Ecuador: Along the middle of the world

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The Andean country of Ecuador is located on the Pacific Northwest coast of South America and borders Colombia and Peru. With an area of ​​around 256,000 km², Ecuador is about the size of the United Kingdom, but has only around 15 million inhabitants.

Ecuador is divided into three geographical zones:

  • The west coast dominated by the Río Guayas. In its estuary lies the port city of Guayaquil – with around 3 million inhabitants, it is also the largest city in the country.
  • The central Andes region with the country’s highest mountain, the 6,310 m high Chimborazo, and the capital Quito, which is located at 2,900 m in a high valley and is almost on the equator. The mountain ranges are characterized by strong volcanism.
  • Beyond the Andes lie the rainforests of the Amazon lowlands.

The Galápagos Islands, 1,000 km off the coast in the Pacific, also belong to the national territory of Ecuador.

From high Andean towns we hike to extinct volcanoes and emerald green lagoons. Can we spot the black condor? The waterfall route then takes you into the Amazon region with rampant rainforest, parrots and the Rio Napo.

Ecuador – Along the middle of the world

  • City tour of Quito and Equator Monument “Mitad del Mundo”
  • Otavalo with a visit to the colorful handicraft market
  • El Angel National Park
  • Quilotoa Loop
  • Cotopaxi National Park
  • Place of pilgrimage Baños
  • Tena – the Ecuadorian gateway to the Amazon
  • Immerse yourself in the culture: visit a traditional weaving mill and visit a Kichwa family

OVERVIEW

  • City tour of Quito and Equator Monument “Mitad del Mundo”
  • Otavalo with a visit to the colorful handicraft market
  • El Angel National Park
  • Quilotoa Loop
  • Cotopaxi National Park
  • Place of pilgrimage Baños
  • Tena – the Ecuadorian gateway to the Amazon
  • Immerse yourself in the culture: visit a traditional weaving mill and visit a Kichwa family

Travel Program

Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, our English speaking tour guide will welcome us and accompany us on our journey through diverse Ecuador. We start with a drive through a unique mountain landscape in the northern province of Imbabura. Our destination is the tranquil Andean town of Otavalo, about an hour and a half north of the airport. We spend the night in a 150-year-old hacienda at 2,500 m and can enjoy the peace and quiet after the long flight. The architecture represents the traditional Andean country house with chimneys, mud walls, wooden beams and tiled roofs.
International flights are not included!
Driving time: approx. 2.5 hours
Overnight stay in a hacienda (Hacienda Pantavi or similar)
(-/-/-)

We follow in the footsteps of the spectacled bear! The Spectacled Bear Project in Pimampiro (El Mirador del Oso Andino) is a project where Danilo Vásquez and biologist Andrés Laguna have been conducting research, capacity building and local empowerment for more than a decade, supported by a collaborative agreement with the Big Mammals Conservation Foundation.

Driving time: approx. 2 hours
Overnight stay in a hacienda (Hacienda Pantavi or similar)
(B/L/-)

The nature reserve El Ángel is about 15,700 ha and covers altitudes from 3,600 m up to the summit of the volcano Chile (4,768 m). For lunch we arrive at Polylepis Lodge, which is our accommodation for the night. In the afternoon we embark on a hike in the Polylepis forest near the lodge.
In the national park, which was only established in 1992, we can see rare plant species on the Páramo meadows, move to an altitude of around 3,700 m and look out for Andean jackals, mountain pumas, eagles, Curiquingue falcons and condors.

Driving time: approx. 1.5 hours (80 km)
Hike: approx. 2-3 hours (+/- 100 m, approx. 8 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Polylepis Lodge or similar)
(F/BL/ a)

In the morning we start our hike from Socavones (3,850 m) to the “Mirador” viewpoint, past the “Arquitecto” lagoon and to the “Agua Blanca” waterfall at 3,450 m.
The lagoon-rich landscape is home to the endemic giant plants “Frailejones Gigantes” that cover large areas of the area and appear like large forests from afar. These plants, about three meters high, were called Frailejones (“monks”) because they resemble a monk.
In the afternoon drive to Otavalo.

Driving time: approx. 3.5 hours (200 km)
Hike: approx. 2 hours (+/- 150 m, approx. 3 km)
Overnight stay in a hacienda (Hacienda Pinsaqui or similar)
(F/BL/- )

Otavalo is famous for its large, colorful handicraft market in the center of town. In the morning we have time to stroll through the colorful market, which takes up almost a third of the entire city area on Saturdays. Colorful woven goods such as blankets, hammocks and tablecloths, but also jewelry made from the tagua nut (also called vegetable ivory), musical instruments, leather goods and much more are offered for sale. After a stroll through the market, we visit a local weaving mill, where the weaving process is explained to us and we learn more about this traditional craft. We end the day with a short hike to the Peguche waterfall before continuing to Quito.

