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Andes & Rainforest (9 Days)

Travel up the slopes of the western Cordillera to explore the fascinating Andes and descend the eastern Cordillera down into the vibrant tropical rainforest. After you have explored the jungle you return into the Andes, bath in volcanic thermal springs, cross the equator line twice and visit the colorful Indian market of Otavalo before discovering the colonial center of Quito, the capital of Ecuador on 2850m altitude.


Day 01 Guayaquil – Cuenca:
In the morning you will drive from the coast to the Andeans, to the colonial city of Cuenca.  Cuenca is considered as both the cultural metropolis and the arts and crafts centre of Ecuador. The city and its surrounding countryside are fantastic places to buy ceramics, embroidery, leather goods and woven baskets. On arrival you will check into you Hotel. At midday you will feast on local cuisine in a typical town restaurant, after which you will have a pleasant stroll along the river to aid digestion! Later you will start with a visit of the Panama hat factory for which the city is famous. Afterwards you will explore the colonial part of the city where you will encounter historic churches, many art and craft shops and a colourful flower market. Set amongst beautiful old colonial houses, the area has a charming atmosphere for which UNESCO declared Cuenca as World Heritage Site in 1999. B/L
Day 02 Cajas National Park – Ingapirca: The Cajas
National Park is considered a paradise for hikers due to its ecological conservation and natural beauty. You will drive 15km West of Cuenca to the Cajas National Park entrance where you will start a moderate hike for about 3 hours admiring the moorland vegetation (high Andean grassland, like moors at high altitude) with amazing micro flora, some patches of Quinoa primary forests and spectacular rock formations. Here you will find around 200 lagoons left over from the ice age, today forming an extensive recreation area at a height of 3.150m to 4.450m. Small rivers connect the series of lakes and these eventually flow into both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. In the afternoon you continue to the little Andean town Cañar. In the afternoon you will reach the famous ‘Ingapirca’ ruins (Quechua for “wall rocks of the Inca”) the most important and well preserved of Ecuador’s Inca ruins situated to the North of Cuenca. There you can wander around the beautiful site and imagine the scenes prior to the Spanish conquest. A visit to the museum will reveal further details of life there at the end of the 15th Century. You will stay the night in a small local hotel (Posada). B/L/D
Day 03 Riobamba:
The rising morning sun will surely shine a mystic light on this ancient place and provide an impressive photo motive. Later you leave Ingapirca and follow the Pan-American Highway north traveling into the Andean highlands. Passing the Laguna de Colta you reach the little chapel of La Balbanera, the earliest church in Ecuador dating from August 15, 1535. The road keeps climbing up the Andes giving great views of Volcano Chimborazo (6310m) in the horizon long before you reach Riobamba, the capital of Chimborazo Province at 2750m altitude. In the afternoon you explore Riobamba, especially its colourful and lively markets where you will have the chance to taste some of the tropical fruits like Granadilla (yellow passion fruit), Guaba fruit or Taxo before you follow the Panamerican highway north passing the cities of Ambato and Pelileo before entering the valley of Patate. The valley of Patate is located right at the entrance to the Llanganates National Park where the Incas hid their treasures from the Spanish conquerors and is known for its picturesque location on the Patate River. Here you will stay the night in a typical Andean Hacienda. B/L/D
Day 04 From the Andes into the jungle:
You will start the day with a tasty breakfast and then continue your journey towards Baños (1800m), a tiny village located in a beautiful verdant valley, with a pleasant sub-tropical climate. Famous for its thermal baths and Basilica, Baños is a popular spot for local and international tourists. Driving on east you will follow the Rio Pastaza on its way through the valley of the same name, passing a number of waterfalls you will stop in order to visit the well-known waterfall El Pailon del Diablo. Later you continue to the city of Puyo, known as “The Gateway to the jungle”, that has sprung to life as a trading post for jungle communities. Near the town you visit the foundation “Los Monos Selva y Vida” where you can meet many of the monkey species that inhabit the rainforest. At the Yanacocha rescue center you can observe many more species of tropical animals including ocelots, parrots and caimans. With your visit you support the important work of these institutions while at the same time getting the great chance to observe close by some of the beautiful animals of the rainforest that otherwise are very hard to spot in the dense green of the jungle. In the afternoon you continue your travel from Puyo north to a lodge near the small jungle town Tena. Here you will have dinner and stay the night. B/L/D
Day 05: Exploring the jungle:
Let’s start the day with a huge and fantastic breakfast, with the surplus of local fruits underlining the exotic character of your surroundings. Later you head for the Napo River to go on a canoe trip on the Rio Napo and Rio Arajuno towards the animal rescue center Amazoonico, where you can see various animals as the famous tigrillo, different types of monkeys, numerous birds and other wild life.  Then visit the traditional Quechua Museum that presents many artifacts and explanations about the Quechua people’s way of life in the Rainforest. After lunch you explore the rainforest during an easy hike. Your local guide explains to you the amazing world of the plants that you encounter on your walk unraveling many of its mysteries: medicinal plants, birds, wild animals, amazing insects, colorful frogs and reptiles. In the evening relax in a hammock enjoying the exquisite view on the surrounding rainforest which may be peacefully absorbed from your terrace before a fabulous dinner will be served in this special ambience. B/L/D
Day 06 Las Termas de Papallacta:
After breakfast you will continue your journey north back towards the Andes, passing through Tena, the capital city of the Napo province, and on to the little village of Baeza, located in attractive pastoral hills between three large, richly forested reserves (Cayambe-Coca, Sumaco-Napo-Galeras and Antisana). In the early afternoon you will arrive at Papallacta, a quiet highland town famous for its excellent hot springs. The marvellous Hotel Las Termas de Papallacta Spa & Resort is located at an altitude of 3,220 meters (10,800 ft.) above sea level and offers comfortable rooms located around individual bathing pools. You’ll have lunch and then be free to take advantage of all the relaxing activities available. A gentle walk along the river and through native high altitude forest is a splendid way to stretch your legs  before a well earned soak in the scenic hot pools, when you may spot the ice giant Volcano Antisana (5.758m) as the clouds roll over the valley. B/L
Day 07 The Northern Andes - Otavalo:
Early this morning, your travel leads you onto the Pan-American Highway further north. For centuries, regional markets have played an important role in Indian life, providing regular gathering places for trade and socializing. The colourful local markets of the Andean valleys are famous for their fine handicrafts. The Otavalo Indian market dates back to pre-Inca times and is famous for its textiles woven on back strap and shuttle looms. Here Otavaleños barter in silence, in marked contrast to the raucous noise of other markets. You will have time to visit the famous market and stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets filled with Otavalo Indians wearing blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair. After lunch you will walk to the waterfall of Peguche which is in a small nature sanctuary, and from there you will continue on to the San Pablo Lagoon. This area around the lake below the Imbabura volcano is the home of the Otavalo Indians. Following the ridge of the lake on an old cobblestone road through pastureland and fruitful fields you pass small villages still with Adobe houses inhabited by Indio farmers and art craftsmen. Clear mountain air and the wonderful sights on the landscape with the many small bird-rich side valleys as well as the enormous Cayambe in the background make this ride a genuine experience. In the late afternoon you reach Quito, the capital of Ecuador. B/L
Day 08 Quito – colonial and modern city in the Andes:
Today you get to explore this big city and learn something about its turbulent history. This city tour covers the major colonial churches and monasteries in Quito such as La Catedral, La Compañia and San Francisco. Visit Independence Plaza flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Continue to the Church of San Francisco, one of the greatest religious buildings in South America. Its impressive façade and atrium lead to an opulent gold interior, a Baroque influence with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar. You visit the historic colonial quarter of Quito, resplendent with its churches, gilded altars and religious sculptures and paintings dating from the 17th; 18th and 19th centuries. The tour continues through narrow streets, ancient colonial houses with Moorish-style arches and mysterious patios to El Panecillo, and a neutral vantage point for an overwhelming view of the city. From here you drive to the northern modern part of Quito to the city park “La Carolina” in order to visit the botanical garden of Quito where you will get a good impression of the great diversity of the Ecuadorian Flora. La Carolina Park is also a good place to watch the national sport Ecua-volley. B/L
Day 09 Transfer out or extension (Galapagos):
According to your travel plans we will accompany you to the airport to take your international flight or a flight to the Galapagos Islands). Gladly we also help you with any desired individual extension. B

