The Amazon Andes Tour combines the most beautiful places in the central highlands with the experiences and views of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The tour covers the most emblematic cities of the country in terms of history, culture, diversity, landscape.
Day 1 : Arrival In Quito
Upon arrival at Quito airport, you will meet with your guide, who will transfer you to your hotel.
Situated in a circle of Andean peaks, Quito is the world’s second-highest capital, with arguably one of the finest settings in the world. Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was an important part of the Inca Empire, before being destroyed and re-founded by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar in 1534.
The colonial center – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 – is one of the largest and best-preserved in Latin America. It is home to excellent museums, churches, and art galleries.
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Day 2 : City & Equator Line Tour
Your day starts by exploring the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical center in the Americas. You visit some of its most important churches such as the impressive Cathedral, the majestic Compañía, and the iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage.
You begin the tour by visiting the Main Square, then you go through the colonials churches and you will finish at the “Panecillo” hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city surrounded by the rolling Andes Mountains.
As an addition to the Quito Colonial City Tour, you will travel to the “Equatorial line” complex. Its monument is located at the latitude 0º 0´0″ and provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to straddle both hemispheres or hop between the two in the blink of an eye. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. The site occupies an important place in the solar-based Andean cosmovision since ancient Andean people were aware of its significance many thousands of years ago. The Ethnographic Museum at the complex provides a fine overview of Ecuador’s varied cultures and geography.
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Day 3 : Otavalo - Cuicocha Lake
This morning you leave to Otavalo, the famous artesian market town. There, we visit the textile market located at the “Plaza of Ponchos”; this is one of the most famous markets in South America. You can find all kinds of handcrafts, including tapestries made on the Spanish weaving loom as well as the indigenous backstrap loom. Afterwards you enjoy some free time for bargaining and buying of the friendly Otavaleños.
We also visit some craft workshops dedicated to the manufacture of Andean instruments such as crawlers, panpipes, flutes, recorders, among others. They also make string instruments like charango, mandolins, and guitars. These products are sold in stores and during the fair in town.
In the afternoon we continue to Cuicocha. This lagoon is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. Afterwards you will head to your hotel.
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Day 4 : Papallacta Natural Hot Springs
After a welldeserved rest and a lovely breakfast, you are going to meet your guide again. This time to start the adventure and go into the jungle.
First of all, you will visit Guango Lodge, a small tourist facility surrounded by 180 hectares of temperate forest with great mixed flocks of birds. Located at 2,700 metres, here you will do a litlle hike while you experience fantastic views and photo opportunities of the 15 species of Hummingbird that frequent the area.
Then you will be visiting a natural spring between the Andes and the Amazon, called Papallacta if you are lucky you can see the beautiful Antisana Mountain, while you are taking a bath on the hot pring, unch is included on this place.
After Luch you will be heading to Hakuna Matata in Napo Province, this private hacienda has approximately 150 ha is the perfect place to enjoy to the fullest a never-ending series of activities, which this area lends itself to more than any other.
When you arrive at Hakuna Matata, the staff will help you carrying your luggage. They will also provide a complementary welcome drink and dinner in the famous Pangaea Restaurant.
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Day 5 : Hakuna Matata Classic Program
After an early wake up you leave the Lodge with your guide at 5.30 am to enjoy a day filled with adventures and experiences. You drive to the calm and small Arajuno River which is a branch of the huge Napo River, where you board your canoe.
The Arajuno River winds its way through the forest, passing high shores abundantly covered with vegetation. While watching birds you will realize how calm and little sailed the river is. The magnificence of birds will stun you – you will discover egrets, red-rumped cacique, tangaras, and more species.
After landing with your canoe you have a short walk to the salt lick which attracts birds. It is recommended to bring binoculars to better observe the landing of the birds on the trees and afterward their way to the salt lick. There are a lot of parrots and parakeets, mostly the dusky-headed parakeet. You might be lucky and also see free-living monkeys, but don’t wonder about their noises that might fright away the birds. In case of rain, your guide will decide how to change the program and might switch around some points of the program.
