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Avenue of the Volcanoes
ITINERARY OF YOUR TRIP
Landing in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, you’re greeted by an architecturally diverse and historically rich destination - but you’ve had a long flight, so make yourself at home in the Mama Cuchara hotel on your first day.
On Day 2, you're off to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site with a private tour. You’ll visit the 200-meter high Panecillo Hill, where you can gaze over the area and capture the special view with amazing photos. After visiting the San Juan Mirador, you’ll delve into Quito’s old city center, a real treat for history buffs. Wander around the Government’s Palace and admire the neo-Gothic Basilica del Voto Church’s grand scale and cool interior calm.
Leaving the Old Town, you’ll visit the Middle of the World monument, where you can grasp Ecuador’s unique geographical location. Stand in the middle of the equatorial line and you’ll be in two hemispheres at once. You'll finish the day’s tour with a visit to Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, a breathtaking reserve formed from the caldera of a collapsed volcano.
Avenue of the Volcanoes
On Day 3, you’ll take a private transfer to Ambato, a city affectionately referred to as the "City of Flowers and Fruit", where you’ll visit a flower plantation and discover why Ecuadorian roses are renowned around the world.
In the afternoon, you'll travel south to the "Avenue of the Volcanoes". With seven peaks reaching over 5,100 meters, it's a dramatic and deeply beautiful landscape. While there, you'll spend some time exploring the Cotopaxi National Park. Set around the perfect cone of Cotopaxi Volcano, the highest active volcano in the world, it's a haven for different types of wildlife and a popular spot for hiking and biking.
You'll spend the night at the Hotel Hacienda Abraspungo in Riobamba.
Avenue of the Volcanoes
On Day 4, you’ll venture down winding roads for an hour and a half to reach the small town of Alausi, where you'll board a train heading for the infamous Devil’s Nose. Built on the Condor Mountain, you can enjoy the slow pace of the train while gazing towards the peak of the mountain and the dramatic scenery. The train repeatedly zig-zags on the difficult terrain, one of the reasons it has earned plaudits as a feat of engineering. Next, you'll visit the ancient Inca ruins at Ingapirca before ending the day in Cuenca where you'll check into the Hotel Boutique Santa Lucia.
Day 5 gives you the chance to find out more about Cuenca, the nation’s third-largest city and referred to as the "Athens of Ecuador". This private tour will introduce you to some of the most gorgeous sights in the UNESCO World Heritage city. For instance, the Old Cathedral reflects the Spanish architectural influence from the colonization period, while the New Cathedral is an idiosyncratic mix of several styles incorporated over the many years it took to construct.
On Day 6, your destination is the city of Guayaquil, though first up you’ll visit the Cajas National Park. The weather can be chilly but refreshing, with the clear sky allowing for expansive views across the landscape. Your guide will tell you about the area, its geological formation, and deeply varied wildlife, including over 150 varieties of birds. Your journey through the park will take you through the Toradora area, where you will pass lakes and move through forests. The final section of the trip is a stop at a small farm, where you will learn more about produce grown in the Churute Mangrove.
You'll spend the night at the Hotel Oro Verde in Guayaquil.
The next leg of your trip takes you to the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands. You'll fly to Baltra and then transfer to Santa Cruz Island, where you'll be taken to the Finch Bay Hotel. After so much walking and sightseeing, you can have a leisurely afternoon, perhaps reading a book, reviewing your photos or exploring the wonderful amenities on offer at your hotel. Just be prepared to witness some amazing biodiversity over the next couple of days, as you visit the unmissable Galapagos.
On Day 8, you’ll venture to the Highlands of Santa Cruz. You’ll pass through local farmlands en route to El Manzanillo at the northern part of the Giant Tortoise Reserve. Here, you can observe giant tortoises as they go on their seasonal migrations. As part of the region that influenced Charles Darwin, you’ll be unsurprised yet thrilled to witness a variety of wildlife: woodpeckers, mockingbirds, herons, ducks and much more. Other highlights include Puerto Ayora, where you will see the lava tunnels, which give you an insight into how the islands were formed from lava flow millions of years ago.
On Day 9, your understanding of the Galapagos’ amazing biodiversity will expand on your visit to South Plaza Island. This tiny landmass is home to animals like sea lions, blue-footed boobies and land iguanas, plus vegetation that changes color with the seasons. You can watch sharks in the water and walk along the shore where black lava covers the white sand, or venture up to the looming cliffs. It’s small but perfectly and beautifully formed.
On the following day, you’ll head to the beautiful island of Santa Fe. Spread over just 24 square kilometers, you’ll get to witness the striking giant cacti which dot the landscape and see Galapagos hawks fly overhead.
On Day 11, it's time to tear yourself away from the Galapagos and return to civilization. You'll enjoy a shared transfer to Baltra airport and a short onward flight to Guayaquil. Your hotel for the night is the five-star Hotel Oro Verde, where you can take a dip in the swimming pool, enjoy some al fresco dining or walk over to the beach. Enjoy the time you have to relax.
It’s the last day, but it’s not without activity. You have time for a morning tour of Guayaquil, where you'll visit the historic Barrio Las Peñas and enjoy the view from the waterfront. And then it's time to head to the airport for your international flight home. Your trip has taken you from the old city of Quito to the stony lava tunnels of Puerto Ayora via the high-altitude Cajas National Park. You’ve seen so much of beautiful Ecuador, but rest assured there’s a lot more to check out on your return trip.