South America  Ecuador

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Duration: 11 days and 10 nights

Description: This tour is all about experiencing a colonial world so very different from the one we are used to. From amazing natural landscapes, to unbelievable flora and fauna, and the chance to enjoy the hospitality of local families makes this tour a rather unique one.

Day 1 
Arrival to Quito (-)
Arrival in Quito, assistance and transfer from Airport Mariscal Sucre to hotel. Time to relax and adapt to the environment. Quito is located at 2800 mts. above sea level. Overnight in Quito.

Day 2 
Quito Colonial & The Middle of the World (Breakfast and lunch included)
A wonderful tour through the streets and main squares of Quito Historic Centre, first city in the world to be declared by the UNESCO as “World Cultural Heritage” in recognition for its architectonic and artistic value. Narrow and sometimes steep streets surrounded by a great exhibition of classic architecture, colonial style houses, gracious flowered balconies, charming squares and more than 50 monumental churches, convents, monasteries, cloisters and historic monuments come together at the best preserved historical center of Latin America to delight our passengers, after lunch, A short trip to the north of the city of Quito will lead us to our planet`s Latitude 0’0’0″ where the Itiñan museum known as “The trek of Sun” will guide us through  the wonderful world of the Andean Cosmo-vision, culture and traditions.

This is the place where you can stand with one foot on the northern hemisphere and the other one on the southern hemisphere…a unique experience. Overnight in Quito.

Day 3 
Quito / The Antisana Ecological Reserve / Riobamba (Breakfast and lunch included)
Departure from Quito to the Antisana Ecological Reserve which lies in the Central Highlands, on the foothills of the 5705 meter glacier covered peak of the volcano Antisana. This reserve is privately owned and regulated, but its goal is the preservation of the native flora and fauna of the Andean Páramo. This trip to the Antisana Ecological Reserve includes a ride to approximately 4000 meters above the sea level  where rolling meadows, occasional ravines with taller vegetation, and a meadow/marsh of pillow moss bordering a highland lake is found. The pillow moss is so named because it forms unbroken hump-like pillows of vegetation that may cover acres of land. Its bird life includes the Andean gull, Caracaras, ducks, several species of hummingbirds and, if lucky, the Andean condor.  Lunch at a nearby restaurant or in one of the haciendas of the area. After lunch continue through La Avenida de los Volcanes  to the city of Riobamba. Overnight in Riobamba.

Day 4 
Riobamba / Andean Train / Cuenca (Breakfast and lunch included)
Depart early in the morning from the city of Riobamba in order to catch the train or autoferro in the town of Alausi.  This wonderful route takes us through picturesque villages, colorful markets and the ethnic cultures with their rich display of popular art, handicrafts, traditional festivities, music and gastronomy mix here, with dramatic landscapes, roaring rivers, small lakes and rocky hills.  

The  architecture of Alausi is the first thing that will attract your attention; churches, main squares, houses and streets more than 100 years old, combined with the ancient train station gives this town a unique and charming touch.  

In this area, you will find the awesome Devil`s Nose, where the auto Ferro negotiates its way down a steep 300 meter cliff in a series of ingenious switchbacks.

After this exciting experience and lunch, you will continue your trip to Cuenca. Overnight in Cuenca.

Day 5 
Cuenca and it’s Artisan Villages (Breakfast and lunch included)
Cuenca, known as well as “Santa Ana of the 4 rivers”, was specifically built to satisfy the demands of the Spanish elite during the conquest period; today this city displays with glamour a French Neoclassic architecture represented in its nicely decorated balconies with colorful geraniums, main squares and colossal churches that exalt the monumental beauty of this old colonial city. 

Our excursion is an encounter with traditions, emblematic shields, culture, art and religiousness. A stroll through the city historic center via a special path will allow us to admire the magnificence art and cultural diversity of the city. You will be exploring some the most unusual angles and perspectives.

Lunch in a local restaurant.

After lunch your excursion continues through the Southern highlands.  Stroll around these valleys and enjoy the mountainous scenario with scattered villages which display very talented artisans and these villages on the surroundings of Cuenca have lots to offer. Visit the unique Ikat cotton weavings near Gualaceo all in a very different and picturesque setting. Overnight in Cuenca.

