Day 1. Quito arrival
We will leave early for Lima airport to go to Quito. Upon your arrival our team will be waiting for you to accompany you to the hotel.
Note: Rooms are available from mid-day. For those arriving on morning flights, an early check-in can be arranged for a fee.
Day 2. The Otavalo colourful market and Cuicocha Lake
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby to take you on a visit to one of the most prosperous communities the country, the Otavalo where you will find the famous Ponchos’ Market. Here you can find colourful handicrafts like rugs, clothes, Panama hats, pictures, jewellery, etc. The tour continues to the Hacienda Pinsaquí, one of the most beautiful haciendas in the country, where a delicious lunch will be served. In the afternoon you visit the Cuicocha Lake in Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and on the way you will stop in Cotacachi town known for its famous leather handicrafts. The Cuicocha Lake lies inside the crater of an active volcano surrounded by flora and fauna. This place is considered as a sacred lake and used by the native people to celebrate traditional rituals to purify and clean their souls. Late afternoon we return to Quito where the evening is free.
Day 3. Quito – Antisana Reserve – Cotopaxi
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in order to depart to the east range of the Andes at the Antisana Ecological Reserve, where you will admire the beautiful Lake Mica and the majestic Antisana Volcano (5758m/18.886.24ft). This reserve is considered a hot spot for bird watching, and we can find the Carunculated Caracara known as Caracara Curiquingue here. This bird is famous because of its movements and characteristics and in the local festivities people will dress up in Caracaras costumes. The Antisana Ecological Reserve is also one of the best places to spot the Andean Condor in its natural habitat. After a delicious box lunch we depart to Cotopaxi Province where you overnight in one of the incredible haciendas located close to the National Park.
Day 4. Cotopaxi - Quilotoa Lake - Saquisili Market – Riobamba
Early in the morning after breakfast we leave to the Quilotoa Lake. On our way we stop at the Saquisilí market, this is one of the biggest indigenous markets in the Ecuadorian highlands, the colorful blend of textiles, heaping piles of produce, and local people in traditional Andean clothes is really interesting. We also stop in Tigua, a small town, where you can find amazing handicrafts made by animal skins and beautiful and colourful masks that represent some local animals. Upon arrival at the Quilotoa Lake we can walk down from the border of the crater to arrive at the lake (depending on weather conditions). You have time to visit the area and for the return you have the possibility to hire a mule. After a delicious box lunch we continue to Riobamba where you get installed. The rest of the day is free.
Day 5. Riobamba – Cuenca; Devil’s Nose train – Ingapirca – Cuenca
Early in the morning, after breakfast your guide will drive you to the Alausí train station located 2 hours south of Riobamba, where you will take the train that goes to the famous Devil's nose. Work on Ecuador’s first railway, which would link the coastal city of Guayaquil with the capital, Quito, in the highlands was achieved in 1908. The greatest obstacle, which prompted the line to be dubbed “the most difficult railway in the world”, was met 130km east of Guayaquil at a near-vertical wall of rock, known as El Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose). The ingenious engineering solution was to carve a series of tight zigzags out of the rock, which allowed the train to climb 800m at a gradient of 1-in-18 by going forwards then backwards up the tracks. Currently, only the 12-km stretch from Alausí to Pistishi (usually advertised as Sibambe) at the end of the Devil’s Nose descent, is open, which is the trip you will be taking. The tour offers stunning views of Chimborazo and Carihuairazo and a thrilling descent down the Devil’s Nose itself. At the end of your train adventure, your guide will be waiting for you in Alausí town from where you will continue with your trip to the Ingapirca ruins. The Ingapirca archaeological site is the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. The most significant building is the temple of the sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The building is constructed in the Inca way without mortar in most of the complex. The stones were carefully chiselled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. The temple of the sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the centre of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple. Most of this chamber has fallen down. After our visit we continue to Cuenca where the evening is free.
Day 6. Cuenca City Tour – Quito
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby ready for your visit of the town. You will walk through magnificent churches, beautiful old buildings with wrought iron balconies and carved wooden doors, flower and handicrafts markets, art galleries, workshops and all the wonders that Cuenca, with its colonial style and pleasant atmosphere, offers to its visitors. You will also ride along the Tomebamba River admiring the ancient houses perched on the riverbank above. Also you can visit some modern neighbourhoods and enjoy of a panoramic view of the city from the vantage point of Turi. After the tour your guide will drive you to a local restaurant where you will enjoy of a delicious typical lunch. Late in the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport in order to catch your flight back to Quito. At Quito’s airport your driver will meet you and transfer to your hotel and the evening is free.
Day 7. Quito Departure – Bogota Arrival and city tour
According to the time of your flight you are transferred to the airport in Quito for your flight to Bogota. Upon arrival in Bogota you will be transferred to your hotel.
