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Adventures in the Ecuadorian Andes

12 active days full of adventures and adrenaline exploring the Andes

A travel to the equator line has flair of adventure, and this tour will surely live up to your expectations when it comes to adventure and adrenaline. You will bike from the Andes down into the cloud forest, explore the Andean forest in a Canopy Tour, hike, bike and ride on horseback through the Andes and even fly in a paragliding adventure over the Andes! Still there will be enough time to explore the nature and culture along your route, including the fascinating rainforest which you will discover on hikes and a fascinating rafting trip. Experience Ecuador the active way !


Itinerary:
Day 01 Arrival in Quito:
Arrival in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which is located at 2.800m above sea level in the middle of the Andes. We pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel in the modern centre of the city. After a short break to recover from the travel and a first introduction to the country you get to explore this big city and learn something about its turbulent history. You will get to experience the new section of the city in the North with its many parks and tall modern buildings and the Avenida Rio Amazonas as well as the Plazas Santo Domingo, Independencia and San Francisco which are in the colonial section in the centre of the city. Due to its many historical architectural monuments the UNESCO declared the old part of town a world heritage site in 1978. From the Panecillo hill in the South of the old part of town, where the 142 ft high monument of the Virgen of Quito stands, you have an impressing prospect. From here you have wonderful views over the red clay tile roves of the old part of town, the skyline of Quito in the North, as well as the surrounding Andean cordilleras range with its outstanding snow-covered giants mountain . Accompanied by a welcome cocktail during dinner in the evening, your guide will give you an introduction to the next day’s activities and answer any questions about your travel. D
Day 02 Biking from the Andes to the cloud forest:
In the morning you will drive from Quito north over the Andes using the old road Quito-Mindo until 10171 ft of altitude. At this point, you switch to your mountain bikes and start the descent towards the cloud forest located on the West slope of volcano Pichincha until you reach the cross roads to Tandayapa (6562 ft of altitude) This is a 40 Km bike ride on a country road, void of traffic. You'll enjoy a picnic lunch before you continue biking until reaching the small birding paradise of Tandayapa. Watch the vegetation change from paramo to cloud forest to low mountain forest as you whiz down the mountain. Keep one eye on the road and the other peeled on the sky: there's a good chance to see parrots, hummingbirds, toucans and caciques.
Afterwards you will continue your way to the nature-sanctuary Mindo-Nambillo on the western side of the Pichincha vulcano in a height of 4594 ft to 15419 ft. You will find diverse ecosystems in this region: from the treeless Páramo to the cloud forest as well as subtropical and tropical rainforest parts. This region is especially interesting for birdwatchers and botanists. You will stay the night in a typical lodge of this fascinating region.B/L/D
Day 03 The Cloud Forest
The cloud forest lies at the southern edge of the Choco/Andean hotspots of biodiversity - that stretches from south western Colombia to northwestern Ecuador. And equally important, the Mindo Area of International Importance for Birds, is the first area so designated in South America, by Bird life International in 1997. The New York Botanical Gardens wrote that the diversity of epiphytes ("air plants" that grow on other plants) is higher in the cloud forests of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru than anywhere else on the planet. Within this enchanting green kingdom a profusion of life awaits your discovery, including botanical treasures such as bromeliads and orchids, as well as the fascinating families of Gesneriaceae and Melastomataceae. Since the region is located on the equator, flowers are in bloom year round. The Tandayapa Valley boasts over 330 recorded species of birds...and the list continues to grow! The Tanager-finch, Giant Antpitta, Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Plush-capped Finch, Beautiful Jay, and White-faced Nunbird are all found here. Birders and nature lovers alike thrill to the sight of brightly colored tanagers and the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, and everybody loves to admire the multitude of hummingbirds hovering around here. Enjoy this day exploring this fascinating nature paradise on one the many path that lead through primary and secondary forest and to hidden waterfalls. B/L/D
Day 04 Otavalo Indigenous Market:
In the morning you will leave the Mindo area and return into the highlands in order to travel to the north along the Panamerican Highway through astonishing mountain scenery crossing the equator line to visit the Otavalo indigenous Market. For centuries, regional markets have played an important role in indigenous 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 market dates back to pre-Inca times and is famous for its textiles woven on back strap and shuttle looms. Otavalo is South America’s most famous indigenous trade. Here Otavaleños barter in silence, in marked contrast to the strong noise of other markets. You will have time to visit the famous market and stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets filled with Otavaleños, who wears blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair. After lunch you will walk from Otavalo to the waterfall of Peguche, which is located in a small 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 Otavaleños indigenas. Following the ridge of the lake on an old cobblestone road through pastureland and fruitful fields you will pass small villages still with Adobe houses inhabited by indigenous 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 trip a genuine experience. You stay the night in a hotel near Otavalo. B/L/D
Day 05 Canopy Tour:
