Explore the Valley of the Volcanoes...
12 days in Ecuador's Andes mountains for £1895pp
One of our favourite Ecuador holidays, this two-week trip will take you to see some of the most amazing sights South America has to offer, from the colonial grandeur of Quito and Cuenca, to the natural splendour of the Cotopaxi National Park; from the bustle and bargains of the Otavalo market to the peace and tranquility of Lake Quilotoa.
- Day One: Arrival in Quito
- Day Two: City tour of Quito
- Day Three: Otavalo Market
- Day Four: Into the Cloud Forest
- Day Five: Bellavista Lodge
- Day Six: Cotopaxi National Park
- Day Seven: Lake Quilotoa
- Day Eight: The Devil's Nose
- Day Nine: City tour of Cuenca
- Day Ten: Free time in Cuenca
- Day Eleven: Back to Quito
- Day Twelve: Overnight flight back to the UK
Day One – Begin your Ecuador Holiday
You will arrive in Quito today as your Ecuador holidays begin. We’ll be there to pick you up and take you to your hotel, which is in the heart of the capital. You will probably want some time to rest and get used to the altitude so we have left the rest of the day free for you to relax. Your hotel is close to dozens of restaurants and cafes, as well as all the other facilities you'd expect from a capital city, so if you're feeling up to it then why not head on out and explore one of South America’s most beautiful capitals.
Day Two - City Tour in Quito
This morning we’ve left you some free time to relax after your journey, then after lunch we will pick you up after lunch and take you for a tour of Quito. We’ll focus on the beautiful colonial Old Town, with its winding cobbled streets and grand plazas. The area is a designated World Heritage Site, and it’s home to some of South America’s finest colonial architecture, including the stunning Cathedral and several other churches, all overlooked from the nearby Panecillo hill by the winged statue of the Virgin of Quito. (Breakfast included)
Day Three - Otavalo Market
It will be an early start today, as we head out of Quito into the mountains to the north for a slice of the Real Ecuador! We'll be heading to the bustling local market at Otavalo - a typical mountain town that just happens to be home to the largest indigenous market in Ecuador! You can check out the beautiful local textiles, haggle over some excellent leather goods, or just sit back with an Ecuadorean coffee and take it all in! After a full day here, we will return to Quito in the evening, passing back through some beautiful Andean scenery along the way. (B)
Day Four - Into the Cloud Forest
You will see a different aspect of Ecuador today, as we pick you after breakfast this morning for the drive down the western slopes of the Andes, towards the town of Mindo. This area is known throughout Ecuador as “Mindo Lindo” (Beautiful Mindo) for the stunning scenery you will see along the way. We will arrive at the Bellavista cloud forest reserve in the late morning and you will have a chance to stretch your legs and settle in before lunch. In the afternoon we will take a guided hike out into the cloud forest to appreciate the huge variety of bird and plant-life we can find here. We will then return to the lodge to relax before dinner and a short briefing on tomorrow’s activities. (B/L/D)
Day Five – Bellavista Lodge
After breakfast this morning we will rise early to head out and see some more of the reserve’s amazing wildlife – toucans, parrots, quetzals, flying squirrels and agoutis can all be seen in the area and we’ll hope to see as many as possible. After a final lunch back at the lodge, we will head back to Quito, where you will arrive in the early evening. (B/L/D)
Day Six - Cotopaxi National Park
The snow-capped mountain of Cotopaxi is one of the enduring symbols of Ecuador, and no Ecuador holiday is complete without a trip to see it. Today we will take you on a full-day tour through the beautiful Cotopaxi National Park, including the lovely Lake Limpiopungo and the mountain refuge on the slopes of Cotopaxi itself, giving you the chance for some breathtaking photos, as well as the chance to see some of the park’s fantastic wildlife, such as the giant Andean Condors. We will stay tonight in a traditional Andean hacienda, giving you the chance to enjoy some history along with the fantastic scenery. (B/L/D)
- Our standard hacienda for tonight is the lovely 300-year-old Hacienda La Cienega, but we work with several different haciendas in Cotopaxi, so just let us know if you'd like to see some other options.
Day Seven - Lake Quilotoa
Today we will head out of the Cotopaxi National Park to Lake Quilotoa. This giant crater lake is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and as you climb up to the lip of the (extinct!) volcano, you look down through the mists into a bluey-green lake that seems utterly surreal. You can then head down to the lake and take out a rowing-boat or canoe, before coming back up by horse to your waiting driver. In the evening, we'll head further south through Ecuador, to the town of Riobamba, where we will spend the night in another traditional hacienda and enjoy another traditional Andean meal. (B/L/D)
- The Cotopaxi National Park is a trekking paradise, so if you'd like to tailor your Ecuador holidays to include a bit more hiking, just let us know.
Day Eight - The Devil's Nose
It’s an early start again today, as we pick you up and take you to the train station in Riobamba, for a ride down the Devil's Nose! This infamous switchback took decades of work to complete when it was constructed in the early twentieth century and today it forms part of a fully-restored rail line from Quito all the way to Guayaquil on the Pacific coast. Today you will travel on just a small section of it, but you will still have some spectacular views as you travel down the line. On arrival in the small town of Alausi, we will pick you up and take you on to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, where you will stay tonight. (B)
- Rather than with a private driver, the whole trip down through Cotopaxi from Cuenca can be done on a vintage steam locomotive...
Day Nine - Tour of Cuenca
After some free time this morning, after lunch we will take you on a tour of this lovely city - probably the prettiest in Ecuador. We will visit the two cathedrals, the colonial riverside district and two of Ecuador's best museums, among several other sights. We will finish off by heading to a hill just outside Cuenca, from where you have some gorgeous views over the city and the countryside beyond. (B)
Day Ten - Free time in Cuenca
We have left today free for you to just relax and enjoy a wander around Cuenca. With its pleasant, tree-lined streets and squares, gorgeous domed churches, and some of the best food and drink in the country, we're sure you'll find lovely plenty of places to sit and write those postcards - we can even recommend a few! (B)
Day Eleven - Back to Quito
This morning we will pick you up and take you to the airport for the short flight back to Quito, where you can get ready to head out for a final full day here in Ecuador. Postcards sent? Souvenirs bought? Then you're all set to enjoy a traditional meal before it's time for some salsa... (B)
Day Twelve – Last Day of your Ecuador Holidays
Sadly, today will be the last day of your Ecuador holidays. Depending on your international flights, you may have some time to explore a little more of Quito, or you may be leaving straight after breakfast, but whatever you’re your flight, we will be there to pick you up and take you to the airport in plenty of time to check in for your flight back to the UK. (B)
Our standard price for these Ecuador holidays is £1895 per person, which is based on two sharing a double or twin room in our standard hotels and lodge.
That price includes all your accommodation, internal transport, transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees, plus all your meals in the Cloud Forest and Cotopaxi National Park, and breakfast every day.
We don't have any "local payments" or sneaky charges: everything you have read about on this itinerary is included in that price. And because everything we do is tailor-made, we don't have fixed departure dates or minimum numbers for our trips. Outside of national holidays or other special events, this price is valid for the whole of 2017.
So with the exception of a few meals, everything on your holiday is included. What we don't include as standard is your international flights, because with these you have a huge range of options depending on the date you want to travel, the route you want to fly, and your preferred departure airport in the UK.
We aren't tied to any particular airline, and we will be delighted to discuss all options with you, or you can even book the flights yourself if you prefer: it's totally up to you.
Our Holidays are rated 4.9 out of 5 on the Feefo Independent Review Site