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Cultural and Natural Ecuador

9 Days / 8 Nights

Package Overview

Ecuador posseses an astounding level of cultural and social diversity. It is located in the area which formed the northern Incan Empire prior to being conquered by Spain in 1533. The region's indigenous roots and the influences of various pre-Incan civilizations remain evident in present-day society in food, religious customs, music and dress.

Come experience the folklore and festivals of Ecuador, the indigenous markets, Incan ruins, and the amazing beauty of this country. It is an experience you won't want to miss!

Agent Commission Starting At: $198.90

Package Pricing

Package starting at: $1989.00 PP * Prices based on double occupancy. Prices per person in USD.

Travel Itinerary

Day 1

Upon arrival at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre airport, you will be greeted by our helpful guide. The guide will serve as a translator, help with luggage, and assist with the private transfer to your hotel.

Day 2

This morning, after breakfast, you will leave Quito with your tour guide, heading to Otavalo, the town famous for its weekly artisanal market. On route on the Pan-American Highway, we will stop at Calderon, a town where the famous Masapan dolls are made, continuing on through Guayllabamba town where you can sample its typical fruit, the chirimoya. We will also stop on the highway to admire the beautiful landscape and snow-capped mountains in the area. We continue on, making a short stop at San Pablo Lake before arriving in Otavalo. Here we will visit the textile market located at the “Plaza of Ponchos”; this is one of the most famous markets in South America. You will find all kinds of handcrafts including tapestries made on the Spanish weaving loom as well as the indigenous backstrap loom. You will enjoy a short free time for bargaining and buying with the friendly Otavaleños.

We will have lunch at a restaurant in one of the communities we will visit. In 2001, UNORCAC (The Union of Peasant and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi) and several indigenous communities undertook an initiative in rural community tourism. This initiative is known as Runa Tupari, which means “meeting the indigenous people” in the indigenous language Kichwa. An essential component of authentic and sustainable rural community tourism is direct interaction with indigenous communities. As such, Runa Tupari works with indigenous families in the rural communities of Morochos, Santa Bárbara, La Calera and Tunibamba. These families offer visitors lodging, food and an opportunity for cultural exchange. The visitors will have the opportunity to experience a unique lifestyle and to expand their world views. Runa Tupari is dedicated to providing a more human style of tourism, based in authenticity and nature, which allows visitors to experience direct contact with nature and share daily life with local people. As well, a percentage of the price of lodging is invested into the host community.

After a full day spent in Otavalo we will return to Quito late afternoon/ early evening and you will be taken to your hotel.

Breakfast and lunch included.

Day 3

After an early morning breakfast, the tour will depart for a 3 hour ride to Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, to the Northwest of Ecuador. About an hour outside of Quito, the scenery will change to a lush rainforest with good opportunities to see orchids. This agricultural town is surrounded by breathtaking views of rainforest, rivers, waterfalls, and wildlife, and is a liaison between the regions. The main attraction is interaction with the Tsachillas, an ethnic group located around Santo Domingo. This group is widely known as "Colorados", a reference to the red "achiote" paste that they use to dye their hair and the lines they paint on their bodies. They are recognized for their treatment powers and spiritual knowledge, and are renowned throughout Ecuador as shamans and healers. The community of Bua is one of seven remaining communities of the Tsachila culture. At Bua there is a cultural group, "Shinopi Bolon", which is developing an ethnographic museum, interpretative trails through the last remaining jungle, and a medicinal and botanical garden. There are only around 2500 Tsachila left, and Bua is one of the communities that are working hard to preserve their rich culture in the face of the encroachments of modern life, most notably the rapidly expanding town of Santo Domingo which lies only a few kilometers to the east.

An important part of its mission is the preservation of territorial space, which for them is the core base of family and community where they also live with hundreds of animal species. The Tsachila cultural group proudly represents the arts and wisdom of an ancient nation.

There are projects to reintroduce native species of trees through reforestation, as well as native animals that had been hunted out over the last half century.

You can have lunch in the town near the community (optional). Following this visit, we will return to Quito.

Breakfast included.

Day 4

After an early morning breakfast, the tour will depart for the city center of downtown Quito, Centro Histórico, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

We will start with a panoramic view of Alameda Park and the Basilica, followed by a walk down the street of the Seven Crosses. The trip will continue with a walking tour, starting at Independence Square. From here, we will visit the presidential palace, the main cathedral, the gold-plated La Compañía Church, San Francisco Church and San Francisco Plaza.

Around midday, the tour will head north to the equator for a trip to the monument at the Middle of the World. You may choose to visit either the Ethnographic or the Inti Ñan Museums, both located near the site of the monument. Along the way we will stop for a traditional Ecuadorian lunch (optional).

After seeing these incredible sites, the tour will head back to Quito, where you will return to your hotel.

Breakfast included.

