Andean Routes: Culture & Nature

13 Days - 12 Nights

13 Days|12 Nights



Travel from North to South in Ecuador

discovering in each route the natural and historical attractions and landscapes that in the Andes resemble carpets nestled in the mountain displaying all the shades of green and gold; panoramas on the Coast that show extensive plains with plantations of banana, tropical fruits and coffee. This itinerary includes visits to cities such as Quito and Cuenca declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity, picturesque towns on the Coast and in the Serrania such as Alausí, Zumbahua, Loja and Machala.

Highlights of the Program

Quito with the largest colonial area in South America

Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world

The Quilotoa lagoon, located in the crater of a volcano

Baños, located at the entrance to the Amazon rainforest

Ingapirca, the most important Inca remains in Ecuador

Saraguro, pisturesque indigenous town of the Southern Andes

Loja, the most southern city of the country

Machala and its banana plantations

The Petrified Forest of Puyango, one of the few in the world

Map tour

Day by Day

DAY 1: Quito - arrival transfer

Meet and greet the Expeditions Tours representative at the airport upon arrival outside of customs. Assistance and transfer to the selected hotel. (Distance between Quito airport and the city 45 minutes approximately).

DAY 2: Quito colonial – National Museum

This visit will allow you to visit the best of the historic and spectacular city of Quito, capital of Ecuador, the first city in the world to be declared by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity and also discover the historical-cultural and human heritage of the first inhabitants of Ecuador during the visit to the National Museum that houses a wide variety of archaeological pieces in ceramics as well as in gold and silver.

DAY 3: Quito - Cotopaxi National Park - Latacunga

Early in the morning travel through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. An amazing natural boulevard that crosses Ecuador from north to south, flanked on both sides by imposing volcanoes crowned by glaciers and perpetual snow. On this route will find the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 36,000 hectares (88,920 acres) that surrounds one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, El Cotopaxi with 5,897 meters high, its ecosystem hosts several tree species such as pine trees but above the entire predominant ecosystem in the park is the moorland, so the main vegetation is of pajonal and small shrubs.

DAY 4: Latacunga – Quilotoa lagoon – Baños

Departure from Latacunga to visit the Quilotoa Lagoon located at 3914 meters above sea level, the road to the lagoon goes through local communities one of them Zumbahua, the landscape shows cultivated fields in the mountains that resemble carpets, sheep with their shepherds, people with their typical clothing speaking Quechua. The Quilotoa lagoon is in a crater, its waters are turquoise and surrounded by mountains and legends. Upon arrival to Quilotoa a walk on the high edge of the lagoon offers the possibility to enjoy the landscape, fauna and flora of the place. In the afternoon ride to Baños located in the center of the country at the entrance to the Amazon rainforest.

DAY 5: Baños – Mountain axclimatization center - Alausi

Early in the morning leave from Baños towards the famous waterfall “El Pailón del Diablo” that is approximately 100 meters high; the waterfall has three waterfalls that form an impressive whirlpool, making it the most important waterfall in the area. Continuing the excursion the next stop is a mountain acclimatization center located on the slopes of Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador and from here to Alausí a small and simple charming Andean town where one of the train stations is located; on the route will pass through the Colta where the Church of La Balbanera is located, the first church built by indigenous and Spaniards in 1534, built with blocks of limestone joined by clay.

DAY 6: Alausi – Train Devil’s Nose – Ingapirca - Cuenca

At the established time, transfer to the Alausí Train Station to board the train that takes the Alausí-Sibambe-Alausí route. This train route descends the mountain past the famous Devil's Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls so that to overcome this obstacle a zig-zag track was built that conquers a 500-meter drop in just 12 km of vertiginous climb or descent. Once back in Alausí continue towards the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca, the most important Inca remains in Ecuador. Towards the end of the afternoon arrive in the city of Cuenca, called the Jewel of the Southern Andes and also declared Cultural Heritage by UNESCO for the colonial and architectural wealth that this city houses.

