Highlights of Ecuador

8 Days - 7 Nights

8 Days|7 Nights



Fixed Departure

Explore Quito & Cuenca, two cities which are UNESCO World Heritage sites and combine these visits with other Ecuadorian highlights. Travel to the Northern Highlands and enjoy on your way a couple of small towns of artisans and the Otavalo Market; admire stunning mountain landscapes- The Avenue of the Volcanoes- on the way to Riobamba  and Ingapirca, the most important Inca remains in Ecuador.

Highlights of the Program

Fixed departure minimum 2 passengers maximum 10 passengers

Guaranteed departures with 2 passengers

Departures on specific Saturdays and Mondays, please inquire

Quito, the capital of Ecuador

The Northern highlands and the Otavalo market

The Mica Lagoon located in the Antisana Reserve

Ingapirca, the most important Inca remains in Ecuador

Cuenca also called the jewel of the Southern highlands

Travel overland from the highlands to the lowlands

Map tour

Day by Day

DAY 1: Quito

Meet and Greet the Expeditions tours representative at Arrival, outside customs. Assistance and transfer to the selected hotel. (Distance between Quito airport and the city 45 minutes approximately).

DAY 2: Quito Colonial & Middle of the world (Half day tour)

This sightseeing excursion offers the best of Quito with its rich cultural legacy, ornate facades, and dazzling gilt altars. Quito’s Historical Center, the largest and best preserved in Latin America was built over the ruins of the Inca’s northern imperial seat. A fabulous example of colonial architecture and art blended with indigenous styles. Quito, founded in 1534 became the first city in the world to be declared by UNESCO in 1978 a World Cultural Heritage site. After visiting the old colonial Quito, a short trip to the north of the city of Quito will lead us to our planet's Latitude 0´0´0´. Here we will visit the Intiñan museum where you will be guided through the wonderful world of the Andean Cosmovision (view of the nature and the cosmos), Culture and Traditions. Afternoon: Enjoy time at leisure to explore Quito at your own pace. We suggest a visit to the National Museum, Galería Guayasamín, the artisans market, or the handicraft shops.

DAY 3: Andean Handicrafts & the Otavalo Market- Northern Highlands

An early start departing from Quito will take you due north on a beautiful scenic drive to the province of Imbabura, a magic land located at 2530 m.a.s.l. surrounded by lakes and mountains of outstanding beauty. The day opens the possibility to learn about the customs of the Otavalos when visiting Peguche, a small town where its inhabitants are famous for their weaving abilities and the Otavalo market a local fair where the handicrafts made in the area as well as the vegetables, fruits and cereals produced in the area are displayed.

DAY 4: The Antisana Area & Riobamba – Central Highlands

Depart from Quito direction Riobamba. During this trip we will go through the Andean Region, covering approximately 400 km. This 400 Km. stretch of the Andes is rightfully known as “The Avenue of the Volcanoes” (German scientist - Alexander von Humboldt -1802). It is a breathtaking natural boulevard flanked by impressive volcanoes, both active and inactive, and giant peaks covered with glaciers and perpetual snow, towering well above 5 and even 6 thousand meters above sea level. During this overland trip a stop at the Antisana Ecological Reserve is included where there might be the possibility to see the famous Andean Condor. Learn about the Andean Paramo (moorlands), enjoy on a clear day beautiful panoramic views of the Antisana volcano (stratovolcano), a large glacier which at 5,704 m is the fourth highest volcano in Ecuador. In the afternoon continue direction Riobamba, founded in 1534 by the Spaniards. A stop is included in the highest point of this route at a Mountain acclimatization lodge where you will learn about the tallest mountain in Ecuador, The Chimborazo, which at 6.268m due to its location near the equator, arguably is the farthest point from the earth’s center.

DAY 5: The Fortress of Ingapirca - Cuenca – Southern Highlands

Depart from Riobamba direction south. The route offers beautiful panoramic views of the highlands and a good opportunity to see the changes in the scenery of the highlands. We will drive through what it was the pre-Inca territory of the Cañari culture, until the Inca empire started its expansion into Ecuador. We will reach Ingapirca, a name given by the Incas, to the fortress and complex which are the most important archaeological sites left by the Inca Empire in Ecuadorian territory. The Temple of the Sun is by far the most significant building in the complex. It was built in the Inca way with careful consideration of their beliefs, being sun and moon worshipers, and their knowledge of the cosmos. The Temple built high in the mountains at an elevation of 3.200 m is positioned in such a way so that at the right moment of the day the sunlight would shine through the center of the doorway of the chamber at the top of the Temple. After this visit the tour continues south direction Cuenca.

DAY 6: Cuenca half day tour

Visit Cuenca, the country’s third largest in size and population and a main icon of the southern Andes. Cuenca has preserved its rich colonial past, beautifully shown on its narrow streets, white houses with flower-pot balconies, impressive churches, with their majestic domes and towers. Not far from each other we encounter convents, museums, plazas covered with flowers and monuments, all surrounded by the scenery of green hills, mountains and the presence of four rivers that cross the city. For all its beauty and well preserved historical buildings, Cuenca was also declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999. This is a walking tour in the Colonial area of Cuenca to discover the beautiful churches and house facades; visit a few the of artisan centers where there is the opportunity to learn about the ceramic items, the famous Panama hat, gold and silver jewelry and embroidery which are some of the handicrafts for which Cuenca is also known. Afternoon: At leisure to explore Cuenca at your own pace

DAY 7: Cuenca/Guayaquil

After breakfast drive to Guayaquil. During this overland transfer, a journey of 4 hours approximately, the passengers will have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the Southern Highlands as well as the drastic change in the climate and the vegetation when we start descending to the lowlands.

DAY 8: Guayaquil Departure

At scheduled time transfer to the airport to take the international departure flight or the extension to the Galapagos islands.