8 days / 7 nights
8-day Ecuador Andes Essentials Tour
Packages & Add-on Tours
Packages & Add-on Tours
Arrival to Quito
On the day you arrive, we will be ready and waiting for you at the Quito airport. We’ll meet you in the airport and help you with your luggage, then transfer you to your hotel for the night.
Quito Historic District & Middle of the World
See the essentials of Quito as your guide takes you on a tour through the city, visiting important churches in Quito’s heritage and a visit to the geographic Middle of the World! Get your cameras ready to take a photo with a foot on either side of the equator, and then try your hand at balancing an egg on the equator line. You’ll also learn about the significance of the equator’s location in Ecuador and the history of its discovery and mapping, along with some other cool equatorial experiments.
During our city tour we will visit Independence Square, known locally as La Plaza Grande. Since the most important powers of the colonial government are set here, including the presidential palace, the municipality of Quito and the Archbishop’s palace, along with the Cathedral, it is arguably the most important and powerful square in Ecuador.
We will then continue to San Francisco Square and church, where one of the most beloved Quiteñean legends comes to life – the Legend of Catuña and how he cheated the devil himself. Next, we’ll visit Panecillo Hill, where the “Winged Virgin” stands guard on top of the mountain and watches over one of the most beautiful cities of Latin America.
After a scenic, panoramic view of the city from this hill, we will travel to the Middle of the World: the point designated by the Geodesic French mission as the place where the earth was divided by the equator. Here, we will visit the famous monument, and we will have the unique opportunity to take a photo in both hemispheres at the same time. We will continue to the Intiñan Museum, where we can participate in some interesting experiments and challenges that can only be accomplished here, at the Middle of the World.
Otavalo & Cotacachi Markets (B,L)
Today, on the way to Otavalo, we will stop by one of Ecuador’s famous rose plantations, where roses are imported from all over the world. You’ll learn more about the best long-stemmed roses grown nowhere else in the entire world.
We will begin our visit at one of the many rose plantations that are located north of Quito. Here, we will be amazed by the beautiful array of colorful and fragrant roses. Afterwards, we will continue traveling north to one of the biggest indigenous markets in Latin America, the Otavalo Market. Here, thousands of merchants gather to sell their crafts – colorful and delicate tapestries, the best alpaca sweaters, Andean musical instruments, and countless handicrafts are displayed on the market. Try your bartering skills and enjoy the hospitality and kindness of the people of Otavalo.
We will enjoy lunch at one of the local haciendas and then continue to Cotacachi, a small town located north of Otavalo, were tanneries are famous for their quality and unique designs. Take a walk on the main street and visit the different stores, where beautiful and high quality leather goods are displayed.
Cotopaxi National Park (B, L, D)
Winding our way through Ecuador once more, we will find ourselves at the foot of Ecuador’s most influential active volcanoes, Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano that plunges skyward as one of Ecuador’s most identifiable gems, reaching a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft). In fact, it is one of the world’s highest volcanoes. After your visit to the park you’ll spend the night in a charming hacienda in Riobamba, one of Ecuador’s largest cities along the Avenue of the Volcanoes.
We will start our tour visiting the colossal Cotopaxi Volcano, an impressive snow-capped volcano that gives its name to Ecuador’s first national park. Here we will be able to see the Andean paramo, identified by small vegetation and with some luck some of the wildlife that dwells in the park, such as deer, rabbits and a wide variety of birds. We will have lunch and continue traveling down the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a term coined by Alexander Von Humboldt in the 19th century when he visited Ecuador and was astonished by the amazing number of mountains and volcanoes present in this part of the Andean mountain range.
We will reach Riobamba, which was once the most important city of Ecuador. This charming town will be our host for the night.
*Due to the actual situation of the Cotopaxi Volcano, this visit may be changed to other national park
Train Ride (B, L, D)
As you wake up in Riobamba, enjoy the crisp mountain air as you make your way to what is considered one of the world’s greatest railway feats, the Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose). The train ride offers spectacular views of the nearby volcanoes Chimborazo and Carihuairazo and a thrilling descent down the vertical rockface dubbed the “Devil’s Nose,” via a series of expertly engineered switchbacks. Later on, discover the ruins of Ingapirca and then rest up in the city of Cuenca, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Continuing south, we will reach the small town of Alausí, where we will board the train that will take us on a thrilling descent through the Andes: La Nariz del Diablo (named for the mountain’s resemblance to the devil’s nose) is an incredible accomplishment of engineering – a 45-degree, zigzagging railway that allows the train to descend to the base of the mountain and continue its journey to the coast. It is without doubt a unique experience.
After this exciting ride, we will visit the ruins of Ingapirca, the best-preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador. This stronghold for the Inca is a fine example of the impressive architectural skills of this ancient civilization.
We will finally arrive to the city of Cuenca. At the intersection of four rivers, this city has kept its charm since colonial times and has been recognized as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Latin America and also the best place to live in Ecuador.
Cuenca Colonial City (B, L, D)
Today is all about exploring the old, charming colonial city of Cuenca. Cuenca was labeled a World Heritage Site due to its old-world churches, cobblestone streets, and many other historical buildings that hold great significance to Ecuador. The architecture is simply stunning, from the old and new cathedrals to the historic city museum.
Our tour will start in Parque Calderón and the impressive Cathedral, with its Romanesque Revival style and its giant blue tiled domes. It is easily one of the most treasured gems of the city. Inside the church, you will be amazed by the tastefully decorated interior and the impressive floor decorated with pink marble brought all the way from Carrara.
We will then visit the picturesque Plaza de las Flores, a small square where people from the outskirts of Cuenca gather to trade beautiful flowers they grow in the nearby valleys. The colorful flowers give the plaza a unique accent.
We will end the day with a visit the Homero Ortega Museum, where we’ll learn about the famous Panama Hat that is actually made in Ecuador. The name was given after the construction of the Panama Canal – during the construction of the Canal, workers used this hat to protect themselves from the sun, and ever since then, the Toquilla straw hat has been known as the Panama Hat.
El Cajas National Park & Guayaquil City (B, L, D)
In Cajas National Park you will find a jagged but beautiful landscape of many hills, valleys, lagoons, and streams. Many of the lakes in the park are glacial, and many of its tributaries drain into the Amazon River. This is where many of the remaining South American condors reside, among other endemic and highly endangered species, like the largest hummingbird in the world (the aptly named Giant Hummingbird) and the violet-throated metaltail.
Today you will be transferred back to the airport for your departing flight from Ecuador.
English Speaking Guide
Private transportation and services
Double room accommodation
Entrances as detailed in itinerary
Meals as per itinerary
Assistance by our operation department
Air ticket to El Coca and to the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Transit Control Card and Entrance Fee
Tips & Personal expenses