This journey from Quito to Cuenca incorporates some of Ecuador's most spectacular Andean assets. The Andes forms the spine of this country - punctuated by the highest volcanic peaks in the World. Cotopaxi is Ecuador's highest active volcano and Volcan Chimborazo's extinct peak is the highest point from the centre of the earth due to the Equatorial Bulge.
You will explore from foothills to glacier; alto plano ('high plains') to the stunning crater lake of Lago Quilotoa; take Ecuador's famous Devil's Nose canyon railway (Nariz del Diablo); and explore Ecuador's pretty Andean towns and surrounds of Baños and Cuenca. You will have your own private vehicle and guide, so this journey can be tailored to suit your interests and timings; and adapted along the way if necessary.
Your journey will begin in Ecuador's capital of Quito, from where you will head south along the Avenue of Volcanoes to a hacienda close to the Cotopaxi National Park. From here, we will take you on horseback, riding close to Cotopaxi's neighbouring volcanic peak of Ruminahui (named after a famous Inca General). This is one of Ecuador's most scenic Andean national parks and on your second day we will take you driving and walking in the area.
From Cotopaxi, we will drive you south to one of the Andes most beautiful crater lakes: Quilotoa. Here your guide will take you walking amongst spectacular Andean scenery and to some of the best viewpoints.
From Quilotoa we will take you to a lovely Andean hacienda and the next day to some of the scenic highlights around the Andean spa town of Baños. Depending upon what you most want to see this can include the Pailon del Diablo waterfalls, zip lines and views to the great Tungurahua Volcano in the Sangay National Park.
By now you should have started to acclimatize well to altitude, so we will next take you higher still towards the peak of Chimborazo Volcano. We will stay in a mountain lodge on the slopes of the volcano and eventually reach the glacier edge where traders used to cut ice commercially from the glacier. You will be at around 4,500 metres now, so we will take things easy and any problems, we can quickly take you down a few hundred metres for quick relief. The peak of Chimborazo itself reaches 6,268 metres (20,548 feet) - a summit which would take some considerable preparation to consider.
From Chimborazo we will take you to the small town of Alausi from where we can enjoy one of the most famous railway journeys in the world: the Devil's Nose. This is an incredible zig zagging railway which descends rapidly through the Andes, winding along precipitous slopes that lead to a fast-flowing river.
The last stop of your journey will be Ecuador's third city - home to some of the country's greatest modern abstract artists. The city itself is very pretty set on a steep ridge between two deep river gorges. Its narrow streets wind between tall houses with wooden balconies and there are some lovely cafes, restaurants and museums to visit.
On your last day, we can drive you with your guide back to Quito; or if you prefer to fly then that can also be arranged.
All transportation by road & rail
Guiding on a mixed private and small group basis
Activities within the itinerary including guided hiking & horseback riding
Meals as specified in itinerary
(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Cotopaxi National Park entry fee ($10**)
Flight Cuenca - Quito
Activities not specified
**correct at time of writing