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Explore the Andes & Pacific Coast - 8 Days

This tour includes the best of the Andes, from Quito City, the capital of the Country and Cultural Heritage of the World, to Cuenca City, considered the Athens of Ecuador. We will enjoy the most beautiful landscapes, national parks and scenery of the Andes. We will ride on the old train and we will visit the Inca ruins in the south. We will continue to one of the most beautiful national parks in the coast of Ecuador with amazing dry and humid forests, nice people, magnificent beaches and great food.

This tour includes the best of the Andes, from Quito City, the capital of the Country and Cultural Heritage of the World, to Cuenca City, considered the Athens of Ecuador. We will enjoy the most beautiful landscapes, national parks and scenery of the Andes. We will ride on the old train and we will visit the Inca ruins in the south. We will continue to one of the most beautiful national parks in the coast of Ecuador with amazing dry and humid forests, nice people, magnificent beaches and great food.

Details:
Day 1: Quito – Cotopaxi – Riobamba (L,D)
Day 2: Riobamaba – Devils Nose Train Ride– Ingapirca – Cuenca (B,L)
Day 3: Cuenca (B,L)
Day 4: Cajas National Park Full Day (B,L)
Day 5: Cuenca – Guayaquil (B,L)
Day 6: Guayaquil – Machalilla National Park (B,L,D)
Day 7: Isla de la Plata Full day (B,L,D)
Day 8: Machalilla – Guayaquill or Manta – Quito (B)

Notes:
* Train Operation is subject to change
** There is the option of adding a horseback riding activity at extra cost in Cotopaxi National Park.
*** It is possible to add an extra day in Quito for a Full Day Tour of the colonial city and the middle of the world site. Extra cost apply.
**** It is possible to add an extra day Baños to have a full day of White Water Rafting or other activities. Extra cost apply.

Day 1
Quito – Cotopaxi – Riobamba

We depart in the morning from your hotel towards “Cotopaxi Volcano and National Park”, a volcano of 5.897-m-high (18.870 feet high) considered the highest active volcano in the world. An impressive sight to see if weather conditions are in our favor. During our stay at the National Park we will admire its natural environment, its Flora and Fauna with explanations from your naturalist guide. We will try to ascend to the refuge located at 4.810 m (15.392 feet high). We will also take a hike around Limpiopungo Lake which is located at the foot of the volcano to observe some birds of the Paramo region (Andean Grasslands). On a clear day the view of the volcano reflected on the lake surface is magnificent. We will have lunch in the National Park and will move south towards Riobamba town. On the way we will have some stops to enjoy the views of the volcanoes.

Day 2
Riobamaba – Devils Nose Train Ride– Ingapirca – Cuenca

Early in the morning we will go to Alausi town and the train station for our ride called “Devils Nose”. This is a section of track that due to the difficulty involved in its construction, claimed the lives of many workers. The name used originally by the locals in this mountain side was “the Condor’s Aerie”.

The Devil’s Nose crossing is made by the use of switchbacks: the train rumbles ahead past a junction, then backs down the next section, before going forward again. It was the only way to get the lumbering trains down the hill.

After this train ride we will have lunch at the town’s restaurant and we will continue towards Ingapirca Ruins. Ingapirca is the largest and best preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. The name Ingapirca means “Wall of the Inca” and its construction combines the coppery brown of adobe used by Cañari culture with the bluish-green andesite stones brought subsequently by the Incas. It was built with millions of stones. These ruins stand out, both for the extraordinary work of masonry in stone blocks that make up its walls, as well as the originality appreciated in the design of its main structure, a tall and bulky elliptical platform known as the “Castle of Ingapirca”.

After our visit to the ruins we will continue to Cuenca to check in at the hotel.

Day 3
Cuenca Full Day

In the morning we will have a city tour through one of the most beautiful cities of Ecuador. Named Cultural World Heritage in 1999 by the UNESCO, Cuenca possess an amazing architecture and a great preserved colonial city. On the tour we will first have a panoramic view of the city from “El Turi” view point before going to the center of the city and start visiting this colonial site. We will visit Plaza Calderón, The Cathedral, The Plaza of “las Flores“ and depending of the day of tour, if it’s Tuesday we will see the traditional “Cholas Cuencanas” performing spiritual rituals called “cleansing” to help people get rid of the bad energies affecting their health. (Chola Cuencana is the name given to the indigenous women in this part of the country)

We will have lunch in the Old part of the city and we will continue the tour to the Paja Toquilla (Panama) Hat factory to learn about the history behind these beautiful hats originally made in Ecuador.

After the tour you will have the rest of the late afternoon by yourselves to explore the city a little bit more.

Day 4
Cajas National Park Full Day

Today after breakfast we check out of the hotel and we will go to “El Cajas National Park” This is 70,000 acres (29,000 ha) in size with as many as 250 lakes and ponds located within the park, making it a vital water source in the region. Amazing Landscapes with a variety of Ecosystems form part of this National Park and its Flora and Fauna are diverse and unique.

