This Ecuador highland tour includes a Quito city tour, Mitad del Mundo visit, 2 nights in the cloudforest region of Mindo, 3 nights in the lake region of Otavalo and 2 nights in a gourmet hacienda at the gateway to the Avenue of the Volcanoes. This trip offers a great insight into the diversity of life and cultures in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Day 1 Arrive Quito
Private guided transfer in from flight to Boutique Hotel Café Cultura. Lunch on own. In the afternoon explore the historical centre of Quito. First stop is Itchimbia Park which offers fantastic views across Quito´s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then continue on to visit the neo-gothic Basilica, Independence Square where you find the Cathedral and Presidential Palace, La Compañia de Jesus church famous for its gold leafed interiors and San Francisco Square and church. Dinner and overnight in Boutique Hotel Café Cultura with breakfast included. (D)
Day 2 Quito – Mindo
In the morning after breakfast, head north towards the Mitad del Mundo, where the equator line crosses Ecuador. Walk the equator line, get photographed on both sides of the world at the same time, or jump from one side of the world to the other! There is an interesting museum here showing artifacts and giving information about the many different indigenous groups that Ecuador boasts. Lunch in a local restaurant overlooking the nearby Pululahua Volcanic Crater. Continue the journey in the afternoon onto the luscious world of the Ecuadorian cloud forest. Before arriving at Mindo make a stop off at Tulipe, a Yumbo archaeological site (open Wednesday to Sunday). The Yumbos were a Pre-Incan civilization. At Tulipe you find the little-known archaeological remains of the Yumbo civilization. Dinner and overnight at Septimo Paraiso with breakfast included. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Mindo
After breakfast enjoy a morning hike in the Septimo Paraiso Cloud Forest Reserve where there are over 300 species of birds recorded, or for those who prefer relax poolside at the lodge, before visiting the butterfly house in Mindo. Return to Septimo Paraiso for lunch. In the afternoon visit Tony’s House or the Bellavista Reserva to see the wonderful hummingbirds. Dinner and overnight at Septimo Paraiso with breakfast included. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Mindo – Otavalo
In the morning leave the cloud forest behind and travel to the lake region of Otavalo. Lunch included overlooking the tranquil San Pablo Lake. In the afternoon visit the nearby village of Peguche, where you will get the opportunity to visit the home and workshop of a master tapestry weaver and learn more about this local craft. Peguche is also famous for the elaboration of musical instruments, such as rondadores (pan pipes) – visit a local workshop and discover more about the many musical instruments that originate from the Andes. Dinner and overnight at the colonial Hacienda Pinsaqui with breakfast included. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Otavalo
After a leisurely breakfast at Hacienda Pinsaqui, head out to the nearby Crater Lake at Cuicocha. Enjoy a moderate guided hike around this stunning volcanic lagoon tucked away in the Ecuadorian Andes. Lunch included in a local restaurant. After lunch explore the streets of Cotacachi, a small market town famous for its leather wear, before returning to Hacienda Pinsaqui. Take advantage of the rest of the afternoon to explore the beautiful gardens or sit back and relax in front of one of the hacienda’s huge fireplaces. Dinner and overnight in the colonial Hacienda Pinsaqui with breakfast included (B,L,D)
Day 6 Otavalo
After breakfast it is time to visit the colourful, world-renowned indigenous market at Otavalo, where all kinds of marvellous handicrafts are on offer. You can find products here representing all the main indigenous groups of Ecuador. Lunch included in a local restaurant. In the afternoon return to the hacienda and from here you will begin a 2/3 hour horse back ride, through local villages, towards the Imbabura Volcano, arriving at a wonderful view point. This horse back ride is suitable for beginners through to advanced riders.
Dinner and overnight in the colonial Hacienda Pinsaqui with breakfast included (B,L,D)
Day 7 Otavalo – Aloag
After breakfast begin the journey south to the wonderful Hacienda La Alegria. Country-style lunch on arrival at the Hacienda. In the afternoon undertake a trip around this beautiful hacienda, visit the horse pastures and milking sheds. On returning to the main house, take part in a coffee tasting session led by the hacienda’s owner. Dinner and overnight in Hacienda La Alegria with breakfast included (B,L,D)
Day 8 Aloag-- Cotopaxi
After breakfast set off towards Cotopaxi for a morning visit to the National Park, which includes a stop off at the Limpiopungo Lake where a moderate hike can be enjoyed. Please note that there is USD$10 per person National Park entrance fee not included in the final price. Late lunch at hacienda Hato Verde. In the afternoon take part in an Ecuadorian chocolate tasting session at the hacienda, led by the owner. Dinner and overnight in Hacienda Hato Verde with breakfast included (B,L,D)
Day 9 Cotopaxi– Quito
After breakfast visit a local Flower Farm, where you can learn more about one of Ecuador’s most important export industries. Lunch at the hacienda. In the afternoon return to Quito. Dinner and overnight in Boutique Hotel Café Cultura with breakfast included (B,L,D)
Day 10 Quito – home
Private transfer out to the airport to catch your international flight home.
Includes: Private transportation with English speaking guide, accommodation and meals as specified (B,L,D), activities specified including city tour and entrance fees to visitors sights
Not Included: Meals on own, soft and alcoholic drinks, extra activities at haciendas, tips and personal expenses.