From Otavalo you drive south-east to Cayambe to visit Quitsa-To, the equator monument with an adjacent museum about the cultures that worshipped the sun at the equator. Later you continue to Pifo and on the Panamerican Highway to the Ecological Reserve surrounding the Hacienda Santa Rita. Arriving at the Santa Rita reserve, you will be received by one of the guides and visit the interpretation center. Then it is time to get ready for the Canopy Tour (Zip Line). “Cañon del Salto Canopy Tour” is a transportation system based on harnesses and pulleys attached to an inclined cable, taking advantage of gravity. This system was used by scientists who were doing research in the forest canopy. They avoided coming down to the ground and climbing up the next tree by using this system. It has 5 cables between 329 and 1575 fts long. These cables can hold many tons of weight suspended. All visitors are provided with top of the line equipment and pulleys specially designed for cable use. Specialized guides will make your high mountain canopy flights very safe and at the same time, they will share their knowledge of this unique ecosystem with you. Back on the ground you will explore the ecosystem trekking to the Pita river waterfall, before you continue your journey through the Ecuadorian Andes South to Hacienda El Porvenir where you will stay the night. At the hacienda you will have a traditional lunch. In the afternoon, you explore the surrounding Paramo (Andean highland) on an easy hike to the Manto Blanco waterfall. After the hike relax in front of a crackling fire and enjoy a hearty dinner in the traditional Andean hacienda.
Hacienda El Porvenir, is located on the slopes of Rumiñahui Volcano at 3600 m (11808 ft), in a breath taking valley. This area is known as the land of the four corners due to the suurounding four volcanoes:  Rumiñahui 4,712 m (15,455 ft), Pasochoa 4200 m (13,776 ft), Sincholagua 4893 m (16049 ft) and Quilindaña 4878 m (16000 ft), with snow capped Cotopaxi at it’s center. B/L/D
Day 06 Experience the Andes on horseback:
To explore the Andes on horseback is one of the best ways of getting to know this place, its culture and wilderness. After a delicious breakfast a brief introduction about this place is given in the morning at Hacienda El Porvenir, where you will be teached the inexperienced members of the group how to ride and get acquainted with the horses, which breed are “criollo” or “paramero”. These animals have adapted to the local environment and the weather; therefore they are smaller and have a thicker coat.
Wearing the typical “Chagra” attire of the Ecuadorian highland cowboys, you will begin your ride from Hacienda El Porvenir, taking the lower route towards Hacienda El Tambo Quilindaña and passing by Pucará de Salitre, an Inca fortress. While you riding in the shade of majestic Cotopaxi (widely considered to be the highest active volcano in the world) and pass trough impressive wide Andean landscapes your native guides will share their knowledge of medicinal plants with you. You will reach the lagoons of Cajas and pass “Piedra Muchana”, a huge stone that the indigenous people would kiss asking the gods for good weather on their way to the jungle. After about 7 hours you reach Hacienda El Tambo Quilindaña where an excellent dinner will be waiting for you. 
Hacienda El Tambo Quilindaña dates back to Inca times. It was a refuge on the road leading the jungle. The hut has been built with straw and stone originating from Cotopaxi’s many eruptions and carved by Inca hands and is surrounded by pristine and unique landscapes. In this unique spot in the Andes, everywhere you look you see the solitude and beauty of a valley bathed in rivers and experience the silence and ever-present wind of the “páramo”.B/L/D
Day 07 Hiking and biking through the Andes:
Hacienda El Tambo Quilindaña is located in a magical setting surrounded by many volcanoes, such as Cotopaxi 5897 m (19347 ft), Quilindaña 4878 m (16000 ft) that presides over it, and the majestic Antisana 5704 m (18709 ft). El Tambo Quilindaña farmhouse itself lays at 3.700 m (12,136 ft)
Today you are going to explore this amazing Andean region and trek around Hacienda El Tambo Quilindaña going to the Chirimachay canyon through the highlands of Cotopaxi. The scenery of this area is unique because of the lava rivers that flowed through here during Cotopaxi’s last eruption. This trek takes about 5 hours. At Chirimachay you start an adventurous cross country descends on mountain bikes along trails and roads. Biking time will be approximately 2 hours before you reach Hacienda El Porvenir.
At Hacienda “El Porvenir” you will have the opportunity to stay in a comfortable, welcoming and beautiful traditional Andean hacienda house, that provides comfortable shelter and protection, built through a suitable use of materials such as brick, straw, wood and adobe. The traditional bedrooms on the second floor, known as Machai, recall the huts in the Andean highlands with their straw roofs and “estera” walls, estera being the name given to a reed or cattail fabric woven by the skilled hands of our craftsmen. Each Machai can harbor two guests. These cozy bedrooms share 4 bathrooms (rooms with private bathrooms are included in the 4 and 5 star packages). The living room and dining room with their crackling fires warmly welcome the guests. The dining room overlooks a large courtyard surrounded by buildings and barns used for farming. An impressive backdrop is the ever-changing Sincholagua Volcano. B/L/D
Day 08 Cotopaxi National Park – Volcano Ruminahui:
In the morning you will leave the Hacienda “El Porvenir” and drive towards the Cotopaxi National Park some 2,5 milles away from the Hacienda. Here you will follow the road along the slopes of volcano Ruminahui to the Limpiopungo lagoon on the wide high plateau at the slopes of Cotopaxi volcano. You start today’s hike along the lagoon where you get to know the typical vegetation of the Andean highlands and watch out for the local birds as the Andean humming bird and the condor.
From here you will climb Rumiñahui volcano, which is a rather gentle but long altitude hike. First you will follow an ancient trail, reaching a long ridge which divides some of the hidden valleys. Here you will have excellent views on the National Cotopaxi's Park, as well as Chimborazo in the horizon and the Ilinizas in the West will be the best rewards of the day. In the afternoon you return to Lake Limpiopungo and head for the Panamerican highway, making a stop at the visitor center "Campamento Mariscal Sucre" to visit the natural history museum on your way.
Later you will follow the south Panamerican highway, passing the cities of Ambato, Latacunga, Salcedo and Pelileo before you enter the valley of Patate. Finally you will reach an Andean Hacienda, situated in the valley of Patate, that is well known for its picturesque location. 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 also this place is known for its picturesque location on the Patate River, the grapes grown in the region and the production of some of the best "aguardiente" liquor in the highlands. After having dinner, you’ll spend the night in one of its comfortable guest rooms, the cozy atmosphere guaranteeing a good rest. B/L/D
Day 09 Over the Andes – a paragliding adventure:
Today you will explore the Andes the most exciting way: paragliding through the central Andes in a Tandem flight together with an experienced instructor! You will drive to the top of Cerro Niton Loma, a “small” mountain of 3000m altitude near the village of Pelileo. From here you will start your flight together with your instructor approximately 1313 ft! down the wide Pelileo valley towards the south with the snow-capped volcanoes Chimborazo, Tungurahua and Altar in the back.

