The Spirit of the Andes 4D / 3N, Shared
4D days / 3N from Quito, Mondays only, Accommodations and meals are included (Shared)
A four-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, the spirituality, the flavours, the customs, traditions and legends of the Andean Region.
Day by Day
Early departure 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.
Travel 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 is a charming hacienda, where lunch is served in a room with Inca walls, perfectly preserved through the centuries -a truly 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...
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 Spirit of the Andes adventure ends at the airport - to take to flight to Quito or Guayaquil. Air ticket is extra.
Dress in layers (T-shirt, blouse, sweater, coat). Take a warm coat for evening and rain protection.. Sun protection (SPF 40) even if the day is cloudy. Hat or cap. Good walking shoes.
Altitude: 2,550 meters (7,750 feet) to 3,000 meters (10,000 feet)
Average Temperature: Day 10° to 25° C / 50° to 77° F.
Night 6° to 10° C / 43° to 50° F.
The next day, guests can continue to Guayaquil by plane or by road via El Cajas; or on to Loja, overland.
Please bear in mind that the train operation is handled directly by the Ecuadorian Railway Company, the operation and schedules are subject to change without notice.
Train tickets are included in the rate. Price of train tickets are subject to change without prior notice.