonder of train travel along the majestic Avenue of Volcanoes in the Andes mountains, navigate the lush Amazonian waterways, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of indigenous towns like Otavalo, Quito, Baños, and Cuenca. As you explore, gain insights into the diverse local tribes and their unique cultures. The Ecuador Highlights adventure offers a harmonious blend of cultural encounters, wildlife observation, thrilling adventures, and breathtaking natural scenery, showcasing why Ecuador is among the most ecologically diverse nations in the world.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Quito
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: Sheraton or similar

Day 2 Otavalo Indigenous Market
We take an early departure from Quito and drive north through the majestic Andes. On our way we will stop at a viewpoint to admire the Imbabura Volcano and Lake San Pablo. 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 Warmikua, women from the mountain. After this beautiful experience we will visit Otavalo, you will have plenty of time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, filled with the Otavalo Indigenous people wearing the traditional blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair. Learn all about their daily activities, typical food and native language. 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. 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.

Accommodation: Hacienda Cusin or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast and lunch

Day 3 First Exploration to the Amazon
Early in the morning, we will drive down along a curvy panoramic road towards the Amazon Rain forest; as we descend from an altitude of 3000 m to 500 m (9843 ft to 1640 ft), you will observe how the landscape and vegetation change drastically between climates. Our first stop will be the Guango reserve (entrance fee not included), where we will have the unique opportunity to see many different species of hummingbirds in the wild. 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 rain forest, until we finally arrive at the Arajuno River, where a motor canoe will take us 20 minutes up the river to the Eco Lodge.

Accommodation: Amazon Ecolodge
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4 Amazon Hike and Kichwa Community
In the morning, we will hike to explore the Tropical Rain Forest and have an interpretation from our guide and learn about medicinal plants and we will search for wildlife. Later, we will enjoy a cultural activity where an Amazonian Kichwa community will receive us and we learn about their way of life and the interaction they have with the forest. Appreciate the skills of the indigenous women manufacturing handmade pottery (ceramics). This little business helps to support 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
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5 The road of waterfalls – Baños outdoor town
After breakfast, we will reach to Rio Verde, located in the UNESCO World Heritage site, 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 another 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 arrive to Baños, located right on the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, which has been active since 1999. It has some eruptions every few months which delights visitors with lava and steam displays that can be viewed from a number of safe view points in the region. Here in Baños you can also visit a spa or another place to enjoy the hot springs of the area.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa de Luis or similar
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6 Tree house – Free afternoon in Baños
In the morning we will visit The Swing of the End of the World, where the winner of the 2014 National Geographic photo contest took his photo, you will have some time to take the amazing picture with the stunning landscape in the front.

We will have the afternoon at leisure to enjoy optional activities in this incredible town.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa de Luis or similar
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7 Chimborazo Volcano
Early in the morning, we will drive through valleys and farming villages to reach the Chimborazo Volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador with an elevation of 6310 m (20702 ft) above sea level; whose summit is also the furthest point from the center of the earth on the entire planet. On a clear day, the majestic peak of Chimborazo dominates the view for many kilometers. There will be a short hike for 0.9 km (0.57 mi) to reach the elevation of 5000 m (16404 ft) 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 vicuñas. Once extinct in Ecuador, they have been reintroduced and are now protected; this beautiful animal is related to the alpacas and llamas.

Accommodation: Hacienda La Andaluza or similar
Meals included: Breakfast and lunch

Day 8 Palmira Desert and Inca Ruins
After an early breakfast, we will take a scenic drive to the small town of Palmira. Here, we will visit a little desert located at 10498.69 feets, which seems like the Sahara Desert.

After this, we will continue our visit towards Ingapirca, the most impressive Inca ruins of Ecuador. We will spend the afternoon learning about this archaeological 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, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its colonial architecture.

Accommodation: Hotel Carvallo or similar
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9 Cuenca UNESCO city – Gualaceo & Chordeleg
Starting in the morning 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 point. In the afternoon visit a famous Panama hat factory where we will understand the whole process of making this traditional Ecuadorian hat.

In the afternoon, we will visit the nearby towns of Chordeleg and Gualaceo, unique destinations that can be enjoyed on this tour. Chordeleg is well known for his jewelry, especially his silverware. And Gualaceo is a picturesque market, where locals gather to exchange their products and crafts. Here you can find traditional Macana shawls, fabrics of fabrics with intense colors and folkloric designs.

Accommodation: Hotel Carvallo or similar
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10 Free morning – End of the Sevices
You will have this free morning the enjoy the charming city of Cuenca and its surroundings.

Today our trip will end. 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

Inclusions

Accommodation
Accommodation based on double occupancy: Luxury hotel in Quito, colonial hacienda in Otavalo, 5-star Spa Resort Papallacta, 3*+Lodge in the Amazon, 3 or 4 star hotel in Baños, 5-star Hacienda in Chimborazo, 3 or 4 star hotel in Cuenca
Flights

Guide
Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure Trip Leader and local guides
Meals
Meals: 9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners

This tour offers Vegetarian and Vegan food options on request. Simply let Adventure Journeys know the food option that you prefer.

Additional Services
Activities: Visiting Indian Market, Encounter with indigenous people, Road of the waterfalls, Hiking up the glacier of Chimborazo highest volcano in Ecuador, Trekking, Bird watching in the Amazon, Canoeing and wildlife observation in the rainforest, Amazoonico Rescue Animal Center, Chocolate making with indigenous people, Train at Devil’s Nose, Cultural visit of Cuenca

Gear: Hiking sticks, life jackets.

Transport
Transportation: Airport transfers (national flights), private and comfortable land transportation, motorized canoe