Once bird watching is over, your guide will take you to the next stop, the Santa Bárbara indigenous community with 23 families totaling up to 120 inhabitants. The head of the community welcomes you and you discover different traditions and customs including the production of “Chicha”, a traditional drink which can be tasted once it is finished. You will surely be hungry, for this reason, it is exciting for you to be part of a jungle buffet together with the community. There will be carachama and catfish, both from the catfish family, smallmouth, a fish from the salmon family, roasted chontacuro which is a specialty in the region, yucca, ripe plantain, heart of palm salad, guayusa leaf tea (known for its abilities to limit hunger), fruits, and cocoa. All of these are freshly picked or caught and prepared for you on the spot. Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
In case you don’t feel full yet, the guide will bring some sandwiches and fruit, for that time and even for earlier in the morning. Strengthened by this healthy and organic food, you have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the community, the typical dances are performed by children, and you will also test your skills with the blowgun and the spear. During a short walk, you can see the Ceibo which is the giant tree of the jungle with its impressive roots, then you have the opportunity to buy some crafts made by the community. The income from sales are always directed to the common box of the community that is used to buy parts for canoes, feathers, fabrics, or other objects.
After a short farewell from the community chief, you head to the large 2,500-hectare Jatun Sacha Reserve, this incredible protected area consists of tropical forest in which you will once again discover flora and fauna, such as bamboo, walking palm trees that move up to 10 centimeters per year and Pambil that has taken this day in the form of a 2-meter long blowgun. After 1 hour and 30 minutes by canoe you return by car to head towards the small town of Misahualli where you enjoy a typical lunch, then take a short walk on the beach to be greeted by several capuchin monkeys.
Around 15:00 you will be back at the Lodge to enjoy and relax by the pool, in a hammock with a cocktail or continue exploring the area. In the evening another three-course meal is waiting for you in a special jungle atmosphere.
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Photo: Mark Alexander
Day 6 : Banos Waterfalls Tour
After breakfast in Hakuna Matata continue to Baños situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs, It has become a mecca for international travelers seeking year-round temperate weather, a small-town atmosphere, and a base for exploring the great Ecuadorian outdoors.
Baños or bath in English is named after its famous hot springs and thermal baths. There is lots on offer from waterfalls to horse riding. Don´t miss the active Tungurahua volcano which is visible from anywhere in Baños.
You will take a short tour and visit the center. The city enjoys a pleasant subtropical zone climate. Later, we begin the route of waterfalls, including Agoyán, Heavens Door (Puertas del Cielo), Weddings Veil (Manto de la Novia), Devils Pan (Pailón del Diablo), Machay, and many more.
Then you go to rest and have dinner at the Hotel.
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Day 7 : Cotopaxi Tour
Today after breakfast you return to the city of Quito but first you will visit Cotopaxi Mountain and it famous lake Limpiopungo. Cotopaxi is Ecuador´s highest volcanoe and actually one of the tallest in the entire world. Its name comes from the Quechua and means “cuello de luna” or in English “neck of the moon”.
In the morning, after arriving at the reserve, you will hike and drive up to LimpioPungo Lake. From there it is possible to observe the traces left by the ancient volcanic eruptions of the majestic Cotopaxi; same activity that has given rise to the formation of the Limpiopungo Lake. If you are lucky you can see herds of llamas, some other species of mammals, especially rabbits and deer, and a great variety of birds. Over there you have a Box Lunch so you can enjoy the view.
After visiting the Cotopaxi Reserve we will be heading back to Quito. You arrive in the late afternoon, and you have free time to enjoy the city. On this day you stay at Illa Experience Hotel again.
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Day 8 : Departure From Quito
Today after breakfast you will be met by your guide. You are transferred to Quito Airport in time to catch your flight back home.
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