Explore volcanoes, a cloud forest and beautiful colonial towns as you wind your way through northern Ecuador. Starting in the quaint city of Quito, you'll discover the bird watchers paradise of Mindo cloud forest, go shopping at one of the world's most colourful markets in Otavalo and hike the edge of the Cuicocha Crater Lake. You'll also visit the incredible Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the most picturesque parts of the the country.
Welcome to Ecuador and to the capital Quito, one of the most beautifully preserved colonial cities in South America. Quito was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978 and is located close to the equator. A transfer will be waiting to collect you from the airport and escort you to your hotel.
This evening, around 6pm your trip leader host a welcome meeting in the lobby of your hotel. They will discuss the details of your trip and answering any questions you may have about your exciting trip to come.
Cross the Equator
This morning we'll head north out of Quito to stand at the centre of the earth. We'll visit the equator monument complex, where you'll have the opportunity to put one foot on either hemisphere.
We'll continue to Pululahua crater, the third largest inhabited volcano crater with a population of more than 400 people, before we reach the quaint town of Mindo this afternoon. Nestled into the cloud forest, the area around Mindo is teeming with wildlife, flora and fauna. Home to numerous species, Mindo is a birdwatcher's paradise, especially for those interested in the majestic hummingbird.
Later we'll visit a chocolate distributor to learn about the process, from cocoa bean to harvest through to the final delicious products that are created.
Overnight: Mindo | Breakfast
Today we'll head into the lush, green cloud rain forest of Mindo where we'll hopefully see Toucans, Hummingbirds and other incredible bird species in their natural habitat. Our journey will see us cross the rain forest on cable cars, traverse bridges and hike along waterfalls.
This afternoon you'll have free time to explore further, or you may wish to join one of the optional activities on offer. You can opt to go whitewater rafting through thrilling rapids or try your hand at zip-lining, with beautiful views over the forest canopy.
We continue to the butterfly nursery later this afternoon, a real highlight that will allow you to come close to gargantuan butterflies. You can also dip your fingers into a special paste that attracts the beautiful colourful butterflies to land on your hand.
Overnight: Mindo | Breakfast
We head into the highlands this morning as we take the Pan-American highway north to the indigenous town of Otavalo. This colourful town is famous for it's bustling market with an endless number of handicraft shops and stalls run by the local people. Make sure you stroll through the narrow cobblestone street, filled with indigenous people draped in the traditional colourful clothes of the area.
This after we continue to Cotacachi, where we'll explore this small village and get an insight into the impressive leather goods that are made here. Take your time to wander the shops or simply relax with a delcious Ecuadorian coffee in the main plaza.
We'll arrive at our overnight spot later today, the historical hacienda of Pinsaqui. Discover the history of this beautiful building as you sip on a typical Andean cocktail.
Overnight: Otavalo | Breakfast
Cuicocha Crater Lake
This morning we make our way to the Cotacachi Cayapas ecological reserve, taking in the breathtaking scenery of this active volcano. We'll hike around the rim of the Cuicocha Crater Lake before taking a boat ride to the centre of the crater to see the activity of the volcano as bubbles rise to the surface.
Later we'll arrive at Peguche, located in the heart of the Andes, this small village will immerse you in the spirit and culture of Ecuadorian highlands. Helping the local people prepare a delicious lunch using fresh products harvested from the surrounding area, we'll come together to enjoy this sumptuous meal.
Later this afternoon we'll arrive at the luxury volcanic hot-springs resort of Papallacta. Relax in one of the hot springs at the resort with views across the majestic Andean mountains.
Overnight: Papallacta | Breakfast, Lunch
After breakfast this morning, take a last dip in the open-air hot springs before we rejoin the Pan-American Highway to reach Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. Home to abundant plat life, a rich flora & fauna and Inca ruins, the snow capped volcano is surrounded by a stunning national park. Beginning at the entrace of the park we will drive across the paramo to the Limpiopungo Lake. We'll observe numerous bird species on a walk around the lake and take in the breathtaking views of the nearly symmetrical cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano.
This evening we arrive back into Quito for our final night as a group.
Overnight: Quito | Breakfast
Today our tour comes to an end after breakfast.
Prices & Dates
Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the per person price.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Located in Quito's affluent commercial and residential district, Swissotel offers luxury accommodation in the heart of the city. Featuring 2 pools, tennis & squash courts as well as a fully equipped spa, there is plenty to keep you busy. Rooms are tastefully decorated, bright and air conditioned. You'll find Egyptian cotton linen in each room as well as free WiFi throughout. With an abundance of choice, the 5 restaurants at the Swissotel Quito serve cuisines that range from French to Japanese.
Septimo Paraiso Lodge, Mindo
With 23 simple, quaint rooms, Septimo Paraiso is located a short distance from the town of Mindo in a protected cloudforest reserve. The rich and diverse ecosystem of the area lends itself to the wonderful open plan nature of the lodge. Each room is unique and all offer private bathrooms with the hot water sourced directly from their own on site hot spring. Facilities at the hotel include a swimming pool, jacuzzi, restaurants and outdoor patio, perfect for bird watching.
Hacienda Pinsaqui, Otavalo
Hacienda Pinsaqui is a 30 room hotel stylishly decorated and housed in a colonial style building that dates back over 300 years. At the hotel you'll find 2 restaurants and free WiFi available in the public areas. Bedrooms are elegantly adorned with matching linens, wooden floors throughout. Each room also has a private bathroom. Originally a textile workshop, it even served as a home for one of the most famous figures in South American history, Simon Bolivar as he prepared for the battle of Ibarra.
Termas de Papallacta Resort, Papallacta
Located in the pristine Andean Highlands, Termas de Papallacta is a haven of relaxation. Founded in 1994 the hotel has 32 rooms, whilst in the spa you'll be able to enjoy a dip in one of the numerous hot pools of varying water temperatures whilst gazing at the beautiful mountain scenery. The wooden interior of the bedrooms offer a tranquil and calming decor, with private bathrooms in each room.