While Quito’s main cathedral is perhaps more famous, the baroque masterpiece of La Compania de Jesus rivals any church in the world for beauty and architecture. Enjoy a one-night Feature Stay in a converted 16th-century residence in Quito’s historical centre. Take a tour of Quito with our specialist historian guide and discover places of the standard tourist trail. The active volcano of Cotopaxi is the highest in the world. Hike through Cotopaxi National Park towards the volcano’s perfectly cone-shaped peak, looking out for wildlife along the way
Nestled high up in the Andes, Ecuador may be small but it’s brimming with sights. Explore the country’s highlights, discover the colonial streets of Quito and Cuenca. Visit the highest active volcano in the world! End your tour in Lima, Peru’s capital city.
Breakfast Included: 8 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Welcome to Quito, Ecuador! Your tour will begin with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Quito is one of the most beautiful cities in South America, sitting at 2850 metres above sea level, beneath the snow capped Volcan Pichincha. As we don't spend much time in Quito during the trip, why not arrive early and make the most of your time here? You'll be taken on a guided tour of Old Town and some of the famous sites tomorrow.
This morning at approximately 9 am you'll set out on a city tour. In addition to your tour leader you'll be accompanied by a specialist Historian guide for the old town tour, who will provide you with an in-depth and unique perspective of this city and its rich colonial history. As well as visiting the popular sites of Quito, our expert guide will point out the otherwise unnoticed features and take you off the standard tourist trail to explore places not easily discoverable. First you'll explore Quito's Old Town with its countless churches, engrossing history and wonderful museums. Along the way you'll see La Compania de Jesus, the most beautiful church in the Americas, and Calle La Ronda, Quito's oldest street. Next, head north of the city for about 45 minutes to reach the Middle of the World monument, which was built by the French in the 17th century at the precise location of the equator. You'll enter the monument and then visit the local Inti Nan museum, where you can see different experiments to prove that you're at the Centre of the Earth. After visiting the Equator line you will make a quick stop at a local sorbet shop. 'Helados de paila’ a sorbet prepared in large copper pans (pailas) kept cool on a bed of straw and ice, into which fruit, sugar and water is stirred. You will observe a demonstration of how the sorbet is made. Following this, you’ll have the opportunity to try some! Later in the afternoon, travel past the Avenue of Volcanoes (approximately 2 hours) to a lodge in the Cotopaxi area. We will arrive around 5pm and settle in for the night.
Today after breakfast at about 8 am you will travel approximately 2.5 hours (including a stop) to Quilotoa, a lake-filled dormant volcano. Although this stunning lagoon looks like a crater-lake, it's technically a caldera formed by the collapse of a volcano. Quilotoa is located at an altitude of 3,900 metres. Be prepared with warm clothes as it can get quite cold! You'll have the option to hike down to the lake. The walk down hill takes approximately 40 minutes. The walk back up to the top can take up to 1.5 hours and is quite strenuous, mainly due to the sandy and steep path. Please speak to your leader if you're concerned about this as you may decide to stay at the top, go for a walk along the crater or simply relax and take in the stunning views. After exploring Quilotoa, drive back to the lodge (approximately 2.5 hours) You will get back to the lodge at about 4 pm, enjoy some free time before dinner.
This morning at about 8 am you'll depart the lodge and drive approximately 1 hour before reaching Cotopaxi National Park. Here you'll visit the highest active volcano on earth, Cotopaxi. Entering the park you are at an altitude of approximately 3600mts above sea level. You will ascend a further 200 metres by car before reaching your destination, Limpiopungo lagoon. Soak in the incredible scenery of the area under formidable snow-capped peak. Keep an eye out for park wildlife, including condors, foxes, deer, spectacled bears, and more. You will spend approximately 1-2 hours in the National Park. Your next destination is Banos. From Cotopaxi National Park the drive will take approximately 1.5 hours, including a stop. This town is a traveller's secret delight. It sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by green mountains, filled with waterfalls and hot springs. Arriving at approximately 4pm you'll have some free time, perhaps head to the hot springs for a soak.
This morning at about 9 am you'll have an included visit to the Devil's Cauldron waterfall. The drive up to the waterfall is approximately 40 minutes. The walk to the waterfall takes approximately one hour each way, is reasonably easy and can be done at your own pace. Once you reach the waterfall, there's a platform that takes you quite close. It's quite popular to have a picture taken here and we do recommend doing so, however please make sure you bring a rain jacket or poncho and a waterproof case or water tight snap-lock bag to keep your camera dry and any valuables dry. Afterwards you will head back to Banos town, just in time for some lunch at your own leisure. Of course your tour leader will recommend some great places to eat. Soon after lunch you'll drive approximately 30 minutes to Casa del Arbol, a treehouse on the edge of a canyon. Here on a clear day you will have views of Mt. Tungurahua, a nearby active volcano from its precarious perch. You'll head back down to Banos Town, arriving around 4 pm. This afternoon you'll have some free time. On weekdays, experience peace and tranquillity as you stroll through the town and its neighbouring hills. For those who like to get active, Banos also has plenty of adventure sports available.
Leaving Banos today at about 9am, you'll head to Cuenca, widely considered the most beautiful city in Ecuador. The drive takes approximately 7–8 hours, (including stops) arriving in the late afternoon. Cuenca has an old-world ambience with historical streets, 16th and 17th century buildings, and a Cathedral erected by the Spanish in 1557. The area was conquered by the Inca well before Spanish times and was said to be so beautiful that it rivalled Peru's Cusco. It's now a World Heritage-listed site.
This morning starts at about 9 am with a visit to Ingapirca ruins, Located around 40 minutes to an hour away from Cuenca, Ingapirca are the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. Wander around the site and see the famous Temple of the Sun before returning to Cuenca. Later in the afternoon, set off to discover Cuenca from a different perspective…from Genaro’s perspective! Genaros is a local “Cuencano” whose passion for Cuenca’s history, art and architecture is contagious. Let him show you some of Cuenca’s main attractions, but also be prepared to witness a side of this town that not many travellers have the opportunity to see. The walking tour will go for around 3 hours. Later your leader will offer the group an optional visit to Turi viewpoint, where you will see spectacular views of Cuenca city.
Today begins nice an early. You will depart at approximately 5am or earlier depending on your flight departure time to Lima. Drive through the mountains (approximately 5-6 hours, including stops) until you reach the border with Peru. You'll farewell your Ecuadorian leader. The border crossing can take up to an hour. Once in Peru you'll be transferred to Tumbes Airport from where you will take an included flight to Lima. Please note this flight will be unescorted, however you will be met by our Peruvian representative upon arrival at Lima airport. The rest of the day will be free for you to relax or step out into this brand new city.
Today your adventure comes to an end after breakfast. If you would like to spend some more time in Lima, we’re happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability). You may also want to consider booking our trip Best of Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia if you have more time to explore South America.