Day 5

Riding is one of the best ways of getting to know the Andes, their culture and the surrounding wilderness. This morning we will depart from the hotel after breakfast for a 3 hour horseback riding trip to the heights of Rumiñahui.

Following a brief lecture on horseback riding, we will dress up in the "chagra" attire. Then we will begin our ride through the majestic “páramos”, along trails filled with rich legend and history. We will admire wild bulls and horses, native birds (it’s not uncommon to see a condor!) and fauna, all in the marvelous landscape of the Ecuadorian highlands. The horses we use are called “criollos parameros”. They have adapted to the arduous conditions of the páramo, losing height in the process but gaining strength and stamina to endure the harshness of the surroundings. We provide riding accessories in the form of a woolen poncho, waterproof poncho, saddle bags, riding helmets and zamarros (sheepskin chaps) in the style of the chagras (Ecuadorian cowboys).

You will experience the Andes in all their beauty, discovering the charisma of its people and the diversity of its natural settings.

After relishing the freedom of nature at its wildest, we return to the farm house, where a warm fireplace and a hot drink will be ready to welcome us back. We will enjoy our lunch at Hacienda Porvenir or similar.

In the afternoon, we will go to a hacienda to have the opportunity to see how local people practice the shearing of llamas. Return to your hotel.

Breakfast and lunch included.

Day 6

After breakfast, we will depart for a short visit to the National Park. The Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the most important landmarks in Ecuador because it is the highest active volcano in the world. Lush endemic flora and fauna of the area can be observed, including the Chuquiragua (also known as the mountaineer’s flower), wild horses, deer, llamas, and more. While in the National Park you can also see Limpiopungo Lake, located near Rumiñahui volcano (4757 meters).

Next we will visit the renowned market of Pujili. For many, a visit to Ecuador is not complete without a visit to a traditional market where you can barter and shop.

In the afternoon we will head to the city of Riobamba for a short city tour and if time permits, visit the Indian communities’ projects before going to the hotel.

Breakfast included.

Day 7

After breakfast, we will depart from Riobamba on the Nariz del Diablo train ride. This is a journey between Riobamba and Alausi and is the most sought after tourist attraction in the country. Known as the “most difficult railway in the world” due to the problems in constructing the railway line through the rough terrain of the Andes, the construction ran into a problem when it hit the vertical rock known as the “Nariz del Diablo”. They got around the problem by carving zig zags out of the rock allowing the train to climb the ascent.

The train, once used by the public, was shut down due to financial difficulties and has only re-opened recently as a tourist service.

The train ride offers spectacular views of the Ecuadorian landscape. On clear days you will be able to see the Chimborazo volcano.

Finishing the train ride, we will visit Ingapirca. These ruins are the most important architectural legacy of the Incas in Ecuador. Dating back to the 15th century, they are a significant part of Ecuador’s pre-hispanic legacy. They are located in the province of Cañar, about an hour and 45 minutes from Cuenca. You will be taken on a guided tour of the ruins and a fortress. The vast archeological complex includes a roofless fortification, courtyards, terraces, temples, houses and a "castle", possibly the Temple of the Sun.

A museum is now open at the site, with both archeological and ethnographic displays. There are also exhibitions of ceramics and jewelry.

After the tour of Ingapirca, we will head to our hotel, located at the historical city of Cuenca.

Breakfast included.

Day 8

Today after breakfast, we will enjoy a city tour of Cuenca. Cuenca is Ecuador's third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special and the city is considered by many to be the most beautiful in all of Ecuador.

If time permits, we will visit a workshop where Panama straw hats of the best quality are made, and then drive up to the hill of Turi to admire the city.

After an optional lunch, we will depart to Guayaquil. En route we will admire the landscape at Cajas National Park and will arrive in our hotel.

Breakfast included.

Day 9

After breakfast, you will be met by your guide and taken to the Airport in time for your international flight back home.

Breakfast included.

Additional Package Information

 Package Includes

  • Accommodations and meals listed as included in itinerary.
  • Private guide and transportation.
  • Tours as listed.
  • Entrance fees.

 Package Does Not Include

  • International air
  • Personal expenses
  • Meals not listed as included
  • Gratuities

 Package Notes

  • To prevent any loss due to cancellation, travel insurance is recommended.
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Ecuador Package 14 of 16

9 Days / 8 Nights Ecuador Vacation Package

General Information

  • Capital: Quito
  • Government: Republic
  • Currency: US dollar (USD)
  • Area: total: 283,560 km2, water: 6,720 km2, land: 276,840 km2
  • Population: 14,573,101 (July 2009 est.)
  • Language: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)
  • Religion: Roman Catholic 95%
  • Electricity: 110-220V/60Hz (USA & European plugs)
  • Calling Code: +593
  • Time Zone: UTC-5

Points of Interest

  • Otavalo Indigenous Market
  • Santa Domingo de Los Colorados
  • Equator
  • Cotopaxi National Park
  • Riobamba
  • Devil's nose train