Ecuador Andean Highlights culture & nature inmersion tour 7 days
Discover the secrets of the Ecuadorian Andes and cloud forest regions with a full-immersion in the cultural and natural wonders that make Ecuador one of the countries with the biggest biodiversity in the world.
Enjoy waterfalls, butterflies, bird watching and chocolate making in the tropical paradise of Mindo, then take a spectacular scenic drive through the cloud forest to reach the coffee valley of Intag, where you will visit a coffee plantation and taste the organic fair-trade coffee produced in the area. Back to the highlands, visit Cuicocha crater-lake, the world-famous indigenous market of Otavalo and then live an unique experience sharing an organic lunch prepared side by side with local people in the very heart of the Andes. Relax and acclimatize at a luxury hot springs resort, before you visit the Cotopaxi National Park and admire the highest active volcano in the world.
We promise: you will never want to leave!
- Organic cooking lesson with traditional fresh ingredients, side by side with local people in the heart of the Andes
- Take a scenic drive in the valley of Intag and taste the organic fair-trade coffee produced in the area
INTI NAN EQUATOR-LINE MUSEUM
PULULAHUA INHABITED CRATER VIEWPOINT
MINDO CLOUD FOREST RESERVE
WALK THROUGH WATERFALLS
ORGANIC FAIR-TRADE COFFE TASTING
CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE
OTAVALO INDIGENOUS MARKET
PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS RESORT
COTOPAXI TALLEST ACTIVE VOLCANO
Day 1: Quito
Welcome to Quito! The biggest, best-preserved colonial city of America was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and the second most important city of the old Inca Empire.
Depending on arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the town of Quito and the surrounding area. ECUADOR PURE LIFE can help you to organize a day trip.
In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel for a welcome briefing and there will be plenty of time to discuss details and answer any questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an informational and acclimation day.
Accommodation: Mercure Alameda or similar
Day 2: Mindo Cloud Forest
On the first day of our adventure, we will drive north of Quito to the Equator monument complex. The visit to the middle of the world is mandatory once you are in Ecuador, it is the place where you will be able to stand on both sides of the hemispheres, north and south at the same time and feel the neutral forces of the equator.
On our way, we will also stop for a view of the Pululahua crater, the third biggest inhabited volcano crater in the world, hosting more than 400 people.
Then we will reach the little town of Mindo, nestled into the cloud forest. This area is filled with a wide variety of plants and animal life – perfect for a nice introduction to the diversity of Ecuador. Mindo and its surrounding cloud forest are a birdwatcher's paradise!
In the afternoon we will visit a chocolate factory, where you will have the chance to follow the process of the cocoa, from harvesting the seed to the final product, like as a delicious brownie or a cup of real hot cocoa.
Accommodation: Septimo Paraiso or similar visit website
Day 3: Mindo Cloud Forest
Our adventure starts in the morning with a trip in the pristine cloud forest, crossing cable cars and hiking along waterfalls, surrounded by a lush green area filled with toucans and colorful birds.
In the afternoon, you will have some free time to enjoy the several optional activities offered in this area. You can go whitewater rafting or "tubing" (with several large inner-tubes tied together) as our steely-nerved guides steer you through thrilling rapids. Or try canopy zip-line (sailing along one of 13 zip-lines over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest).
One of the highlights of today is the visit to the butterfly farm, where we watch gargantuan butterflies dry their wings after emerging from their jewel-like cocoons. You can dip your fingers into a banana concoction and then be thrilled as butterflies the size of birds land on your hands for a snack.
Accommodation: Septimo Paraiso or simila visit website
Day 4: Otavalo Market
Our day starts with a unique scenic drive back up to the highlands and reach the Pan-American Highway heading north on the way to the world-famous indigenous town of Otavalo. Here we will admire the endless number of handicrafts and local people, where you will have some time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, which are filled with Otavalo indigenous people wearing the typical blue ponchos, and we will have the opportunity to explore their handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices. In Otavalo, there will be enough time for shopping and interaction with the locals.
In the afternoon, we will drive to Cotacachi town to enjoy the most amazing leather goods and the beauty of this small village. You will have some free time for you to explore the shops or simply take one of the best coffees in Ecuador at the main square.
Later we will finally arrive at this historical beautiful hacienda of Pinsaqui where we will overnight, enjoy a typical Andean cocktail as welcome, and learn about the History of this place.
Accommodation: Hacienda Pinsaqui or similar visit website
Day 5: Cuicocha Crater lake & Papallacta Hot Springs
Today we will first visit Cotacahi Cayapas ecological reserve to see the breath taking scenery of the crystalline-clear waters of this active volcano and the amazing surrounding landscapes. At the end of a short hike, we will take a boat ride to the center of the crater to observe the activity of this volcano, watching bubbles coming up from the center of the caldera.
