HIGHLIGHTS OF ECUADOR

Day1 - SAT I QUITO
Welcome to Ecuador. Upon arrival at the international airport of Quito transfer to your hotel.
Day2 - SUN I QUITO
Today you will enjoy a sightseeing-tour of the city of Quito through the historical center of the city and see the church of La Compañia, Independence Square with the Government Palace and the Cathedral. Then, visit the famous hill of the old town, Panecillo (little bread) where you will see the angel statue “Virgen de Quito” before heading to the Equatorial Line Monument called “Middle of the World” and stand in both, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously. (B)
Day3 - MON I QUITO I OTAVALO
In the morning head to the worldrenowned Indian handmade crafts market, Otavalo where you will find a vast variety of locally weaved designs in belts, tapestries, ponchos and other clothing items. Shop this colorful market – the ideal place to find unique souvenirs. Afterwards visit a school project in Peguche. This project 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 center for children – the “Casa de Niños”. Today, this house contains a kindergarten for all age groups, a school, and the opportunity to be trained as a carpenter in the own carpenter’s shop. (B)
Day 4 - TUE I OTAVALO I PAPALLACTA
After breakfast, visit Laguna Cuicocha, a crater lake situated at an altitude of 3000 meters. Two islands emerge from the center, both of volcanic origin, covered with vegetation and rimmed with a type of reed called totora. Visit the town of Cotacachi, Ecuador’s leatherwork center. Next, transfer to the small Andean village Papallacta and enjoy the thermal baths of the Hotel “Termas de Papallacta” then stroll on to see the region’s flora and fauna. (B)
Day5 - WED I PAPALLACTA I COTOPAXI
Rise and shine with breakfast at your hotel and then drive to “Cotopaxi National Park,” one of the country’s most attractive ecological reserves. On a walk near the shallow lake “Laguna de Limpiopungo,” 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. Today you will also visit a beautiful flower plantation showcasing a great diversity of blooms. (B)
Day 6 - THU I COTOPAXI I RIOBAMBA
Start the day with a hearty breakfast and a visit to an authentic native market. Continue on to Quilotoa, the famous volcanic lake with beautiful views. In the late afternoon you will head to Riobamba, the capital of the province of Chimborazo and home to a number of indigenous communities. Close to Chimborazo Mountain, the highest peak of Ecuador, you will spend the night at one of the atmospheric Hosterías. (B)
Day7 - FRI I RIOBAMBA I CUENCA
After an early breakfast, transfer to the train station in Alausí to experience the famous Devil’s Nose ride. Enjoy the fascinating landscape of the Andes on your way to the city of Cuenca. Enroute you will stop at the Inca ruin site of Ingapirca, the most important monument of pre-Spanish culture in Ecuador. Learn about the Inca beliefs and rituals as you walk in their footsteps through the former place where the Incas lived and held their ceremonies. (B,L)
Day 8 - SAT I CUENCA
Savor breakfast at your Cuenca hotel, then head out to tour the sights of the third largest city of Ecuador. Cuenca was founded in 1557 on an Inca settlement valley. See the historical buildings located along the Tomebamba River, the “Todos los Santos” ruins, the flower market, and the main square with the old and new Cathedral. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to stroll the area’s quaint cobble-stone streets with whitewashed houses and noble façades. (B)
Day9 - SUN I CUENCA I GUAYAQUIL
Today we will travel on to Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, the industrial and commercial center of the country. It is situated on the western banks of the Río Guayas about 56 km from its outflow into the Gulf of Guayaquil. The Guayas lowlands are characterized by mangroves and ever-growing banana plantations. Along the way, visit of a cacao plantation and learn about the cultivation of the cacao fruit. In Guayaquil, embark on a short sightseeing tour of the city. (B)
Day 10 - MON I GUAYAQUIL TO USA (OR EXTEND YOUR STAY)
Transfer to the airport for your international flight home or consider extending your trip with a Galápagos Islands experience. (B)