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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.
Sisters at IngapircaQuito cityThe famous Cuenca hatter Cotopaxi volcanoCotopaxi Volcano with snowBeatiful views at Ingapirca Ruins during Ecuador vacationDormant volcanoes seen in Cotopaxi National Park during an Ecuador tourLa Compania, QuitoHistorical CuencaCuenca CathedralCuenca, Ecuador vacation hotelTrain passing through Riobamba
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Independent
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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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.


Hacienda La Cienega

Old-growth trees line the path to the main house of Hacienda La Cienega
A suite at La Cienega
La Cienega offers find Ecuadora cuisine

Posada Ingapirca

Posada Ingapirca
Posada Ingapirca
Posada Ingapirca

Cuenca - Hotels

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  • 4 Breakfasts
  • 4 Nights Accommodations
  • 5 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Cotopaxi Patente Fee
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time


When to Go

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

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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