Discover the secrets of the Ecuadorian Andes, and the cloud forest regions, with a full-immersion into the cultural and natural wonders that makes Ecuador one of the countries with the largest biodiversity in the world.
Enjoy waterfalls, butterflies, bird watching, and chocolate making in the tropical paradise of Mindo. Take a spectacular scenic drive through the cloud forest to reach the coffee valley of Intag, where you will visit a coffee plantation and taste the organic fair-trade coffee produced in the area. Back in the highlands, visit Cuicocha crater-lake, the world-famous indigenous market of Otavalo, and then live a unique experience sharing an organic lunch prepared side by side with local people in the very heart of the Andes. Relax and acclimatize at a luxurious hot spring resort before you visit the Cotopaxi National Park and admire the highest active volcano in the world.
We promise you will never want to leave!
- Duration: 7 days
- Arrival: Daily
- Departure: Daily
- Destinations: Quito, the ecuador line, coffee valley, the seven waterfalls, Cotopaxi, Mindo Cloud Forest
|Day 1||Arrival in Quito||—||Quito|
|Day 2||Mindo / Equator line||(B)||Mindo|
|Day 3||Waterfalls in Cotacachi||(B)||Cotacachi|
|Day 4||Coffee Valley||(B)||Cotacachi|
|Day 5||Indigenous Market||(B) (L)||Papallacta|
|Day 6||Hot Springs in Cotopaxi||(B) (L)||Cotopaxi|
|Day 7||Return to Quito||(B)||Cusco|
Day 01: Arrival in Quito
Welcome to Quito! The biggest, and best-preserved colonial city of the America’s that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and the second most important city of the old Inca Empire. Depending on arrival time, you may spend your day exploring the town of Quito and the surrounding area. If you desire, our team can help organize a day trip for you. In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel for a welcome briefing where there will be plenty of time to discuss the details of your trip, and answer any questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an informational and acclimation day.
Day 02: Mindo Cloud Forest and The Equator Line
On the first day of our adventure, we drive north of Quito to the Equator monument complex. This visit to the middle of the world is must when you are in Ecuador; you will be able to stand on both sides of the hemispheres, north and south, at the same time and feel the neutral forces of the Equator. During our trip, we will also stop to see the Pululahua Crater, the third biggest inhabited volcano crater in the world, hosting more than 400 people. We will then reach the little town of Mindo, nestled in the cloud forest. This area is filled with a wide variety of plants and animal life – a perfect introduction to the diversity that Ecuador hosts. Mindo and its surrounding cloud forest are a birdwatcher’s paradise! Later in the afternoon, we will visit a chocolate factory, where you’ll have the chance to see cocoa being processed, from harvesting the seed to the final product, just like what we would use to make delicious brownie or a cup of hot cocoa.
Day 03: Hike to the Seven Waterfalls
Our next adventure starts this morning with a trip to the pristine cloud forest, crossing cable cars and hiking along waterfalls, surrounded by a lush green areas filled with toucans and colorful birds. In the afternoon, you will have some free time to enjoy a variety of optional activities offered in this area. You can go whitewater rafting or “tubing” (with several large inner-tubes tied together) as our brave guides steer you through thrilling rapids. Or, you can try canopy zip-lining (sailing along one of 13 zip-lines over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest). One of the highlights during today’s trip will be the visit to the butterfly farm, where we will watch gargantuan butterflies dry their wings after emerging from their jewel-like cocoons. You can dip your fingers into a banana concoction and then be thrilled as butterflies the size of a bird lands on your hands for a snack.
Day 04: Coffee Valley of Intag and Cuicocha Crater Lake
Our day starts with a unique and scenic drive through the deep cloud forest of the Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve, enjoying breath-taking views of the Intag valley. We will visit a fair-trade coffee plantation and taste the exquisite organic coffee produced in the area. We will then drive back up to the highlands to the Cuicocha crater lake, where we will admire the crystalline-clear waters of this active volcano and the amazing surrounding landscapes. At the end of a short hike, we will then take a boat ride to the center of the crater to observe the activity of this volcano, watching bubbles coming up from the center of the caldera. We will spend the night at a characteristic Andean hacienda.
Day 05: Indigenous Market and Sharing Lunch With Local People
Today we will first visit the world-famous indigenous town of Otavalo, where you will have some time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, filled with Otavalo indigenous people wearing the typical blue ponchos, and explore their handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices. Later, we will travel to San Clemente, a small village located in the heart of the Andes, where you will live an unforgettable cultural experience, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American highlands. You will help the local people prepare a delicious lunch using the fresh products harvested that same day from the surrounding organic fields, as well as share precious moments of conviviality. In the late afternoon, we will reach the luxurious volcanic hot-springs resort of Papallacta, where you will have the chance to relax and enjoy the facilities surrounded by the view of the majestic Andean mountains.
Day 06: Papallacta Hot Springs and Cotopaxi Tallest Active Volcano
After breakfast, and a last dip in the open-air hot springs, we will drive south on the Panamericana Highway towards the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi. This snow-capped volcano is surrounded by a National Park, home to an abundant plant life, a rich animal life, and Inca ruins. We begin our visit at the interpretation center at the entrance of the park, before continuing our drive across the páramo to the Limpiopungo Lake. During a short walk around the lake, we can observe a variety of birds and enjoy the stunning views of the almost symmetrical cone of the Cotopaxi.
Day 07: Departure & End of Services
International departures, and end of services. Take with you, memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador as soon as possible to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a “buen viaje”!
- Transportation: Private and comfortable land transportation, motorized boat
- Accommodation based on double occupancy: Hotel in Quito, cloud forest lodge in Mindo, hacienda in Otavalo, hotel in Papallacta
- Meals: 5 breakfasts and 2 lunches
- Activities: Equator Line museum tour, hiking to waterfalls in the cloud forest, visit Butterfly farm and chocolate factory, organic fair-trade coffee tasting in Intag Valley, visit Otavalo indigenous market, organic lunch cooking with local people, hike and boat ride at Cuicocha crater lake, volcanic hot springs, visit Cotopaxi National Park
- Gear: Hiking sticks, life jackets
- Trip Leader: Certified expert, English-speaking adventure trip leader and local guides
- Your own room supplements
- International flights
- Airport transportation (international flights)
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Meals not described in the itinerary – estimated budget $180 USD
- Personal expenses