What makes this trip special
A 13 day journey with expert bilingual local guides that takes you from Ecuador’s capital nestled high in the Andes, down the Avenue of Volcanoes to the area of Chimborazo where together with your guide you will travel up to the refuge and visit local indigenous communities. From here you take one of the world’s most famous train journeys through spectacular scenery. Then onto the beautiful city of Cuenca a UNESCO World Heritage Site, chance to explore this area before your journey then takes you to Cajas National Park in the high Andes and then down onto the steamy Pacific Coast. From here you take your flight out to Galapagos with the opportunity for some of the best and most intimate wildlife experiences on earth.
- A journey through Ecuador’s Southern Andes with spectacular scenery
- Travel to the refuge of the snow-capped Chimborazo Volcano
- Visit Andean communities off the main tourist trail
- Take one of the world’s most famous train journeys
- See the beautiful city of Cuenca a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 6 Days Cruising Galapagos on board one of our handpicked yachts
13 Days from£4997 per person, based on 2 people sharing and excluding flights
You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel in Quito for the night.
Avenue of Volcanoes – Saquisili Market – Riobamba
After breakfast you will be picked up by your private guide and transport and you will begin your journey South through Ecuador’s legendary Avenue of Volcanoes, a valley punctuated on either side by spectacular snow-capped volcanoes. Here you will visit one of the regions markets, where local indigenous community gather to sell an array of local fruit and vegetables and other goods. You then head to Riobamba in time for a late lunch. In the afternoon you will take a walk through Riobamba – an important town historically for Ecuador, and spend the night (B,L)
Today you visit the Chimborazo – Ecuador’s highest volcano at 6310 meters – and whose summit if is the highest point on Earth, when measured from the centre of the planet, since it is located on the equatorial line. A non-active volcano that was considered sacred and worshiped by the Puruhaes culture, with many explorers like Humboldt, Simon Bolivar and Whimper who have visited and climbed this astonishing mountain. You will be pleased to hear you won’t be attempting to climb this, but rather soak up the spectacular scenery of paramo and volcanoes and wildness. You will have lunch at the ‘Estrella del Chimborazo’ (the star of Chimborazo) – named after a species of hummingbird endemic to the paramo, and if you are very lucky you may spot one of these tiny birds flitting around the place you have lunch. Overnight Riobamba (B,L)
Devils Nose Train Journey
Early the next morning you take one of the most famous train journeys in the world. The train journey between Riobamba and Alausi is part of a railroad that was originally built to connect the Andes with the coast, considered to be one of the world’s best railway engineering feats. This scenic railroad travels over a series of switchbacks as it zigzags down the steep mountainside, along river valleys and small villages and has to negotiate the Nariz del Diablo (the Devil’s Nose), offering not just a thrilling ride, but spectacular views of Chimborazo. You arrive at a small village where the local indigenous community will greet you with some light refreshments before you travel the journey in reverse back to the town of Alausi, where your local Cuenca guide will meet you and take you for the next stage of your journey to visit the Incan ruins at Ingapirca, the most important Incan ruins in Ecuador. Originally, an inn for Incan couriers and other travellers, later fortified under the control of the Cañaris of Huayna Capac, later being expanded and used as a lodge for troops, a resting place for the emperor and a temple, build in the style of Coricancha, the main temple of Cuzco. The ruins of Ingapirca, an ellipse-shaped fortress made of green diorite, is still appreciated with great pleasure and by the whole world today, as it was 500 years ago. Even though they don't have the colossal dimensions of Cuzco, Ingapirca is, however, a direct testimony of how the Incas lived, their mechanisms of defence and integration of other ancient Incan constructions. Late lunch at Ingapirca. From here you continue on to Cuenca – arriving late afternoon.
Today is yours to explore the city of Cuenca on your own - crossed by four rivers, surrounded by gorgeous scenery and with a rich artistic heritage, this is arguably Ecuador’s most beautiful city. It is a very safe, easy to navigate city – so perfect for exploring on foot.
Gualacelo – Chordeleg Villages
Today you will join a small group tour of the surrounding area of Cuenca (or we can organise a private tour if you prefer) Cuenca is surrounded by villages with some exceptionally skilled artisans. Amongst these that we will visit today is San Bartolome, where people hand craft guitars (basically it is a family – Santiago visited in November and was really impressed!) we then go onto Gualaceo and Bulcay, famous for weaving, and Chordeleg a village specialised in jewellery with fine filigree work, and the chance to see people weaving Panama hats – which are originally from Ecuador and mainly produced in this area. You will have lunch together in a countryside hacienda, before returning to Cuenca late afternoon. (B,L)
Cajas National Park – Guayaquil
After breakfast today you will be picked up from the hotel by your private guide and driver for your journey through Cajas National Park and down to the coast. A 29,000 hectare park of high paramo, with amazing glacial landscape, with giant u-shaped valleys and dotted with several hundred crystal blue lakes. The flora here is tundra-like with small forests of polylepis trees, there is a chance of seeing wild llamas as well as an array of birds with some 155 species found in the park, including the Giant Hummingbird – the largest hummingbird in the world and if we are very lucky we may spot an Andean Condor. The name for the park is derived from the Quichua (Inca) name for cold, and cold it is! This though serves as a great contrast as from Cajas National Park, we begin our decent on a newly opened road down to the coast. The journey is breath-taking, as within the space of a few hours driving we pass from the high paramo to the steamy coastal lowlands, taking us through coca plantations until we reach Guayaquil. Overnight Guayaquil, Ecuador’s steamy tropical commercial capital.
Guayaquil – Galapagos
This morning you will be picked up from the hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival to the Galapagos Islands you will be met by your bilingual Galapagos National Park guide and will be taken to board your yacht, and begin the cruise. Galapagos Cruise: The following 6 days you will be cruising gently between the Galapagos Islands experiencing some of the most pristine and intimate wildlife encounters on earth.
Galapagos – Guayaquil – onward flight home
Today on the last day of your cruise you will have an early visit in Galapagos before being taken to the airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador and onward flights home.