3-week Program: Discover Ecuador high up in the Andes
Day 1 – Saturday
Today you arrive in Quito and our driver will welcome you at the airport Mariscal Sucre. Quito is the capital of Ecuador and at an altitude of 2850 meters above sea level. With a population of 2 million Quito is the second largest city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. The driver will bring you to the hotel in Quito were you will spend the night.
Day 2 – Sunday
After breakfast the guide will meet you in your hotel and you will start with a city tour in the historic center of Quito. The guide will explain you all about the history of Ecuador and the capital. The historic center of Quito is declared by UNESCO. You will visit Plaza San Francisco, Plaza Grande and the famous church La Compañia. Lunch will be served.
In the afternoon you are going to the equator at Mitad del Mundo. In museum Inti Ñan you are learning about history and all facts and figures about the Equator. With various experiments you will see that you are on the Equator, like putting an egg on a nail! Afterwards the guide will bring you back to your hotel in Quito were you will spend the night.
Day 3 – Monday
In the morning our driver will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the airport from were you will fly to Lago Agrio. At 09:00 am you meet the guide and staff of the Jamu Lodge in Lago Agrio. From here you will take private transportation to the entrance of the Cuyabeno Reserve, where you will have a box lunch. At this point you have to register in the Reserve’s office and pay the entrance fee. Here the Naturalist Guide will give information about the Reserve, important recommendations and other tips to begin the two hour canoe ride on the Cuyabeno River to Jamu Lodge. During the canoe ride you will get a first glimpse of the amazing plants and wildlife found in the jungle. You may also be able to see a variety of monkeys and other jungle animals, depending on the time and weather conditions. You will arrive at Jamu Lodge at around 4:30 pm. At that time you will be shown to your room and can relax. After a siesta you will leave the camp for a swim in the lagoon and to watch a beautiful sunset. You will then return to the camp for dinner and can finish your first day in the jungle relaxing in a hammock or having a drink at the bar.
Day 4 – Tuesday
After breakfast you will take a trek in the primary forest for 3 to 4 hours where your guide will explain how this complex tropical ecosystem works. You will learn about medicinal plants and might be able to see some exotic birds or monkeys. You will then return to the camp for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon, you will have a swim in the lagoon and watch the sunset. With a little luck you can observe the pink river dolphins or an anaconda sunbathing in a tree. You will return to the camp for dinner, and then take a night canoe ride to look for caimans.
Day 5 – Wednesday
After breakfast, you head to the Siona Community of Puerto Bolivar, the largest ethnic group in the Reserve. During this tour you will learn their customs, traditions and way of life. You will be part of the preparation of Casabe, a local dish made of yucca (carbohydrates are the principal food of the community). During the 2 hour canoe ride to the community, you can admire the existing fauna along the Rio Cuyabeno such as: birds, monkeys, snakes, pink dolphins and tortoises.
A visit to the Shaman, the healer of the Community, is also included. This is a full day excursion with lunch in the Community. After returning to the lodge, we will go for a short nocturnal hike through the primary forest in search of insects, spiders, geckos or scorpions, and listen to the night sounds of the jungle. Dinner.
Day 6 – Thursday
Early in the morning, before breakfast, a bird-watching excursion is optional. Back at the lodge you will have breakfast and then return to Lago Agrio to take the flight back to Quito.
At the airport Mariscal Sucre our drive will welcome you and bring you to your hotel in Quito were you will spend the night.
Day 7 – Friday
Today you will have the highest tour during your trip in the highlands; you are going to visit the Cotopaxi volcano. You start from the parking lot, at an altitude of 4500 meters, climbing to the refuge to an altitude of 4850 meters. At the refuge you can enjoy the view and drinking a hot chocolate. If there is still some time left you can try to manage climbing till 5000 meters were you can see the glaciers of the volcano. Afterwards you are visiting Lake Limpiopungo. You are going back to the Hacienda were lunch will be served. In the afternoon you have free time to spend around the Hacienda and you can book optional an activity. You will spend the night in the Hacienda.
Day 8 – Saturday
In the morning you will drive trough the mountains of the Andes to the little indigenous village Isinlivi where you will stay at Llullullama. Hostal Llullu Llama was once a traditional farmhouse and is now converted in a romantic mountain hostal high up in the Andes of Ecuador.
They offer you great views, free tea/coffee all day, a very relaxing atmosphere and much more!
Day 9 - Sunday
After breakfast you start with hiking a trail from the Quilotoa loop. You will hike in 6 hours from Isinlivi to Chugchilan, during your hike you can enjoy the beautiful views of the valleys and the mountains. You will also meet the local people on your way walking to Chugchilan, they appreciate a little “chat”, greeting or just a smile. A lunch box will be provided today. You will spend the night in Mama Hilda in Chugchilan.
