Andes Spirit: Quito to Cuenca

Departs Mondays and Fridays

Duration:5 days

A five-day immersion in the Andean World, from Quito, along the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Cuenca, through the spectacular scenery of the Andes, with visits to centenary Haciendas, fertile fields of vegetables and roses, in close contact with the local culture. This is a journey along the history, spirituality, flavours, customs, traditions and legends of the Andean Region.

Day 1

Quito

Arrive into Quito, capital of Ecuador. This afternoon, tour colonial Quito -the northern residential section with broad avenues and streets of castles, the House of Culture, the Legislative Palace and the Independence Plaza, plus a visit to the San Agustin Monastery and finally to a high vantage point for fabulous views of the city. BLD

Day 2

Quito- Yanapi Hat Shop – Cotopaxi National Park – Hacienda San Agustín de Callo – Patate

The artisan tradition of Quito is present in the visit to the Yanapi Hat Factory, where guests can observe the process of making hats by hand and machine, of wool felt and fur felt; these high-quality hats are exported to European, Australian and American markets. Along valleys and mountains, arrive to Cotopaxi National Park, which surrounds the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, for an up-close view of the Andean paramo habitat and its unique flora and fauna; a number of high-altitude birds can be observed around Limpiopungo Lagoon, and occasionally, wild horses. On clear days, the perfect snow-capped cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano is quite a sight! At the foot of the volcano lies a charming hacienda, where lunch is served in a dining room of Inca walls, perfectly preserved through the centuries -a true archaeological jewel. After lunch, mingle with the llamas of the hacienda and stroll along a rose plantation, many varieties, many colours, ready for exportation. From here, descend towards the town of Patate, to spend the night at a 300-year old hacienda, hidden among the mountains, a magical ambience, where, as the afternoon mist descends, stories are told about those who left in search of the treasure of the Incas in the nearby Llanganatis – and never returned. BLD

Day 3

Baños – Route of the Cascades – Ambato – El Arenal – Riobamba

After breakfast, take a spectacular route along the gorge of the Pastaza River to the town of Baños (Baths), right at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano, from where the thermal waters that gave it its name emerge. Drive along the Route of the Cascades to El Pailón del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron) -the most adventurous will descend (medium difficulty) to observe the impressive cascade up close, surrounded by subtropical vegetation and orchids. The force and sound of the waters can also be appreciated from a lookout point without descending. Lunch is served at an hacienda / hostel in the surroundings, and in the afternoon a short stroll along Baños -a town with an international pulse, full of people from all over the world as well as many locals who take pilgrimages to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Holy Water. From here, the route to Riobamba climbs up the mountain, to where the clouds can be touched, alongside the massive Chimborazo, the highest mountain of Ecuador, on the high paramo where vicuñas graze and scamper – this is a protected Fauna Preserve. On the hillsides, where the land is worked beneath the plow, one might think the farmer’s true objective was to paint the hills in fascinating patterns, not just to till the dark, fertile soil. Great photo ops on this route! Arrive to Riobamba for dinner and lodging. BLD

Day 4

Riobamba – Alausí – Devil’s Nose – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca

After an early breakfast depart by road, skirting the flanks of the Andes, an astonishing ride, twisting and turning, along bridging ravines and river gorges. Ride through Indian villages and cultivated fields; here is where most of the cereals in Ecuador are grown, among them, the quinua, considered the perfect grain for its nutritional value. After about 2 hours arrive at the small town of Alausí, the beating heart of the rehabilitation of the Ecuadorian Railway Company in the last years. Great effort has been made to restore the 100-year old train to its old glory and romance. Stations have been renewed, railways and sleepers replaced, engines and classic coaches renovate, and, most important, the project involves the local communities along the route in the rail operation. The highlight is the thrilling 800-metre descent on the zigzag cuttings on the rock of the Devil’s Nose. At the bottom one finds the newly renovated Station of Sibambe. Here there is time to visit the local museum “Condor Puñuna” built and run by the Nizag community, see the display of local handcrafts, fruit and medicinal plants and try the local coffee. The train whistle calls guests back on board for the return to the Station of Alausí, where a light snack is served to regain strength. Continue exploring the Andean world by motorcoach to the south, visiting the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca en-route. Lunch in the area. Arrival to Cuenca at dusk for dinner and accommodations. BLD

