Ecuador: Quito & The Highlands

Select Experience Tour, Ecuador: Quito & The HighlandsSelect Experience Tour, Ecuador: Quito & The Highlands

Ecuador

Quito & The Highlands

overview

Snow-clad summits and massive volcanic peaks form the backdrop to your dramatic journey through Ecuador’s Highlands. Walk in several natural reserves with Andean condors and giant humming¬birds overhead. Local crafts¬manship is on display in lively market towns where colorful alpaca and cotton weavings are sold. Relax at your hacienda dating from the 1600s or ride a Zuleteño horse along its many trails. A 4,000-acre farm, it offers luxury without ostenta¬tion, and prepares robust feasts of Ecuadorian specialties.

Activity Level
Activities vary and
are accessible to
most fitness levels;
see full itinerary
Meet
Quito, Ecuador
Depart
Quito, Ecuador
Select Experience 
4 days, 3 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes:

  • Three breakfasts, four lunches, and two dinners (days 2 and 3)
  • Accommodations in a boutique hotel and a historic hacienda
  • Private tour of Quito and San Antonio de Pichincha with expert bilingual guide
  • Private visit of Otavalo Market and walk at Lake Cuicocha with expert bilingual guide
  • Private Condor Project visit and Zuleta village walk with expert bilingual guide
  • Zuleta farm visit
  • Entry fees for cultural visits
  • Private transportation from the meeting point to the departure point
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Surcharges may apply for solo travelers as well as for trips during New Year’s, Christmas, or national holidays.

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Quito
View on map
2
Highlands
View on map
3
Highlands
View on map
4
Highlands
View on map
Day 1

Quito

Arrival in Quito. Private guided tour of Quito and San Antonio de Pichincha

Your full-day exploration of Quito begins with a private guided visit of the colonial temples and monasteries of this urban jewel—declared a UNESCO World Heritage site—including St. Augustine Convent and the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building, and the Archbishop’s Palace. You continue to the Church of San Francisco, one of the greatest religious buildings of the New World.

Driving along the northern section of the city, you reach the town of San Antonio de Pichincha for lunch, just minutes away from the equator on the edge of the El Pululahua volcanic crater. This is the only inhabited crater in the world, and is widely recognized as a magnetic center of positive energy. After lunch, you visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the “Middle of the World” Monument (Monumento La Mitad del Mundo); exhibits highlight the country’s many indigenous populations. You return by early evening to your boutique hotel in the heart of Quito.

Casa Gangotena

Quito, Ecuador

A luxurious boutique hotel situated in Quito’s historic center on Plaza San Francisco occupies a lavishly restored three-story historic mansion. Spacious rooms combine rich fabrics, furnishings, and high ceilings with ultra-modern comforts. Public spaces include a refined fine-dining restaurant, glassed-in patio, wood-paneled library, and panoramic roof-top terrace with views over Quito and the surrounding Andes.
Day 2

Highlands

Depart Quito for the Highlands; Otavalo market visit and Lake Cuicocha walk; moderate walk options of 1-7 miles

After an early breakfast, you travel north. The first stop is Otavalo and its traditional Andean market, where indigenous people come from the surrounding communities to barter or sell their handicrafts and products. Colorful collections of weavings, pottery, paintings, woolen goods, fruit, vegetables, and beans are laid out in hundreds of stalls. In addition to being skilled textile weavers, Otavaleños are also renowned for their musical talents and instruments, each uniquely crafted in a way that is characteristic of the region.

Afterward, you continue to the Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve for an invigorating hike at Laguna de Cuicocha, a deep-blue crater lake on the lower southern flanks of Volcán Cotacachi at 10,200 feet. (If you opt to do the full 7-mile circuit, there is a 460-foot elevation gain and 900-foot elevation loss.) The walk offers marvelous views of the striking blue lake, with the snowy peaks of Cayambe, Imbabura, and Cotopaxi in the distance. Among the many flowers growing by the path are several species of orchids, passionflowers, and puya, a native plant with bright green flowers. Giant hummingbirds visit the wild lupines, and condors can often be seen flying above. Time and interest permitting, you stop at the picturesque colonial town of Cotacachi, famous for its leatherwork. You continue to your home for the next two nights—a sprawling hacienda and diversified working farm dating from the late 17th century, now owned and operated by the family of a former president of Ecuador.

After settling into your comfortable room, warmed by an individual fireplace and decorated with antiques, you enjoy a delicious welcome dinner.

Hacienda Zuleta

Imbabura, Ecuador

Dating from 1691, this Spanish colonial-style hacienda compound is set amongst extensive grounds composed of a 4,000-acre diversified working farm with an organic vegetable garden, a dairy and cheese-making operation, horse stables, tree nursery, and trout hatchery. Individually decorated guest rooms in the white-washed and tile-roofed hacienda building contain traditional furnishings, antiques, hand-embroidered linens, and working fireplaces.

Day 3

Highlands

Condor Project visit; 4 miles, easy. Zuleta village walk; 4 miles, easy, or horseback riding

You awake overlooking the hacienda’s garden to find a breakfast table laden with home-baked goods from the kitchen, milk fresh from the dairy, farm-fresh eggs to order, or perhaps French toast with seasonal fruit. This morning’s walk leads you along the valley floor to the Hacienda’s Condor Project. Along the way you pass some of the 130 Caranqui mounds which can be found on the property. The Caranqui people were an agrarian-based culture and the original inhabitants of Zuleta from 800 A.D. until the arrival of the Incas in the late 1400s. Structures including temples and food-storage sheds were constructed on top of the earth mounds to protect the buildings from the humidity of the ground. You may also choose to spend your day on horseback (at your own expense). Famous for their horses and riding program, the Hacienda Zuleta offers the unique opportunity to experience a Zuleteño horse. This blend of Spanish-Andalusian, Thoroughbred, and Quarter Horse has resulted in a gentle and noble horse—ideal for riders of all abilities.

In the afternoon, you walk to the beautiful community of Zuleta, where you catch a glimpse of everyday village life. You visit a local family, who invite you in for a traditional snack and hot beverage as they demonstrate the intricate techniques of the embroidery that has made this community famous around the world. Afterward, the path takes you to the foothills of Volcan Cunrru where you take in the spectacular views of the inter-Andean valleys and the snow-capped volcanoes that surround the area. Dinner this evening may feature a traditional artichoke soup and a chicken-and-rice casserole created from a special family recipe.

Hacienda Zuleta

Imbabura, Ecuador

Dating from 1691, this Spanish colonial-style hacienda compound is set amongst extensive grounds composed of a 4,000-acre diversified working farm with an organic vegetable garden, a dairy and cheese-making operation, horse stables, tree nursery, and trout hatchery. Individually decorated guest rooms in the white-washed and tile-roofed hacienda building contain traditional furnishings, antiques, hand-embroidered linens, and working fireplaces.

Day 4

Highlands

Zuleta farm visit and hacienda lunch; late-afternoon transfer to Quito for departure

After breakfast you tour the hacienda’s working farm—the milking station, cheese factory, earthworm farm, vegetable garden, and the embroidery project. Later, you bid farewell to your hosts and transfer to Quito, stopping en route at an impeccably preserved hacienda for lunch. Nestled in the green and prosperous valleys near a volcano, surrounded by broad gardens and a profusion of multicolored roses, the relaxed meal is the perfect finale to your Quito and Highlands adventure.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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