Andes Tour – Cotopaxi and the Avenue of the Volcanoes
Cotopaxi and the Avenue of the Volcanoes,3D/2N, daily from Quito, includes accommodations at Hacienda La Cienega, all meals
Follow the footsteps of the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt and discover what in 1802 he called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”.This route is surrounded by snowcapped summits and the mystical beauty that, in times past, nourished the mythology of early cultures and later provided incentive to the conquering Spanish to settle here. Brooks and rivers run down from the mountains past small villages of adobe houses and terraced farmlands. 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.
Day by Day
Travel southward from Quito, by motorcar on the Pan-American Highway to the south, to visit the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 88,920 acres, around the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, which rises 5897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. The evergreen landscape of the Ecuadorian highlands is one of the main attractions, along valleys and mountains covered by multicolored fields. After an hour and a half, the entrance to the park is reached and then it's up a dirt road for approximately one hour. Upon arrival to the park there is an introductory briefing about the habitat of the Andean paramo or moorlands, its flora and fauna in the small Interpretation Center. Continue on to Limpiopungo Lagoon to observe a variety of birds and occasionally wild horses. On clear days, the Cotopaxi Volcano is the backdrop. A short walk around the lagoon allows the observation of the Andean flora. Lunch at Tambopaxi, up high in the Cotopaxi. In the afternoon, drive down to the valley on to cozy Hacienda La Cienega for leisure time, a stroll in the beautiful gardens, enjoy the facilities. Dinner and overnight.
After breakfast at La Cienega, visit one of the colorful Indian Markets of the area (depending on the day of the week). Here the native dresses of men and women, the fresh produce piled in neat rows, the bluest of skies and the brightly colored designs of hand-woven woolen sweaters make these markets not only beautiful, but also uniquely colorful. Renowned since pre-Columbian times, Indian markets have changed very little over 500 years. Each plaza has its distinctive products: livestock, esteras (straw mats) and sugar cane cakes, food and toys, weavings of wool and hemp fiber, clay-pot pans and herbs, fruits, grains and cereals. Vendors sit under pieces of cloth extended over fragile wooden structures. There are also abundant vendors of ribbons, medicines, prepared food and of course, fortune tellers. The barter system at the markets continues on into the third millennium.
Tuesday, Saturday: Latacunga, Zumbahua Market
Wednesday, Sunday: Pujili Market
Thursday : Saquisili Market
Guests can choose the excursion that best suits their interest - upon coordination with their guide:
- La Victoria
In the morning visit the tiny village of La Victoria famous for its colorful potteries and time to explore the countryside and small towns and flower plantations surrounding the Hacienda La Cienega. After lunch return to Quito.
- Baños full day
This is a scenery packed trip, south down the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Ambato and then east to descend to Baños. Visit the village of the Salasaca Indians, famous for the weaving of figurative wall hangings. Baños is located right at the foot of the active Tungurahua Volcano, surrounded by waterfalls and hot springs. Baños has become a Mecca for international travelers seeking year-round temperate weather, a small town atmosphere, and a base for exploring the great Ecuadorian outdoors. Arrival to Hostería Luna Runtun in time for lunch. Luna Runtun is perched high above Baños, the view from up there is spectacular.
Return to Quito after lunch.
Note: This visit will only be provided if the conditions of the volcano (which has been erupting since 1999) are favorable.
- Quilotoa Crater Full day
The area of the Quilotoa Volcano, with its crater-lake is increasingly popular. The small town of Quilotoa is 17 km from the town of Zumbahua, through marvelous scenery, a spectacular and colorful ride that ends at the rim of the extinct crater lake. The Quilotoa volcano is a water-filled caldera, 3 kilometers (2 miles) wide formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following several catastrophic eruptions about 800 years ago. The caldera has since accumulated a 250 m (820 ft) deep crater lake, which has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals. Fumaroles are found on the lake floor and hot springs occur on the eastern flank of the volcano. Enjoy a box lunch in nature and return to Quito in the afternoon.
- Entrance fee to Cotopaxi National Park is not included
- Entrance fee to Quilotoa Crater Rim is not included
- *The order of the visits and days may vary – depending on the weather, the day of the week and guest interest to be coordinated on spot with the guide.
- Not included: drinks, personal expenses, meals not noted in the program.
Warm clothing is needed and hat or cap. Warm coat for evening, rain coat. Sunblock (SPF 40). Good walking shoes. Camera (wide angle lens). Binoculars. Sunglasses.
Altitude: 2800 to 4000 meters (9800 – 12,120 feet)
Average Temperature Day: 8° to 20° C (46° to 68° F)
Average Temperature Night: 5° to 9° C (41° to 48° F)