This morning fly south to the delightful city of Cuenca to begin your Ecuador travel experience. Considered the most colonial city in all of the Americas, red clay rooftops stretch throughout the city of Cuenca and baroque churches stand on the corners. The time is yours to explore however you like. You might visit the city's markets and grand churches or head to the charming villages of Gualaceo and Chordeleg. There's also Cajas National Park, which offers a great day trip of hiking.
Ecuador's most famous Inca ruin, Ingapirca, lies two hours north of Cuenca. Following old dirt roads into the countryside, pass a checkerboard of small farms growing corn, beans, potatoes and other Andean staples. Spend the day exploring the ancient citadel and the surrounding area of Cañar. The indigenous people of this area, Cañaris, are well known for their textiles, and you can hope for an invitation into the homes of some local weavers. This evening you overnight at a 17th Century hacienda to enjoy an evening of old world charm.
Today head north through the Avenue of Volcanoes to continue your Ecuador travels. This is a fairly long trip with spectacular scenery along the way. Arrive to the subtropical town of Baños by mid-afternoon.
Baños is a favorite destination for Ecuadorians and foreigners. Relax in the town's thermal baths, bicycle downhill towards the Amazon, or rent horses for a tour of the lush cloudforest or the high páramo of Sangay National Park. For those looking to explore Andean culture, your Adventure Life tour leader can help introduce you to the indigenous people of Salasaca and their colorful markets. Baños is also famous for its fun nightlife, so hit the town this Friday--don't forget to try the local cuy (roasted guinea pig)!
Today descend into the Amazon basin to begin a jungle adventure! Located along the mighty Napo River, your cabañas offer a tremendous panorama of the surrounding jungle and three nearby volcanoes. During your jungle stay at Casa del Suizo, hike through the shadowed jungle canopy learning about the medical uses of various plants, or visit the celebrated animal shelter, AmaZoonico, where you can get better acquainted with the local exotic wildlife. Your time in the rainforest can also include a float down the peaceful Rio Arajuno. At night, relax on the private terrace, or take a cool swim in the lodge's pool.
Head upriver to a higher elevation on the green slopes of the Andes. Pass the day on continuous Class III rapids of the Jatunyacu River, moving through the stunning scenery of the upper Amazon basin. This evening, enjoy the nightlife of the jungle town of Tena to complete your Amazon tour adventures
In the morning, catch a bus to climb into the Andes. Your destination is the hot springs of Papallacta. Surrounded by steep mountains covered in lush green forest, overnight in thatched roofed cabañas and soak in the thermal baths. For the adventurous, this area offers excellent short hikes into the high páramo.
A short ride over the Eastern Cordillera brings you back to Quito for the afternoon. If the weather is clear, you are treated to views of glacier-covered Cayambe and Antisana Volcanoes. This afternoon, explore colonial Quito’s narrow streets, baroque churches, and busy plazas and markets with your Adventure Life tour leader.
Nestled in the Otavalo Valley in the shadow of Imbabura Volcano, the 200 year-old Hacienda Pinsaqui was a favorite haunt of the revolutionary General Simon Bolívar. The thick whitewashed walls seem to whisper stories of a by-gone era. From the hacienda, go mountain biking in the countryside, visit the white city of Ibarra and the leather shops of Cotacachi, or take horses around Cuicocha Lake. Pinsaqui, with its gardens and old textile shops, is yours to explore.
Finish your Ecuador travels at the Otavalo market, South America’s most famous market. The Otavaleños are one of the most friendly and business savvy Indians on the continent. Saturday is the day that Indians from the surrounding mountains descend into Otavalo to trade goods and socialize with friends and family from around the valley. After a day of testing your wits against the local vendors for tapestries, paintings, scarves and sweaters, its time to head to Quito for a final farewell to your newfound friends.
$675 single supplement