Starts any day. January to December7 days from $6195.00
Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Welcome to Quito! You are met upon arrival and taken to your designer hotel in the newer, northern part of the city.
Quito, at 10,000 feet above sea, is nestled deep within the valley of towering snow-capped Andean volcanoes. The rest of today is at leisure to relax or explore Quito on your own.
This morning, your full day tour starts in the colonial center of the city. Visit the children’s Art Workshop School of Quito, where homeless children from 13 to 20 years old learn the different colonial artistic techniques of painting and sculpture. Tour lively La Ronda Street, the oldest street in the city, filled with craft workshops and vintage stores. See the San Francisco Church and Independence Square.
Stop for an enjoyable lunch at the chefs table of the famed Alma restaurant.
In the afternoon, enjoy a short private visit to the house of Oswaldo Viteri, perhaps the as the best contemporary painter of Ecuador. The painter himself is your host – he explains the details and motivations of his art, and you his magnificent private art collection, considered one of the best private collections in the country.
This evening, relax with champagne and canapés at Casa Gangotena before a private visit to the baroque style Church of La Compañia (the Golden Church). (B,L)
Quito to Hacienda Campu Cocha & Cotopaxi
Depart Quito early this morning, and take a short drive along the Cinnamon Trail, path of 16th century explorers. Learn how Francisco de Orellana took this trail in 1542 in search of “El Dorado.”
Stop for a visit at a private hacienda of Campu Cocha. This is a 1200-acre sanctuary for endangered species including the magnificent Andean condor, spectacle bear, puma, and paramo wolf. Spend the morning hiking, horseback riding, or fishing amid the magnificent landscape of this pristine páramo (highland moor).
Enjoy lunch at the hacienda before continuing on a scenic drive through the famous "Avenue of the Volcanoes" to Cotopaxi. These snow-capped mountains painted with verdant forests create a magnificent and memorable picture. The Cotopaxi cone-shaped, snow-capped volcano, at 19,343 feet, is considered the highest active volcano in the world.
Stay in a 15th century hacienda, a resident museum that was once an Incan palace. (B,L,D)
Cotopaxi to Baños & Riobamba
This morning, travel through the high Andes to Baños, the entrance to the Amazon basin and home to the 'El Otro Lado' cloud forest reserve. Stop for a short hike amid this lush cloud forest laden with magnificent waterfalls, archaic thermal baths and a diverse plant and animal life. Watch for puma, spectacle bear, and the magnificent Andean condor. Get a spectacular view of the noted Devils Waterfall. After your hike, visit the picturesque village of Baños (meaning bathes), famous for its delicious taffy and for the numerous thermal springs that originate from the base of the volcanoes.
Enjoy lunch at the home of a local rock-climber legend, and then continue to the 15th century city of Riobamba. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of this charming village filled with heritage houses set along cobblestone streets, before continuing to your hacienda home for the night. (B,L,D)
Riobamba to Ingapirca & Cuenca
Arise early today, to take the exciting switch-back “Nariz del Diablo” train ride to the “Devil’s Nose.” This journey is a spectacular steep descent passing amazing landscapes and colorful Indian towns. The train travels along the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes,’ an awe-inspiring valley between the Cordilla Ranges that is adorned by dozens of snow-capped Andes Peaks including Tunguragua, El Altar and Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. You can sit inside the train, or venture to sit on the roof of the old box cars.
The highlight of the journey is a section known as the “The Devil’s Nose,” when built called “the Most Difficult Train in the World.” The train churns its way up a series of nail biting zigzags to climb the sheer stone face of the mountain, climbing a steep grade from 5900 to 8500 feet. Engineers designed the route by having the train goes forward and backwards up a series of switchbacks. Today, the train uses a relatively modern engine to pull the beautiful old carriages. The train stops en route to visit some of the authentic Indian markets of the central Andes, as well as for a picnic lunch in the mist of this pristine environment.
Disembark the train in the early afternoon, to continue your drive to Cuenca. Stop along the way to explore the massive Inca Ruins of Ingapirca, the biggest Inca complex in Ecuador. (B,L)
Enjoy a morning tour of Cuenca. Visit the 19th century blue-domed cathedral, the colonial cathedral museum, and the flower market. Drive up Turi hill for a panoramic view of the city and to visit a Panama hat factory.
Enjoy lunch at a traditional Ecuadorean restaurant in town, then have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to rest or explore on your own. (B,L)
Cuenca to Quito and Depart
This morning, transfer to the Cuenca airport for your flight to Quito to meet your departing flight home or to another destination. (B)
Casa Gangotena, Quito
Casa Gangotena occupies a pivotal place in Quitos historic heart, at the corner of Plaza San Francisco. Its history stretches back to the time of the Incas when, according to the early Spanish chroniclers, in the 15th century the square featured Inca temples, one of them on the site of the present house. Situated in a newly-restored historic mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco, the three-story Casa Gangotena features 31 rooms, a showcase of eye-catching style, contemporary design, antiques, fine furnishings, modern technologies and quintessential comforts. Beautifully and eclectically-appointed, the hotel invites its guests to explore and to relax, whether in the dining room, glassed-in patio, garden redolent with the perfume of native flowers, wood-paneled library, or atop its panoramic third-floor terrace.
Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, Cotopaxi
Since the 15th century San Agustin de Callo has served as Inca fortress, Augustinian convent and temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission whose scientific results helped to determine the true shape of the planet. This exciting historical past has left the Hacienda with a unique energy and atmosphere that is rare and wonderful to encounter. Brick and stone pathways cut their way through natural landscaping and traditional buildings while horseback riding, trekking and fishing excursions provide guests an opportunity to explore the stunning surroundings in the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Rooms come fitted with king-sized beds, en-suite bathrooms, fireplaces, music and cable TV.
Hacienda Abraspungo, Riobamba
The wonderful Hacienda Abraspungo is located at 2,754 meters above sea level and is surrounded by the magnificence of the Ecuadorian Andes. It is named after a glacial valley which is situated between the Chimborazo Volcano and Carihuairazo, in the exact center of Ecuador. Hacienda Abraspungo, with its comfortable, charming and high level installations, offers personalized service in the ideal spot to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Andes. Abraspungo offers 42 comfortable rooms which incorporate modern interior design elements within the framework of traditional, colonial architecture. Each room enjoys direct access to the magnificent gardens and the distinct social areas located within.
Hotel Mansion Alcazar, Cuenca
Located a quick walk from the famous square of Parque Calderon, Mansión Alcázar Boutique Hotel is located in a vibrant area of the city, close to well-known museums and churches. The republic style architecture adds the perfect element of elegance to this already refined structure. Guests can have a refreshing cocktail or glass of champagne out in the jasmine garden and enjoy the fantastic surroundings of the Hotel. Relaxing indoors is also an option, perhaps by the baby grand piano sipping a warm cup of tea. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city of Cuenca has everything visitors could want from it - beauty, nature and a vibrant life. And when they are not exploring the area, guests may want to sit and have a delicious meal at the hotel's Casa Alonso restaurant which serves international and local favorites.