TERRAN Diversity of Ecuador 14 days

Day 1: Quito Airport - Quito Private transfer with spanish-speaking driver from Quito airport (to your hotel) and free time for the rest of the day. Reception at the airport by a English speaking guide. You will spend the night at Vieja Cuba hotel in Quito. Included : transfer arrival, reception with english-speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 2: Quito - Cayambe Quito, Ecuador's capital, is a real treasure between the volcanoes of Pichincha, Cayambe and Antisana. At an elevation of 2830 meters, it is the second highest capital in the world.. It was the first city classified by the UNESCO in 1978 and its historic centre is the biggest and best maintained in Latino America. To get a good idea of the city, we will firstly go to the Panecillo, a small hill over the city with a statue of the Quito'Virgen at the top, for a superb view. You will then have a complete visit of Quito's colonial centre: the cathedral, the church of the Compañia de Jesus, the church of San Francisco and its garden and as many baroque art pieces. Discover the "Man Chapel" from the Eacuador's artist Oswaldo Guayasamín. This painting of the chapel was designed and partly realised by Guayasamín to honnor Mankind. Several of his art pieces are exhibited there. You will get out of Quito direction to Otavalo, passing through one of the regions where they grow the famous ecuadorian roses and you will appreciate a beautiful landscape made of numerous summits of the northern Andes. You will spend the night at Hacienda Chorlavi in San Antonio. Included : entrance fees, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 3: Otavalo - Peguche - Cuicocha Lake - Cayambe Visit in the morning the famous Otavalo's Indian market, the most important in the Ecuador's Andes, where you can meet the Otavaleños Indians with their espadrilles, their brown felt hat and blue ponchos. They are the wealthiest indians in Ecuador and excellent sellers. The main market is on Saturdays with the cattle market just outside town, but others markets are hold on the Los Ponchos square every days. You will visit the village of Peguche, with its sacred fall and its Andean music instrument fabrication workshops. You may see a local music session and the weaving process, an art well established in the area. Visit of the Cuicocha lake in the ecologic reserve of "Cotacahi - Cayapas" , one of the most beautiful in Ecuador with a shiny blue water. At the centre of a former crater at 3064 meters, the nature lovers will enjoy a very various vegetation (orchids, "elephants ears"...) with more than 400 species identified there. Half an hour boat tour on the lake. You will see two vegetation covered island at the centre of this former crater, which had been formed by successive volcanic eruptions. You will learn more about the legends around them. You will spend the night at Hacienda Chorlavi in San Antonio. Included : entrance fees, boat ticket, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 4: Otavalo - Cotopaxi Park Journey back on the Panamerican road toward the Cotopaxi park through Quito. Visit of the Cotopaxi park with Ecuador's second highest summit at 5897 meters. It is also the highest active volcano in the world although it only shows a few fumaroles from its ice covered crater. Walk around the Limpiapungo laggon with stunning view on the Cotopaxi. After driving up to the carpark at 4600 meters you may continue (optionnal, you can stay at the parking level if you consider not being in the proper cphysical conditions to climb) by foot to the José Rivas hut 200 meters higher. The most motivated can also go and reach the snowline. You will spend the night at the hacienda Los Mortinios located at the north entrance of the Cotopaxi park. Included : private transport, entrance fees, local spanish-speaking guide, room & breakfast, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 5: Lasso - Misahualli - Ahuano On the road toward the Amazon region. You will enjoy on the way various types of landscapes from the paramo at 4000 meters to the Amazonian basin down to approximately 900 meters. You will have many opportunities to take pictures on the way, of green valleys and waterfalls. Arrival to Misahualli where you will reach your lodge. You will arrive in the afternoon to the Lodge where you'll have a first trek to the jungle. Then your dinner at the Sacha Sisa Lodge where you will have your first night. Included : dinner (no drinks), local guide, room, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 6: Ahuano In the morning, going along with an indigenous guide, you will walk through the jungle to discover many species of medicinal plants and their properties. Keep your eyes open, with no doubt