B: Breakfast / L: Lunch / D: Dinner


Contact Ecuador Travel

Prices 2017 per person (minimum 02 people):

3* Hotels in a double room: US$ 1870,-
Single room supplement: US$ 197,-

4* Hotels in a double room: US$ 2090,-
Single room supplement: US$ 98,-

5* Hotels in a double room: US$ 2644,-
Single room supplement: US$ 807,-

(NB: Where no 5* hotel accommodation is available, accommodation will be in the best available rooms)

Prices include: All transfers in private transportation, excursions and overland tours as mentioned in the program, accommodation based on double rooms in hotels & haciendas of the chosen category, meals according to the itinerary description (B: breakfast, L: Lunch/Box Lunch D: Dinner), entrance fees, bilingual guide (Spanish/English – other languages upon request) during the round trip.

Not included in the price: Beverages, extra charge for single rooms, international airport tax (Quito ca. US$ 43 / Guayaquil ca. US$ 28), personal equipment and items, tips, travel insurance and luggage, anything not mentioned in the program.

Please note that the category-stars given for the accommodations are estimated as local categories do not fit international standards. Local categories are in all cases equal or higher then the ones given above. Accommodation in Ingapirca will be in a typical local Posada.

NB: Please read all itineraries as a guide only. All routes and programs can change without notice due to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and the wildlife encountered during the travel. Flexibility is the key to the success of any tour. Nevertheless the safety and the interest of our passengers is always our first priority.


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