Ecuador: Avenue Of The Volcanoes
The different natural landscapes and the beautiful colonial cities of Quito and Cuenca are waiting for you in Ecuador. The Magical Andes will let you experience famous train rides, indigenous villages, colorful markets, the largest Inca site in Ecuador and of course, the majestic snow-capped volcanoes. Then, this tour will take you to the coastal region through banana and cacao plantations to end in the tropical city of Guayaquil, the biggest port of Ecuador.
Dates on request
Suggested Itinerary by Air
Depart the UK – Quito
Depart the UK and travel to Ecuador and connect along the way. Upon arrival in the evening you will be met and greeted before being transferred to your hotel.
Your journey begins with a visit to the capital of Ecuador. It is located at 2,850 meters above sea level, at the slopes of the Pichincha volcano and nestled in a green Andean valley. Quito, one of the oldest cities in South America, is also one of the few cities that has preserved numerous monuments and artistic treasures of the Spanish colonial period. The colonial centre of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. You will begin the tour with a walk through the narrow streets to visit some of America’s oldest and most beautiful churches such as El Sagrario and La Compañia and the famous plazas of Santo Domingo, La Merced and San Francisco. You will continue to “El Panecillo” hill, to meet the winged virgin and enjoy a fascinating view of Quito.
In the afternoon you will drive to the famous Equator Monument “Middle of the World”, which is located in a dry valley on the northern outskirts of Quito. Here you will visit the Museo del Sitio Inti Nan, which was built by a private anthropological foundation next to the official equator monument. This beautiful solar museum has exhibits of different indigenous culture and their traditional way of life. During this visit you will also see the startling evidence that demonstrate the exact location of the equatorial line.
Quilotoa Crater Lake
You will exit Quito and head south, towards the Cotopaxi province. Your first stop will be the indigenous market of Pujili, a show of smell and colors. You will continue through winding roads that pass the most beautiful landscapes of the Ecuadorian Andes, to reach the picturesque Crater Lake Quilotoa. From the crater rim it’s possible to walk down to the turquoise lake shores, a hike worth taking. No need to worry about the way back, because there are horses and mules to help with the ascension. You will have a box lunch to help recover your strength while enjoying the unique magic and beauty of this crater lagoon.
Cotopaxi National Park
In the morning you will drive to the Cotopaxi National Park to do a short hike at the feet of the snow capped colossus and discover its diverse flora and fauna. Afterwards you will continue to an altitude of 4,500 meters, where the view changes to a bizarre and barren landscape. Here you will have the opportunity to ascend to the José Ribas refuge, at 4800 meters where there is a short path that leads to the edge of the impressive Glaciers.
Later you will visit one of the many rose plantations that have made Ecuadorian roses famous all over the world. Here you will see the different kinds of roses and learn about the whole production process. You will also have lunch at the plantation before continuing to Baños, the lively pilgrimage town with its famous thermal springs and its beautiful cathedral.
Pailon del Diablo
In the town of Baños, located at an altitude of 1,800 meters, prevails a pleasant climate. It is recommendable to visit the beautiful Cathedral and enjoy the extraordinary scenery before starting with the day´s adventure: “The route of the waterfalls”, which runs along the Pastaza River Gorge. The highlight of this route is located by Rio Verde, where you will have a short walk through the cloud forest to reach the thundering waterfall known as “Pailon del Diablo” (Devil’s cauldron).
In the afternoon, your tour continues to the highest volcano in Ecuador, Chimborazo (6,310 m), where you will be greeted by a desert like landscape and herds of shy vicuñas. From here it is possible to walk to the Edward Whymper shelter that offers a great view from an altitude of 5.000 meters. The day ends in Riobamba.
Devil’s Nose train ride & Ingapirca archaeological complex
You will depart early in the morning through picturesque landscapes and small villages to reach Alausí´s train station, where you will hop on board one of the most famous train rides in the world. The ‘Devils Nose’ as it is known, is an unforgettable train ride down an almost sheer rock face; the train makes switchbacks all the way down the cliff and then back up again. After this, you will enjoy a lunch box on our way to the next highlight: Ingapirca archaeological complex, the largest Inca site in Ecuador. You will learn about the Inca and Cañari cultures by touring through the beautiful temples and fortifications. In the late afternoon you will continue to Cuenca.
After breakfast you will start your tour of the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, declared World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1999. The promenade along the Rio Tomebamba, the imposing new Cathedral and the daily flower market are just a few of highlights that this city has to offer. The Tour also includes a visit to a workshop and museum of the famous Panama hat, the finest braided hats of the world. You will have lunch at “El Maiz” restaurant specialized in fusion cuisine. The afternoon is left free for you to explore this charming and historical city on your own.
Cajas National Park & Guayaquil
After breakfast, you will head to the west to cross El Cajas National Park. This reserve, although it is mostly above the tree line, has an astounding variety of plant and animal life. In addition to rugged ridges and deeply incised, box-shaped valleys, there are nearly 240 different sized lagoons. You will drive to an altitude of almost 4,200 meters above sea level, to reach the most western watershed between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. After this, your route starts descending to the coastal region, passing through beautiful and changing landscapes as the altitude drops and the vegetation grows in size and variety. You will drive through extensive cocoa, bananas, rice, and sugar cane plantations to enter the bustling metropolis of Guayaquil, the largest city in the country. Once there, you will get to your hotel to then do a city tour in Ecuador´s main Port. This city is best explored on foot, so you will start from Parque Bolivar to then continue by the Plaza de Administración, the Moorish Clock Tower and finally the “Malecón 2000” and the artist district of Las Peñas, with its spectacular panoramic view of the lazy Guayas River and its green mangrove belt.
Return back to the UK
After breakfast, you will transfer to the airport for your overnight connecting flight back to the UK.
On the coast, the dry season from late May / June to November is unpleasantly cool, muggy and overcast. The rainy season from December / January to April / May is surprisingly the best time to visit Ecuador.