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|Itinerary at a Glance
|2||Quito & Otavalo|
|3||Otavalo Excursion & Papallacta|
|4||Papallacta & Amazon|
|6||Baños & Patate|
|7||Cotopaxi & Quito|
|Style||Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Quito, Otavalo, Banos. The Amazon rainforest, El Paillion del Diablo waterfall & Cotopaxi National Park|
|Included in the Price||
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, escorted tour involves a significant amount of walking or hiking, often on uneven terrain, and reaches high altitudes requiring a high level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.|
Discover the wonders of Ecuador, a remarkable collection of landscapes, people, cultures, animals, plants, and more. Our Exotic Ecuador tour covers the highlights of this incredibly diverse country. You'll visit the capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Center of Quito, the colorful and bustling Otavalo market, the natural springs in Baños, the volcanic peaks of Cotopaxi National Park, and the world's most biologically diverse rainforest—the Amazon.
Our package includes roundtrip flights from Miami, great hotels, most meals and a comprehensive, fully-guided touring program, all for unbeatable prices. With prices like this, our Exotic Ecuador adventure is sure to sell out quickly, so be sure to reserve your space soon!
What a great trip we just had in Ecuador! Patricio, our guide, did a terrific job informing us of facts about Ecuador and challenging us physically on a hike through the Amazon forest. It was so exciting to tube on an Amazon tributary. Each day we were clearly prepared for what was happening and contributed to the choice several times. The animal refuge was inspiring as our guide shared his experiences restoring abused and/or orphaned animals to good health and, hopefully, return to the wild. The quality and quantity of food was top notch, and hotels provided R&R as well as shelter. Bus trips were extensive because of winding, narrow and steep roads, but Patricio kept us involved with historic and cultural info of the areas we visited. Big bang for the buck again with Friendly Planet. They're hard to beat.
J. and T. McGlaughlin, McClure, PA
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Day 1: USA/Quito. Your exciting tour to Ecuador begins today as you depart for Quito, Ecuador's capital city. Your guide will meet you upon arrival and escort you to your hotel. Accommodations: Sheraton Quito Hotel or Radisson Royal Quito or similar.
Day 2: Quito & Otavalo. Arguably among the loveliest of South American cities, Quito enjoys a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still-active Mt. Pichincha. The origins of the city date back to the first millennium, when the Quitu tribe occupied the area.
After breakfast, begin a panoramic tour of the city. In the modern city, visit the Legislative Palace and Alameda Park, containing the oldest observatory in South America. Continue on to Quito's beautiful and charming Old Town. Here you'll find blocks of colonial architecture dating to the early 1500's when the Spanish founded the city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Vintage facades line the streets and large open plazas are surrounded by cathedrals and stately public buildings. Even more breathtaking than the exteriors are the interiors of some of the buildings, particularly the churches, many of which gleam with real gold leaf. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco, Quito's oldest church. Built in the 16th century, the monastery is an exact replica of the Escorial Palace of Madrid.
Conclude your tour with a stop at the Equatorial Monument, the Mitad del Mundo ("Middle of the World"), commemorating the exact place where Charles Marie de la Condamine established the Equator, where you can stand with one foot in the northern and one in the southern hemisphere. Later today, depart for Otavalo. Accommodations: Puerto Lago or similar. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 3: Otavalo Excursion & Papallacta. Today you'll experience Otavalo, whose beauty lies in its people, the Otavaleño Indians, and their market, undoubtedly one of the best in all of Latin America. Unlike other indigenous people who have given up their traditional dress for jeans and t-shirts, Otavaleños are still easily identified by their distinctive dress: women wear intricately embroidered blouses and a wealth of beaded necklaces, while men have long, braided hair and wear calf-length white trousers, ponchos and sandals.
