Numerous mountains of more the 5000 meters rise out in the Ecuadorian fragment of the Andes range. On their journey travelers will find many lakes, rivers, waterfalls, thermal springs, forests, indian markets, villages and colonial cities. The Ecuadorian Highlands are very diverse in many ways, unique landscapes, broad variety of cultures, excellent food and specially friendly easygoing people.
QUITO AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
Enjoying a privileged position in the high Andes, surrounded by beautiful valleys and cupped by spectacular mountains, Quito is so close to sky you can almost touch it. We invite you to discover Quito's historical, cultural and contemporary heritage, its World Heritage wonders, and its warm and friendly people.
In Quito, old meets new, mountain high becomes valley deep, and spring prevails year-round. Nestled in the valley of the Incas, surrounded by the grandeur of the Andes and the luxuriance of the rainforest, Quito is a cultural centre of compelling history, architecture, people, art, cuisine and cosmopolitan nightlife, hemmed by a rich, diverse landscape full of captivating adventures and an enchanting, if mystical, energy. all within easy reach. With five distinct zones, each with its own unique flavour and potential for discovery, Quito holds an infinite wealth of experiences for every visitor. .
The world famous Equator Line, “Mitad del Mundo” is located only 30 minutes away from Quito. Here you will have the opportunity to jump from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. In the 18th century the French Geodesic Expedition arrived here to perform important researches and investigate the Earth’s actual form. A monument and an interesting Ethnologic Museum were built. The Museum will teach you about all the different cultures of Ecuador.
Otavalo market and surroundings
The Otavalo Indians are the most ambitious and prosperous craftsmen/merchants in Ecuador. Ponchos, wooden goods, and Indian jewelry are sold here. Then visit the small town of Cotacachi, known for its genuine leather work. Also visit "Cuicocha Lake" the most beautiful lagoon in Ecuador.
Antisana Private Reserve
Antisana's position northeast of Cotopaxi National Park and east of several 15,000-feet peaks brings it the deepest annual snowpack of all Ecuadorian peaks. As a result, it supports very large, active glaciers and the greatest equatorial snow and ice mass in the world. The varied routes it offers and the high quality of the snow and ice climbing found on them make this one of the most attractive and rewarding ascents of all the Northern Andes.
If you really want to experience the wildlife of the highlands in Ecuador this is the perfect place to do it.
Cotopaxi National Park
It is an incomparable and impressive place in Ecuador through the Avenue of Volcanoes, the highest active volcano in the world, and the most visited place after the Galapagos Islands.
Just two hours away get ready to enjoy a fascinating paradise in the middle of the mountains. Mindo, the best place for birdwatchers and orchids as well; unique worldwide nature reserve.
Papallacta Hot Spring
Almost two hours away these thermal baths are the most attractively developed set of hot springs in Ecuador, The hot water is channeled into several swimming pools. A fully equiped SPA, high quality restaurants and comfortable lodging can be found in this part of Ecuador.
Avenue of the Volcanoes
One of the greatest tourist attractions rich in fantasy and excitement in Ecuador is the Devil's nose train adventure. It was built more than 100 years ago and is know as the most difficult railroad way in the world.
"Baños de Agua Santa"
Baños de Agua Santa is located 180 Km away from Quito. This town nestled on Tungurahua (5,016 m) active volcano hillside; within a valley with waterfalls and thermal waters is one of the most developed tourist destination in Ecuador.
Ecuadorians consider Cuenca the most charming city, located in a peaceful and relaxing setting. As you enter the city you can notice the outstanding skyline marked by shining church domes. Cuenca´s cobblestone streets, winding rivers, graceful ironwork balconies, and beautiful gardens are part of the pleasant atmosphere of the historical city. The UNESCO declared this place a World Cultural Heritage Site on December 1999.
Gualaceo & Chordeleg
These are a subtropical valley just one hour away from Cuenca, knows for its handicrafts, folklore and jewelry (finest gold and silver filigree at a very reasonable price).
El Cajas Lakes
The National park is only 40 Km away from Cuenca, this is a place for those who love the great outdoors, its 71,186-acre area includes mountains and 232 glacial lagoons, connected to each other by small rivers and streams. An impressive spectacle for nature lovers.
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PROGRAM QUITO – COTOPAXI – QUILOTOA – QUITO
(2 DAYS – 1 NIGHT)
DAY 1: QUITO – COTOPAXI – QUILOTOA
We depart from Quito early in the morning. We’ll go through the famous avenue of the volcanoes towards the Cotopaxi National Park. The activities here include a visit to the local museum where we can find all the geologic and the chronologic information of the volcano. Next, we’ll do a hikking activity around the “Limpiopungo” Lagoon (12500 f.a.s.l.). If the weather and the road conditions allow us we’ll drive to the parking lot located at 14765 f.a.s.l. so we can admire the impressive canyon that reminds us of the wild geologic past of this volcano. If we climb a little more we’ll have the opportunity to see the glaciers first hand and enjoy a hot drink at the "Jose Rivas" shelter at 15.750 f.a.s.l. From this point we continue our trip for a quick stop for lunch. Before reaching the Quilotoa we’ll pass by the indigenous town of Zumbahua enjoying of a terrific landscape in the road and surrounding areas. Here we’ll spend the night.
DAY 2: QUILOTOA – QUITO
After breakfast we’ll go for a hike taking the trail to descend to the Quilotoa Lagoon (12790 f.a.s.l.) As we descend through the trail we’ll be able to admire the beautiful turquoise color of the Lagoon. We’ll also see shepherds hailing at us before reaching the shore of the Lagoon. It is optional at this point to ride a boat around the lagoon. Next, we’ll hear an ample explanation of the geologic history of this area before returning to our transportation. We can either take a steep way back or we can hire a mule, donkey, horse assisted by an indigenous person from the area. On our way back to Quito we’ll make a quick stop in Tigua in order to admire their naïf paintings and for having lunch of course. We’ll arrive in the afternoon to Quito. END OF SERVICES.
PRICE PER PERSON:
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Single room sumplement US$ 10.-
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
Lodging in a room with private bathroom (Quilotoa Lodge; it is the best one of the area). If the clients would like to spend the night in a indigenous cabin you can deduct $10 per pax; however, they only provide shared bathrooms and poor infrastructure.
Excursions with a bilingual guide Spanish /English
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED
Drinks in general
Lunch (average price from $ 6 to $ 10)
Dinner (average Price from $ 6 to $ 10)
Entrance fee to the Cotopaxi National Park $ 10.-
Boat renting at the lagoon $2 per person
Mule/donkey/horse renting $ 5 per person