If you like the itinerary below please quote REF SOUTH AMERICA 168 when enquiring for further details.
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Bienvenidos a Ecuador! Upon arrival you will be met at the international airport and take a scheduled transfer to your hotel in Quito where the rest of the day is free.
This morning visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures. Quito’s UNESCO-listed colonial quarter is one of the largest and best-preserved in South America. our stroll takes you through Independence Plaza, past the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace, and on to the temple of La Compañia de Jesús with its dazzling gilded interior and the impressive façade of the Monastery of San Francisco. Touring continues with the Equatorial Monument that marks the exact point of the Middle of the World. Next and last we explore the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the different Native American groups living in Ecuador.
Rich in ancestral cultural heritage and set amongst stunning Andean scenery of mountains, waterfalls and lakes, the market town of Otavalo is one of Ecuador’s most popular destinations and today you will enjoy a scheduled tour and lunch. Arriving in time to fully appreciate the activity of Otavalo market, peruse the stalls of ponchos, scarves, blankets, handbags and much more. Practise your bartering skills and pick up a bargain. Unlike other Ecuadorian markets and their raucous noise, Otavaleños barter in silence. Proceed to the Indian village of Peguche where artisans weave in their own homes. Lunch at a nearby hotel.
Travelling south on the Pan-American Highway arrive at the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary centred around the soaring Cotopaxi Volcano. An introductory briefing at the Interpretation Centre will introduce you to the flora and fauna of the Andean paramo or moorlands. Put this knowledge into practice with a walk around the Limpiopungo Lagoon where you can observe a variety of birds and occasionally wild horses.
Enjoy a scenic journey to the rim of the Quilotoa crater lake and a full day hiking. Formed by the collapse of the Quilotoa Volcano after several catastrophic eruptions some 800 years ago, the crater lake is a vivid turquoise-green colour due to the dissolved minerals in the water. Spend time walking around the rim with a lunch box provided for a picturesque picnic before returning to the city of Quito and your hotel for the night.
This morning early our private driver takes you straight to Quito Airport, in time for your flight to the Galapagos. Arriving here, you at your own arrangements.
The next days in the Galapagos Islands are of your own arrangements and expense.
Arriving into Cuenca our local team await to drive you to your hotel. Today you will discover the artistry of local communities in the picturesque Gualaceo Valley. Starting at San Bartolome where guitars are made, continue to the small town of Chordeleg and its gold and silver jewellery stalls. Chordeleg is also known for its green and yellow pottery. Lunch is taken at a very pleasant country inn, surrounded by flowering gardens close to the Santa Barbara River. Continue to the village of Gualaceo, famous for its Sunday market, and on to the weaving village of Bulcay. The day concludes with a visit to an orchid garden before returning to Cuenca.
Sadly your journey has come to an end, we will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home.