The market takes place in the main plaza, but don't hesitate to wander into the side streets, where the goods on display diversify and the prices are lower. Enjoy the cacophony of sounds as Andean pipe music mixes with Spanish and native Quechua voices, complemented by an explosion of color from the many fabric, fruit and other stalls.
Travel along the Andes Mountain range to Papallacta, a small town tucked away in a high Andean valley at the entrance to the Amazon jungle. Enjoy a relaxing stay at your spa-resort, located around hot thermal springs. Accommodations: Termas de Papallacta or similar. Breakfast provided.
Day 4: Papallacta & Amazon. The Amazonian segment of your tour begins after breakfast today as you set out along a scenic stretch of road overlooking lush green valleys and sparkling waterfalls.
Arrive at Punta Ahuano, a tiny port town on the north bank of the Napo River, where piraguas (canoes) await you for a short ride downstream to your lodge. After check-in, sip a refreshing welcome cocktail as you watch the sunset. Accommodations: Casa del Suizo or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Amazon. Enjoy a full day exploring the wonders of the Napo River area. Your tour guide will present two options after your walk through the jungle to help you maximize your stay. The first option, for wildlife aficionados, is a tour to Amazoonico, a rescue center for wounded and displaced tropical rainforest animals. You'll be able to observe coatis, tapirs, and several species of monkey, snakes, and a variety of birds, many of which wander around freely! The second option, for adventure seekers, is an ultimate rafting experience on the Napo River. Not only will you have the chance to enjoy a refreshing ride down this Amazonian tributary, you'll actually learn how to make your own raft by tying balsa logs together. You will decide, together with your group members which program the group will take.
Later in the day, enjoy a unique opportunity to visit a local Quechua family who will explain various aspects of their traditional culture, including a special lesson on making chicha, a beverage typical of the region.
Or, if you are in the mood for a more laid-back afternoon, we recommend a stroll through the artisan village of Ahuano, where you can watch traditional Quechua ceramics being created. (Excursions are provided on a group basis only.) Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 6: Baños & Patate. After breakfast, set out in canoes again to return to La Punta. Continue by coach to Puyo, the most important city in Ecuador's Oriente region. En route, you'll visit the spectacular Rio Verde falls, better known as El Pailón del Diablo (The Devil's Cauldron). Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Then head to nearby Baños, nestled in a lush valley at the foot of the Tungurahua volacano, famous for the hot springs that give it its name (baths).
The mild climate, verdant landscape, and mineral-rich natural springs in and around Baños make it an oasis of tranquility and relaxation. Sparkling waterfalls, rolling hills, and scenic bridges complete this picturesque setting. Be sure to sample some of the town's trademark taffy, called melcocha.
The final stop on today's tour is Patate, known for its picturesque location on the Patate River, its excellent grape cultivation, and the production of some of the best "aguardiente" liquor in the highlands. Accommodations: Hacienda Leito Los Llanganates or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 7: Cotopaxi & Quito. Today's excursion takes you to another one of Ecuador's treasures, Cotopaxi National Park, home to several volcanoes, including Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world (19,500 feet above sea level). Spanning an impressive 84,000 acres, this natural reserve protects a diverse array of flora and fauna, including llamas, deer, wild horses, as well as many rare species endemic to the region. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready for a lucky sighting of the mythical Andean condor.
This afternoon, begin the return journey to Quito and later tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner with your travel companions at a local restaurant. Accommodations: Sheraton Quito Hotel or Radisson Royal Quito or similar. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 8: Depart Quito. Today bid adios to Ecuador as you transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the USA. Depending on your flight schedule, optional tours may be available for purchase locally. Late check-out at the hotel is also available for a supplement for flights departing Quito this evening. (See Dates & Prices). Breakfast provided.
The high altitudes reached on this trip (Quito is at 9,200 feet above sea level) and the amount of walking involved, often on uneven terrain, requires that you be in good physical condition to fully enjoy the trip. We strongly suggest that you consult your physician if you have any concers regarding your ability to handle these conditions.
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