In the afternoon we visit the historic centre known as La Candelaria. This antiquated barrio is of great architectural and cultural heritage and is made up of old “stately homes” or large Spanish colonial buildings with iron windows, thick and sturdy wooden doors, balconies and internal patios with beautiful yet hidden gardens. We visit the Plaza de Bolivar, which was used for civil and military purposes, as a marketplace, a bullring and a gallows. The Cathedral, on the eastern side of the plaza, is constructed on the remains of the first church built in Bogotá in 1539 and houses an important collection of religious artefacts such as textiles and artwork that has built over four centuries. The Capilla del Sagrario is located just beside the Cathedral and is a gem of religious architecture and which houses valuable pieces of colonial religious art by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos. The Capitol, built between 1847 and 1926, shows its renaissance and neoclassical influences with its carved stonework and tall columns and, it is the first republican piece of civil architecture. The central area of the Capitol, known as the Salon Eliptico, is where congress meets and is the actual chamber for politicians and the Senate. In the internal plazas are busts of former presidents such as General Tomás Cipriano Mosquera, president on four occasions, and Rafael Núñez, the composer of the Colombian national anthem. Around the Plaza de Bolivar are the Palacio de Justicia, the Mayor of Bogotá’s offices called the Edificio Liévano, the oldest school in the county called San Bartolome and the Casa de los Comuneros who participated towards the end of the XVII Century in some of the first movements towards independence from Spain and the formation of the Republic. The visit continues with the Museo Botero, a colonial house filled with works of art done by and donated by Fernando Botero in addition to artwork from his own personal collection that includes pieces by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí Matisse, Monet and Giacometti. Next is the Museo del Oro which has a permanent exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold, 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles all precious to the Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, Tumaco and Magdalena cultures. The Museo del Oro is considered as one of the most important museums of its type internationally and it has been functioning since 1939. We end our tour in the Santuario de Monserrate, a symbol of Bogotá. Ride the cable car or funicular up to it (500m/1.640ft above Bogotá). The site offers the incredible panorama of the city on one side and the Andes on the other. We return to the hotel and the rest of the day is free.
Day 8. Bogotá – Zipaquira - Villa de Leyva
After breakfast we leave in northern direction Zipaquirá. We travel across the central region of the savanna, home to Colombia’s famous flower cultures as you can see from the greenhouses along the road. The name Zipaquirá evokes Zipa, chieftain of the Muiscas community and absolute master of the area’s rich salt mines. Upon arrival we visit the impressive Salt Cathedral. The visit begins in a tunnel that exhibits the fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross and leads to the dome where you can observe the great cross sculpted in low relief. You finally arrive to the three naves of the cathedral joined by openings that represent the birth and death of Christ. The central nave houses the main altar, a 16 meter cross and the Creation of Man, a marble statue by the sculptor Carlos Enrique Rodríguez. We continue to Villa de Leyva in the afternoon. Villa de Leyva was founded in 1572 as Villa de Santa Maria de Leyva. Before the Spanish, the area was inhabited by the Muiscas, a Chibcha-family indigenous tribe who built their main astronomical observatory made of phallic stones near the town. Villa de Leyva is considered one of Colombia’s finest colonial villages. It was declared a national monument in 1954. A few kilometers from Villa de Leyva is the Convent of Santo Ecce Homo, founded by the Dominicans in 1620 and considered an outstanding Spanish legacy. The pavement is made of local stone embedded with fossils, and the chapel has a magnificent golden altarpiece with a small Ecce Homo image. The ‘El Fosil’ – Fossil museum exhibits a 120-million kronosaurus fossil and fossils from the Mesozoic and Cretaceous abound. Nearby Villa de Leyva there are many towns, each with its particular curiosity, such as Ràquira which in Chibcha language means “city of the pots” thus is known as the Colombian town that specializes in fine hand-made ceramics; Sutamarchàn, famous for its gastronomy, especially longaniza and morcilla spicy sausages and the Tomatina Festival, which comes from a Spanish tradition.
Day 9. Villa de Leyva – Bogotá – Neiva – San Agustín
Early in the morning we return to Bogota for the flight to Neiva. Upon arrival your guide will be watiing to bring you to San Agustin. During the 5 hour drive along the Magdalena river which crosses the country from south to north you can enjoy the magnificent landscapes of the Andean mountains. The evening in San Agustin is free.
Day 10. San Agustín
In the morning we visit the San Agustín Archeological Park which was declared a World Heritage Site declared by the UNESCO in 1995. In the San Agustín Archeological Park we find the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America amist a wild, spectacular landscape. Gods and mythical animals are skilfully represented in styles ranging from abstract to realist. These works of art display the creativity and imagination of a northern Andean culture that flourished from the 1st to the 8th century. After lunch we visit the wonderful Colombian massif and the strait of the Magadalena River where a spectacular rocky gorge forces the river to pass through only 2.2m/7.2ft. We return to the hotel and the evening is free.