DAY 7: Cuenca scenic tour and Saint Joaquin

Cuenca is best enjoyed walking through the narrow streets of its historic center admiring colonial-style houses, centuries-old convents, monasteries and plazas. Cuenca is also renowned for its varied crafts and exquisite taste and quality: hand-embroidered dresses, charming ceramics, fine jewelry and the famous straw hats also known as Panama Hats are just some of the samples of ancestral ability from local artisans. In the afternoon visit the small town of San Joaquin, located on the outskirts of Cuenca where the traditions of its inhabitants are manifested in the elaboration of wickerwork and other ornamental objects woven in vegetable fibers.

DAY 8: Cuenca - Saraguro - Loja

Departure from Cuenca to Loja located in the Southern Andes of Ecuador, this trip includes the visit to Saraguro, an indigenous village of approximately 6000 inhabitants located in the heart of the Southern Andes where its people the “Saraguros” wear black because they are mourning the death of the Inca; since Saraguro is located outside the usual tourist and commercial routes, this ethnic group has maintained its customs and way of life as in the past. From here we continue to Loja, a picturesque city in the middle of the mountains, one of the oldest in the country with approximately 200,000 inhabitants. In Loja you breathe tranquility and it is very pleasant to walk through its streets, discover the city, the way of living of its inhabitants their traditions and customs.

DAY 9: Loja - Podocarpus Park / Vilcabamba - Loja

Early morning will make a short drive from the city of Loja to the Podocarpus National Park considered as a huge botanical garden, located in an area of confluence between the humid northern Andes and the driest forests of the southern Tumbesian area. This National Park presents a very diverse flora and fauna; it is estimated that in its interior there are approximately 4000 species of plants among which is the Romerillo of the genus Podocarpus. It is also considered by bird lovers as a place of high diversity, with more than 600 registered bird species. The excursion includes a soft trekking in one of its trails. At the end of the visit continue towards the Vilcabamba Valley, which in the Kichwa language means Sacred Valley, also known as the Longevity Valley as this place has a reputation that its inhabitants can reach very advanced ages. Vilcabamba presents amazing colors and beauty, it is bathed by two rivers and has a delicious and cozy climate; a Paradise lost in the mountains.

DAY 10: Loja - Machala

The overland transfer between Loja and Machala presents the opportunity to experience the transition between two totally different ecosystems in landscape and climate. The Andes characterized by high mountains, landscapes of mountain crops that present all shades of green and gold and the Coast with panoramas of extensive plains covered with banana, cocoa, coffee and tropical fruit plantations. The climate shows temperature changes between 8 and 18 degrees Celsius in the Andes to 20 abd 35 degrees Celsius on the Coast. Upon arrival in Machala, located in the lowlands, check inn at the hotel and the afternoon is free to rest.

DAY 11: Machala - Petrified Forest of Puyango - Machala

Early in the morning departure from Machala towards the Peyan Forest of Puyango which with an area of 2658 hectares, the vegetation of Puyango is typical of tropical places being Petrines (standing out the giant of 35 meters high and 8 meters of circumference and approximately 300 years of age), ceibos, potos, guapala, pechiche, puyangos, guayacanes, lemongrass and others. Among the attractions of this forest are the deposits of petrified tree trunks dating from the Upper Cretaceous or early Tertiary periods, charred logs that correspond to the Jurassic period as well as the Giant Araucaria with an approximate length of 80 meters high by about 8 meters in diameter, the Giant Petrino which is a true wonder of nature with 35 meters high and 7.5 width approximately. According to experts the number of petrified logs contained in an area such as the Puyango forest represents one of the largest collections of this type in the world.

DAY 12: Machala - Guayaquil

At mid-morning transfer by land from Machala to the city of Guayaquil, this transfer takes approximately 4 hours. Upon arrival in Guayaquil, check in at the hotel and in the afternoon visit the city. Guayaquil is the largest city in the country located on the Pacific Coast and is also the most important seaport.

DAY 13: Guayaquil

Transfer from the hotel to the airport to take your international flight or your connecting flight to the next destination.