Quito to Guayaquil
• Quito • Cotopaxi National Park • Devil's Nose Railway • Cuenca • Guayaquil
Spend two nights in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Quito before departing on a four day immersion in the Andean World. From Quito, drive along the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Cuenca. Spectacular Andean scenery with visits to Haciendas, fertile fields of vegetables and roses, you also come in close contact with the local culture and community projects. A journey encompassing the history, Andean flavours, traditions and legends of these colourful and friendly mountain people.
Day 1: Quito Private transfer on arrival to your hotel situated in the heart of the old city centre. The remainder of your day at leisure.
Day 2: Quito This morning on your four and a half hour sightseeing tour, relish in the urban jewel of Quito so famous for its treasures of art and architecture. Quito's colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, was designated as the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start by walking to the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Municipal Building and the Archbishop's Palace. Visit the beautiful church of La Compania de Jesus with its awesome gilded interior. Continue to the Monastery of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World. Then continue to the equatorial monument, 25 km's north of Quito, which marks the middle of the world, latitude 0 where you can stand with a foot in each hemisphere. Return to Quito and enjoy the afternoon at leisure
Day 3: Quito > Cotopaxi National Park Early departure from Quito along the Pan-American Highway to visit the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary set around the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, which rises 5897 metres (19,347 feet) above sea level. The evergreen landscape of the Ecuadorian highlands is one of the main attractions, along valleys and mountains covered by multi-coloured fields. Travel along valleys and past mountains, eventually arriving at the Cotopaxi National Park for an up-close view of the Andean paramo habitat and its unique flora and fauna; a number of high-altitude birds can be observed around Limpiopungo Lagoon and occasionally, wild horses. On clear days, the perfect snow-capped cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano is quite a sight! At the foot of the volcano is a charming hacienda, where lunch is served in a room with Inca walls, perfectly preserved through the centuries - a true archaeological jewel. After lunch, mingle with the llamas of the hacienda and stroll through a rose plantation with many varieties and colours, all ready for export. From here, descend towards the town of Patate and spend the night at a 300-year old hacienda. Hidden among the mountains with a magical ambience, where as the afternoon mist descends, stories are told about those who left in search of the treasure of the Incas in the nearby Llanganatis - and never returned...
Day 4: Cotopaxi National Park > Banos > Riobamba After breakfast, enjoy a spectacular drive along the gorge of the Pastaza River to the town of Banos (Baths) which is situated at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano from where the thermal waters that gave it its name emerge. Drive along the 'Route of the Cascades' to El Pailon del Diablo (the Devil's Cauldron) - the adventurous will descend (medium difficulty) to observe the impressive cascade up close, surrounded by subtropical vegetation and orchids. The force and sound of the waters can also be appreciated from a lookout point without descending. After lunch enjoy a short stroll in Banos, popular with Ecuadorians who pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Holy Water found here. The route from Banos to Riobamba passes massive Chimborazo, the highest mountain of Ecuador. Great photo ops are enjoyed today!
Day 5: Riobamba > Cuenca After an early breakfast depart by road skirting the flanks of the Andes along bridging ravines and river gorges passing Indian villages and cultivated fields where most of the cereals in Ecuador are grown. After about 2 hours arrive at the small town of Alausi, heart of the rehabilitation of the Ecuadorian Railway Company in recent years. Great effort has been made to restore the 100-year old train to its previous old glory and romance and you will enjoy a ride on this iconic railway. The highlight is the thrilling 800-metre (2630-foot) descent on the zigzag cuttings on the 'Devil's Nose'. At the bottom of the descent there is time to visit the local museum run by the Nizag community, to see the display of handcrafts, fruit and medicinal plants and try the local coffee. The train whistle calls guests back on board for the return to the Station of Alausi, where you disembark and continue exploring the Andean world to the south, visiting the Inca fortress of Ingapirca en-route. Arrive the delightful town of Cuenca at dusk.
Day 6: Cuenca ~ World Cultural Heritage Site Cuenca is Ecuador's third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. The red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. This comprehensive visit includes the Plaza of San Sebastian, a colourful artisans market where handicrafts are sold. Visits to an art museum and flower market lead you to the main square, surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral, Court of Justice, Municipal Palace, Governor's Palace and the Church of El Sagrario. Then drive along the Tomebamba River to admire the city's overhanging houses. Lunch is at one of the excellent restaurants in Cuenca and in the afternoon observe the process of making the famous Panama Hats from high-quality toquilla straw.
Day 7: Cuenca > Guayaquil This morning is at leisure for you to explore Cuenca at your own pace before an afternoon transfer to the airport. Fly to coastal Guayaquil and transfer to your hotel for overnight.
Day 8: Depart Guayaquil Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
• Shared tour with local English speaking guides • 7 nights 3 star & 4 star accommodation • Personal meet & greet on arrival in Quito • Transfers & transportation • Airfare Cuenca > Guayaquil • Sightseeing & entrance fees • 7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Pricing (per person) $AUD
Booking conditions Why not combine this tour with a visit to the Galapagos or Amazon? Ask World Journeys for details.
Why not combine this tour with a visit to the Galapagos or Amazon? Ask World Journeys for details.