This will be a full day of Nature in two different areas of the National Park, both with different vegetation. Lunch will be served in one of the restaurants close to the National Park.

Return in the midafternoon to Cuenca and time off to explore the city on your own.

Day 5
Cuenca – Guayaquil

We continue this day towards Guayaquil City. This will be a long journey moving from over 4000 m (12000 ft) to almost sea level. We will appreciate the change in vegetation and weather, going from the cold areas of the Paramos (Andean grassland) to a region where Cacao and Banana are cultivated in the coastal region.

Arrival to Guayaquil for lunch. After lunch we will check in at the hotel and will go for a walking tour in Guayaquil city.

Day 6
Guayaquil – Machalilla National Park

We have breakfast at the hotel and we will check out. Today we move to the pacific coast, to Machalilla National Park for two nights. First day we will drive to Machalilla National Park. Check in at the hotel and have lunch.

After lunch we will visit Agua Blanca Community in the National Park. Agua Blanca is a private community within Machalilla National Park hosting the remains of one of the most ancient civilizations in South America, the “Manteña”, along with trails and a sulfur lagoon.

From the museum, a guide will take us along a short nature trail with a couple of river crossings. Since it’s also an easy, flat trail it’s recommended you wear sandals. At the end of this trail we will find the sulfur lagoon. You’re encouraged to jump in, so bring your swimwear. Mud is routinely collected from the bottom of this pool so guests can apply their own facial mud masks. It is excellent for the skin. There are bathrooms and a facility to change and shower next to the lagoon.

Once you are finished relaxing in the lagoon, the guide will walk you back to the museum along another path which includes a lookout point.

We will go to the hotel after the visit for check in.

Day 7
Isla de la Plata Full day

Today we will have a full day in “Isla de la Plata”. We will get in a boat for about 1:30 hours to get to this continental island also known as the little Galapagos for all the birdlife that is possible to observe here (Blue footed Bobbies, frigate birds, waved albatross, etc.). During the boat ride and depending of the season of the trip it will be possible to see humpback whales (July to September). After the boat ride we will arrive to the Island and we will walk around “Isla de la Plata” with a local guide who will explain the ecology of this Island and the dry vegetation growing here. After this walk we will have lunch on the boat and we will move to a snorkeling point to enjoy this activity. It is possible to some colorful fish, see turtles and manta rays.

Return to the hotel in the afternoon and time for relaxing.

Day 8
Machalilla – Guayaquill or Manta - Quito

Today after breakfast we will check out at the hotel and we will transfer you to the airport in Manta or Guayaquil city to return to Quito. You will be arriving at Quito before lunch time.

* It is possible to return to Quito by car previous request

The Trip Cost Include

  • Certified bilingual guide
  • Private transportation
  • Accommodation in Riobamba, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Machalilla National Park and in Quito on your return.
  • Breakfast and Lunches
  • Devil´s nose train ride
  • Entrance fee to Ingapirca Ruins, Isla de la Plata journey, and to agua blanca community.
  • Flight from Manta or Guayaquil to Quito.

The Trip Cost Excludes

  • Dinners and other meals not mentioned
  • Drinks and alcoholic drinks
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Personal expenses
  • Transfer Quito airport to hotel in Quito.

Frequently Asked Questions

How difficult are activities on this trip?

All the activities are from easy to moderate, however, this can be relative to how used to high altitude you are during some visits.

What is the highest and lowest altitude reached on this trip?

The highest point will be the Cotopaxi Refuge Camp, located at approximately 4.400 meters high (14.080 feet high) Ingapirca Ruins are located at approximately 3.000 meters high (9.600 feet high). The lowest point will be the Pacific Coast in Machalilla National Park at sea level.

How are the guides?

Our guides are Certified Naturalist Guides with extensive experience on the destinations. They speak great English and some of them have experience in photography

What kind of outfit do I need for this trip?

On this trip we will be changing to different altitudes. For Cotopaxi and Ingapirca we recommend to wear layers. Temperature ranges during the day between 12 and 21 degrees Celsius (50 – 70 Fahrenheit). During the rainy season (October through May) the Andes are cloudy and humid and it is recommended to bring rain gear. In Alausi weather is dry and warm so light clothes are recommended. In Cuenca city the altitude is approximately 2.400 m (7.700 ft) So weather will me temperate but mild. In The Pacific Coast the altitude is sea level and we are located in the Equatorial Line so weather is going to be warn/hot. Light weighed clothes like shorts and t-shirts will be good for this part of the trip. Don’t forget swimming suit. During the rainy season in the coast (July – December) a rain jacket could be necessary. However, this doesn’t mean that it rains every day.

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Explore the Andes & Pacific Coast
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$ 2,269 Per Person
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Trip Facts

  • Cotopaxi, Alausi, Ingapirca, Cuenca, Cajas NP, Machalilla NP, Isla de la Plata
  • 2 to 15
  • approx. from sea level to 4400 m (14.080 ft)
  • Private transportation
  • Breakfast & Lunch included
  • Tourist Superior Hotels
  • Flight Guayaquil/Manta to Quito

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