This amazing « Immersive Travel to Ecuador » tour focuses on the discovery of indigenous groups or populations living in the different geographic areas of Ecuador. You will know the way of life of people from the tropical region of the coast, the high Andes and the cloud forest.
This trip is designed to experience changes in climates and landscapes over short distances in 15 days.
- Private trip with English-speaking guide
- Guayaquil, economic capital of Ecuador
- Cuenca, magnificent colonial city
- Cotopaxi National Park
- Otavalo and its famous market
Day 1 – Transfer to Guayaquil
Transfer from Guayaquil Airport to the city center.
Transfer: 25min // Meal included: D
Overnight in Guayaquil
Day 2 – Guayaquil – Cuenca
Early in the morning, we visit Guayaquil, the economic capital of Ecuador. We will go to the famous Barrio las Peñas and the Santa Anna hill, and take a walk on the Malecón 2000, before arriving at the cathedral and Simon Bolivar park, the only park in South America with iguanas in freedom.
After the city tour, we leave the big city to discover a small cocoa plantation located in a rural area near Guayaquil. The owner will introduce us to the art of growing fine cocoa, bananas, vanilla and other tropical fruits.
Lunch and tasting of artisanal chocolate on the farm.
Then, we begin our ascension into the Sierra region. You will experience the sudden change in climate and altitude. We will drive to a pass of 4,167 m and finally reach the beautiful city of Cuenca.
Transfer: 4h45 // Hike: 1h30 // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in town)
Overnight in Cuenca
Day 3 – Cuenca – Gualaceo – Sigsig
After breakfast, we leave the city in the direction of Gualaceo. We first visit a traditional macana workshop, a traditional fabric used by women in the Cuenca region. We visit Ecuagenera, a family business specializing in the production and conservation of orchid and hybrid species exported around the world. The site has more than 1,000 species of orchids from several regions of Ecuador. We will discover here the reproductive process of hybrid orchids and endemic species.
We continue to the Gualaceo market for lunch as the locals do. In the restaurant area located inside the market, you will taste typical cuisine, tortillas and baked pork.
Then, we will visit a small Toquilleras Artesanales cooperative in Sigsig which works with hat makers made with paja toquilla. You will discover the ancestral technique of hat weaving in Ecuador.
In the afternoon, return to Cuenca.
Transfer: 2h // Hike: 1h // Meal included: B-L-D (dinner in town)
Overnight in Cuenca
Day 4 – Cuenca
Today, we will discover one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador. UNESCO considers the colonial center of Cuenca to be part of World Heritage since 1999. Its architecture is a perfect example of Spanish style or planning combined with local materials and ancestral techniques. Some houses still have the traditional patio. Most of them are now restaurants or hotels. The colonial center keeps this European air surrounded by the Andean mountains. You will pass through special places such as: the cathedral, the flower market, the August 10 market and the Tomebamba river.
A special visit is planned at: Turi mirador to see the city from the mountain. Discover some examples of indigenous cultures in Ecuador at the Pumapungo Museum and visit one of the most emblematic workshops of Panama hats in the city.
Lunch during the visit and rest of the afternoon free to explore the old town.
« The origin of the Toquilla straw hat comes from ancient indigenous groups who lived in the coastal region, notably in Jipijapa and Montecristi. They developed the art of weaving hats and other tools using their hands and fibers extracted from palm trees. The fiber or straw used to make a Panama hat is called paja toquilla (Cardulovica Palmata). In fact, the weaving technique is also used near Cuenca, especially in Sigsig, but some of the most beautiful hats are still woven in Jipijapa. It can take up to 6 months to weave some hats. However, why is this hat called Panama? According to the story, a hat dealer immigrated to Panama to sell his hats to the Panama Canal workers who wore these hats to protect themselves from the sun. Panama had better business relationships than Ecuador at that time, and the merchants who bought the hats in Panama resold them as Panama hats and not as Montecristi or Ecuadorian hats, despite the fact that they were known in Panama under the names of Toquiilas, Jipijapas or Montecristis . »
Transfer: 45min // Hike: 2h30 // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in town)
Overnight in Cuenca
Day 5 – Cuenca – Ingapirca – Gamote
Early in the morning, departure towards the north of the country to visit Ingapirca, the most important archaeological site of Ecuador. We will visit the site and discover some interesting features of the history of the Incas in Ecuador. This site is considered a temple of the sun and an important control site during the Inca period. Part of the Inca Trail is located near the site.
After this visit, we will have lunch at a community restaurant near Alausi, run by a local community. The restaurant offers superb views of the canyon and the Devil’s Nose Train.
We continue to Guamote where we will sleep in the guest house Intisisa which manages a project aimed at improving the lives of the indigenous populations of Chimborazo.
In the afternoon, you will visit certain communities to understand the way of life.
The activities offered by Intisisa are:
- Visit the community, local school, agricultural college and a demonstration of professional weavers.
