Ecuador Adventure is the ideal trip for those who want to take in the sights of this beautiful nation in a unique, exciting way. During this trip, you will have the opportunity to combine nature, history, and adventure at your own pace. Hike leisurely through the Andean highlands and Amazon rainforest, zigzag through the lush and green cloud forest from above in the canopy, and dazzle at the unique landscapes and adventurous experiences! The possibilities to explore and discover are endless!
Upon arrival, a private transfer will take you from Quito Airport to your selected hotel in Otavalo for the next 2 nights. Please be aware of the sign with your name on it.
You will first visit the town of Otavalo, famous for its indigenous market that is held every day, with the largest bargains and traders present on Saturdays. The market is an ancient tradition and cultural exchange site among the Otavalo community. Furthermore, you can visit the peaceful town of Cotacachi, famous for its leather products such as shoes, purses, coats and belts. You can browse the products and meet the local craftsmen who create these beautiful pieces.
Biking Around Otavalo
Otavalo is a land full of rich culture, intriguing stories, folkloric music, and crafty artisans. During this biking tour, you will enjoy the many Andean landscapes and indigenous communities in this northern area of Ecuador.
You will set out in the morning towards Otavalo where your guide will share interesting information on Otavalo. While you ride through these small indigenous communities near San Pablo Lake, taken in the impressive landscape with the Imbabura Volcano in the background. As you continue biking through the route you may be able to stop at the lookout view of “El Lechero” considered by the indigenous to be a place of worship and offering to the Gods of the water, sun, and moon. You may also be able to see some rescued local birds. Throughout the ride take pictures and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Check the ‘Additional Information’ section for in-depth information about optional bike routes, and what is, and is not, included in the tour.
In the morning you will depart for the Cuichoca Crater Lagoon in the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve. With the deep blue waters of the lagoons and the two small islands sitting in the middle, you are left with an awe-striking view. On a clear day, you can see the Imbabura and Cayambe volcanoes in the distance. As you hike around the lagoon it will take approximately four to five hours, depending on your fitness level and how often you stop to take in the views. It is also a wonderful activity to view unique biodiversity and learn more about pre-Columbian cultures by observing some historical sites along the trail. You will be staying in this region for 2 nights.
Mindo Waterfall, Butterfly Garden and Chocolate Factory
Today you will explore Mindo’s fantastic highlights hidden in the green and lush slopes of the cloud forest. This is another one of Ecuador’s bio-diverse hotspots and is protected by the Mindo-Nambillo Forest, home to many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, orchids and butterflies. There are many ways to experience the beauty and scenery, such as cable cars and hiking trails visiting a number of waterfalls of various heights and beauty.
On the way back, you can also visit one of the most unique impressive experiences available in Mindo; a butterfly garden. The place has an exhibition of 25 colourful butterfly species and you can observe them in their four different stages of life. While visiting the garden you may be able to experience the butterflies flying around you, even landing on you for a great photo opportunity! To experience 1,200 butterflies flying at the same time around or even landing on you, is definitely a must! In the afternoon, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a chocolate tour. Delight your senses by taking a chocolate tour. A guide will show teach you about all the necessary steps to produce the best chocolate in the world! At the end of the tour, you may have the opportunity to purchase some chocolate products.will be able to buy several chocolate products.
Chocolate Tour Quetzal
Quetzal is located in the cloud forest in Ecuador’s lower Andes. In this lush green area, you can enjoy an exclusive chocolate tour in the small town of Mindo. You will experience every step in the process of making artisanal chocolate, from harvesting the cacao beans to the process of drying, roasting and grinding them, and finally tasting their award-winning chocolate. After this experience, you’ll also have the opportunity to buy delicious artisanal chocolate bars.
Pas de Las Aves Bird Refuge
The Paz de Las Aves Bird Refuge is a 25-hectare private nature reserve in Mindo. It is perfect for birdwatching, photography and hikes in the cloud forest. As a family operated reserve, it is amazing to see how they have grown in fame for their unique experiences. Over 180 species of birds have been discovered here and even come when they are called by their given names by the family, such as Maria, a Giant Antipitta and Shakira, an Ochre-breasted Antpitta. Both species are threatened.
