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Back to PackagesBACK TO ALL PACKAGESEcuador Luxury Tours > Tour Packages > 13-day Ecuador scenic tour I & Galapagos Cruise

10-Day Ecuadors Highlands and The Amazon

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

ARRIVAL TO QUITO / TRANSFER IN

One of our guides will meet you at the Quito International Airport to escort you to your hotel and assist you with your luggage and hotel check-in.

Meals: Nil.

Day 2

QUITO / OTAVALO FULL DAY / HACIENDA ZULETA
What better way to spend your first full day in Ecuador than getting to know the beautiful Andean landscapes located north of the city of Quito en route to what many consider the most charming indigenous market in Latin America, the Otavalo market. You and your private guide set out from Quito in the morning on an approximately 2 1/2-hour drive to one of Ecuador's most important touristic destinations. On the way, cloud cover permitting, we will hopefully be able to see and photograph the stunning Cayambe Volcano that rises 5,790 m (19,000 ft) above sea level and is the only snow-capped mountain in the world on the equatorial line. In the town of the same name, Cayambe, we will stop for “bizcochos,” a delicious savory pastry accompanied by local string cheese and a tempting cup of hot chocolate. From there, we continue north to the city of Otavalo. The main market day is on Saturdays, when the market takes over the entire city of Otavalo. On other days, the central Plaza de los Ponchos still fills with indigenous merchants who sell marvelous textiles, jewelry, musical instruments and famous Zuleta embroidered blouses. Practice your bargaining skills and check everything off your gift list.
From Otavalo, we continue on to Zuleta Hacienda, a historic property complete with a main building, private library and chapel set in beautiful gardens that you are free to wander. As the sun goes down and the air gets chillier, come inside for some wine and local farm-made cheese beside the fireplace. This is a good time to learn more about the local culture of the Ecuadorian highlands, horse breeding, Ecuadorian history and the work of our local foundation.

Meals: Breakfast, and Dinner.

Day 3

HACIENDA ZULETA / QUITO
Today is your day to really make the most of Hacienda Zuleta’s fun activities. The options available include: a morning horseback ride to our private Andean Condor reserve, including the chance to learn about the foundation’s Andean condor rescue efforts, see rescued condors in our aviary, and stop by at the nearby trout farm; or, an embroidery class from the Zuleta women’s cooperative, where you can also buy or order a great selection of precious handmade, colorful embroidery articles including blouses, tableware and other linens. Lunch will be at the Hacienda before an afternoon departure back to Quito with your guide and driver.

Meals: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 4

QUITO / COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK / QUITO
Today’s adventure will take you towards the southern portion of the Avenue of the Volcanoes, where your private guide will lead you on an exciting journey of discovery of the cone-shaped, snow-covered Cotopaxi Volcano that dominates all southern city views. Towering over the landscape with a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft), the stunning Cotopaxi ranks as one of the highest active volcanoes on the planet. The volcano’s surrounding national park, bearing its name, is a classic example of an important Andean ecosystem: the paramo. Paramos have important biological functions for life support, as they retain water in the roots of the plants and scrub brush that characterize this ecosystem and provide a home to numerous flora and fauna, including the white tail deer, the spectacled bear, the Andean Condor, and many others. In the afternoon, we change gears from nature exploration to culinary discovery, with cooking classes offered by the chef of El Porvenir hacienda. Sample the delicious Andean food and then head back to Quito for a restful evening.

Meals: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 5 QUITO / AMAZON RAINFOREST AT LA SELVA JUNGLE LODGE

You are about to set out on an amazing Amazon adventure! The journey to La Selva lodge is an experience in and of itself. You start off with a private transfer from your hotel to the airport, where you will connect with your commercial flight to Puerto Francisco de Orellana "El Coca". A La Selva representatives will meet you at the National departure area to facilitate the check-in process and provide a short briefing about the journey. This 30-minute flight takes you to Coca’s main dock on the Napo River, the gateway to a 2-hour ride down river on a motorized canoe deep into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The motorized canoe portion of the journey ends at La Selva's main dock, where you board a paddle canoe for the final leg of the trip to the lodge that will allow you to experience the rainforest much as the local people do. You will bring your carry-on and camera equipment with you on the paddle canoe while all other luggage will be transported by staff from La Selva. Upon arrival, the manager will greet you with juice and snacks to refresh you from your travels and will provide you with a short, general briefing about your stay at La Selva. The afternoon activities begin with your naturalist guides giving you a basic introduction to the tropical rainforest, the Amazon, and La Selva operations before setting out on the Matapalo Trail, named for the remarkable Strangler fig (Ficus sp) tree that you will see on this short walk. You will be amazed to see mahogany trees over 400 years old and learn about the delicate balance between the geography and the local flora and fauna. This is the perfect time of day to walk thanks to the great natural light and the chance to see the daily transitional activities of both diurnal and nocturnal animals.

