South America Travel Centre will tailor make a private tour of Ecuador just for you. Your holiday in Mexico will be at the pace you prefer with as many inclusions as you desire. Here is a sample of what your tour might look like. You may wish to add a cruise around the Galapagos Islands or a stay in the Amazon Rain forest to your itinerary.
|Day 1-3||Quito||Quito city tour, Monastery of San Francisco, Otavalo handicraft market|
|Day 4||Cotopaxi National Park||Avenue of the Volcanoes, Cotopaxi National Park, Hacienda in the mountains|
|Day 5||Baños||Baños, Urbina, Riobamba|
Devil’s Nose train ride, Condor Puñuna museum, Alausí, Inca ruins of Ingapirca
On arrival you will be met at Quito Airport and transferred to your hotel. Explore Quito on a guided city tour, visit the old colonial quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest and best preserved of South America. The tour begins at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and the Monastery of San Francisco.
The following day enjoy an excursion to the land of the Otavaleños. Located north of Quito the town of Otavalo is set amongst terraced farmlands, lakes and snow-covered mountains. Its famous Indian market dates back to pre-Inca times and is best known for its textiles woven on backstrap and shuttle looms. Stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets filled with Otavalo Indians wearing their typical blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair.
Casa Gangotena is described as ‘understated opulence given an Ecuadorean twist’. This 1926 palatial family home that had fallen into disrepair has been transformed into an intimate luxury hotel. The three-level mansion on the main Plaza San Francisco in the heart of the old city has been exquisitely restored, with additions that mix Art Nouveau with contemporary design. The generous, high-ceilinged rooms vary in size but all share tall, elegant windows and ornate furnishings while also offering modern technologies and quintessential comforts. The hotel features an exclusive rooftop terrace with views of the historic centre, a glassed-in patio and outdoor garden, and a fine dining restaurant where, aside from gourmet cuisine, guests can enjoy the hotel’s renowned ‘high tea’.
Hotel Patio Andaluz is a declared Ecuadorian National Treasure. This small Spanish-colonial style hotel in the city’s historic heart dates back to the foundation of Quito in the late 16th century. A meticulous restoration and remodelling has successfully combined original aspects with modern amenities. The décor conjures a colonial ambiance with hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, large arches, balconies, towering attics and long, wide corridors, built around two glass-roofed interior courtyards. Guestrooms, most with windows that open into the central patios, are large with ornate rugs, antique-style, dark-stained carved furniture, and original and reproduction colonial art – in all, an ideal choice for those who prefer a colonial atmosphere over modern flamboyance.
Drive via the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Cotopaxi National Park, the park is an ecological sanctuary of 36,000 hectares surrounding the highest active volcano in the world (5,897m) the area is especially attractive for nature lovers, with the treeless vegetation of the Andean moorlands or ‘paramo’. Lunch is served at the restaurant of a hosteria or hacienda nearby. Continue the journey, descending to the town of Patate (2,245m) to spend the night at a 300-year-old hacienda hidden among the mountains. There is a magical ambience as the afternoon mist settles around the hacienda, and stories are told of those who left here in search of the ‘treasure of the Incas’ said to be hidden in the 16th century in the nearby Llanganates mountains – and never returned.
Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is nestled in the foothills of the Cotopaxi volcano, an hour south of Quito. This historic hacienda dates from around 1440 and was built inside the remains of an old Augustinian monastery which itself was constructed on top of an ancient Inca temple and palace. Now owned by the granddaughter of a former President, it comprises three main buildings that are an eclectic blend of Imperial Inca, Spanish Colonial and Republican architectural styles.
All rooms have unique attributes, many with exposed Inca stone walls and, in the large bedrooms, lavish hand-painted murals and open fireplaces. With its photographs, paintings and memorabilia, the hacienda retains the atmosphere of an extremely comfortable private house.
Visit the town of Baños (baths) located right at the foot of Tungurahua volcano whose thermal waters are the reason for the town’s name. Baños attracts people from all over the world that make a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Holy Water. Continue to the impressive ‘Devil’s Cauldron,’ a waterfall surrounded by subtropical vegetation and orchids. Take a stroll up to the lookout point which provides impressive views. From Baños, the route to Riobamba ascends the mountains alongside Chimborazo (6,268m), the highest mountain in Ecuador. Enjoy the picturesque drive where land is still worked with a plough, one might think the farmer’s true objective was to paint the hills in patterns, not just to till the dark and fertile soil. Drive on through Urbina and continue to your hotel on the outskirts of Riobamba (2,750m).
On the fringes of the Amazon rainforest, 2.5 hours south of Quito, the small and beautiful Luna Runtun Adventure Spa sits high on a hill above the artists’ town of Banos on 310 acres of unspoiled Andean forest. The resort’s spacious rooms and suites are beautifully furnished, many have a private terrace, jacuzzi, or fireplace, and all have views of either the mountains, the surrounding lush gardens or the charming town of Baños.
An indoor restaurant extends onto an open-air terrace, and there are lovely social areas throughout, including a bar with a cosy fireplace, library, gallery, and handicraft shop. And as you relax in the Luna Runtun Adventure Spa’s 4 volcanically-heated outdoor pools, you can enjoy spectacular views of the town in the valley far below.
As a gateway to the Amazon rainforest Luna Runturn offers many activities including hiking, rafting, canyoning, biking, horse riding and bird watching programs.
Hosteria La Andaluza is located 10 minutes drive from the town of Riobamba, on the site of the old 16th century Chuquipoggio Hacienda. This historic hotel, a section of it occupying part of the original ranch house, offers spectacular views of the Tungurahua and Altar volcanos as well as the surrounding Andean landscape.
Decorated with a mixture of antiques and Ecuadorian handicrafts, the 56 spacious and comfortable rooms offer many extras. The hosteria also has a sauna and a fitness centre as well as a bar, restaurant and spacious public areas.
Today travel south through picturesque indigenous villages and arrive at the small town of Alausí, the heart of the Ecuadorian Railway Company’s. Enjoy a ride on the Devil’s Nose train ride, a thrilling 800-metre descent of the ‘Devil’s Nose’ switchback, one of the most impressive feats of rail engineering in the world. Arrive at the bottom at the newly renovated station of Sibambe where there is time to visit ‘Condor Puñuna’ a museum built and run by the Nizag community. The train whistle calls passengers back aboard for the return journey up the switchback to Alausí where a light snack is served. Continue exploring the world of the Andes as you drive further south stopping en route to visit the complex of Inca ruins of Ingapirca before arriving at the colonial city of Cuenca.
Enjoy a guided city tour of Cuenca, the prettiest colonial city in the country. Located in the valley of Guapondelig at 2,550m, it is Ecuador’s third largest city, yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Home of the Panama hat, Cuenca has excellent Indian markets, handicrafts and silver jewellery. Spend the afternoon at leisure before a late transfer to the airport.
Mansion Alcazar Boutique Hotel is a late 19th century mansion in the historic centre of the city. This property was known as ‘Casa Cordero’, after the original owners, until 1999 when it was converted into a small and elegant hotel. The interior décor evokes the aristocratic style of the age, with careful selection of fine furniture, carpets, paintings, and antiques in every corner. Spacious rooms overlook the large interior courtyard where plush seating surrounds a flower-filled fountain; the larger, more contemporary suites look out across a beautiful rear garden with resident hummingbirds. Guests may enjoy an enclosed garden dining room, reminiscent of an English tearoom, an outdoor dining patio and a comfortable wood-panelled bar.