Galextur invites you to retrace the steps of the science enthusiast and explorer, Alexander von Humboldt, on his trip across Ecuador at the beginning of the XIX century. The Avenue of Volcanoes is the name that Humboldt gave to the route through the Ecuadorian mountains.
On this road you will easily see more than 10 volcanoes, some of which were the subject of exploration by the German scientist such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. His interest was not only centered on geology. For him it was also important to connect to the lives of the people who live around these giants. On this tour you will discover what fascinated and motivated Humboldt in Ecuador.
We recommend a minimum of 10 days for this trip and the tour can be extended to visit the Galapagos or the Amazon.
Our staff would be delighted to quote you an offer!
Day 1: Transfer from the airport to your hotel.
After arriving at Tababela airport, the journey to your hotel will take around 1 hour. On a clear day you will be able to observe the intricate Andean geography in the valleys surrounding Quito.
Depending on the time of your flight, you may be treated to a panoramic tour of city’s Centro Histórico, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. The narrow streets of Quito’s old town are filled with history and here you will find important monuments and churches dating from the XVI century. The architecture and buildings display influences from baroque, mannerist and neoclassical styles.
At the end of the day you will take a well-deserved rest in the comfort of your hotel.
Day 2: Guagua Pichincha Volcano – Teleférico Sky Tram – Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) – Otavalo
Your tour starts early in the morning, after breakfast, with a visit to Quito’s Teleférico, a sky tram with spectacular views. On a clear day you will be able to see the volcanoes that surround the city. It takes approximately 20 minutes to ascend to an altitude of 4,050 meters above sea level. At the summit where paramo vegetation dominates the landscape, you will stroll around the slopes of Guagua Pichincha Volcano.
The tour continues towards the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). On the way you will have the opportunity to taste the exotic flavors of the helados de paila, ice-pops made with local fruit following a more recipe more than 50 years old.
The monument of the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) houses an ethnographic museum which gives an introduction to the different ethnic groups that live in Ecuador. Outside the monument, you will have the unique photo opportunity to pose for pictures with one foot in each hemisphere!
Another big tourist attraction is the Intiñan interactive museum. Here you can discover and participate in various physical phenomena that only occur on the equator.
The tour continues towards the city of Otavalo, where a revitalizing rest awaits you at Hacienda Pinsaqui.
Day 3:Otavalo – Cuicocha – Cotacachi
After breakfast, the first stop on your itinerary is the Plaza de los Ponchos at Otovalo’s market. This is one of Ecuador’s most visited places due to its traditional handicrafts. Here you will find a wide variety of hand-spun fabrics made from natural fibers. The market is open every day of the year. However, on Saturdays, when the market is at its biggest, the Plaza becomes even more colorful.
The tour continues towards Cotacachi, an area known for selling and making leather goods. This village is the jumping off point for the volcanic Cuicocha lake in the Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve. Here you will have the opportunity to hike along marked trails or take a boat trip around the islets in the volcanic Crater Lake.
You will return to Quito in the evening, where you will receive a warm welcome at your hotel.
Day 4: Cotopaxi National Park
Early in the morning your tour begins along the Avenue of Volcanoes towards Cotopaxi National Park. Inside the park, you will discover Cotopaxi volcano at 5,897 meters above sea level. Although it has been dormant for three centuries since its last eruption, this is an active volcano. The first stop on the journey is Limpiopungo lake where you will see bird species such as Andean gulls and Andean teal. The vegetation of the paramo landscape is characterized by bushes, mosses and lichens.
From here, depending on physical fitness, you can hike to the Refugio José Rivas, a refuge which lies at the foot of the glaciers.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays private tour groups can request a visit to the local indigenous markets.
At the end of the day, you will stay at Hacienda La Ciénega which was visited by Alexander von Humboldt in the year 1802.