you will see monkeys and birds in their natural habitat. Depending on weather conditions and the group's wishes we can plan the program of the day. After lunch you will visit the Indian community, and where you will have the opportunity to learn about their customs, their way of life and its various plants: banana trees, papaya, pineapple, oranges, sugar cane ... You will discover likewise what is "chicha", a traditional beverage, and the making of chocolate as has been done for generations. Dinner and second night in the Lodge. Included : private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 7: Misahualli - Ahuano - Misahualli - Pailon del Diablo - Riobamba On the way to Riobamba you will follow the "Ruta de Cascadas" along the deep gorges of the Rio Pastaza and observe the evolution of the ecosystem from 950 to 1800 meters of elevation with spectacular views over the upper Amazon basin and a dozen waterfalls. Before Riobamba you could stop at Banos, which name is due to the many thermal pools in the town, is a peaceful town really nice to walk around. The basilica of "Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa" is worth the visit. After breakfast you will go for an observation of the prehistoric birds "hoatzin" and then you will pay a visit to the kids of the community before eventualy return to your vehicle. You will stop in Pailon del Diablo, the country's most famous waterfalls which you will be able to see from closer from a sightseeing platform. Further on the road, following the inca style, you can use a suspended basket called locally tarabita to cross the Pastaza and reach a waterfall called "Manto de la Novia". You will spend the night at Santa Isabella hotel in Riobamba. Included : entrance fees, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 8: Riobamba - Balbanera & Colta - Alausi - Nariz del Diablo - Alausi - Ingapirca Trip to the village of Alausi, the departure town for the train to the Nariz del Diablo. On the way you will pass the Colta lake and visit the Balbanera church, the first one in Ecuador, built in 1534. A journey in the Andes train from the Alausi station to Sibambe. The train is more modern than the former old micheline and the trip is very safe. You will pass by the "Nariz del Diablo" (Devil's nose) with successive Andean landscapes well worth the trip: highlands, forests, deep gorges, locals in their activities... You will be provided breefing about the railway history in Ecuador and the associated adventures. Return to Alausi and to your vehicle. Back on the road to travel to Ingapirca. Ingapirca means "inca stone wall" in the canari language, and indeed a site where the rock is full of legends and history. Ingapirca was founded by the Inca Huayna Capac in the XVth century. The impressive fortress used to contain a temple, sheds and an observatory with amazing exemple of mortar free stone constructions. It was though to be a tambo (relay) along the Inca way from Quito to Cuenca. The locals also see a puma's shape in the ruins. After a visit of the site you will find the Inganahui after walking a bit away. This Inca face rock sculpted by the wind and the rain may had inspired the Incas to found Ingapirca there. After returning to the main site, you will have the opportunity to visit the museum dedicated to this place discovered by the french scientist La Condamine. You will spend the night at Posada Ingapirca next to the archeological complex. Included : train ticket, entrance fees, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 9: Ingapirca - Cuenca - Gualaceo - Cuenca Before arriving to the beautiful city of Cuenca you will drive through some traditional villages with great cratfworks. In Gualaceo you will visit a typical market. Further on the road, the small town of Chordeleg is specialised in the silver and gold filigree jewels. On the way, you will visit also the Ecuagenera company a leader in the orchids culture in Latine America with 20 greenhouses over 5 hectares and more than 2000 orchids species and hybrid species. This family company founded in 1992 is dedicated to the orchids conservation and exportation. Night at the Hotel Cuenca. Included : entrance fees, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 10: Cuenca The city of Cuenca (2 550 m) is undoubtedly as charming as its former name of Guapondelic reveals: "the valley as great as the sky". This colorful and lively city with superb historic buildings was classified as a World Heritage by the UNESCO since 1999. The best way to feel the warm colors of Cuenca is to walk around its paved streets, along the white houses with roman tiled roofs and flourishing wrought iron balconies. Colonial art treasures can also be discovered in Cuenca in the churches and