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Ecuador Active Andes

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Ecuador Active Andes

Experience Ecuador’s cultural diversity visiting small villages full of history and tradition and visit La Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo’s crafts and weavings market, the largest in South America. Discover the highland’s historic colonial Haciendas and their Spanish heritage. Hike up the beautiful Crater Lake Cuicocha and be amazed by astonishing views of snowcapped mountains and volcanos. Ride the most difficult train in the world, declared Testimonial, Symbolic, Civil and Historical Heritage Monument, in this seven-day Ecuador tour immersed in local music, highland colors luxury and comfort. 

Daily Itinerary

Ecuador Active Andes Itinerary

  • Day
    1

    Quito

    Upon arrival an International Expeditions’ team member will meet and assist you and your luggage to the hotel. 

    Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz.
  • Day
    2

    Quito City Tour

    Today you will have a relaxed morning. In the afternoon we will visit the colonial temples and monasteries of this urban jewel, declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. Visit St. Augustine Convent, the Independence Plaza, the Cathedral, La Compañia de Jesus, the President Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Continue to the Church of San Francisco, one of the greatest religious buildings of the New World.  

    • Activity: Quito City Tour 
    • Difficulty: easy 
    • Time: 3 hours 
    • Elevation: 8,200 feet above sea level 
    • BEST OBSERVATION: UNESCO World Heritage Site, Metropolitan Cathedral, Churches and plazas. 
    Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz. (B,L)
  • Day
    3

    Quito – Hacienda La Compañía - Otavalo Indigenous Crafts Market – Hacienda Cusin

    Today we will drive towards Hacienda la Compañia, located near the Cayambe Volcano in a lush Andean valley. This hacienda boasts French Neoclassical Architecture while supporting local indigenous culture and cuisine. As part of our visit, we will be hosted by the family members who will take us on a walk through the house while telling us the history of their objects and artifacts. We’ll visit the old Jesuit chapel and the old barn on the premises. Relax in the beautiful gardens, and enjoy a delicious and typical Ecuadorian lunch. We can also take a tour of the family’s rose plantation “Rosadex,” to witness how they grow the best roses in the world, producing dozens of varieties of roses for exportation since 1993 on 50 acres of land. 

     
    After our delicious lunch we will head north to Otavalo’s crafts market.  The indigenous weavers from Otavalo and surroundings are well talented in the weaving arts. All these products are traded in the Plaza de lo Ponchos in the center of Otavalo city. Nowadays indigenous artist from all over the country bring their arts and crafts to the Market. In this market you can find all sorts of arts & crafts such as woven textiles, sweaters, blankets, ponchos, shawls, scarves, tagua carved figurines, Andean musical instruments and many other products. You will also find paintings, ceramics and jewelry.
     
    • Activity: Open air crafts market 
    • Difficulty: easy 
    • Time: 1.5 hours 
    • Elevation: 8,200 feet above sea level 
    • BEST OBSERVATION: Indigenous arts and crafts, otavaleno culture. 
    The late afternoon will take us to Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th-century Andean estate. Cusin’s terracotta-tiles, winding cobblestone path-ways, fountain court- yards, towers and perennial gardens nestle beneath a deep blue sky in a wide lake-valley. Ancient lakebed soil, cool nights and a predictable equatorial sun have conspired with avid gardeners to create ever-blooming perennial gardens that include belladonna, bougainvillea, agapantha, acanthus, foxgloves, orchids, palms, flora, which attract over 50 species of birds. Nearby, the 15,000 foot high Imbabura Mountain and Cotacachi volcano are reflected in Lago San Pablo. Overnight Hacienda Cusin (B,L,D) 
  • Day
    4

    Hike from Hacienda Cusin to Zuleta – Peguche Crafts Village OR Hike to Cuicocha Crater Lake

    We present you two activity options for you to choose that could best fit your travel interests for the day. 

