Head south, along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes", viewing the breathtaking high plains surrounding the magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi - the earth's highest active volcano (19347ft/5897m). This area provides excellent opportunities to spot the Andean Condor. You'll ascend to El Parqueadero (15180ft/4600m). From this point, there is an optional hike for about an hour to El Refugio, the volcano's refuge lodge (15840ft/4800m).
Tonight you will overnight in one of Ecuador's most famous haciendas, the 400 year old Hacienda La Cienega. This enchanting hacienda on the slopes of Cotopaxi has hosted many of Ecuador's former presidents as well as Alexander von Humboldt, founder of modern geography.
Today you will visit Pujili to watch and participate in the celebration of the Corpus Christi festival. This is traditionally a Catholic celebration that celebrates the Holy Communion or Eucharist. Introduced by the Spanish during their conquest of South America, this celebration falls sixty days after Easter and falls during the Inca's ceremonial calendar for giving thanks to the sun and harvest. Two religions and cultures have shared a common celebration for centuries, and over time, the customs and traditions have intermingled to create a unique celebration.
The town of Pujili has become famous for its celebration of Corpus Christi. With your guide's knowledge of the history of the festivities, you will experience why and learn the stories associated with the music, costumes, and dancing during the parade. Saturday is the "mestizo" parade with schools and other social groups participating
In the afternoon, you will leave Pujili and travel west to Quilotoa, a village located next to a beautiful emerald lagoon surrounded by several snow-capped volcanoes. A stop in Tigua allows you to meet the famous Tigua painters. Their sheepskin paintings of traditional Andean village life have been highly regarded since before Incan times. Return to Hacienda la Cienega in the evening for dinner.
Return to Pujili for more excitement! Sunday's procession includes indigenous groups from the region and the El Danzante parade that celebrates Inti, the Inca sun god, the harvest, and the rain, while honoring the Andean condor.
In the late afternoon, return to Quito.