Later, we will be transferred to Peguche, a small village located in the heart of the Andes, where you will live an unforgettable cultural experience, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American highlands. You will help the local people prepare a delicious lunch using the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields and share with them precious moments of conviviality.
In the late afternoon, we will reach the luxury volcanic hot-springs resort of Papallacta, where you will have the chance to relax and enjoy the facilities surrounded by the view of the majestic Andean mountains.
Accommodation: Papallacta Spa Resort visit website
Day 6: Cotopaxi - Quito
After breakfast and the last dip in the open-air hot springs, we will drive south on the Panamericana Highway towards the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi. The snow-capped volcano is surrounded by its National Park, home to abundant plant life, a rich fauna and Inca ruins. We will begin our visit at the interpretation centre at the entrance of the park, before continuing our drive across the páramo to the Limpiopungo Lake. During a short walk around the lake we can observe a variety of birds and enjoy the stunning views of the almost symmetrical cone of the Cotopaxi.
Accommodation: Mercure Alameda or similar visit website
Day 7: Quito - Departure
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. Take with you your memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a "buen viaje"!
- Activities: Equator Line museum tour, Hiking to waterfalls in the cloud forest, Visit Butterfly farm and chocolate factory, Organic fair-trade coffee tasting in Intag Valley, Visit Otavalo indigenous market, Organic lunch cooking with local people, Hike and boat ride at Cuicocha crater lake, Volcanic hot springs, Visit Cotopaxi National Park
- Accommodation based in double occupancy: First class hotel in Quito, cloud forest lodge in Mindo, hacienda in Otavalo, luxury spa resort in Papallacta.
- Transportation: Private and comfortable land transportation.
- Meals Included: 5 breakfasts and 2 lunches
- Out-door gear: Hiking sticks
- Trip Leader: Certified EPL expert English-speaking adventure trip leader and local guides
- International fligts
- My Own Room supplement USD $390
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Airport transfers ( International flights)
- Meals not described in the itinerary (Budget for not included meals USD $ 180)
- Personal expenses
- Travel insurance,
- Airline tickets,
- Credit or debit card (see personal spending money),
- Pocket knife,
- Fleece top,
- 4 shirts/t-shirts,
- 1 pair of short,
- 2 pairs of long trousers,
- 1 pair hiking pants/track pants,
- Sport sandals,
- Toiletries (biodegradable),
- Watch or alarm clock,
- Quick dry clothing,
- Rain coat,
- Rain pants,
- Waterproof binoculars,
- Bug spray,
- Sun cream,
- Sun Hat,
- Waterproof camera if possible,
- Swimming suit,
- Waterproof back pack,
- Water bottle,
- Tennis shoes,
- Hiking shoes,
- Money belt,
- First-aid kit(should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
- Dry bag for all your belongings
It is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described; however, due to our travel style, on occasions it may be necessary or desirable to make small changes. Weather conditions and unpredictable local circumstances may lead us to make alterations to the route and/or travel times. Hotels and flight schedules might change according to availability. Any mention to specific wildlife in the itinerary or trip details is not a guarantee that it will be seen during the trip.
2 – 3 hours driving a day.
From 3 to 4 hours a day. Please check the maps and full biking information in the full itinerary.
Pichincha, Imbabura, Napo, Cotopaxi
Highlands and tropical rainforest in Ecuador.
From 1510 meters (4,950 ft.) to 4000 meters (12,631 ft.)
Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF
Easy. This program will run from the high Andean Mountains to the cloud forest, involving some short hikes.
High quality MTB (Disk brakes and front suspension), Shimano Deore parts, gloves, helmets. For canyoning: harnesses, waterhelmets, ropes, wetsuits, watershoes and carabiners.
All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are travelling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same sex. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact EPL prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.
Travelling with Ecuador Pure Life you will have the possibility to experience and taste local food and snacks. Your guide will help you identify typical food and suggest the best places to enjoy it. Some meals are not included in order to give you some flexibility about where, what and with whom to eat. You have the option to share these meals with the group, however there is no obligation to do this. If you have any allergies or food restrictions, please inform EPL prior to your departure.
YOUR TRIP LEADERS AND GUIDES
All EPL guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid responders. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips.
In some location and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service. In the Galapagos Islands, minimum 4 participants for the EPL trip leader service are required.
SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM
Clients receive interpretation and education about the ecology and conservation of the Andes, Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands, and learn about the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation of both local people cultural identity and the environment. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage and we prefer to work with local suppliers. Your visit will encourage the local communities to support responsible eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative for their living.