Enjoy some of our favorite destinations in Ecuador on this nine-day tour through the Ecuadorian Andes. Start in the colonial capital city of Quito where you'll find spectacular churches dating from the 1500's and a bustling city sprawling up the slopes of the 15,000 foot Pichincha Volcano. Next, head deep into the cloud forest where hummingbirds flourish and clouds linger in the air nourishing a rich, biodiverse ecosystem on the slopes of the Andes. Test your bargaining skills at the Otavalo Market, one of the world's most famous indigenous markets. Travel through the Avenue of the Volcanoes, stopping to visit beautiful lakes and lagoons along the way in Cotopaxi National Park. Enjoy relaxation time in Baños, the land of orchids and waterfalls.
Hike Discovery Falls for a 360 degree view of Bellavista Cloud Forest
Attend Otavalo Market, the most famous in the region
Explore Cotopaxi National Park and search for the Andean Condor
Enjoy a free day in Baños and choose from numerous activity options
An early morning drive takes you up though the highlands and into the cloudforest. Arrive at Bellavista just in time for a gourmet breakfast. After settling in to the lodge, you can enjoy the flurry of hummingbirds or take a hike on the varied trails through this tropical cloudforest.
Spend the morning relaxing near the lodge or on an adventurous hike to a waterfall hidden deep in the forest. From here, head to the historic Hacienda Pinsaqui. The hacienda is nestled in the Otavalo Valley in the shadow of Imbabura Volcano. The 200-year-old hacienda with its gardens and old textile shops is yours to explore. From here you can visit the white city of Ibarra or the leather shops of Cotacachi.
Arrive early to the animal market for a riotous time of literal horse trading, and spend the day bargaining with the locals over fine sweaters, tapestries, and woodwork. Indigenous people from the mountains descend into the valley to sell their crafts, textiles, cows, and goats in the tiny town of Otavalo. This is the most famous Indian market on the continent, and the good-hearted Otavaleños are certain to win your heart.
For the rest of the day you can relax on the lovely grounds of Hacienda Pinsaqui and enjoy the many options of recreation. Enjoy the gardens, hike, or take horses to explore Cuicocha Lake.
Mid-morning, say goodbye to your gracious hosts and head south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes. See breathtaking high plains as you head towards the magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi - the earth's highest active volcano (19347ft/5897m). This area provides excellent opportunities to spot the Andean Condor. After lunch in the Limpiopungo Valley (12540ft/3800m), 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) and the nearest glacier.
Tonight you 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 the founder of modern geography, Alexander von Humboldt.
After breakfast this morning continue on your journey to Banos, one of the most charming towns of Ecuador. Considered the gateway to the Amazon river basin, Banos is a land of orchids and waterfalls at the base of the Tungurahua Volcano, and its hot therapeutic springs are famous throughout the country. Overnight in Banos
Head out from Banos today to visit Pailon del Diablo, a stunning waterfall located a short drive from the city. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy the numerous options that Banos has to offer. Your guide is available to help you select optional activities that include white water rafting, bike riding, horseback riding, rock-climbing and more! You can also choose to simply relax in this charming Ecuadorian town and enjoy a slower paced day. Overnight in Banos.
Today, visit Salasacas, a native community that specializes in textiles and tapestries. Continue to Latacunga along the magnificent Central Valley, which is sheltered by two parallel mountain ranges. Visit Quilotoa, a beautiful emerald lagoon surrounded by several snow-capped volcanoes. Visit the village of Tigua, known for artists who create wonderful sheepskin paintings of traditional Andean village life that have been highly regarded since before Incan times. Return to Quito to enjoy your final night in Ecuador.
Day 9: Return Home
Return home or continue your adventure with a trip to the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands!
This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).