- Horse riding
- Cooking lessons. (Learn how to make empanadas and delicious fruit salads)
Transfer: 4h // Hike: 2h // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in the guest house)
Overnight in Guamote
Day 6 – Guamote – Chimborazo – Baños
In Guamote, we first visit the animal market where we can see the ancient trade of different animals, such as cows, llamas, pigs, etc. We continue our tour of the city center, where a huge market takes place in almost every street. You will be surrounded by merchants who try to sell everything you might need (or not). (clothes, vegetables, groceries, tools, drinks, etc. )
After visiting the market, we continue the road towards the Chimborazo volcano at 6,286 m.
Lunch in the refuge at 4,800 m or in a community restaurant managed by the indigenous people of Chimborazo, where the main dish is prepared with alpaca meat.
During the visit to the Chimborazo volcano, you will see vicunas reintroduced into the protected area. Wool is used by local indigenous families who live more than 4,000 m. Vicuna wool is considered to be the finest in the world. We will continue another 30 minutes on a dirt road to the first refuge at 4,800 m. From there, if the group conditions allow it, we will go up to the second refuge at 5,000 m. It is the highest refuge in Ecuador and is open all year round.
We continue to the town of Baños, free time to relax at the hotel or at the thermal spring.
« The Chimborazo volcano (6,286 m) is considered the closest point to the sun measured from the center of the earth and, for many years, this mountain was considered to be the highest in the world. Explorer Alexander Von Humboldt was the first man to reach the summit. The protected area was created to reintroduce vicunas, to protect water sources and indigenous communities living in this arid, dry and high altitude environment. «
Transfer: 4h30 // Hike: 3h // Meals included:B-L-D
Overnight in Baños
Day 7 – Baños
Today, we discover the impressive avenue of the Río Verde waterfalls. We will first visit the Manto de la Novia waterfall and its traditional cable car above the Pastaza canyon. For the more adventurous, it is possible to take a ride on the multiple zip lines that cross the canyon (additional activity).
Then, we will visit the emblematic waterfall of the devil’s cauldron (Pailon del Diablo) and its famous staircase which allows us to be almost behind the water, this waterfall is the most emblematic of Ecuador.
Lunch in a local restaurant.
We visit the famous « end of day swing ». Then, we relax in Baños or enjoy the benefits of volcanic hot springs.
« Baños de Agua Santa is the ancient entrance to the Amazon region and is located in the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, at an altitude of 5,020 m. This small town is well known for its multiple activities, we can enjoy volcanic thermal springs, several outdoor activities and extreme sports, taste local food in the market or in restaurants, dance salsa or simply relax . The Tungurahua has been erupting since 1999, the strongest eruption dates back to 2006. In reality its activity is moderate. In any case, the whole city of Baños is well prepared and organized in the event of a major eruption . »
Transfer: 1h30 // Hike: 25min // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in town)
Overnight in Baños
Day 8 – Baños – Patate
In the morning, we will go to Patate. A valley with an eternal spring climate, with extraordinary landscapes and surrounded by avocado and tangerine farms.
Transfer to the community of Mundug and from there, hike to the Mundug waterfall. The objective of this visit is to appreciate the real life of the center of the Andes of Ecuador. During the walk, you will meet people working on their farms. The waterfall is located in an invasive cloud forest sheltering several orchids and native birds such as the hummingbird.
Transfer to the family hotel for lunch.
In the afternoon, we learn how to harvest avocados, mandarins and other fruits.
Time to relax in the spa of the hotel.
Before dinner, we will learn the secret of the preparation of potato soups, Ecuadorian ceviche or green banana tortilla.
Transfer: 1h // Hike: 3h30 // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner at the hotel)
Overnight in Patate
Day 9 – Patate – Quilotoa – Tigua
Today, we will discover one of the most impressive volcanic lakes in South America: the Quilotoa 3,915 m volcano lake.
We start with the famous avenue of volcanoes, we will go towards the Paramos of Zumbahua and we will stop to visit a workshop of naive art paintings in Tigua. We continue the road to the Toachi canyon, with its particular colors and shapes. The landscape surrounding the site is very calm and gives the impression that time has stood still.
Finally, we will reach the edge of the crater of the Quilotoa volcano. From there, we will take a short walk along the edge of the crater and descend to the foot of the lagoon, its alkaline waters have the distinction of changing color depending on the time of year.
Lunch at the Quilotoa community restaurant.
After visiting the small craft center, we will go to a hacienda in Tigua. Here we will observe the agricultural way of life in a pleasant environment.
Transfer: 3h30 // Hike: 2h30 // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in Tigua)
Overnight in Tigua
Day 10 – Tigua – Cotopaxi
After breakfast, we descend towards the Cotopaxi volcano. On our way we visit a rose plantation near the volcano and will discover the process of producing roses. We continue towards the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi volcano, located at 5,897 m above sea level and one of the most beautiful active volcanoes in the world and the second highest mountain in Ecuador. Then we start our adventure with a short hike on the edge of Lake Limpiopungo at 3,800 m.