convents from the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. The visit of the cathedral, the El Turi viewing platform, the flouring spaces, the churches and the covered market will gradually take you closer to the local life. Visit of a Panama hats workshop (except on Sundays) established in Cuenca for more than 60 years where you can observe the different stage of its fabrication, an Ecuador's specialty. Visit of the Aboriginal Cultures Museum. This private museum shows the best archeological collection of the city. You will find there jewels and personal ornaments of a great value made with shells and precious metals. Night at the Hotel Cuenca. Included : entrance fees, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 11: Cuenca - Guayaquil Journey to the West and the Pacific Ocean to get to Guayaquil, Ecuador's biggest city and economical capital. You will follow up the Western cordillera and cross the Cajas park where you will enjoy stunning views over the many lakes of this protected area. Back down from the mountains you will then pass by fertile lowlands with huge orchards and banana plantations before arriving to Guayaquil. In Guayaquil you will firstly visit the main streets, the neo gothic cathedral and the Simon Bolivar Park next to it, where you can find a hundred of green iguanas freely wandering around the park, some being a meter long. We will continue the visit to the Malecon 2000 and discover the colonial area of Las Peñas and admire there the architecture and the many art galleries. From the Santa Ana fort you will enjoy a scenic view over Guayaquil and the Guayas River. Night at the Continental hotel in Guayaquil. Included : room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 12: Guayaquil - Puerto Lopez - Salango - Los Frailes Beach - Puerto Lopez You will travel on the Ruta del Sol following kilometers of sand beaches in the smooth sun. On the way to Puerto Lopez, you will pass through lovely fishing towns. On the way we will stop in the Salango's archeological museum which shows the birth and growth of the oldest culture in Ecuador from 3000 before J.C. The exhibition is organized around three main subjects, the chieftains, the archeological sites and the chronological and cultural periods of the area, and particularly insists on the main resources and on the ecological diversity. All of these are presented by pieces, photographs, maps, reconstitutions and detailed commentaries. Trip to the Playa de Los Frailes, 12 km from Puerto lopez in the Machalilla National Park, the biggest protected area on the coast. The park is mainly covered with a dry tropical forest which used to spread over most of the Pacific coast but which almost totally disappeared now. 150 native species had been identified here in 1998. You can go for an hour walk in the forest at the park entrance before getting to the Los Frailes beach, one of the most beautiful in Ecuador. After a bit of relaxing on the beach you will enjoy a swim in this small paradise. You will spend the night at Mandala hotel in Puerto Lopez. Included : entrance fees, room & breakfast, private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide

Day 13: Isla de la Plata - Puerto Lopez Departure by boat from the beach toward the Silver Island ("Isla de la Plata" in spanish), part of Machalilla National Park, located 17 miles from the coast (around 1,5 hours of transport). The island owns its name from the famous pirate, Sir Francis Drake, english sailor who would have hidden on this island a silver treasure captured on a galeon. On another hand this name could come from the large amount of guano, for the silver reflects. Each year, from june to september, the humpback whales gather in this area during the reproduction period and offer a tremendous spectacle that you will never forget. You may cross with dolphins surfing after the boat. Then you will go for a walk around the island for about 3 hours in a surprising dry tropical forest and observe numerous colonies of birds (red and blue-footed boobies, frigate, albatross, pelican,...) and sea-lions. Back on the boat, you will have a lunch and practice snorkelling on the most important coral reef of Ecuador with a rich sub-marine fauna. Back to Puerto Lopez on the afternoon. You will spend the night at Mandala hotel in Puerto Lopez. Included : private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver guide, local guide, boat ticket, box lunch, room & breakfast

Day 14: Puerto Lopez - Guayaquil Airport Free time in Puerto Lopez to enjoy the beach and this quiet fishing town before the transfer to the Guayaquil airport for you flight. Included : private transport, guide expenses, english-speaking driver
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