Ecuador Andean Highlights Tour

DAY 1: MINDO CLOUDFOREST AND THE EQUATOR
On the first day of our adventure, we drive north of Quito to the Equator monument complex. The visit to the middle of the world is mandatory for travellers that come to Ecuador, this is the place where you will be able to stand on both sides of the hemispheres, north and south at the same time and feel the neutral forces of the equator. On our way, we will also stop for a view of the Pululahua crater, the third biggest inhabited volcano crater in the world, home to more than 400 local people. We will then reach the little town of Mindo, nestled into the cloudforest. This area is filled with a wide variety of plants and wildlife – perfect for a nice introduction to the diversity of Ecuador with your Andean highlights trip. Mindo and its surrounding cloudforest are a birdwatcher's paradise! In the afternoon we will visit a chocolate factory, where you'll have the chance to follow the process of the cacao, from harvesting the seeds to the final product, like as a delicious brownie or a cup of real hot cocoa.

Accommodation: First class Hotel in Mindo

Meals Included: Lunch

DAY 2: HIKE TO THE SEVEN WATERFALLS OF MINDO
Our adventure starts in the morning with a trip in the pristine cloud forest, crossing cable cars and hiking along waterfalls, surrounded by a lush green area filled with toucans and colorful birds.

In the afternoon, you will have some free time to enjoy the several optional activities offered in this area. You can go whitewater rafting or "tubing" (with several large inner-tubes tied together) as our steely-nerved guides steer you through thrilling rapids. Or try canopy zip-line (sailing along one of 13 zip-lines over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest). One of the highlights of today is the visit to the butterfly farm, where we watch gargantuan butterflies dry their wings after emerging from their jewel-like cocoons. You can dip your fingers into a banana concoction and then be thrilled as butterflies the size of birds land on your hands for a snack.

Accommodation: Sachatamia Cloudforest Lodge or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

DAY 3: COFFEE VALLEY INTAG AND CUICOCHA LAKE
Our day starts with a unique scenic drive through the deep cloud forest of the Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve one of the main Ecuador highlights covered in your tour, we will enjoy breath-taking views of the Intag valley. We will visit a fair-trade coffee plantation and taste the exquisite organic coffee produced in the area. We will then drive back up to the highlands and reach the Cuicocha crater lake, where we will admire the crystalline-clear waters of this active volcano and the amazing surrounding landscapes. At the end of a short hike, we will take a boat ride to the center of the crater to observe the activity of this volcano watching bubbles coming up from the center of the caldera. We will spend the night at a charming Andean hacienda.

Accommodation: Palmeras de Quichinche Lodge or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

DAY 4: INDIGENOUS MARKET AND LUNCH WITH LOCAL PEOPLE
Today we will first visit the world-famous indigenous town of Otavalo, where you will have some time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, filled with Otavalo indigenous people wearing the typical blue ponchos, and to explore their handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices. Later, we will be transferred to San Clemente, a small village located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes, where you will live an unforgettable cultural experience, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American highlands. You will help the local people prepare a delicious lunch using the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields and share with them precious moments of conviviality. In the late afternoon, we will head to the hot-springs resort of Papallacta, where you will have the chance to relax and enjoy the facilities surrounded by the view of the majestic Andean mountains.

Accommodation: Termas de Papallacta Spa Resort

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

DAY 5: PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS AND COTOPAXI VOLCANO
After breakfast and the last dip in the open-air hot springs, we will drive south on the Panamericana Highway towards the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi. The snow-capped volcano is surrounded by its National Park, home to abundant flora, a rich fauna and Inca ruins. We begin our visit at the interpretation center at the entrance of the park, before continuing our drive across the páramo to the Limpiopungo Lake. During a short walk around the lake we can observe a variety of birds and enjoy the stunning views of the almost symmetrical cone of the Cotopaxi, it is also possible to hike to the snow line refuge of the volcano. We will then make our way back to the city of Quito where this tour will finish, we can also arrange a transfer directly to the airport if you would prefer.

Meals Included: Breakfast and Box lunch

Tour
Tour per person
$1,105
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