Driving time: approx. 2.5 hours
Overnight stay in a hotel (Vieja Cuba or similar)
(F/BL/-)

Today we have a full program in store for us. In the morning we first drive to the outskirts of Quito to the so-called “middle of the world”. The Mitad del Mundo Equator Monument was built to commemorate the Franco-Spanish geodesic expedition in the 18th century. Here we can stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other foot in the southern hemisphere!
In the afternoon we head south from the equator and we get to know Quito’s old town better, the largest and best preserved old town in Latin America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, on a guided tour. Our guide shows us the highlights of colonial Quito with its churches, historical buildings and monuments. We then drive straight on to Lasso and spend the night in the historic Hacienda La Cienega, where Alexander von Humboldt stayed in 1802 (altitude approx. 3,000 m).

Driving time: approx. 3 hours (150 km)
Hike: approx. 2-3 hours (+/- 50 m)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Hacienda La Cienega or similar)
(B/L/-)

In the early morning we drive to Sigchos at 2,557 m, from where our three-day hike through the Ecuadorian Andean highlands starts. The paths lead through remote Andean villages, past fantastically beautiful landscapes with rivers, gorges and volcanoes. The highlight at the end of the hike is the emerald green crater lake of Quilotoa Volcano.
Equipped with a day pack, we first trek down the Toachi Valley to 2,242m, then climb again to Isinlivi, a small remote village at 2,952m. The trek to Laguna Quilotoa brings you up close and personal with the rural landscape and the friendly people touches locals and ensures an authentic experience. Our luggage is already waiting for us at the hotel.

Driving time: approx. 2.5 hours (52 km)
Hike: approx. 5 hours (+/- 700 m, approx. 8 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (LluLlu Llama Mountain Lodge or similar)
(F/BL/ D )

During this trek we cross the Toachi River via a suspension bridge. We will also get a good impression of what life is like in the Andean highlands: we pass small farmhouses and get to know the indigenous people who work in the fields in a picturesque landscape. Again and again vantage points provide spectacular views of the Toachi Gorge. In the afternoon arrival in Chugchilan (3,200m) and accommodation in a cozy guesthouse.

Hike: approx. 5-6 hours (+/- 300 m, approx. 12 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Hosteria Mama Hilda or similar)
(F/BL/D)

After a hearty breakfast we leave Chugchilan today for our last leg and follow the ascending path to the Quilotoa crater. The hike leads from 3,200 m to 3,900 m and takes about 5 to 6 hours.
In the afternoon we are rewarded for the efforts of the last few days with a fantastic view of the crater lagoon: bright turquoise, sparkling emerald green, velvety navy blue, depending on the time of day and the incidence of light, it shimmers in a different shade of blue or green. And if visibility is good, we can even see the snow-covered Cotopaxi from the crater rim!
Our transport awaits us in Quilotoa and we drive to Tigua, a small village where we spend the night.

Driving time: approx. 45 min. (30 km)
Hike: approx. 5-6 hours (+/- 700 m, approx. 12 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Posada de Tigua or similar)
(F/BL/ D )

Early in the morning we drive to Cotopaxi National Park to Limpiopungo Lagoon at 3,800m at the foot of Mount Rumiñahui, the starting point of our trek to Rumiñahui Central Peak (4,631m). We hike through pastures and encounter a variety of different bird species, with a bit of luck a mighty Andean condor can be observed. During the ascent and from the summit there are great views of El Corazon, Ilinizas, Sincholagua and the majestic Cotopaxi.

Driving time: approx. 2.5 hours (90 km)
Hike: approx. 5-6 hours (+/- 900 m, approx. 11 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Hosteria Tambopaxi or similar)
(F/BL/ -)

Baños – Baños de Agua Santa to be precise – is a small town known for its thermal baths and melcocha, a candy made from a type of sugar mass that is shaped in theatrical gestures and thrown several times over a hook on the door frame.
The atmosphere is relaxed, the climate is pleasant and the tropical rainforest of eastern Ecuador is only a few kilometers away! An ideal base for hiking and to see the active volcano Tungurahua in action (optional).

Optional: Climbing the Cotopaxi – previous mountaineering experience absolutely necessary!
An absolute highlight awaits the mountaineers. In the morning you drive to the parking lot, at 4,600 m altitude and meet the mountain guides who will take you up the Cotopaxi tomorrow. The subsequent ascent to the José Ribas hut is short but difficult. A few exercises are carried out on the glacier together with the mountain guides and tomorrow’s route is discussed. Then it’s time to go to bed early, because the ascent to the summit of Cotopaxi begins shortly after midnight. A mountain guide may lead 2 people.
Around midnight you will start the ascent to the summit of the glaciated Cotopaxi volcano (5,897 m) together with your mountain guide. In normal conditions, this is technically not very difficult, but you have to be absolutely sure about using crampons, rope and ice ax and you have to have the right equipment (you can find a list of equipment under Information/Notes on the trip or in a personal conversation)! First it goes over a partly snow-covered scree slope to the glacier entrance at approx. 5,250 m. Over a last steeper slope you get to the edge of the crater. On a clear day, the volcanic peaks of Antizana, Illiniza, El Altar and the 6,310 m high Chimborazo can be seen. 6 – 8 hours for the ascent and 2 – 3 hours for the descent.

