If you like art and meet artists. This tour is for you. You will cross several places in Ecuador knowing the most impressive and strange crafts made by great artists, who have learned from their parents and relatives.
Day 1 : Arrival In Quito
Upon arrival at Quito airport, you will be met by 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 : Quito Artistic Tour
On this day you meet your guide at the lobby of your hotel and you head to Tumbaco Valley to visit and experience Barroquema Art Gallery. In this gallery, besides enjoying all the pottery pieces, you also meet the artists and you see a sculpture modeling demonstration. Also, you will make a hand molded bowl with red clay. This piece will be ready in 3 days. Do not worry, we will pick it up for you!
Then we leave to visit Cumbaya, which is one of the most exclusive districts of Quito. There you will enjoy a gastronomic experience at the 3500 restaurant.
There, while eating a dish, you will enjoy a work of art. Not only because of the aesthetics of its presentation but also because of the combination of flavors, which are a mix of traditional Ecuadorian food and the most avant-garde techniques of world cuisine.
After lunch you will continue to Quito downtown, to visit an Art Gallery. On this occasion, you will meet Mrs. Carole Lindberg. During the visit of this art gallery, she will share her story with you. The Galleria/Taller is a six-room gallery located on the ground floor of a 25 room colonial residence in the San Roque neighborhood of the historical center of Quito. The house was built in the mid-1800s and was formerly owned by the famous woodcarver and designer, Neptali Martinez.
Carole will give you a private tour of the gallery and house, explaining the development of the different genres of her artistic expression and the restoration process of a historic residence in Quito. The gallery area has recently been restored by Carole Lindberg and is home to a permanent collection of her work. Various adjoining studio areas are used by Carole as well as other artists.
Later in the afternoon, you will return to the San Marcos neighborhood well known for being home to artisans. Your first visit will be at Casa Coraje, a workshop where 2 magnificent artists work and live: Illowaski Guanchala and Pamela Suasti. Illowaski is a contemporaneous realistic painter. He paints what he sees on the streets while he is walking, or something that graves his attention while he is stunning at his window or drinking a cup of coffee in the neighbor’s cafeteria. His work is really nit-ed and when you think it is simple it gets complex with all the details that Illowaski takes care of in his painting style. Pamela works are an alternative type of art. She makes different figures with wool embroidery. Her work is of such high quality that she has been called to exhibit in different galleries nationwide. She is also in charge of illustrating children’s books with this art.
Continuing with the tour, the next stop will be at the Watercolor Museum, where you learn more about a famous Ecuadorian painter Muñoz Marin. Return to the hotel. Overnight.
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© Carole Lindberg
Day 3 : Otavalo Artisans
This morning you depart to Otavalo town, famous for its artisan market. On route, you stop at Guayllabamba, a small town where you can try a typical fruit called Chirimoya. Also, a quick stop at Cayambe, a little town where the famous bizcochos (a mix between a cracker and bread) are made.
In Otavalo you visit the textile market located at the “Plaza of Ponchos”; this is one of the most famous markets in South America. Here you find all kinds of handicrafts including tapestries made on the Spanish weaving loom as well as the indigenous back-strap loom. Over there you have some free time for bargaining and buying from the friendly Otavaleños.
Later on, you visit Mr. Miguel Andrango Workshop at Agato. There you have a weaving demonstration given by three generations of this family. You will be able to observe how the raw wool is turned into thread, thread to be used with looms. Not just the process, but the tools used for hundreds of years to make it. Also the different plants they use for the different natural colors. After the demonstration, you are able to visit the store and if you want you can buy something.
You have lunch at Hacienda Pinsaqui, a famous historic hacienda. After lunch, you return to Quito, and start a City tour by night, in which you will explore 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, majestic Compañía, and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. At the San Francisco convent, you do a private tour knowing more about this congregation. Finally, you will taste their original craft beer, which is made with a recipe from the XVI Century. Return to the hotel and dinner.
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Day 4 : Tigua Artisans
Your day begins early this morning. You leave Quito with your tour guide, heading to the South of the Ecuadorian Andes to today’s destination: Quilotoa Lake and Tigua. This town is famous for its artisans, drums, festive masks, and paintings.
If you are lucky, and the day is not cloudy you can see the magnificent Cotopaxi Mountain with snow, while you are on the route on the Panamerican Highway.
The first stop is at Tigua, in this town you find indigenous artists, who represent the life in the countryside and the customs of the community through their handicrafts. It is the living portrait of this world embedded in the picturesque valleys and paramos of the Andes.
Currently, it is a tourist destination due to its heritage value and for the traditional festive masks, paintings, and drums that they create there. Tiguas handcrafts are perfect souvenirs when you visit the Quilotoa lake.
Then, you will go up to Quilotoa Lake, It is a large volcanic crater with mesmerizing emerald green water. From here you can take some outstanding pictures. Continuing on with the tour, you leave for Hacienda San Agustín del Callo. The Hacienda was built on the site of an Inca palace, one of the two most important archaeological Inca sites in Ecuador.