     Option 1: Hike from Hacienda Cusin to Zuleta – Peguche Crafts Village 
    After breakfast, we will drive until get the town of Ucsha, here we will visit a small school where you will have the opportunity to share with the local people and with the children that study in it. We have been developing a sustainable tourism project and if you are interested you can contribute. After a picnic lunch, we’ll hike a scenic route until get the town of Zuleta, famous for its embroidery. We will continue our hike through crops of onions, potatoes, and corn, where locals still use a wooden plow and oxen. We’ll then head down to the small village of Peguche where we will be able to observe local craftsmen working on their traditional crafts. In the afternoon we will be back in our Hacienda. 
    • Activity: Hike 
    • Difficulty: easy to moderate 
    • Time: 2 hours 
    • Elevation: 8,200 feet above sea level 
    • BEST OBSERVATION: Indigenous people from otavaleno and zuleteno cultures, agricultural fields, incredible views. 

     Option 2: Hike to Cuicocha Crater Lake 

    Following a comfortable breakfast enjoy a pleasant drive to the nearby Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve for a five-hour hike at Laguna de Cuicocha 10,200 feet above sea level, a deep-blue crater lake on the lower southern flanks of Volcán Cotacachi. Here, we can take in views of several nearby volcanoes, including Imbabura, Cayambe, and Cotacachi, and do some bird-watching (ruddy ducks, giant hummingbirds, silvery grebes, and more). After the hike we’ll stop at the picturesque colonial town of Cotacachi, famous for its leatherwork. 
    • Activity: Hike 
    • Difficulty: moderate to challenging 
    • Time: 4 hours 
    • Elevation: 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level 
    • BEST OBSERVATION: Great view of the lake, Andean Condor, several species of hummingbirds. View of Glaciers of the Andes and the cities of Ibarra and Otavalo.
  • Day
    5

    Train ride from Ibarra to Salinas de Ibarra

    The Ecuadorian Railway was declared Testimonial, Symbolic, Civil and Historical Heritage Monument in 2008. Unquestionably, the North Railway has become a major tourist attraction worth visiting in the Andes’s Highland for its beautiful and unequaled scenery. This railroad network started to function by the end of the 1800’s, connecting the coastal and mountainous regions north and south of the country. It promoted the economy and cultural exchange throughout Ecuador. In the early 1900’s the Liberal government of General Eloy Alfaro sponsored new research that allowed continuity of the railway’s construction. This challenging task was assigned to the American engineer Sighald Muller who after some years of study, called the project "the most difficult railway in the world” due to the complexity of its construction. However, with the development of more modern routes and faster transportation the railroads started to disappear. 

     
    In 2007 the Ecuadorian national government initiated the process of the railway’s rehabilitation. Today Ecuador’s railway system is oriented towards expanding the tourism industry, promoting outstanding routes such as the Ibarra – Salinas. In the course of this route you will appreciate the magnificent landscape, local culture and history of the area. The adventure starts early with a good breakfast and a short drive to the railway station located in the tranquil city of Ibarra where we will board the autoferro (railway car). It is a 18.6 mile route, which lasts approximately 2 hours; crossing bridges sustained over a hundred feet above the rivers. As we continue to descend towards the dry Andean Valley of Chota, the scenery will get exceptional. The 7 tunnels carved into the mountain rock is one of our tourist’s favorite attractions. 
     
    The rail runs along the banks of the Mira River where old farms, cottages and agricultural crops can be appreciated from the other side of the train-car’s panoramic windows. During the journey the vegetation is characterized by the agave producing tuna-pears, parasitic plants, trees and colorful orchids. Upon arrival to the Salina’s station, the warmth of its weather and the charm of our Afro- Ecuadorian descendent people, will welcome us. Overnight Hacienda Cusin (B, L, D) 
  • Day
    6

    Cochasqui Archaeological Site – Quito

    After a relaxed morning we will depart from Cusin to visit Cochasqui Archaeological Site, we will take a 1.5 hour drive to this historical complex located at 10,200 feet above sea level, built between 850 B.C to 1550 A.C. by the Quitucara ethnic group before the arrival of the Incas to this lands and it is consider the largest pre-Inca site in Ecuador. In 200-acre land it encompasses 15 flat-topped pyramids with religious, astronomical and military purposes, 21 tombs incredible views of the valleys formed by the Andes Mountains. After we walk around this archaeological jewel of Ecuador we will drive to Quito and check in at the hotel. Overnight Hosteria San Jose (B, L) 

  • Day
    7

    Quito / Depart

    Today one of our team members will assist you with your luggage and take you to the airport. Depart for home or add-on a Galapagos cruise! (B) 

Call 800.234.9620
Duration
7 Days, 6 Nights
Trip Type
Land