Begin in colonial Quito and then travel to a historic hacienda near Cotopaxi National Park. Ride horses and hike through the spectacular terrain before heading to the city of Cuenca for a cruise along the Tomebamba River. Trace the legacy of the Inca Empire at the atmospheric ruins of Ingapirca. Then get up close and personal with the jungle in the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve.
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT
You will be welcomed and accompanied to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours at leisure to begin your exploration of the city or just relax and enjoy the amenities of your hotel. Casa Gangotena – 1 night
This morning, stroll down charming La Ronda Street, the oldest street in the city. Discover the baroque architecture of La Compañia church and expansive Independence Square. After a stop at the site of the signing of Ecuador’s declaration of independence, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Then travel via the scenic Avenue of the Volcanoes to historic Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, which was built on the site of an Inca palace in 1480. After checking in, relax and explore the historic home and the beautiful grounds before enjoying dinner. Hacienda San Agustin de Callo –2 nights (B, L, D)
COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK
Enjoy a day of outdoor activities in this scenic area. Hike or ride on horseback along the trails in the wild lands of the national park. Then have a picnic lunch in the foothills of the Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in the world. If you like, visit one of the colorful local markets to shop for traditional handicrafts from the native artisans. Return to your hacienda this evening for another delightful dinner. (B, L, D)
Return to Quito for your flight to the university city of Cuenca. Enjoy a walking tour of the lovely old section of the city where you’ll see the 19th-century blue-domed cathedral, gracious mansions with wrought-iron balconies, art galleries, handicraft markets and flower stalls. Then board a boat for a relaxing cruise along the Tomebamba River to see the ancient houses of the city perched along the banks of the river. Mansion Alcazar – 2 nights (B, L)
Head out of town for a full-day exploration of the ruins at Ingapirca, the largest known Inca site in Ecuador. On the way, marvel at the gorgeous, verdant valley landscapes and stop in several charming villages. After exploring the grand Temple of the Sun and soaking up the atmosphere at this historic site, savor a traditional lunch at a local farm. Return to Cuenca this afternoon. This evening, head out on the town for dinner at one of the city’s acclaimed restaurants. (B, L)
After a morning at leisure to do some exploring of your own in this beautiful city, head to the airport for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel. If you’re feeling adventurous, Quito is a wonderful place to wander. Stop in some of the small boutiques, browse an art gallery or two and sample the local specialties such as locro de papas, a creamy potato soup served with avocado slices and a freshly made tree tomato juice. Casa Gangotena – 1 night (B)
QUITO / MASHPI LODGE
Descend by road from Quito toward the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve and stop to observe and learn about hummingbirds before reaching your lodge. After lunch, begin your exploration of the forest with your expert naturalist guides. Mashpi Lodge – 2 nights (B, D)
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