It was also home to the French Geodesic Mission, whose scientific results helped to determine the true shape of the planet. Other famous visitors include the brilliant German scientist Alexander von Humboldt and English mountain climber Edward Whymper, among other illustrious visitors.
At the Hacienda you will have lunch and dinner and during the evening you can enjoy a series of activities that the hacienda offers.
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Day 5 : Chimborazo Artisans
After enjoying a delightful breakfast at San Agustín Hacienda, you depart to the south on the way to Riobamba.
Before getting to Riobamba, you have a cultural in-merge at La Moya community, over there you meet with two indigenous artists. First, you get to know Mrs. María Aguallo. Since she was a child she began to spin with llama and alpaca wool, creating different products and handicrafts. Then she sold them to those who visit the community. There are several products that she makes such as ponchos, scarves, hats, etc.
Then, you enter at Mr. Miñarcaja house and you will get to know why he is called “El Bocinero” or “the guy who plays the trumpet”… First he is going to talk about his Bocina that is a kind of trumpet built with several bovine animal horns joined together, forming a half circle and a long canopy of bamboo or guadúa cane. It is typically Andean and indigenous. The bocina emits a serious and strong sound, which is both melancholy and sad. Is an essential part of festivities and celebrations of central Ec
Euador indigenous communities. Before we leave, both artisans will tell us 2 old tales.
Photo: Alamy – Raquel Mogado
Continuing with the tour in Riobamba, you meet Arcángel Valdiviezo who is the 4th generation of Riobambeños dedicated to the conservation of tinsmith, an antique artisanal technique not common nowadays.
All of this starts in 1940 when Arcangel´s grandfather started a beautiful tradition that persists to this day, the tin mask, which is part of the attire of the famous Rattle Devil, one of the various characters of the Riobambeño Pases del Niño. In this workshop, you are going to be part of this tradition.
After that, you go to Somos Foundation and Art Gallery. Over there you will learn about the work of this foundation. You get to know how it all started, why they do that and you meet some of the staff who teach art. You will enjoy the gallery too.
Finally, in the night you will have an amazing experience at ShamuiCo. It is a restaurant in which the main ingredient is respect for the flavors of each product, the exquisite combination of textures and an impeccable presentation of each dish. Samuel is the chef and owner of ShamuiCo, where he works with his family and several collaborators in a common dream: the rescue and reapretial of the traditional products, aromas, and flavors of the Ecuadorian Andes.
In the nineties, in search of better education and better opportunities, together with his family, they emigrated to Catalonia, Spain. His culinary skill and dedication led him to carry out his internship in a restaurant in the area, which, unknown to him, was nothing more and nothing less than El Celler de Can Roca with three Michelin stars. His performance and contribution were fantastic and once he graduated with honors, he was given the opportunity to work for a while at the icon of experimental food: El Bulli, with one of the best chefs in the world, Ferran Adrià. From his experience of having worked in Europe, he comments that he learned the value of time, responsibility, and the know-how to innovate every day.
With this vast experience, he returned to Ecuador to give life to his dream of having his own restaurant, first in Saraguro, his native community, and now in Riobamba. You will undoubtedly enjoy a unique and unrepeatable experience.
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Photo: flickr – Roberto Urrea
Day 6 : Incas Ruins Tour
Today´s morning you visit Guamote: a little mountain village in central Ecuador, about an hour from Riobamba. The majority of the village is indigenous, and Kichwa is still one of the main languages spoken by its inhabitants. Local tradition still plays an important role in the everyday life of its inhabitants who are proud of their heritage.
The most important tradition is going to the Market especially on Thursday, when you will find a lot of local people dressed in colorful and traditional clothes. Here you will see people selling handicrafts, vegetables from the zone, and some products from other regions. Especially you will see big animals like sheep, cows, bulls, and pigs. Also, small animals are sold such as chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits, and little pigs. It is fun to see the people arguing and comparing their animals to each other in order to agree on a price. If it is not Thursday, do not worry you: can still see people doing this activity on the market but in a smaller amount, and the guide will suggest another activity.
After this visit, you continue on the Pan-American Highway and you visit Ingapirca. These ruins are the most important architectural legacy of the Incas in Ecuador, dating back to the 15th century. They are a significant part of Ecuador’s pre-hispanic legacy, located in the province of Cañar, about an hour and 45 minutes from Cuenca.
You will be taken on a guided tour of the ruins, which were believed to be both a religious and administrative center, as well as a fortress of the Cañaris and Incas Empire. The vast archaeological complex includes a roofless fortification, courtyards, terraces, temples, houses, and a ¨castle¨ possibly The Temple of the Sun. A museum is now open at the site, with both archaeological and ethnographic displays. There are also exhibitions of ceramics and jewelry. Finally, you leave Ingapirca heading to the historical city of Cuenca where you will spend the night.
