Explore the mountain passes of Ecuador on a 9-day scenic trip through volcanic landscapes and colonial cities. Tour Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. See artisans making Panama hats, discover handicraft markets, ride a train through the Andes, and more.
What to Expect
Take a 9-day tour of Ecuador’s major sites and cities on a trip that combines nature, culture, and history. You will get guided tours of Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil, drive along the Panamericana Highway and Avenue of the Volcanoes, visit a factory to see how Panama hats are made, and much more.
Discover unique native fruits and handicrafts, get magnificent views of the Andes from high altitude passes, see Inca ruins, and cross the equatorial line dividing the southern and northern hemispheres.
Day 1 (Monday):
You will be picked up from Quito Airport for the transfer to your city center hotel.
Day 2 (Tuesday):
Depart from Quito through the Pan-American North Highway until arriving to Cayambe, where the passengers will have the opportunity to taste the delicious “Bizcochos de Cayambe”, a type of cracker or bread baked in a clay oven (greatly paired with local cheese or caramel sauce). Afterwards, you will make a brief stop at “Miralago”, to admire a wonderful view of Lago San Pablo, amazing views. The tour then continues to Otavalo where Otavaleños (natives) set up a market in which a bartering manner of shopping is taken place. The market hosts a variety of different handcrafted items.
Passengers may choose between staying longer in Otavalo or go to visit to the leather shops at Cotacachi. On the way to Cotacachi, we will visit a traditional workshop of Andean instruments "Ñanda Mañachi" located in Peguche and then reach Iluman, land of shamans and healers, where we will have the opportunity to witness an ancestral indigenous ritual by a Shaman.
In Cotacachi you have enough time to visit the village, the shops of leather goods and free time for lunch. Return to Quito picking up passengers in Otavalo (spot determined by Gray Line Guide).
** Bus will wait for 10 minutes in Otavalo to pick up passengers that stayed there, after that you will return to Quito with passengers that are on board.
Day 3 (Wednesday):
Take a tourist route along the most important areas of the city, including shopping centers and Zona Rosa "La Mariscal" (bars and restaurants), where most of the hotels in Quito are located. Continue towards the historic center to visit its churches and major landmarks, explore each of its corners at your own pace from the door of your hotel.
Continue towards the northern part of the city heading up to the “Middle of the World City” (entrance included) where the monument that divides the Northern from the Southern Hemisphere will be observed. Built during the XVII century when a French Expedition defined the precise location of the equatorial line, this is one sight not to be missed! At the end, opt to visit either Intiñan or Ethnographic Museum (entrance is not included).
Day 4 (Thursday):
Today you will drive the Avenue of the Volcanoes, admiring a beautiful Andean landscape. Pause at Cotopaxi National Park, in the shadow of the world’s tallest active volcano.
Drive on to Riobamba to check-in to a typical hacienda of the region.
Day 5 (Friday):
After breakfast, depart for the train station at Alausí. Ride the scenic train towards the famous Devil’s Nose, encrusted in the Andes. Return to Alausí. The train ride takes approximately 2 hours.
Next, you will visit the Ingapirca Inca ruins, the largest Inca archaeological complex in Ecuador. Dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, the most significant monument is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptical building constructed around a large rock.
Watch weavers make Panama hats, and see local artisans at work. Continue to the city of Cuenca for your overnight stay.
Day 6 (Saturday):
Enjoy a city tour of Cuenca, visiting Calderon Park, between the old and new cathedrals. Admire the cathedrals; the Old Cathedral dating from the 16th century, and the larger, romanesque New Cathedral dating from 1885 (although it took almost 100 years to complete).
Go to Cuenca’s Flower Market to see a dazzling display of colors. Continue your tour at the Homero Ortega Panama Hat factory to watch the complete process of manufacturing the legendary headware. See the Puente Roto (Broken Bridge) across the Río Tomebamba, and visit the Turi Mirador to get panoramic views of the entire city. The afternoon will be at leisure for you to explore on your own.
Day 7 (Sunday):
Depart Cuenca for Cajas National Park, known for its glacial lakes and high mountain vegetation. Here you will take a hike through primary forest to see some of the lakes. You will also visit the “3 Cruces” Andean pass, which forms the continental water division.
From this point, begin a dramatic decline to reach Ecuador’s coast, passing the Litoral lowlands. Marvel as the Andean mountain scenery changes to a totally different landscape of large banana and cocoa bean plantations.
Lunch will be provided on the way to Guayaquil.
Day 8 (Monday):
Explore the main streets and avenues of Guayaquil on a tour of the tropical city that takes in Seminario Park, home to many iguanas, and the embankment of the Guayas River. Go to the historic La Rotonda monument that commemorates the meeting between Bolívar and San Martín in 1822, and tour the colonial neighborhood of Las Peñas to admire the magnificent wooden architecture. From here, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Guayaquil and the Guayas River.
Day 9 (Tuesday):
Transfer from your hotel to Quito Airport for your onward flight.
- Airport transfer
- 3 nights accommodation in double room in Quito (with breakfast)
- City tour of Quito and Equatorial Monument
- Excursion to Otavalo Market
- Excursion to Riobamba by Avenue of the Volcanoes with visit to Cotopaxi National Park & Hacienda (lunch included)
- 1 night at Riobamba (4-star) with dinner and breakfast
- Excursion by train up to Alausí, passing through the Devil’s Nose
- Visit to the Ingapirca Ruins
- 2 nights lodging in Cuenca (with breakfast)
- City tour of Cuenca
- Transfer Cuenca-Guayaquil
- 2 nights lodging in Guayaquil (with breakfast)
- City tour of Guayaquil
- Hotel transfers to Guayaquil Airport
- Hotel taxes
Know Before You Go
• Please note that the train ride from Alausí (Day 5) is subject to change