Day 1 ARRIVE IN QUITO, ECUADOR.
Welcome to one of the smallest yet most biodiverse countries in South America. Ecuador offers a panorama of scenery and climates—from the Pacific Coast to the rainforest and the Amazon to the high slopes of the Andes. Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met by your Local Host, who will help you get acquainted with this fascinating city near the equatorial line.
Day 2 QUITO.
Your included PRIVATE CITY TOUR showcases the Old Town, where colonial history still permeates the air, surrounded by beautiful architecture, and religious and cultural sites. One of the highlights is a visit to San Francisco Square, where you will see the La Compañía church, which has the most ornate and richly sculptured façade and interior. Afterward, visit the Old Town’s famous hill, Panecillo or “Little Bread,” where you will see the Virgen de Quito angel statue. Finish off your tour at a bustling Ecuadorian market. (B)
Day 3 QUITO. EXCURSION TO OTAVALO.
Excursion to Otavalo. Today, experience the traditional ways of the Otavalo people. With your Local Host, visit Otavalo’s famous INDIAN MARKET, full of textiles, clothes, vegetables, and much more. Enjoy the drive here, as it passes the often snowcapped Cayambe Volcano. The Ecuadorian Line runs directly through the glacier of the immense volcano, which is the highest worldwide point on the Ecuadorian Line. Next, visit a local SCHOOL in Peguche to visit with Ecuadorian children. Enjoy lunch at a local hacienda before returning to Quito. (B,L)
Day 4 QUITO–COTAPAXI–BAÑOS.
Journey south with your Local Host, passing the Avenue of the Volcanoes to visit COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK, a highland zone protected since 1975. On a walk near Lake Limpiopungo, you will have the chance to learn about the typical vegetation and fauna found in the area. Enjoy breathtaking views of Cotapaxi Volcano, rising more than 19,000 feet. Next, visit a ROSE PLANTATION, where you can observe the cultivation and harvest of this important export and witness the exceptional beauty of the Ecuadorian rose. Continue to Baños, known for its famous hot springs that give the area its name. Relax in the mild mountain climate at one of the HOT SPRINGS at your hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 5 BAÑOS–RIOBAMBA.
You’ll have time this morning to view some of Baños’ impressive waterfalls before heading to Riobamba in the shadow of Ecuador’s highest volcano, Chimborazo, surpassing 20,000 feet in altitude. (B,D)
Day 6 RIOBAMBA–CUENCA.
An unforgettable TRAIN TRIP takes you over the almost-vertical wall of rock called the Devil’s Nose. This engineering marvel allows the train to transit a zigzag path cut into the mountainside that ascends and descends more than 3,000 feet. Continue to Cuenca with your Local Host, stopping at the INGAPIRCA RUINS, Ecuador’s most important monument of pre-Spanish culture. The ruins are located on a grass-covered hill once used as a sun-worshiping temple. Even before the construction of the Sun Temple (1450-1480), this place held important spiritual significance for the Incas. On a walk through the ruins, learn about Inca beliefs, rituals, and how they built the puma-shaped temple. (B,L,D)
Day 7 CUENCA.
Enjoy a private guided TOUR of Cuenca, the third-largest city in Ecuador and considered one of the most beautiful. See the historical buildings along the Tomebamba River, the Todos los Santos ruins, the flower market, and the main square with the old and new cathedral. Afterward, visit a PANAMA HAT FACTORY and a POTTERY STUDIO, where you can learn more about the work of the local people. (B,L)
Day 8 CUENCA–GUAYAQUIL.
Transfer with your Local Host to the coastal town of Guayaquil, stopping along the way to visit a CACAO PLANTATION. Learn about the cultivation of the cacao fruit, harvesting, and the processing of this important industry for Ecuador. On to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest and most industrial city and the key to Ecuador’s trade center. The rest of your day is at leisure to explore the city. (B)
Day 9 GUAYAQUIL.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)