Day 11. San Agustín – Neiva - Santa Marta (via Bogota)
In the morning we return to the airport in Neiva for the flight to Santa Marta (via Bogota). Upon arrival you are transferred to the hotel and the rest of the day is free.
Founded on July 29, 1525 by Spanish Conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas; Santa Marta was the first city founded in Colombia and second-oldest in America. Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, it has a privileged average temperature between 27°C/80.6°F to 35°C/95°F at sea level; Santa Marta stretches up to the snowy twin-peaks of the highest coastal mountain range in the world, the Simon Bolivar and Cristobel Colón, at 5770m/18.930ft. The city is a popular tourist destination with its wealth of history, colonial architecture, beaches and nearby Tayrona National Park, which make it a supremely attractive and desirable place to visit.
Day 12. Santa Marta – Tayrona National Park
We leave early in the morning from Santa Marta to the Tayrona National Park. Located on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta foothills, the park covers an area of 17.000km2/6.564mi2 and includes white-sand beaches lapped by blue-turquoise waters, coral reefs, huge ocean boulders, densely rich forest vegetation, mangroves and the famous Tayronas’ Lost City. We hike through the forest where there are birds in abundance and it’s possible to see monkeys playing in the trees. After a 45min-hike we arrive at the Arrecifes Beach, one of the park’s most scenic and beautiful areas that will astound you with its wonderful landscape. Walk-along the coast to ‘La Piscina’, a stretch of beach ideal for bathing. After our visit we return to Santa Marta.
Day 13. Santa Marta – Cartagena
After breakfast we drive to the coastal city of Cartagena.Upon arrival the rest of the day is free.
Cartagena de Indias is Colombia’s most popular destination and was founded in 1533 by Spanish Conquistador Don Pedro de Heredia as “Cartagena de Indias”. This beautiful colonial city rapidly became the gem of the Spanish Crown’s territories and, to protect it from continuous attacks by pirates, the largest wall fortress in America was built around it.Cartagena hides Colonial, Republican and Italian architectural treasures in its residential, commercial, religious, military and governmental constructions. Cartagena de Indias was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site because of its colonial walled city; and just walking through to its cozy narrow streets is enough to understand why. It is divided into three sightseeing zones: the Historic Centre with Clock Gate, Carriage Square, San Peter Square, Palace of the Inquisition, The Cathedral, dating back to the 16th century, Santo Domingo Square, the Heredia Theatre and masterpiece San Felipe de Barajas Castle, built between 1639 and 1762 which is the greatest fortress ever built by the Spanish. The San Diego zone, with its enchanting Hotel Santa Clara, formerly Convent of the Saint Claire Order and Las Bóvedas by the Santa Catalina Fortress and Getsemaní; the zone used to be a slave neighborhood and now hosts Cartagena’s Convention Center and popular nightlife clubs. The real joy of Cartagena is exploring its exhilarating narrow streets by foot or on a horse-carriage, an experience that awakens all senses with the flavors and warm breeze of its sunset, making it an incredibly romantic destination and the most fascinating Caribbean hidden treasure.
Day 14. Cartagena de Indias – Bogota Departure*
According to the time of your flight you are transferred to the airport for your international flight. End of our services.
Important: Itinerary can change because of weather or social conditions and some sights are not always accessible – Lipiko Tours cannot be held responsible for any changes in itinerary and sights not visited as a result.
Porterage: Your luggage will be transported either by plane, car, boat, and bus. You will have to carry the personal belongings (camera, water, etc.) which you need during the day.
Service: For group above 4 people you will be accompanied by a tour leader in the chosen language. His role is to make sure that everything goes smoothly during the tour and that each individual and the group as a whole are safe. Don’t hesitate to ask him if you are unsure of anything and, very important, to follow his advice.
Included in the price:
- Water, air and land transfers as indicated in the program
- Accommodation in hotel/hostel in double rooms, Ecolodge, shelter, home stay, camping, bus and plane as indicated in the program.
- Meals as mentioned in the program
- The assistance of specialized local English speaking guides, their fees and expenses
- The assistance of our local teams; driver(s) and logistics department (24/7)
- Visits as outlined in the program
Not included in the price:
- Entrance fees to sites visited, national parks and museums as indicated in the program (allow for approx. 1500 Argentine Peso (Argentian national currency) per person – in Brazil (allow for approx. 150 Brazilian Real (Brazilian national currency) per person – this is an estimate and actual prices may vary)
- Meals not mentioned, drinks, tips, individual equipment, everything not mentioned in “included in the price” and all personal expenses
- Individual obligatory personal travel insurance (this could be included with your credit card – please check with your credit card provider)
- The supplement for a single room: 390 USD (subject to availability, must be reserved and paid upon reservation). Attention; no single room available for the nights with accommodation in shelter, home stay and camping.
- Possible visa expenses
- International flights