The Highlights of Ecuador's Mainland, from Quito to Cuenca & Guayaquil
This Quito-to-Cuenca Ecuador tour is chock-full of highlights to see in Ecuador's fascinating mainland. Ride the Chaski Antawa and the Devil's Nose trains, visit the Otavalo indigenous market, explore the Avenue of Volcanoes, walk through Cotopaxi National Park, enjoy adventure excursions in Baños, see the Inca Cañari Ingapirca ruins, go shopping for Panama hats in Cuenca, bird-watch in Cajas National Park, and spend some free time walking along the Malecon boardwalk in Guayaquil. This Ecuador tour makes a great add-on before or after a Galapagos cruise.
This tour includes:
Arrival to Quito. Tranfer from the International Airport to the hotel.
Overnight in Quito.
Quito & the Middle of the World
Located at 9350 ft. above sea level (2,850 mts.) lies a multicolored urban quilt draped across the steep slopes and undulating inter-Andean valleys at the foot of Pichincha Volcano.
Its historical Old Town is the biggest in the Americas and it was the first city to be declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.
An array of museums showcase everything from colonial to ancient Incan Art, including the colorful works of the Quito School.
The Middle of The World Complex is located 11 miles (18 km.) to the north of Quito, you can step one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other one in the southern hemisphere.
Overnight in Quito.
San Pablo Lagoon - Ibarra - Chaski Antawa train - Otavalo indigenous market
The San Pablo Lagoon its located 55 miles (89 km.) from Quito, at the foot of Mount Imbabura; small indigenous communities live all around and you can see them fishing early in the morning or washing their clothes during the day. You can boat ride around the lagoon and enjoy jet ski and other water sports.
70 miles (112 km.) north of Quito lies Ibarra, a picturesque place to relax known as the “White City” because of its whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets. Typical products include arrope de mora (blackberry syrup), nogadas (sweetmeat with walnuts), and helados de paila (handmade sherbert). At the train station you can catch the Chaski Antawa train to the valley of Salinas.
Experience the Chaski Antawa two hour train ride that takes you into the Afro-Ecuadorian valley of Salinas. Located at about 18 miles (30 km.) from Ibarra, this valley, surrounded by farms and sugar cane plantations, takes its name because of the soil s high salt content.
Enjoy a traditional lunch and visit the Salt Museum, where you«ll learn the ancient processes for obtaining salt, as well as the lifestyle and customs of the Salinas community.
59 miles (94 km.) about 21/2 hours north of Quito lies Ecuador´s most famous indigenous market, a mosaic of colors, ethnicities, and handicrafts, offering shoppers superb bargains for fine textiles, paintings, ceramic ware, Panama hats, and an incredibly fun market experience. The craft fair takes place every day on the main plaza, Plaza de Ponchos, although Saturday is its busiest day. The Otavaleños (people from Otavalo) have received world recognition for their weaving and craftsmanship.
Back to Quito and overnight.
Avenue of Volcanoes - Cotopaxi - Baños - Riobamba
The central sierra of Ecuador is known as The Avenue of the Volcanoes (325 km.), a necklace of “snow-cones” like a jeweled crown. Chimborazo, Antisana Cayambe, Tungurahua and Cotopaxi to name perhaps the most emblematic are all highly prized mountain-climbing destinations that rise well over 16,000 feet (5000m) above sea level and give the overall Andean landscape, from large cities to small towns, a character of unsurpassable splendor.
People wear bright ponchos and typical hats; they preserve their ancient harvesting traditions and keep a close bond with their animals. In Ecuador, close encounters with indigenous communities who maintain their own language, traditions, and beliefs are easy to come by.
31 miles (50 km.) south of Quito. The Cotopaxi National Park is located at 5897 meters above sea level, and rises majestically above the Andean mountains as Ecuador´s highest active volcano. The Park is surrounded by haciendas and trails that provide the opportunity for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and trekking activities. Inside the Park, visit the crystaline Limpiopungo Lagoon, home to Andean Gulls, wild rabbits, llamas and horses.
About 95 miles (153 km.) south of Quito. Located in the middle of a mountainous region, Baños is well known for its natural hot springs. The lovely scenery is the areas other main attraction, offering good hiking trails, horseback riding, canopying, and mountain biking, and more. From here you can see the Tungurahua volcano 16479 ft. (5023 mts.) during its eruptive process. There are also more than 60 waterfalls, including among the most impressive: Pailón del Diablo, Manto de la Novia, Cabellera de la Virgen, Inés María.
At 102 miles (165 km.) from Quito, Riobamba possesses unique a natural and architectural beauty. Located in the foothills of Chimborazo volcano, the city showcases many twentieth century architectural gems.
Overnight in Riobamba.
Devil Nose train - Inca Cañari Ruins of Ingapirca - Cuenca
Called the Most Difficult Train in the World, this train ride is one of Ecuador´s most popular attractions. The railroad, originally built to connect the Andes with the Coast, goes up and down steep slopes and along river valleys, crossing a wall of rock known as the Devil's Nose. This train leaves from Alausí, a pretty town with adobe houses.
Inca Cañari Ingapirca Ruins is located about 1 hour 45 minutes from Cuenca, it is the most important archaeological site in Ecuador and represents important evidence of Incan presence in the country. It was built at the end of the XV century in an area that was previously occupied by the Cañari culture and it stands over what was once a moon-worshipping site. The main structure is known as the Temple of the Sun, and it was used for ceremonial and religious purposes.
Overnight in Cuenca.
Cuenca, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Let its cobblestone streets, graceful wrought-iron balconies, and flower-filled plazas captivate you. This city is home to the famous Panama hats and to very talented people who will proudly show you their best work.
The best archaeological exhibits are at the Museo del Banco Central, which also displays old photos and has changing art and other shows. The Museo de Las Conceptas is housed in the Convent of the Immaculate Conception and is Cuenca´s most famous religious art museum.
Overnight in Cuenca.
Cajas National Park - Guayaquil
Located to the west of Cuenca at 18 miles (30 km.). The Park has an area of 28544 hectares, the lowest altitude is 3150 meters and the highest is 4450 meters above sea level. This area is known for its beautiful landscapes and at least 200 lagoon, such as the famous La Toreadora. It´s the perfect place for birdwatchers and nature lovers. You can also fish trout, camp or hike. There´s also a small forest of Polylepis trees and chuquiragua the Ecuadorian national flower.
Known as the Pearl of the Pacific, Guayaquil is Ecuador´s largest city, one of the most important ports on the Pacific seaboard, and considered the financial capital of the country. Dynamic and ready for change at any price, Guayaquil is also a fun, tropical metropolis with a riveting nightlife.
Malecón 2000, the complete makeover of Guayaquil´s original boardwalk, and the recent restoration of Barrio Las Peñas, the original Spanish settlement site of the city, are always busy hangouts that feature a large range of bars, restaurants, boutiques, museums gardens and magnificent views of Guayas River. The beautiful Malecón del Salado crosses the lushious riverbank of the cities estuary and is home to egrets and iguanas.
Overnight in Guayaquil.
Tranfer to the International Airport and flight back home.
End of our services.
Testimonials/ Jenny Cunada
Accommodation was nice, we cant complain. All the tour guides provided during our travel were all professionals. We like our tour guide Rolf in Lima.
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