We continue towards the José Ribas refuge 4,800 m. Finally we start our hike at 4,600 m, and weather permitting, we will reach the glacier.
Lunch at the refuge.
After the hike, we will rest in a mountain lodge located at 3,300 m above sea level, near the north entrance of the national park.
Transfer: 3h // Hike: 3h // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in the lodge)
Overnight near Cotopaxi
Day 11 – Cotopaxi – Quito
Departure early in the morning to discover the impressive city of Quito.
We will visit the historic center and the cable car which will allow us to climb over 4,000 m for the last time on our circuit. During the visit to the historic center of Quito at 2,800 m, we will walk in cobblestone streets full of churches, convents, government buildings and small grocery stores with admirable commercial activity that make up these particular neighborhoods of the old city, still alive.
Lunch in the old town.
After lunch, we will head to the cable car. The parking lot is at an altitude of 3,000 m. From there, we will climb 15 minutes aboard the cable car, up to 4,000 m, at the foot of the Pichincha volcano and take a short walk to admire the landscapes and the impressive city of Quito.
Descent and return to town.
“Quito has one of the best-preserved old cities in Latin America. It was named the first World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1978 because of its history, architecture and cultural life. The essential places to visit are: the Basilica of the Voto Nacional, the Plaza Grande with its government palace, the Church of San Francisco, the Church of Compañía de Jesús, the particular district of La Ronda and the Panecillo where the view of the city will allow us to better understand its incredible geographic location.”
Transfer: 1h45 // Hike: 2h30 // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in a restaurant)
Overnight in Quito
Day 13 – Yunquilla – Mindo
Before breakfast, we will help our family to milk cows. After breakfast, we will take an interesting walk in the middle of the high cloud forest. We will head towards the Chochal viewpoint, located at 3,300 m above sea level. Along these paths, their descendants devoted themselves to the exchange of foodstuffs from the coastal region, such as: fish, cassava and also « aguardiente ».
Return to the community for lunch.
After lunch, departure towards the cloud forest of Mindo at 1,250 m.
Accommodation in the lodge in the middle of the cloud forest. Rest time to see hummingbirds.
Transfer: 1h30 // Hike: 2h to 3h // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in the lodge)
Overnight in Mindo
Day 14 – Mindo – Bird watching – “Chocolate” activity
Special day with different activities.
Today we will start with an unforgettable visit to the cloud forest to see the sun rise and observe the famous Andean cock-of-the-rock. The activity begins at 5:45 am, with the observation of the cock-of-the-rock. After that, you will be fascinated by the fact that your guide feeds the Antpitta (endemic bird of South America). You will also see different birds such as Andean toucans, hummingbirds and tangaras in the bird feeding area.
After that, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast in the reserve.
We continue the day with a visit to the butterfly garden, to see the whole process of metamorphosis of certain species of butterflies.
Lunch in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, you can enjoy the adventure of the canopy zipline on the cloud forest. After that, you will discover the whole process of fermentation and drying of cocoa beans and learn how chocolate is made from bar beans, all cocoa beans come from small family farms close to Mindo.
In the afternoon, return to the lodge.
« Every day, rain or shine, the cock-of-the-rock male, with blood-red or orange plumage, gather at 6 am and howl loudly, dance on branches, dive and fight in the hope of gaining female attention . If you are lucky, a brown female will dive into the crowd and choose a partner, but more often than not, women will not show up. »
Transfer: 2h30 // Hike: 1h // Meals included: B-L-D (dinner in the lodge)
Overnight in Mindo
Day 15 – Mindo – Airport
After breakfast and at the agreed time, transfer to Quito airport.
End of services.
Our travel programs are given as an example, to inspire you and take ideas.
Then we create with you the trip of your dreams. Depending on the duration of your trip, we advise you on the sites to be visited, you choose your accommodation, the means of transport and if you want a guide who accompanies you and makes you discover Ecuador still confidential.
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** The time required for transfers is approximate, it may take more or less time depending on the route conditions, the weather, any local strikes, etc.
* Guides can change the order of day trips to ensure the success of the trip.
List of suggested items to bring:
- Warm and cold weather clothing ideal for hiking
- A personal travel bag for trails
- A swimsuit and a towel
- Flash light
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, mosquito repellent
- Bottle of water
- Personal care items
The program includes:
- Private transport during the whole trip
- Transfer from and to the airport (first and last day)
- Bilingual professional national guide: Spanish / English / or Spanish / French
- Naturalist or local guide, if applicable
- Accommodation in standard hotels or guesthouses
- All meals indicated in the program, i.e. 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 14 dinners
- Activities and tickets included in the program
Not included :
- Flight from and to the country of origin or other unspecified internal flights
- Other type of transport not specified
- Unspecified meals
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks during meals
- Optional activities or services not specified as included in the program such as adventure activities, horse riding, bicycle rental, etc.
- Personal expenses
- Other unspecified items
- Travel insurance