Avenue of the Volcanoes
The great Andean corridor known as the Avenue of the Volcanoes welcomes you to enjoy the indigenous culture and traditions, while the snow-capped mountains accompany us on this magical route.
Day 1 : Quito – Cotopaxi
Private transportation from Quito to Cotopaxi.
Excursion Cotopaxi National Park
We will visit Cotopaxi National Park where, weather permitting, you will be able to see the snowcapped summits of the Cotopaxi and Antisana volcanoes.
We will also visit the Interpretation center to learn about the history of this spectacular volcano’s major eruptions, as well as the local flora and fauna. We will then visit Lake Limpiopungo and explore the surrounding area on foot.
If you feel like a longer walk, a 2 hour hike will take us to Mt. Cotopaxi’s J. Ribas refuge (4,800 m) where you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the volcano and the surrounding Andean peaks.
Night at Chilcabamba Lodge (standard room)
Day 2 : Cotopaxi – Riobamba
Indigenous Markets and Quilotoa Lake
Today we will visit Indian markets in the towns of either Saquisili, Pujili, Zumbahua or Latacunga. These markets are as authentic and non-touristic as can be found today in Ecuador today. They are important to the local indigenous people as markets are the center of their social and economic worlds.
*Markets take place on the following days: Tuesday: Latacunga – Wednesday – Sunday: Pujili – Thursday: Saquisili – Saturday: Zumbahua.
We will then visit the Quilotoa volcano crater, where we will be able to appreciate the crater’s serenely mysterious green lake. We’ll have the option of a short walk of about 1.7 km along the crater’s rim.
On the way back, we will stop to visit the art galleries in the community of Tigua, where we will be able appreciate the paintings representative of the folklore of this special part of the Andes and take a painting class from a local artist, trying to learn the skills of these master artists and briefly immersing ourselves into their world.
The brightly coloured naïve style of the area’s painters, currently the third generation, has transcended local boundaries and is now internationally renowned. These days there are a lot of painters in Tigua, but Julio Toaquiza was the first, and is still number one. We will visit Julio in his studio, and you will be able to see why his work is appreciated for the bright colours, the meticulous detail, and the stories his paintings tell of life in the high Andes: the volcanoes, the condors, and the indigenous communities with their legends.
Night at Casa Real Hotel (Suite Room)
Included: breakfast, transportation, English speaking guide, excursion, entrance fees, lunch, accommodation and dinner
Day 3 : Riobamba – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca
Visit Nariz del Diablo – hike to Mirador Pistishi
The biggest complication faced by the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad was the Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle a zigzag railroad was bulit that climbs more than 500 meters in less than 12 km with steep ascents and descents. It today remains an impressive piece of engineering.
While recovering from the mind-blowing descent you will enjoy the views of the narrow gorge of river Chanchán and will have the chance to learn a bit about the traditions and worldview of the Puruhuas in Sibambe.
Our way out of Sibambe will be hiking to the Pistishi viewpoint. The route will take one hour uphill, and once there you will have an spectacular view of the Nariz del Diablo railroad.
If you prefer, we can also have our transportation waiting for us to drive us to the viewpoint.
Excursion Ingapirca ruins
We now drive South to Ingapirca, an Inca observatory and fortress. This is the most important Inca site in Ecuador, where the Emperor and his entourage would rest during trips to this northern segment of the Empire.
Ingapirca Ruins, is the largest and best preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. It was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar, this Temple served for ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, also had strategic-military purposes.
Drive to Cuenca.
Night at the Hotel Victoria (Standard Room)
Included: breakfast, transportation, English speaking guide, train ticket, lunch, excursion, entrance fees, accommodation
Day 4 : Cuenca
Cuenca city walking tour
One of the first things to notice when entering Cuenca is the magnificent skyline marked by brilliant church domes. And after breakfast we will set out on a city tour whose highlight is the city’s colonial architecture.
Cuenca’s winding rivers, graceful ironwork balconies and beautiful gardens, are part of the pleasant atmosphere of this historic city, declared a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in December 1999. This is the perfect place to discover by walking and is ideal for those looking to blend into the relaxed setting of a truly romantic colonial city.
Walking along Cuenca’s cobblestone streets or watching the people go by in the town square dominated by the great cathedral is both peaceful and inspiring. With approximately 400,000 inhabitants, this city is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the country due its architecture, surroundings and small town ambiance.
Cuenca is traversed by four rivers and surrounded by green valleys and its people create some of the finest crafts in the country.
Private transportation to Cuenca´s airport.
Included: breakfast, transportation, English speaking guide