The Ecuadorian Andes region is characterized by its outstanding landscapes formed by magnificent volcanoes, mountains, valleys, hot springs and lakes; natural reserves considered biodiversity sanctuaries home to the most wonderful endemic vegetation and animal species; colonial cities and World Cultural Heritage Sites where you can explore local history, lifestyle and traditions; craft markets and indigenous communities where you will learn about the country rich cultural diversity, ancient culture and folklore. You will also be marveled by the beautiful old haciendas, the delicious cuisine and of course the kindness of its people.
Duration: Half or Full day program
Discover Quito, the capital of Ecuador and the second highest capital in the world. It is a city surrounded by volcanoes, lying on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano. Quito not only has the largest best preserved and least altered historic center in America but also one of the most beautiful. Quito is a city of mixed cultures with a rich artistic legacy. Its historical center is a great example of the Baroque style which is a fusion of Spanish, Moorish Flemish and Indigenous art. The Baroque is not only appreciated in the art and architecture of the city but also in the way of living of its people. While walking along its colonial streets you will be transported to the past and learn about the history of the city. Its superb churches store treasures of the religious art and are an amazing example of the most wonderful architecture. The modern area of the city will transport you to a metropolis, offering all the modern-day comforts and facilities of an urban developed city. There is no question why UNESCO declared Quito the First World Cultural Heritage Site.
Duration: Half or Full day program
Celebrate the ability of standing at the two hemispheres at the same time. A once in a lifetime experience!! Only 25 minutes away from Quito is located the famous Middle of the World complex, built in 1979 to commemorate the first Equatorial Mission formed by a group of scientists who had the hard mission to determine Earth’s shape back in 1743, and to mark the point; where according to calculations used at that time; the equator line crossed. Learn about the Geodesic mission and local scientist’s hard work to measure a meridian arch. Learn important facts about the equator and confirm or dismiss related rumors that have fascinated people for centuries.
Duration: Full day program
Ecuador possesses an extraordinary ethno-history and cultural richness. Spend the day visiting different museums in Quito to discover the different tribes and indigenous groups who have inhabited Ecuador from pre-Hispanic times until nowadays. Learn about their culture and traditions expressed through their art and craft work. Learn about the cosmovision of pre-Hispanic cultures who inhabited the Ecuadorian territory from the 4000 BC to AD 1400. Continue to a local museum dedicated entirely to the exhibition, development and appreciation of traditional handicrafts of the indigenous, afro Ecuadorian and mestizo people of Ecuador. Visit the Capilla del Hombre, a project started by the famous Ecuadorian Indigenous painter Oswaldo Guayasamin (+) and created to pay tribute to the heroism of Latin American countries in their struggles for freedom. Inside La Capilla del Hombre one can feel the anguish, rage, tenderness, protest, dreams, violence, heroism, and sacrifice which inspired Guayasamin's work. Don´t miss the opportunity to do some craft shopping along the day.
Duration: Full day program
Enjoy the beautiful countryside landscape on your drive from Quito to the Otavalo Area. Otavalo is located approximately 90 km / 60 miles away from Quito. Explore the famous Otavalo craft market where locals show their products and crafts for sell. Enjoy closer contact with the community while bargaining for their products. Visit a local indigenous family who will share their weaving ability and music traditions; their ancestral knowledge of medicinal plants and the importance of the cuy (guinea pigs) in their spiritual beliefs. Enjoy traditional lunch with typical ingredients and products of the Ecuadorian Highlands. Meet a local prestigious artisan and learn the technique to elaborate fine bread-dough figurines which are sold in the most prestigious craft shops and art galleries in Ecuador.
Duration: 2 or 3 days program.
Enjoy scenic countryside views while traveling from Quito to the province of Imbabura known as the Lakes province due to its numerous aquatic formations. Learn about the flower exportation business, one of the main economical activities in Ecuador; get to know the different varieties of Ecuadorian roses known worldwide by its beauty and good quality. Visit the famous Otavalo craft market and other craft villages such as; Peguche, famous by its textiles and tapestries; San Antonio de Ibarra, famous by its wood carving artists; and Cotacachi famous by its leather handmade products. Meet a local indigenous family who will share with you their custom and traditions. Take a walk through their community and introduce yourself to the indigenous daily life. Visit a volcano lake formed in a crater after thousands of years of intense activity of an extinct volcano. Feel the spirit and peaceful ambience of the Andes Haciendas while spending the night in one of them.
Duration: 1, 2, or 3 days program.
