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From the Coast to the Andes (5 Days)

This travel from Guayaquil to Quito leads you to Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the Andes of Ecuador and from there through the famous ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’, named by the explorer Alexander von Humboldt about 200 years ago. On your way you will visit national parks, Inca ruins and even get a glimpse of the verdant green of the rainforest of the upper Amazon basin.

Day 1 Guayaquil – Cuenca:
In the morning you will drive from the coast to the Andeans, to the colonial city of Cuenca.  Cuenca is considered as both the cultural metropolis and the arts and crafts centre of Ecuador. The city and its surrounding countryside are fantastic places to buy ceramics, embroidery, leather goods and woven baskets. On arrival you will check into your Hotel. At midday you will feast on local cuisine in a typical town restaurant, after which you will have a pleasant stroll along the river to aid digestion! Later you will start with a visit of the Panama hat factory for which the city is famous. Afterwards you will explore the colonial part of the city where you will encounter historic churches, many art and craft shops and a colourful flower market. Set amongst beautiful old colonial houses, the area has a charming atmosphere for which UNESCO declared Cuenca as World Heritage Site in 1999. B/L
Day 02 Cajas National Park – Ingapirca: The Cajas
National Park is considered a paradise for hikers due to its ecological conservation and natural beauty. You will drive 15km West of Cuenca to the Cajas National Park entrance where you will start a moderate hike for about 3 hours admiring the moorland vegetation (high Andean grassland, like moors at high altitude) with amazing micro flora, some patches of Quinoa primary forests and spectacular rock formations. Here you will find around 200 lagoons left over from the ice age, today forming an extensive recreation area at a height of 3.150m to 4.450m. Small rivers connect the series of lakes and these eventually flow into both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. In the afternoon you continue to the little Andean town Cañar. In the afternoon you will reach the famous ‘Ingapirca’ ruins (Quechua for “wall rocks of the Inca”) the most important and well preserved of Ecuador’s Inca ruins situated to the North of Cuenca. There you can wander around the beautiful site and imagine the scenes prior to the Spanish conquest. A visit to the museum will reveal further details of life there at the end of the 15th Century. You will stay the night in a small local hotel (Posada). B/L/D
Day 03 Riobamba:
The rising morning sun will surely shine a mystic light on this ancient place and provide an impressive photo motive. Later you leave Ingapirca and follow the Pan-American Highway north traveling into the Andean highlands. Passing the Laguna de Colta you reach the little chapel of La Balbanera, the earliest church in Ecuador dating from August 15, 1535. The road keeps climbing up the Andes giving great views of Volcano Chimborazo (6310m) in the horizon long before you reach Riobamba, the capital of Chimborazo Province at 2750m altitude. In the afternoon you explore Riobamba, especially its colourful and lively markets where you will have the chance to taste some of the tropical fruits like Granadilla (yellow passion fruit), Guaba fruit or Taxo before you follow the Panamerican highway north passing the cities of Ambato and Pelileo before entering the valley of Patate. The valley of Patate is located right at the entrance to the Llanganates National Park where the Incas hid their treasures from the Spanish conquerors and is known for its picturesque location on the Patate River. Here you will stay the night in a typical Andean Hacienda. B/L/D
Day 04 The waterfall route – Puyo:
You continue driving on to the east through the “Avenue of the Waterfalls”, that follows the Rio Pastaza on its way through the valley of the same name. In the village Rio Verde besides the river you will stop in order to visit the well-known waterfall El Pailon del Diablo. Then you continue your journey passing a number of waterfalls until you reach Puyo, known as “The Gateway to the jungle”, that has sprung to life as a trading post for jungle communities. Near the town you visit the foundation “Yanacocha” where you can meet many of the monkey species that inhabit the rainforest. At the Yanacocha rescue center you can observe many more species of tropical animals including ocelots, parrots and caimans. With your visit you support the important work of these institutions while at the same time getting the great chance to observe and get close to some of the beautiful animals of the rainforest that otherwise are very hard to spot in the dense green of the jungle. In the afternoon you return to the Hacienda. B/L/D
Day 05 Cotopaxi National Park:
Heading north the "Avenue of the Volcanoes” will bring you to the Cotopaxi National Park. You will make a stop at the visitor centre Campamento Mariscal Sucre to visit the natural history museum. After that you drive to the lagoon Limpiopungo crossing the wide high plateau at the slopes of Cotopaxi Volcano. During an easy hike around the lagoon you get to know the typical vegetation of the Andean highlands and watch out for the local birds as the Andean humming bird and the condor. After the hike you continue to the rustic mountain refuge Tambopaxi on the high plateau. Here you will have lunch with simply stunning of the glacier of Cotopaxi Volcano and the wide plains of the nature park. In the afternoon you will cross the high plain to an old ritual place of the Incas, from which you have an excellent view on the surrounding mountains Ruminahui, Sincholagua and of course the Cotopaxi Volcano. In the late afternoon you will follow the Panamerican highway further north to Quito, the capital of Ecuador (end of services). B/L

B: Breakfast / L: Lunch / D: Dinner

Contact Ecuador Travel

Prices 2018 per person (minimum 02 people):

3* Hotels in a double room: US$ 1120,-
Single room supplement: US$ 82,-

4* Hotels in a double room: US$ 1188,-
Single room supplement: US$ 98,-

5* Hotels in a double room: US$ 1381,-
Single room supplement: US$ 340,-

(NB: Where no 5* hotel accommodation is available, accommodation will be in the best available rooms)

Prices include: All transfers in private transportation, excursions and overland tours as mentioned in the program, accommodation based on double rooms in hotels & haciendas of the chosen category, meals according to the itinerary description (B: breakfast, L: Lunch/Box Lunch D: Dinner), entrance fees, bilingual guide (Spanish/English – other languages upon request) during the round trip.

Not included in the price: Beverages, extra charge for single rooms, international airport tax (Quito ca. US$ 43 / Guayaquil ca. US$ 28), personal equipment and items, tips, travel insurance and luggage, anything not mentioned in the program.

Please note that according to the day you start the tour, we will have to revise the program and changes may be necessary.

Please note that the category-stars given for the accommodations are estimated as local categories do not fit international standards. Local categories are in all cases equal or higher then the ones given above. Accommodation in Ingapirca will be in a typical local Posada.

NB: Please read all itineraries as a guide only. All routes and programs can change without notice due to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and the wildlife encountered during the travel. Flexibility is the key to the success of any tour. Nevertheless the safety and the interest of our passengers is always our first priority.

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