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Day 7 : Cuenca City Tour
Cuenca is a beautiful city, it is Ecuador’s third-largest city, yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red-tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas, and museums make it very special and the city is considered by many as the most beautiful in all of Ecuador.
Today you enjoy a full day city tour to discover, at a leisurely pace, the beauty and charm for which Cuenca has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site. This includes a walking tour in the colonial downtown area of Cuenca. You have the opportunity to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of its people, the colorful parks and plazas, religious monuments, and handcraft shops, plus an explanation of Cuenca’s history.
While you are visiting the historical building of Cuenca, you will also visit art galleries an
d workshops, and your guide will recommend some places to have lunch. One of the workshops you visit is Homero Ortega Store, This is a place where the finest Panama straw hats are made. Actually, you will discover that Panama Hats are originally from Ecuador.
Another place that you will see is Art Dawi, which exhibits projects from emerging artists as well as from renowned artists from Ecuador and Latin America.
Continuing with the tour in Cuenca you meet Miguel Illescas while having a private visit to his gallery. Miguel is a self-taught plastic artist of Ecuadorian nationality. For 26 years, he has been making works of art in two and three-dimensional format, using materials such as iron, wood, and mixed media for his chromatic solutions as a means of expression. He ventures into Anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, symbolism themes, giving his works a mystical, magical, and playful character, from the ancestral to the contemporary, profoundly Latin American but at the same time universal. His work is found in public and private collections in Ecuador and abroad.
Then, we drive up to the hill of Turi to admire the city and we make a last stop to enjoy the flavors of the famous “Tortillas de Trigo” wheat.
Before returning to the hotel, you have dinner at La Matilde. The restaurant is located at the heritage house of “Casa del Parque”, a tourist and gastronomic complex in the Downtown area of Cuenca. La Matilde is part of this complex and is expressed through a unique experience in the city that stands out for its magical atmosphere and wonderful gastronomic proposals. The menu explores international cuisine dishes, interpreted with local products and flavors. The Turquoise Tea Room is an exquisite space where you can experience this ceremony accompanied by delicate snacks. Bar 1880 is the perfect place to enjoy the best expression of classic cocktails.
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Photo: El País – John Coletti (Getty images)
Day 8 : Gualaceo & Chordeleg Tour
During the morning you visit the Gualaceo and Chordeleg communities. And in the afternoon you will visit a convent with a lot of history.
First, you visit Chordeleg town, well known nationally and internationally for its ceramics, jewelry, shoemaking, fabrics, and toquilla straw hats. Nowadays, Chordeleg artisans have developed their initiatives and have established policies of customer service and handicrafts production, linked to a tourism development plan. Chordeleg is considered the land of the jeweler, Here you can find jewels of all sizes, models, and weights, for all tastes. About 60 jewelry stores give you the chance to choose the item of your choice.
Then, you leave Chordeleg and you drive for half an hour, until you reach Gualaceo. It is a town that has preserved the typical characteristics of the Andean population, and colonial architectural elements. It is one of the most important areas in terms of folklore in the country. The guide will suggest some restaurants where you can try some traditional lunch.
After lunch, you return to Cuenca to do a final visit in a Nuns Convent. The Religious Art Museum of the Nun Convent is considered one of the best religious art museums in Ecuador, due to the quality and value of the works it possesses. Visiting its valuable samples you will admire the art and discover the faith of the Ecuadorian people. It will be a very interesting and unforgettable visit.
Finally, you have a free night so you can enjoy eating in some marvelous restaurants that Cuenca City has.
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© Casa de La Cultura
Day 9 : Cajas And Returning To Quito
Just after breakfast, the tour will depart to Cajas National Park. This National Park is a network of 786 lakes, lagoons & ponds connected by crystal clear streams. A carpet of sponge-like plants absorb water and release it slowly over weeks and months. Frequent rains and moist clouds ensure the cycle continues. From water springs life: That is why he moors and cloud forest are teeming with mammals, birds, and unusual plants.
You are going to visit the Interpretation Center placed in La Toreadora Lake (the biggest and the most important in the whole complex). Here you can see pictures and presentations of the park. Then we are going to do a little walk around La Tejedora and learn more about this ecosystem and why the water in the park is very important for whole of Ecuador.
Cajas has been an important natural passage between the coastal and Andean regions of Ecuador for a long time. Since pre-Inca times, there is evidence that roads and trading routes were established in here, which the Incas further developed under their empire. Within El Cajas national park today there are 28 different archaeological sites, proving that there was also some degree of settlement in the area back in those days.
After this tour you will head to the Airport and you will take a flight from Quito to Cuenca.
At Quito you will go to the hotel to enjoy one of its famous experiences, watercolor painting.
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Day 10 : Departure From Quito
Today after breakfast, you will be met by your guide to be transferred to Quito Airport in time for your Galapagos or International flight.