Day 5

Cuenca a World Cultural Heritage Site

Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. This comprehensive visit includes the Plaza of San Sebastian, a colorful artisans market, where handicrafts are sold. Then, visit the Museum of Modern Art, featuring an excellent collection of contemporary fine art. Next is a visit to the flower market at the small plaza in front of the carved stone entrance to the church of El Carmen de la Asunción. From here, a stroll to the main square, surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral, the Court of Justice, the Municipal Palace, the Governor’s Palace and the Church of El Sagrario. Then, a drive along the Tomebamba river to admire the city’s overhanging houses. Lunch is at one of the excellent restaurants in Cuenca, and in the afternoon, drive for a short visit to a ceramics handcraft shop. Then, observe the whole process of making the famous Panama Hats of high-quality toquilla straw. The Andes Spirit adventure ends at the airport – to take to flight to Quito or Guayaquil. Air ticket is extra. BL

Cuenca Llama

  • B: BREAKFAST
  • L: LUNCH
  • D: DINNER

Dates and cost

Departs Mondays and Fridays

Twin Share Single
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Dress in layers (T-shirt, blouse, sweater, coat). Take a warm coat, gloves and rain protection. Sun protection (SPF 30). Hat or cap. Good walking shoes.

What’s included

  • Accommodation with private facilities.
  • Meals, sightseeing and transfers as detailed in the itinerary.
  • Service charges and taxes (excluding airport and air ticket taxes).

What’s not included

Air tickets Cuenca / Quito or Guayaquil; Airport or air ticket taxes or levies, port taxes (except where shown as included); passport or visa fees; excess baggage charges; any insurance; any meals, air fares or sightseeing not specified in the itinerary; optional gratuities to guides, drivers etc; beverages; laundry or other items of a personal nature and any items not specifically mentioned as being included.

How to Book

The completion and return of the booking form is mandatory to the acceptance of reservation. We advise that you book as far ahead as possible. To initiate your reservation, please complete the Booking Form which must be signed and returned to Adventure Associates along with the applicable Deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the Booking Form and deposit payment. Ticketing and joining instructions are normally issued two weeks prior to departure.

Deposit required: $250 per person
Balance due: 60 days prior to departure
If booking within
60 days of departure:
full payment must be made

Should a booking be amended once reservations are processed, a $55 amendment fee per booking for each amendment made, plus any communication expenses incurred, will be added to the cost of the tour.

Cancellations

Written instructions only will be accepted by Adventure Associates to cancel a reservation. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations or airlines, cruise companies, coach and tour operators, hotels and any other Principals involved. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable provisions will apply.

More than 60 days prior to departure $300 per person
Between 59 and 35 days prior to departure 50% of tour cost per person
Between 34 and 14 days prior to departure 75% of tour cost per person
On or within 13 days prior to departure No Refund

Note

  • All the above amounts are in addition to any fees levied by the airlines, hotels or cruise companies. Communication charges incurred may also be added to the above.
  • All cancellation provisions will be strictly applied. If the non-refundable amount is more than your advance payment, you remain liable for the difference. For these and other reasons mentioned in these Terms and Conditions you are strongly urged to take out travel insurance at the time of your reservation. Adventure Associates or your Travel Agent will be pleased to advise you on the best policy which may protect you.

All cancellation provisions will be strictly applied. If the cancellation charge is more than your advance payment you remain liable for the difference. For these and other reasons mentioned above you are strongly recommended to take out travel insurance. Once the tour has departed there will be no refund for any unused portions of the trip.

CotopaxiVolcano3 Note: Packages are generally based on First class, centrally located hotels, except where specified, and include transfers between airports, hotels, sightseeing and meals as indicated in the itinerary. Ask us for details should you wish to stay in Deluxe Hotels, or another hotel of your choice. Quito3 (1) Tour costs are quoted in Australian Dollars per person unless otherwise indicated. All itineraries and prices may be subject to changes beyond our control as a result of airline rescheduling, tour arrangements, fare and hotel rate increases. Prices may also be adjusted due to currency fluctuations. Please check before you book with your travel agent or Adventure Associates to ascertain if there are any alterations to the tour you select.