Day 01: Arrive Quito
We are welcomed at the airport and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel, Quito (2 nights)
Day 02: Quito
Enjoy a sightseeing-tour of the city of Quito*, which leads you through the historical centre of Quito for a walk through the culturally diverse history of this city. As the excursion leads you through the interesting streets of Quito, the local culture welcomes you with beauty and intrigue. Your guide will take you for a walk through the culturally diverse history of Quito. Have a closer look at the heart of the city of Quito: the Independence Square with the Government palace and the Cathedral on the way to San Francisco Square, you will visit the church of La Compañia, which has the most ornate and richly sculptured façade and interior. Afterwards, you will visit the famous hill of the old town, Panecillo (“Little Bread”) where you will see the angel statue “Virgen de Quito”. Then proceed to the Equatorial Line Monument called “Middle of the World” where you get a truly rare experience to stand in both, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously. The Equatorial Monument marks the spot where an 18th century French scientific expedition established the exact position of the Equator. The area has been built as a typical colonial town, with restaurants, gift shops and Post Office with philatelic sales. Visit the monument and Ethnographical Museum, which shows the history of the Indian cultures of Ecuador. Return to the hotel. (B)
Day 03: Quito/Otavalo
In the morning continue to Otavalo and visit of a school project in Peguche. This project arose out of the German association “We help children in Ecuador” and looks after the education and adequate care of children in need in Ecuador. In 1997 the association started to renovate an old and tumbled-down Hacienda to make it a social centre for children – the “Casa del Niños”. This house contains today a kindergarden for all age groups, a school, and the opportunity to be trained as a carpenter in the own carpenter’s shop. Additionally, the Casa del Niños provides children with medical health care. In 2010 the social centre accommodates approximately 260 children.
Note: Not possible on public holidays. During summer holidays in July, August and September there are no children at the school. In this period the installations will be visited only
In the afternoon you will discover the worldwide known Indian handcrafts market Otavalo. The town consists of rather functional buildings with the Plaza de los Ponchos as the centre. The local Indians have achieved economic prosperity as a result of their skill in weaving a tremendous variety of designs in belts, tapestries, ponchos and other clothing items. Here you will enjoy the unique variety of handicrafts and textiles that offer this giant colourful market and certainly, you will be able to purchase some new souvenirs with you
Overnight: Hotel, Otavalo (1 night) (B)
Day 04: Otavalo/Papallacta
Today, you will go on to visit Laguna Cuicocha, a crater lake at an altitude of 3000m with a diameter of about 3 kms. Two islands emerge from the centre, both of volcanic origin, covered with vegetation and rimmed with totora, a type of reed. The small town Cotacachi itself is Ecuador’s centre of leatherworks. Here you can stroll along the small streets choosing one of the various shops as your favourite. Afterwards transfer to the small Andean village Papallacta, which is famous for its thermal baths. Upon arrival in Papallacta you will visit the baths of the Hotel „Termas de Papallacta“, which are located 3,220 m above sea level. Enjoy the pleasant effect of the warm, odourless thermal water surrounded by a wonderful landscape. After enjoying the pools you may go for a walk to get to know the typical flora and fauna of this region.
Overnight: Hotel, Papallacta (1 night) (B)
Day 05: Papallacta/Cotopaxi
After breakfast you will drive to “Cotopaxi National Park”. The highland zone, protected since 1975, belongs with its 33.000 ha wide area to one of the most attractive ecological reserves of the country. On a walk near the shallow lake “Laguna de Limpiopungo” at an altitude of almost 4.000 m, you will have the chance to learn about the typical vegetation of the so-called “Páramo” and will gaze in wonder at the beautiful view of Cotopaxi (5897m) in the background. To take a picture here makes photographers’ hearts beat faster! Today you will also visit a beautiful flower plantation where the friendly staff will explain you everything about their work. The plantation shows a great variety of flowers.
Overnight: Hotel, Cotopaxi (1 night) (B)
Day 06: Cotopaxi/Riobamba
After breakfast you will visit a colourful and original Indian market. Continue about 14 km on to Quilotoa, the famous volcanic lake with beautiful views. In the late afternoon you will continue on to Riobamba, which is the capital of the province of Chimborazo, where a great number of indigenous communities live. Close to Chimborazo, the highest mountain of Ecuador, you will spend the night in one of the atmospheric Hosterías this region offers.
Overnight: Hotel, Riobamba (1 night) (B)
Day 07: Riobamba/Cuenca
After an early breakfast you will be taken to the train-station in Alausí to board the train for the famous Devil´s Nose ride. Enjoy the fascinating landscape of the Andes. This is for sure a very special way to know the country! Lunchbox is included.
Note: Due to weather conditions or technical problems of the train, train ride is subject to reconfirmation!
You will start the approximately 2 hours drive to the City of Cuenca. On your way you will stop at the Inca ruin site of Ingapirca, the most important monument of pre-Spanish culture in Ecuador. The ruins are located on a grass-covered hill at an altitude of about 3.100 m. On a walk through the former place where the Incas lived and hold their ceremonies, you will learn about their beliefs and rituals as well as about the way they constructed this ordination place, which has the shape of a puma. After arriving in Cuenca, you will check in at our hotel
Overnight: Hotel, Cuenca (2 nights) (B, L)
Day 08: Cuenca
After breakfast, you will visit the sights of Cuenca*, the third largest city of Ecuador. In Cuenca, founded in 1557 on an Inca settlement valley, you still breathe the colonial air of Ecuadorian history. For most Ecuadorian inhabitants – and also for travellers – this centre of art, ceramic, panama hats as well as products of silver and gold is the most beautiful city in Ecuador. Due to the special atmosphere and early 19th century architecture Cuenca was declared “Cultural Patrimony of Mankind” in November 1999. During the city tour you will see the historical buildings, located along the Tomebamba River, the “Todos los Santos” ruins, the flowers market and the main square with the old and new Cathedral. Furthermore, a visit to a Panama hat factory will also be included. The afternoon will be at leisure. You may walk around the narrow cobble stoned streets with the whitewashed houses and noble façades to explore the beauty of this town on your own. (B)
Day 09: Cuenca/Guayaquil
This day we will travel on to Ecuador’s largest city Guayaquil, which is the industrial and commercial centre of the country. It lies on the western banks of the Río Guayas, about 56 km from its outflow into the Gulf of Guayaquil. Towards the coastal area the road loses height and the land is more intensively farmed. The Guayas lowlands are characterized by mangroves and ever increasing banana plantations. Enroute visit of a cacao project. During a guided tour through the cacao plantations visitors can learn everything about the cultivation of the cacao fruit, the process of harvesting and the cacao bean treatment. The Ecuadorian cacao is famous and popular for its very high quality. Upon arrival in Guayaquil we will have a brief city tour before checking in the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel, Guayaquil (1 night) (B)
Day 10: Guayaquil/Depart
Transfer to the airport for your flight out OR take an optional extension tour to visit the Galapagos Islands*. Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch – that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835. (B)