Driving time: approx. 3 hours (100 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (La Floresta or similar)
(B/-/-)

We drive along the scenic waterfall route through the Pastaza Gorge towards Puyo. In Rio Verde we hike to the roaring waterfall “Pailón del Diablo”, which thunders down over several cascades. On a steep stone staircase and often only shoulder-high corridors we approach the last few meters to the waterfall. There is also the option of crossing the gorge with a cable car.
In Puyo, we visit the Yanacocha Animal Sanctuary, which takes care of rescued animals, before continuing to the Jungle Lodge outside of Tena. During a 20-minute motorized canoe ride we get a first glimpse of the Ecuadorian gateway to the Amazon. In the evening there is the possibility to go on a night hike!

Driving time: approx. 3 hours (160 km)
Hike: approx. 2-2.5 hours (hardly any difference in altitude)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Itamandi Ecolodge or similar)
(B/-/D)

Early in the morning we leave for the Parrot Rocks to watch the noisy spectacle and hustle and bustle of the parrots and parakeets. The rock contains important minerals to digest the ingested fruits and seeds. With binoculars, the natural spectacle can be viewed even more closely!
After breakfast we go on a hike through parts of the primary rainforest. We learn a lot about endemic plants and their use as a source of food and their medicinal effectiveness. Of course we also keep an eye out for monkeys, birds and other inhabitants of the rainforest.
We return to the lodge for lunch, have a short siesta and then visit an indigenous Kichwa community. A family gives us insights into the culture and traditions of the tribe that lives in harmony with nature. The locals show us how to prepare the typical drink of this region, chicha, which is made from fermented yucca.

Overnight stay in hotel (Itamandi Ecolodge or similar)
(B/L/D)

After a hearty breakfast, we canoe down the Napo River and embark on a short hike to Isla Anaconda, where we may be lucky enough to see the prehistoric bird Hoatzin, woolly monkeys and squirrel monkeys.
After lunch in the form of a box lunch/picnic, we cross plantations where yuca, corn, coffee, cocoa, pineapple, papaya and bananas are planted.
In the afternoon we return to the lodge.

Overnight stay in hotel (Itamandi Ecolodge or similar) (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we return to the Arajuno jetty by canoe. It now offers us the last opportunity to let the Ecuadorian rainforest work its magic on us before we gain altitude again and drive up into the eastern Andes Cordillera to Papallacta. Located at 3,300 m in the middle of the evergreen Andean Páramo landscape, Papallacta is known for its thermal springs, where we can relax for a few hours.
We spend the last evening together in the hotel near the airport (2,600 m).

Driving time: approx. 3.5 hours (180 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel (Rincon de Puembo or similar)
(B/L/D)

It’s time to say goodbye to Ecuador, because today our journey through the beautiful country on the equator ends. We drive to the airport for the international return flight to Europe. Those who extend to Galapagos today fly from the mainland to the island archipelago.

You can find more information about an extension on the Galapagos Islands under Info or you can contact us directly!

International flights are not included!

(F/-/-)

Included meals: B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner

What's Included

Services included in the prices:

  • 15x overnight stays as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private transfer in minibus
  • Meals as described in the program
  • Consistently German-speaking, local, qualified tour guide
  • Entrance fees to sights, churches and museums during the Quito city tour
  • Entrance fee to national parks and nature reserves

Not included:

  • International flights
  • All meals, services and entrance fees not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as drinks or optional excursions
  • Gratuities for the crew
  • travel insurance
  • Small group supplement 4-6 people 340€ per person
  • Single supplement 650€ per person
  • Cotopaxi ascent (from 2 people): 370€ per person

Prices & Dates

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» Additional dates available upon request
» Rates may vary from July 26th to 31th for the national holidays

Prices (per person):

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Deposit for reservations: — USD (– EUR) ✓ Full payment 40 days before. No refund if you cancel less than 30 days!

Places: 🟢 *Available
Trip-code: Number ►ECU-
Duration: 17 days
Participants: Minimal: 4 Maximal: 12
Members: We don’t have an open group to join – We can open a new group – Contact us!
Country / Location: Ecuador
Mountain Guide: Eric Albino Lliuya
Other dates / additional info: Contact us!

3% early bird discount when booking 6 months prior to departure 2023

Legend Booking-information:
EZZ Single room supplement
🟢 On this trip, places are still available.
🟡 On this trip, only a few places left.
🔴 This trip is sold out / closed.

Eric Raul Albino Lliuya

Expert guide certified by AGOMP
General Sales Manager of Peru Expeditions

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