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Train passing through Riobamba

Southern Highlands

Example 5 Day Tour
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Fly to Cuenca on this fascinating 5 day extension to the highlands of Ecuador. Begin your tour in charming colonial Cuenca. Travel to such sites as Ingapirca, Riobamba, Tomebamba River, Cotopaxi National Park, and the thrilling Nariz del Diablo train ride before returning to Quito.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Quito to Cuenca
Day 2 : Explore Cuenca
Day 3 : Ingapirca
Day 4 : Cotopaxi National Park
Day 5 : Cotopaxi National Park

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Train passing through Riobamba Sisters at Ingapirca Quito city The famous Cuenca hatter Cotopaxi volcano Cotopaxi Volcano with snow Beatiful views at Ingapirca Ruins during Ecuador vacation

Day 1 Quito to Cuenca

Fly to Cuenca where your guide will meet you at the airport to explore one of Ecuador's charming colonial centers, rich in history and with a strong flavor of the colonial past. Considered the most colonial city in all the Americas, red clay rooftops stretch throughout the city and baroque churches seem to stand on every corner.

Day 2 Explore Cuenca

Spend the day exploring this charming colonial town. Visit major places of interest such as the Tomebamba River and the old and new Cathedral in this lovely city.

Day 3 Ingapirca

Drive north towards the fortress of Ingapirca, a major pre-colonial Inca site that dates back to the 15th century, the first Inca City in Ecuador. We'll also visit the chapel of "La Virgen del Rocio" in Biblian.

Day 4 Cotopaxi National Park

This morning, we'll do a thrilling train ride over the Naríz del Diablo (Devil´s Nose) to Sibambe and back to Alausí and on to Guamote. After the train ride, drive north toward the magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi - the earth's highest active volcano (19347ft/5897m). Overnight at Hacienda La Cienega, one of Ecuador's oldest colonial haciendas. Situated near the slopes of the majestic Cotopaxi volcano and its National Park, this mansion has been the scene of important happenings in the scientific and social history of the country.

Day 5 Cotopaxi National Park

  • 1 Breakfast
Visit Cotopaxi National Park to try and catch a glimpse of the Andean Condor. After lunch in the Limpiopungo valley, we'll ascend to El Parqueadero. From this point we'll hike for about an hour to El Refugio, the volcano's refuge lodge. A short walk from here will take us to the nearest glacier. Return to Quito late in the afternoon.

Cuenca - Hotels

Hacienda La Cienega

Posada Ingapirca

Per person starting at


$115 single supplement


  • 4 Breakfasts
  • 4 Nights Accommodations
    • 4 Nights Hotel
  • 5 Days Private Guide Service
  • Park Entrance Fee


  • Internal Flights
    • $95 Quito-Cuenca
    • Flight cost is subject to change
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are excluded.
  • International Flights

Recommended Budgeting

  • $160 Meals not Included
  • $55 Airport Departure Tax
  • $50 Optional Excursions
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Mary Curry
Mary C

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney

When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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