Images of Ecuador

Ecuador's diverse landscapes and culture make for a facinating visit. Pretty colonial centres, flanked by snow capped mountians, to the wondrous Galapagos Islands - Ecuador has something for everyone. 

The historic centre of the capital Quito is lined with cobbled plaza's, 17th century churches and beautifully restored mansions. Wander slightly north and you will be standing on the equator - where Ecuador gets its name. 

For wildlife enthuiasts - head to the Galapagos Islands. Here you can get up close and personal with giant tourtoise, marine iguanas and blue footed boobies. 

Duration
12 days
Best time to go
All year
Options
Private or Group basis, Escorted
Start your journey

Trip highlights

  • Quito UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Equatorial Line

Arrival in Quito and transfer from airport to hotel. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ikala Quito Hotel

Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city of Quito to give you a first impression of the variety there is regarding religious and cultural sites. During your visit in the old part of the city, you can still breathe the colonial history of Ecuador. Your guide will take you for a walk through the culturally diverse history of Quito. Have a closer look at the heart of the city of Quito: the Independence Square with the Government and the Bishops Palace, as well as the Cathedral. On the way to San Francisco Square, you will visit the church of La Compañia, which has the most ornate and richly sculptured façade and interior. Afterwards, step inside the church of San Francisco. If time allows, you will be taken to a viewpoint from where you can overlook the city. On sundays, visits to churches may be restricted due to religious services.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ikala Quito Hotel

The Yanacocha Reserve is located on the northwest flank of Volcán Pichincha at ca. 3200-3400 m above sea level. After ascending 15 kilometers on a narrow and scenic road up through partially cultivated countryside - raptors are regularly seen, and watch for the scarce Curve-billed Tinamou in the pastures – you will be along a main trail on top of the aqueduct. This trail extends for more than two kilometers through the high-elevation forest, with flocks of birds being regularly encountered. Several stations with multiple hummingbird feeders are situated at various spots, and you can obtain point-blank views of the many species that regularly arrive to feed.

Lunch at Yanacocha Reserve.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hosteria Bellavista-Cloudforest

In the morning you have an early start visiting the Refugio Paz de Las Aves. This refugio is a private property of 120 hectar, of which 70 hectar are protected woods. The brothers Angel and Rodrigo Paz are the native guides and can show you the special birds that seek protection on their lands. Many of the birds of the refugio can also be seen in Mindo, but the refugio is well known among ornithologists, because of its great number of bird species. Let the Paz brothers introduce you into this unique world.

On the way to Otavalo, stop at a Pahuma Orchid Reserve for a short visit.  As you walk in an easy loop trail, you will see hundreds of native species of orchids, aroids, bromeliads, ferns and shrubs which are interspersed within the trees, highlighting the diversity and beauty of the region's flora.

Afterwards you will drive to Otavalo. Enjoy the drive and the changes in the flora and fauna. Many stops will be made in order to take pictures.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hacienda Cusin

Today you will visit the famous handicraft market of Otavalo with its central square “Plaza de los Ponchos”. The indigenous residents of the area have achieved economic prosperity as a result of their skills in weaving. You will find tremendous variety of designs in belts, tapestries, ponchos and other clothing items. Community residents have a long tradition as artisans and traders. This is typical indigenous city where tourists can see families wearing their colourful garments and speaking Quichua as their first tongue and Spanish as their second. You will enjoy the unique variety of handicrafts that this giant colourful market offers.

Afterwards you will visit Laguna Cuicocha, which is a crater lake on an altitude of 3000m above sea-level with a diameter of about 3km. Two islands emerge from the centre, both of volcanic origin, covered with vegetation and rimmed with totora, a type of reed.