Day 10 – Monday
In the morning you start with the second part of the Quilotoa loop; you will walk from Chugchilan to Quilotoa. Quilotoa is a water-filled caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The caldera has since accumulated a 250 meters deep crater lake, which has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals. You can walk around the lake and take beautiful pictures. You can have a hot chocolate or warm soup in one of the restaurants that are situated around the lake. A lunch box will be provided today. Afterwards the driver will bring you to a hacienda were you will spend the night.
Day 11 - Tuesday
In the morning our driver will bring you to the city Baños, also named Baños de Agua Santa.
Baños is a major tourist center and well-known for the Tungurahua volcano, the waterfalls and the hot springs. You can do a lot of
activities in Baños like mountainbiking, rafting, kayaking, canyoning, bridge jumping and horseback riding. Baños is also known for its production of taffy (melcocha) made from cane sugar, and for
small shops that sell the towns famous wooden parrots. You will spend the night in a hotel in Baños.
Day 12 – Wednesday
Free day to spend in Baños. You can do some of the optional activities in Baños or just relax in one of the hot springs or during a massage. You will spend the night in a hotel in Baños.
Day 13 – Thursday
In the morning you will travel from Baños to the indigenous town Guamote. High up in the Andes in the shadow of the Chimborazo, at the centre of Ecuador, between the coast area and the rainforest and in the little town Guamote is Inti Sisa situated. Inti sisa is an educational project which organizes workshops in the centre of Guamote and in some indigena communities. All these workshops have grown from conviviality with the people, who think that their training too theoretical is and who want more practical training.
In the morning you are going to visit the Thursday market in Guamote, one of the most important indigenous markets of the country. Looking onto the town from a far you are faced with a sea of red filling the streets, squares and public areas, produced by the arrival of the many indigenous people that come to the market, all donned in the traditional red ponchos.
They come in their thousands to sell sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, llamas, potatoes, cereals, wool, handicrafts, clothing and tools. Others simply come out of custom and ancestral ritual to meet with friends and take advantage of this time to catch up on the fascinating cosmo-visions that they share. The exchange of goods or bartering as a form of trade still exists in Guamote. In the afternoon you will have a cooking workshop were you will learn to make a local dish. Afterwards you can enjoy your own made dish during the lunch! You will spend the night at Inti Sisa.
Day 14 – Friday
After breakfast you will continue your trip to Alausí from where you will go by train to Sibambe to visit the famous Nariz del Diablo. By train you will travel trough the mountains and enjoy the amazing view! The trip by train will take 2,5 hours, afterwards you continue traveling from Alausi to the most beautiful city of Ecuador, as told by the Ecuadorians, Cuenca. Here you will spend the night.
Day 15 – Saturday
Free day in Cuenca.
Optional tour: you can make a city tour with a guide. You will visit the flower market, the famous cathedral and of course the factory with panama hats. Did you already know that the Panama hat comes from Cuenca Ecuador and not from Panama? You will spend the night in Cuenca.
Day 16 – Sunday
Free day in Cuenca.
Optional tour: you can visit the National Park El Cajas that is famous for its beautiful nature. You will find more than 200 lakes in this National Park and all kind of species of plants.
Optional tour: you can visit the community tourism project Mama Kinua Cultural Center. You will visit an indigenous community and can participate in all kinds of activities like cooking, farming and cheese-making. All revenue goes to a community health network. You will spend the night in Cuenca.
Day 17 - Monday
After breakfast you will drive from Cuenca to the biggest city of Ecuador, Guayaquil. During your trip you will see the environment changing from mountains to tropical plants and you will also notice the change in the climate, there will be more humidity. Here you will have a stop for lunch and then you will continue to the coast of Ecuador, Puerto Lopez. Who says that the coast of Ecuador isn’t interesting? The National Park Machalilla and Isla de la Plata are jewels at the Ecuadorian coast and you can visit them perfectly from Puerto Lopez! You will spend the night in Puerto Lopez.
Day 18 – Tuesday / Day 20 – Thursday
Free days to spend in Puerto Lopez. Visit the beautiful National Park Machalilla, this park consists of tropical forests, cloud forest, desert coast and some islands. It is an area where many birds and other wildlife.
In the period June-September you have a great opportunity for the coast of Machalilla to see humpback whales. They come from the Antarctic area and use the waters at Machalilla and Isla de la Plata to mate and to cast their young. Take a boat trip to come nearby humpback whales. They are true artists: some humpback whales jumping out of the water to come back down with a resounding slap.
Turtles, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and albatrosses: Isla de la Plata is a bit like the Galápagos and therefore is also called “poor men’s Galapagos”. With a guide you make a nature walk on the bird island. The trip to Isla de la Plata is an experience, through the breeding ground of humpback whales. Before you return to the mainland: snorkel and try to see the green sea turtles!
You will spend the nights in Puerto Lopez.
Day 21 – Friday
In the morning the guide will bring you to the airport at the Galapagos Islands from were you will fly to Guayaquil. Here you will have your flight back home.
Day 22 – Saturday
Arrival in your country