Secrets of Ecuador 9 Days

Day 1 - Arrive Quito – Otavalo (2 Nights)

Welcome to Ecuador, a local host will greet you at the airport for a transfer to your hotel in the village of San Pablo del Lago, located just outside Otavalo and ideally situated at the base of the Imbabura Volcano. Hacienda Cusin, founded in 1602, is one of the oldest haciendas in all of Ecuador. Enjoy the rest of your day to relax and get settled in.

Hotel: Hacienda Cusin Authentic Accommodation

Day 2 - Otavalo Sightseeing

Depart mid-morning to meet a local family who introduces you to the Andean tradition and Cultural Insight of flute-making, including a musical interlude using the handmade instruments. You'll even get the chance to try playing the instruments yourself. Enjoy a Welcome Reception Lunch with your Travel Director and fellow travellers at a traditional hacienda. Visit the public market alongside native Otavalenos and put your bartering skills to the test. Stroll through the different vendor stalls offering a variety of handcrafted items in search of the perfect keepsake.

Meals: Full Breakfast, Welcome Reception, Dinner

Day 3 - Otavalo – Cayambe – Quito (2 Nights)

Your morning is at leisure before heading to Cayambe where you will meet a local family for a Be My Guest Lunch at Hacienda La Compania, a beautiful home and rose plantation. Tour the grounds, including the charming chapel and learn about the roses grown here before indulging in a meal of Ecuadorian specialities. Arrive in Quito and enjoy the evening to relax.

Hotel: Hilton Colon

Meals: Full Breakfast, Be My Guest Dining

Day 4 - Quito Sightseeing – Equatorial Line Monument

Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Quito, Ecuador's capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn all about the religious and cultural influences of this bustling city, located just 14 miles (22 kilometres) from the Equatorial Line. Visit a candy shop to watch a third generation candy-maker create a traditional Ecuadorian candy called colaciones, a Cultural Insight. Eat lunch at a local restaurant and try another Cultural Insight, canelazo, a delicious spiced cinnamon rum drink. Continue to the Equatorial Line Monument and stand in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time. Later, meet a Local Specialist, an Ecuadorian organic chocolate-maker, who tells you all about the production process and shares samples for you to enjoy. Indulge in a Regional Meal this evening featuring local cuisine.

Meals: Full Breakfast, Lunch, Regional Meal

Day 5 - Quito – Cotopaxi National Park – Riobamba

Travel south along the Panamerican Highway, through stunning landscapes of valleys and mountains before arriving at Cotopaxi National Park, the site of an active volcano standing 19,642 feet (5,987 metres) high. Meet a Local Specialist who shares his knowledge and passion for this spectacular natural wonder. Continue on to Limpiopungo Lake where you'll observe a great number of high-altitude birds, and occasionally, wild horses. Return to the valley where lunch is served at a 300-year-old hacienda. Venture back to the main road and continue along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes." Riobamba awaits as you continue alongside massive Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador.

Hotel: Hacienda Abraspungo

Meals: Full Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 - Riobamba – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca (2 Nights)

Head south to the train station in Alausi where you board the Devil's Nose Train, an engineering feat of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The railway allows you to discover the topographic obstacles of Ecuador's diverse landscape as you zigzag down the steep mountainside. Disembark at Sibambe to visit a local museum built and run by the Nizag community. See displays of local crafts, fruits, and medicinal plants. After your train journey, enjoy a picnic lunch before visiting the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.

Hotel: Victoria

Meals: Full Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7 - Cuenca Sightseeing and Free Time

Discover the charm of Cuenca with a Local Specialist and admire the red-tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and flowery plazas. Founded as a Spanish settlement in 1557, the beauty of its landscape with the harmony of old and modern architecture has prompted UNESCO to name Cuenca a World Cultural Heritage Site. Today's highlights include the Todos los Santos ruins, a flower market, and the main square surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral. Visit surrounding communities including an arts and crafts village for a Cultural Insight into the ancient weaving process of Panama hats and other items made of toquilla straw. Learn weaving methods that date back to pre-Columbian cultures while visiting a local pottery maker in action. The evening is yours to explore.

Meals: Full Breakfast

Day 8 - Cuenca – El Cajas National Park – Guayaquil

Journey to Guayaquil through El Cajas National Park. Watch the ever changing flora and fauna as you travel through the beautiful cloud forests to the coast for a visit to a cacao plantation. Here, learn all about growing and harvesting cacao with a Local Specialist before a delicious lunch. Arrive in Guayaquil and enjoy a short city tour. Tonight, toast an unforgettable holiday during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

Hotel: Oro Verde

Meals: Full Breakfast, Lunch, Farewell Dinner

Day 9 - Depart Guayaquil

Your Ecuadorian adventure comes to an end with a transfer to the airport for your flight home, or extend your stay at the Hotel Oro Verde.

Meals: Full Breakfast

Credits:

Created with images by CristianIS - "City and clouds 9" • marriedwithluggage - "Otavalo market - 13" • PatoSan - "quito ecuador historic centre independence square" • lisa_aw - "Quito" • RandomWalking - "IMG_7128" • lobitadelsur - "Tren Nariz del diablo" • jrubinic - "cuenca" • wjgomes - "sunset equator guayaquil" • YoTuT - "Guayaquil, Ecuador"

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