NB: This is probably the most adventurous part of your tour and therefore here even more then before it is “safety first”. Please understand that this activity depends strongly on the weather, especially the wind conditions, and therefore in case the conditions do not favour a save flight you might need to do other activities instead. Usually winds favour flights in the morning between 10am – 12am as well as again in the afternoon after 15pm. For lunch you drive to the quaint little town of Baños. Later you can explore the small and peaceful village at your leisure. Visit the unique sugar cane market, go to the hot springs for some relaxation in the warm waters or just enjoy the friendly laid back atmosphere in the plazas and stroll through the many local art and craft shops that line the bustling streets. Do not forget to visit the famous church of the Virgen de Agua Santa! Spend the rest of the day exploring the surroundings of the hacienda hiking along small farms and visiting flower plantations. B/L/D

NB For those who do not want to participate in the flights we gladly organize alternative activities like a mountain bike tour or an excursion on horseback – please consult with us!

Day 10 The waterfall route – Puyo:
You continue driving on to the east through the “Avenue of the Waterfalls”, that follows the Rio Pastaza on its way through the valley of the same name. In the village Rio Verde besides the river you will stop in order to visit the well-known waterfall El Pailon del Diablo. Then you continue your journey passing a number of waterfalls until you reach 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 “Yanacocha” 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 and get close to 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 north Puyo to a lodge near the small jungle town Tena. Here you will have dinner and stay the night. B/L/D
Day 11 Rafting in the Rainforest:
Early in the morning you will leave Tena and start your rafting trip to the upper Rio Napo. This is also known locally as the Rio Jatunyacu, which means "Big Water" in Quichua. Big is probably the best word to describe this river - big water, big waves and big fun! The adventure begins where the road ends in a remote spot in the jungle. This is the highest accessible point of the Rio Napo. Only a handful of scattered Quichua families live this far in. The fun begins immediately with large rapids and roller-coaster size waves, intermingled with some calm pools that give you a chance to fully relax, and take in the spectacular scenery. This is our most popular rafting trip. No previous rafting experience is necessary (Class III rafting, about 25 km). Lunch en route. In the afternoon you will head back towards the Andes and Quito, arriving in the evening, just in time for your big farewell dinner. B/L/D
Day 12 Transfer out or extension (Galapagos or Rainforest):
According to your travel plans we will accompany you to the airport to take your international flight or a flight to the Galapagos Islands or organize your stay in Quito). Gladly we also help you with any desired individual extension. B

B: Breakfast / L: Lunch / D: Dinner


Prices 2017 per person (minimum 02 people):

3* Hotels in a double room: US$ 2598-
Single room supplement: US$ 208,-

4* Hotels in a double room: US$ 2975,-
Single room supplement: US$ 463,-

5* Hotels in a double room: US$ 3688,-
Single room supplement: US$ 954,-

(NB: Where no 5* hotel accommodation is available, accommodation will be in the best available rooms – in El Porvenir/El Tambo Quilindaña in a typical highland hacienda)

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 (in El Tambo Quilindaña rooms will be distributed according availability), 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 according to the day you start the tour, we will have to revise the program and changes may be necessary.

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 El Porvenir/El Tambo Quilindaña will be in a typical highland hacienda.

Please note: Hacienda El Tambo Quilindaña offers simple accommodation for up to 14 people in double and quadruple rooms. According to the group size you have to accommodate for this night in the available spaces sharing rooms. This is a unique opportunity to live an authentic Andean experience where you get a good insight into Andean life. All other nights the room distribution will be in double and single rooms as booked.

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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