This whole experience today will give you the possibility to take a lot of pictures of the communities. The indigenous people are open to photographers and do not expect tipping for the pictures being taken. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hacienda Cusin

After a short flight over the Andes you will arrive to Lago Agrio (Nueva Loja) where you will meet the driver who will take you to the Cuyabeno Bridge, “El Puente”, the entrance to the Cuyabeno Reserve (approx. 2h).  After lunch at a local restaurant, you will continue the journey on a motorized canoe along the Cuyabeno River (approx. 2h) to Laguna Grande where the lodge is located. During this journey you will be able to observe the richness of the wildlife. Upon arrival, you will have some time to relax before you explore the lagoon to observe animals, take a swim in the lake, enjoy the sunset before enjoying dinner at the hotel. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Cuyabeno Lodge

Wake up at dawn to watch birds before breakfast and spot river dolphins. After breakfast,  walk through the “terra firma forest” with your naturalist guide who will explain the wildlife, medicinal forest plants, the forest ecosystem and indigenous life. After lunch, a siesta, followed by a trip in a dug-out canoe to the flooded igapo with macrolobium trees covered with abundant epiphytes to spot monkeys and birds. After dinner, you will go for a night walk in primary forest to look for insects and observe nocturnal flora wildlife. Dinner at hotel included. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Cuyabeno Lodge

After breakfast, you will follow the Cuyabeno River downstream to reach the Siona Indigenous Village. You will observe and participate in how they cook the typically “Casabe”. Your guide will give you some explanations about their way of life. Return to the Lodge for lunch. Late afternoon you can have a siesta and a refreshing swim in the Laguna Grande. After dinner, you will go on a night excursion by canoe to spot caimans, snakes and nocturnal birds. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Cuyabeno Lodge

Early in the morning you will go bird watching and with some luck you can also spot river dolphins.

After breakfast, you will enjoy a canoe ride upstream to the entry of the reserve from where you will be taken back to Lago Agrio.

Lunch is served as a box lunch.

Return to Quito either by bus or by plane.

Upon arrival in Quito you will be transferred to your hotel.

At night you will visit the historical city centre of Quito, when the many churches with their ornate colonial architecture are illuminated. Cast in a different atmosphere you will be able to take wonderful pictures of the city by night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ikala Quito Hotel

If the weather allows it you will take a ride with the highest cableway in South America and get to know the amazing city, Quito, in a totally different way. As the cableway is built right on the skirts of the volcano Pichincha, you have the opportunity to walk around on the moderate trekking routes or you may just relax in a nice café on the top. The cableway rises from 2.950m up to 4.050m. Don’t miss this terrific view over the whole city where you can take amazing pictures of Quito and its surroundings. Bring warm clothes. 

Afterwards you will be transferred to the National Park Cotopaxi. The highland zone protected since 1975, with its 33.000ha is one of the most attractive ecological reserves of the country.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hosteria La Cienega

Today on a walk near the shallow lake “Laguna de Limpiopungo” in an altitude of almost 4.000m, you will have the chance to learn about the typical vegetation of the so-called “Páramo” and will gaze in wonder at the beautiful view of Cotopaxi in the background.

If the weather allows, you will also visit one of the most beautiful places of the Highlands of Ecuador: Quilotoa, the lagoon inside a crater. The name comes from the word “Quiru” and “Toa”, both Quechua, meaning “tooth” and “queen”, according to the special shape of the lagoon.

Quilotoa is located at an altitude of 3900 m and the journey from Quito to Quilotoa takes approx. 3 hours. To go down the lagoon it takes approx. 40 min by foot. Depending on the light, the colour of the water is green – one of the most famous motives of Ecuador. Depending on the season it can change into bluish green and even yellow. The water contains many different minerals, not suitable for consumption. Besides the wonderful lagoon you will enjoy the beautiful landscape around the lagoon, including a big variety of crops and different species of animals, and get to know the lifestyle of the inhabitants.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hosteria La Cienega

Today you will be taken to the airport of Quito in order to take your flight back or for an extension to the Galapagos Islands. Please see out Galapagos Island pages for details. 

Included

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner when indicated