Return to the lodge for a delicious, gourmet, served dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Day 6

LA SELVA JUNGLE LODGE
A trip to the rainforest is not complete without a close-up view of the canopy. Today starts with a 20-minute walk to the observation tower, whose upper platform sits 36.6 m (120 ft) above the forest. The climb up will be worth it as your naturalist and native guides help you see the colorful birds of the Amazon, and sometimes even certain primates.
To return to the lodge you will have two options: the Tucaneta Trail, a great place to learn about some of the area’s richness in medicinal plants that are still used today as well as generally interesting information regarding the Amazon’s ecology and natural history; or, make your way on a 1-hour hike to beautiful Mandi Cocha lagoon, featuring an Igapo Forest, a special space where the forest is temporarily flooded by black water, providing a home for varied bird species and even giant otters.
You will return to the lodge for lunch before setting out on the Charapa trail and walking for about an hour to the edge of the lagoon in order to see the mammals, monkeys and birds that approach the lagoon at this time of day in search of food. It’s also the perfect spot for enjoying the Amazonian sunset as you float on the lagoon in your canoe.
At night, climb back in the canoes with your guides and powerful spot lights that will help you spot nighttime wildlife. You can also take advantage of some exciting star gazing!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Day 7

LA SELVA JUNGLE LODGE
Even after so many amazing experiences in the Amazon, today’s activity may end up being your favorite. Return to the Napo River and get on a motorized canoe for a ride to the clay licks, a truly fascinating display of Amazon ecology and animal interaction, not to mention a superbly beautiful view. Right before your eyes, hundreds of parrots and descend on the licks to supplement their diet with the mineral rich soil. Make sure you bring your binoculars to make the most of the experience.
As if seeing countless, colorful tropical rainforest birds were not enough for one day, you will also have the opportunity to meet an Amazonian Kichua woman and to learn about her people’s life in the Amazon through a visit to their community center. Just fascinating!
After lunch at the lodge, you walk to Garzacocha Lagoon for the opportunity to see everyone’s favorite curious animals, namely squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkey, and sometimes even howler monkeys. Sometimes you might even stumble upon the smallest monkey in the world, the Pigmy Marmoset. And keep your eyes open and occasionally looking up to see plenty of birds like the Hoatzin, toucans or macaws flying overhead.
To complete the day, set out at night on a short walk with your flashlight to discover how the jungle transforms once the sun goes down. After the walk, our manager will brief you on your departure procedure for the next morning.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 8

RETURN TO QUITO

An early wakeup call and breakfast will have you ready for departure from the lodge, as per the evening’s briefing. Lodge staff will again take care of your checked luggage as you head back upstream to Coca by motorized canoe. At the airport, our representatives will facilitate your check-in process, including checked luggage and boarding passes.

Once in Quito, you will again have a private transfer from the airport to the hotel, where one of our representatives will assist you with your hotel check-in and luggage.

Meals: Breakfast.

Day 9

QUITO CITY TOUR AND MIDDLE OF THE WORLD

No visit to Ecuador would be complete without an exploration of the capital city, Quito, considered one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America and – as shown by its UNESCO designation as the first world cultural heritage site – in the world. The Old Town’s claim to fame is one of the world’s best-preserved Spanish colonial districts, filled with magnificent churches, impressive buildings, tiled roofs and stone streets laid out in a chessboard pattern to facilitate defense of the city by the original conquistadors. Construction first began in the main plaza, known as La Plaza Grande, surrounded by the most important powers of the colonial era, including the Catholic Church ¬ present through the Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace – and the Carondelet presidential palace, the former administrative center of the Royal Audience of Quito during the colonial period and still the official presidential residence. Our walking tour gives us ample opportunity to learn more about Ecuador’s colonial history and contemporary times. We leave the Plaza Grande and walk just one block to the “crown jewel” of Quito’s numerous churches: the awe-inspiring La Compania de Jesus, a Jesuit temple considered by many to be the most exquisite example of Baroque architecture on the continent. Its entrance alone amazes: turned stone columns, intricate designs, and detailed carvings are merely a muted signal of what awaits within. Step through the massive wooden doors and La Compañía’s fully gilded interior will leave you awe-struck. Explore the “mudejar-style” roofs, carved figures, and deep historical importance of this colonial treasure. Our city tour continues at another extremely impressive site: San Francisco Square. Construction started on this immense church in 1537 as part of the development of Latin America’s largest religious complex. The church and the monastery cover a total of 3 hectares (7.4 acres). The church was officially inaugurated in 1705 and spawned a well-known legend for the city: Cantuña, an indigenous builder working for the Spaniards, is said to have cheated the devil at his own game in the atrium of San Francisco. Your guide will tell you more about this fascinating urban myth. Afterwards, it’s time for a well-earned lunch before getting on a private guided transfer to the Middle of the World Monument. Located slightly to the northwest of the city proper, but still within the metropolitan district, the Middle of the World monument marks the place where the 18th century French Geodesic Mission determined the location of the equatorial line that divides the world into two hemispheres. Straddle the line for a fun picture you can show your loved ones back home. This will be a wonderful experience where you can take a fun picture in both hemispheres at the same time. Afterwards, head to the fun Intiñan Museum, where you will learn more about Ecuador’s varied cultural map. The day ends at your hotel for a restful night’s sleep before travel the next day.
Meals: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 10

DEPARTURE / TRANSFER OUT
Enjoy one last Ecuadorian culinary specialty for breakfast before transferring with our guide from your hotel to the airport for your International flight home.
Meals: Breakfast.

From: $869 Per person based on double accommodation.Inquire About This Tour