Day 6 
Cuenca / Ingapirca / Riobamba / Patate (Breakfast and lunch included)
Going out from the city of Cuenca located 2535 meters above sea level, our first stop is the archeological complex of Ingapirca. Located approximately two hours away from the city of Cuenca; The Ingapirca Castle is without any doubt the most important archeological vestige left by the Inca Civilization in Ecuador.

Inside the complex, we will find a clear evidence of the greatness of the Cañari and Inca Cultures; the different didactic areas that we find in this onsite museum represent clearly a rich cultural interchange. There is also ample proof of the expertise of these pre-Hispanic communities in the ceramic, sculpture and metallurgy industries.

After this rich cultural visit we will continue our trip through the Andean range to the town of Patate. Overnight in Patate.

Day 7 
Patate / Baños / Puyo / Misahuallí (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
Your trip to La Casa del Suizo will start from Patate. Along the way there will be several opportunities to view lush green valleys and beautiful sparkling waterfalls through the entrance to “El Dorado” (name given by the Spanish Conquerors referring to the entrance of the Amazon Basin).

Lunch on the way and late arrival to La Casa del Suizo located in Misahuallí.

During days 2 and 3 at La Casa del Suizo, you will participate in several morning, afternoon and full day activities. These programs will begin after an early breakfast, and will be led by both native and bilingual guides. 

Note: the activities on day 2 and day 3 may be inverted.
Overnight at La Casa del Suizo Lodge.

Day 8 
La Casa del Suizo – Misahuallí (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
Pangayacu Cultural Visit
After breakfast the group will board a dugout canoe, and navigate 20 minutes down the waters of the scenic Napo River. The destination is Pangayacu, where during an approximately three-hour walk through primary rainforest, visitors will have the opportunity to see actual hunting traps which were traditionally used by the local natives in the past. The guides will demonstrate how they work and explain which types of animals were caught in each one. And of course, at all times we will be on the lookout for tropical birds, and point out important aspects of the surrounding vegetation.

Visit to a Quichua Indian Family
The trail leads to the home of a Quichua Indian family, whose garden contains many medicinal plants still commonly used today. Your guide will explain how they are prepared, and afterwards serve lunch (which will be sent from the hotel) near the edge of the Napo.
Later, the group will continue on to the village of Ahuano, where we may learn about several aspects of traditional Quichua culture. 

A local host will show us how to make chicha, a typical beverage (which of course all may taste), and demonstrate the spiritual cleaning rituals still practiced today throughout the surrounding community. Finally, all may participate in a blowgun target-shooting contest – but don`t expect to beat the natives!

Overnight at La Casa del Suizo Lodge.

Day 9 
La Casa del Suizo – Misahuallí / Quito (Breakfast and lunch included)
After breakfast you will depart for the trip up the mountains and back to Quito. Lunch will be served at Papallacta Thermal Springs. Perched on a high Andean valley, at the second entrance route to the Amazon jungle, this resort and spa offers visitors any share of their preferred choice: health and relaxation, recreation, nature watching or adventure filled excursions.  Pamper yourself with a spa treatment or indulge in the delicious gastronomy of its restaurants. Overnight in Quito.

Day 10 
Quito / The Northern Highlands (Breakfast and lunch included)
Located at 2530 meters above sea level, we find the everlasting fertile Province of Imbabura; these magical lands surrounded by lakes are cradle of artists, histories and living pre-Inca cultures.

We will visit Peguche, a picturesque and messy little town whose habitants are famous for their weaving abilities on handmade looms in vivid colors, representing figures of the Andean Region. Together with the weaving industry, the community of Peguche, is well known for the manufacture of wind instruments like the Sikus, Kenas and charangos.

In the area, we also find the strong and artistic hands of the people of San Antonio. Here you will find art studios with wood, stone and ceramic sculptures that represent the Quito school of art. These convey to us the spirit of the indigenous villages who have kept this Spanish cultural manifestation safe through generations.

All these artistic towns commercialize their art in the Otavalo Market. Beyond a shopping tour this tour will teach us the work, traditions and customs of the indigenous communities.

Lunch will be at a colonial Hacienda of the area. Overnight in Quito.

Day 11 
Quito / International Departure (Breakfast)
Assistance and transfer from the hotel to the airport to take international flight back home.