Day 5: Chimborazo Nature Reserve – Riobamba
After breakfast, the first stop will be Chimborazo Volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador which is situated at 6,310 meters above sea level. In the Nature Reserve you will encounter groups of alpacas, vicuñas and wild llamas grazing on the hills of the volcano. You will also spot birds of prey such as the Caracara and, if you are lucky, the Andean Condor. The landscape is typical of paramo vegetation with shrubs and scrub-land.
Alexander von Humboldt led one of the first expeditions of this Andean giant in 1803.
Depending on physical fitness, you can hike up to the refuge where on a clear day you can observe the majesty of the mountain, known locally as “taita Chimborazo”, a Quechua word meaning father.
The road continues towards Hacienda Abraspungo where you will find your lodgings for the night.
Day 6: Colta – Guamote – Guano – Riobamba
After breakfast the tour continues south to Colta Lake, known as “Kulta Kucha” in the Quechua language. The lake presents a mirror of water, with an impressive background provided by Chimborazo Volcano. The nearby Balbanera church is the oldest in Ecuador. It was founded in 1534 for the first Spaniards arriving in these lands. Chimborazo province has the largest indigenous population in the country. At Guamote market, the colorful red ponchos will catch your eye amongst the many agricultural and animal products for sale.
Your trip continues to the village of Guano where skilled artisans make carpets by hand which are much admired by locals and visitors alike. This area is also known for producing excellent quality footwear.
At the end of the day you will return to Hacienda Abraspungo.
Day 7: Devil’s Nose Train– Ingapirca
You will have a very early start to visit the village of Alausi and take the train to the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) which is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ecuador. This railway line was said to be the most difficult in the world to construct, thanks to the intricate geography of the area’s mountains and steep gradients. Departs Tuesday to Sunday. Please consult schedules for maintenance on the line.
Your guide will be waiting for you at the end of the ride to accompany you on to Ingapirca where you will find the most important ruins of the Cañari and Inca civilizations in Ecuador. This location was also part of Humboldt’s tour.
At the end of the day you will head to your welcoming lodgings at the Posada de Ingapirca.
Day 8: Cuenca – Gualaceo – Chordeleg
After breakfast your tour will continue to the city of Cuenca and it´s Centro Histórico, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999, in recognition of the city’s many monuments and historical buildings. The trip includes a visit to a Panama Hat factory. The quality and design of these iconic hats is recognized all over the world.
Your itinerary continues towards Gualaceo, a village situated 34 kilometers from the city of Cuenca. The village is known for the skilled work of its artisans and its colonial architecture. Next, you will visit Chordeleg with its many jewelry shops surrounding the main square. Here you will get a close look at the fine work of the skilled local gold and silversmiths.
On returning to the city, your lodgings will be in the exclusive environment of the Hotel Carvallo.
Day 9: Vilcabamba
You will have an early breakfast before touring Loja city for approximately 4 hours. Then you will travel to the valley of Vilcabamba at 1,500 meters above sea level, which is known for its year-round pleasant springtime climate. The population here has been the subject of many scientific studies due to the long life expectancy. Many inhabitants of the valley live more than 100 years!
You will return to Loja in the evening where you will enjoy a panoramic tour of the city’s Centro Histórico. This was the route taken by Alexander von Humboldt on his journey to Cajamarca in Peru, where he identified the ocean current that is named after him.
You will find your lodgings at the Grand Hotel Victoria.
Day 10:Podocarpus National Park
After breakfast you will visit Podocarpus National Park which was established to conserve the biggest Romerillo Pine forest in the country. This protected biosphere spans across the provinces of Loja and Zamora and is home to many species of animal such as the Spectacled Bear (tremarctos ornatus). The biodiversity also makes this a perfect location for birdwatching. On returning from this exciting excursion you will find your lodgings at Hotel Victoria.
Day 11: Transfer from your hotel to the airport.
Your guide will accompany you to the airport for your return flight to Quito.
- Entrance to museums and tourist attractions
- Trips described in the tour itinerary
- Alcoholic beverages
- Flight from Loja to Quito
- Additional meals
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