Zipline through the Cloud Forest
In Mindo, you can experience the cloud forest like a bird, soaring above in the treetops. There are cable systems constructed so you can experience a rush through the canopy of the cloud forest. Before taking off through the forest with a new perspective, you will be given a briefing on the equipment. There is more than one zip line and each is built under strict international safety regulations, hardy pulleys and stainless steel that can withstand 11,000 lbs or 5,000 kg.
Quito City Night Tour
During this special tour of Quito’s historical centre, you can experience the charm in an entirely new way. In the evening, the colonial centre is lit up beautifully with comforting glows creating a romantic atmosphere. During the tour, you will visit the Plaza Grande, also known as Independence Square. You’ll be able to admire the historical buildings in a whole new light, such as the Presidential Palace, the Catedral, and the Archbishop’s Palace. Apart from the lively squares and music drifting through the night air, you can also take in the panoramic views of the city by night while your guide provides interesting insights into Quito’s history and importance. After this wonderful evening, you will be transported back to your hotel. You will be staying in Quito for 2 nights in your chosen accommodation
Chaquinan Mountain Biking
Where once used to lie a famous railroad line going through the suburbs of Cumbaya at the beginning of the 19th century, located on the outskirts of Quito. Now, the rail line is used as a well-maintained leisure trail for biking, hiking, and walking. On the trail there are three tunnels, one of which is 322 meters long. The spectacular ride along the trail will take you through wide stretches of paramo grasslands, over the Chiche River, and amazing lookouts.
Nayon Xtreme Valley
An adventurous and adrenaline filled activity is waiting for you upon arrival in the Nayon Valley near Quito. There are three main activities, zip-lining, the extreme swing and paintball. To do the zip-lines you will have to cross a narrow bridge, which is just part of the fun along with the guide. The extreme swing will make you give you an adrenaline rush, leaving you wanting more and if time allows, you can get in a game of paintball!
Saquisili Market Square
You will be up with the first light to catch the early morning hustle and bustle of the most important day of the week in Saquisili, Thursday’s market! Here is where farmers, livestock owners, seamstresses and tailors congregate from surrounding villages such as Canchagua, Toacazo, Guantuchico and beyond, hailing from deep within the Andean highlands.The market is not only for selling and trading, but to share and socialise between locals as a huge highlight to their week as something to look forward to. Many locals will come to watch and be part of the action between the persistent commotion that begins even before sunrise.
Walking through the countless stalls filled with grains and beans, of every colour and size you can imagine, you’ll also see and hear the sweet voices of the vendors calling you over to barter and trade with them. There are also separate areas for animals, you’ll watch the oldest Andean way of exchange take place as indigenous folks choose which goat will give the best milk or offer up the best meat for a Seco de Chivo. It is an Andean show as old as time that will dazzle you right before your eyes.
Quilotoa Lagoon and Tigua Excursion
You will leave in the morning to visit the impressive Quilotoa Lagoon located within an extinct volcanic crater. It is one of the most spectacular highlights of the Ecuadorian highlands. The mineral waters of the lagoon showcase turquoise colours, depending on the weather it varies from blue to green, even yellows according to the season. Since the lagoon is part of an extinct volcano it has a large quantity of carbon dioxide mixed with hydrogen sulphide, there is no possible fishing as nothing lives within the lagoon. The highlight of the visit is that you can hike all the way down and back to the top of the crater. It is also possible to rent mules or horses for a cost from the locals if the walk back up is too much for you. On your way back you will see a small village that is famous for its local paintings and masks, called Tigua. They are known all over Ecuador for their stunning paintings of the highlands and volcanoes in the paramo.
Cotopaxi National Park
Your final day’s adventure starts early in the morning when you drive through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Today’s destination is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and one of Ecuador’s most popular highlights: the elegant Cotopaxi Volcano, with an altitude of 5897 meters above sea level. This impressive, snow-capped volcano stands proudly in the middle of the beautiful national park that bears its name.
Upon arrival at the entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park, your guide will explain about the unique flora and fauna of the area, and about the history of the volcano. Subsequently, you’ll continue to the Limpiopungo Lake (altitude: 3850 meters), to enjoy a hike through the stunning “paramo”, or grassland, landscape where you can see hummingbirds, wild horses, and other wildlife. All this time, the imposing Cotopaxi Volcano is just a few steps away and on a clear day you can admire its full glory.
To end the day, you are transported to Quito airport to return home.