Explore the Antisana Ecological Reserve, considered a birdwatchers paradise, where you may get chance to see the endangered Andean condor. Admire the snow-capped Antisana Volcano, the fourth highest peak in Ecuador. Visit Papallacta, a small village, located on a high Andean valley, famous for its thermal hot springs. Relax at the pools and enjoy the restorative effects of the hot springs which mineral richness comes from the surrounding volcanoes. Visit a peaceful and quiet private reserve for a hike into the humid temperate forest, characterized by stunted trees with dense crowns and surrounded by a large amount of bird flocks; great for bird lovers! . Horseback riding activity is also available under previous request.
Duration: 1 or 2 days program.
Explore the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest considered one of the most bio diverse zones in the planet, a magic place of clouds and endemic vegetation. Discover a multitude of epiphytes (air plants), including bromeliads, orchids, moss and ferns. Visit hummingbird feeders and watch different species of beautiful birds flying freely close to you. Discover a big number of butterflies while hiking through natural paths. Enjoy the peaceful and relax environment of the local lodging reserves.
Duration: Full day program
Explore the Cotopaxi National Park, located approximately 60 kilometers south of Quito. It is one of the most important natural reserves in the country, being home to many animals such as the Andean wolf, deer, rabbits and llamas. Walk through lahar and glacier formed valleys, grasslands intermingled with forest patches. The majestic Cotopaxi volcano has a perfect snow-covered cone and is the highest active volcano in Ecuador (5,897m above sea level) and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
Duration: Full day program (Operates: Thursday to Sunday)
Board a rail car that will take you through the marvelous landscapes of the Avenue of the volcanoes. During this panoramic ride you will be able to admire the beauty of the Ecuadorian highlands and the different volcanoes set along the Inter Andean Valley. Arrive to Latacunga train station and continue your exploration by car. Visit a Hacienda dating back to the XVI century. Learn about the history of the Haciendas in Ecuador as part of a social and economy system imposed by the Kingdom of Spain during the colonial period. Enjoy lunch in the Hacienda nowadays converted in a beautiful hotel. Visit local artisans to admire their abilities in pottery and basket weaving.
Duration: 2 days program
Enjoy the landscapes of the Ecuadorian Central Andes. Visit the Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Visit a rose’s plantation to learn about one of the most important economic activities in Ecuador (activity available only Mon to Fri). Discover the Cultural richness of the Central Andes. Visit an Indian Market, experience the perfect scenery of indigenous people commercializing typical products, animals and handcrafts; a great mixture of sounds, colors and smells (Not available on Friday). Enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Quilotoa Crater Lake, an emerald water lake formed at the crater of a collapsed volcano. Learn about the peculiar indigenous art developed in Tigua where locals reflect through their paintings the immediate surrounding Andean landscape and the traditional and ritualistic life-style of the native population. Spend the night in a local Hacienda to feel the spirit of the Central Andes.
Duration: 2 days program
Explore the natural environment of Baños, a charming town located at the skirts of the active Tungurahua volcano. Baños has a privileged location; it is one of the entrances to the Amazon region. Its location makes this town a very unique place, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, with a nice tempered climate and weather. On route to Baños you will enjoy scenic drives along the Central Andes. Visit small towns and indigenous villages. Learn about the Salasacas, an indigenous community dedicated to the agriculture, livestock rising, and production of textiles and tapestries made with ancient technology. Visit the balsa wood sculptures and taste the delicious toffee produced locally. Learn about local people strong faith and beliefs which according to them has saved Baños from the Volcano fury. Hike to the principal waterfalls while observing Baños cloud forest ecosystem. Enjoy overnight in one of the local hacienda style hotels.
Duration: 3 days program
Follow the route that the German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt named in the XIX century as “The Avenue of the Volcanoes”, during his exploration to South America looking for plants, animals and minerals to research. Arrive to the province of Chimborazo, the province with the highest concentration of indigenous population in the country. Board the train that will take you to the Devil´s nose train ride, a zigzag gradient route where the train goes backwards and forward. Learn about the multiple difficulties and unfortunate events constructors faced back in the 1900s in order to create one of the most challenging routes in the world. Visit the majestic Chimborazo Volcano, the highest summit in Ecuador (20,703 feet / 6,310m above sea level). This protected reserve is an important area for preservation and reproduction of species from the Andean ecosystem such as llamas, vicuñas and alpacas. Enjoy overnight at hacienda style hotels.
Duration: 4 or 5 days program
Admire the beautiful countryside landscapes along the avenue of the volcanoes. Visit one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Visit a local indigenous community and taste Llama meat! Enjoy the devil´s nose train ride adventure, one of the most challenging train routes in the world. Learn about pre-hispanic cultures, visit the Ingapirca archeological site; the most important Inca complex in the country, constructed over the ruins of a more ancient cultural group, The Cañaris (1200 BC). Discover the history and traditions of the colonial city of Cuenca, a big example of cultural awareness, named by the UNESCO a World Cultural Heritage site. Visit local artisans and craft shops, learn about the local culture and their social challenges.