Day 1: Quitsato and Horseback Riding
Departing from Quito to the north along the Pan-American Highway we will travel to the small village of Calderón to learn about the tradition of bread dough figures while visiting a local bakery. We continue north to the valley of Guayllabamba and then on to the southern part of the valley of Cayambe where the equator meets the highway. On a clear day you have a spectacular view of the Cayambe Volcano in the distance. Here we have the opportunity to visit Quitsato, an interesting solar clock that was created to provide a unique, innovative view of the equator.
We shall continue on to the province of Imbabura and Hacienda Cusín, a restored 17th-century estate located near San Pablo Lake.
After checking in we’re off to visit a neighboring rose plantation to learn about this booming industry. We will return to the hacienda for lunch.
We have time for a short rest before an easy horseback ride that will allow us to really soak in the beauty of the spectacular countryside. The views are amazing and this excursion will also give us the opportunity to have a unique glance into the lives of the local people. After the ride, dinner and a cozy fireplace await. Overnight in Cusín. (-/L/D)
Day 2: Imbabura Volcano and Handicraft Workshop
After breakfast we embark on a half-day hike toward the eastern flank of the Imbabura Volcano across fertile farmlands, on old cobblestoned roads and different trails to reach the Angochahua Valley pass at 3,050 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level. To maximize our time, a box lunch will be served along the way. After the pass, we will descend into the valley to reach the community of Zuleta, well known for its elaborate embroidery. Here we can visit a local workshop and learn about this interesting handicraft tradition.
From there, we will drive the last leg of today’s journey to the city of Ibarra and on to Hacienda Chorlaví. Here we’ll have time to rest before dinner. Overnight at Chorlaví. (B/L/D)
Day 3: Train and Afro-Ecuadorian Village
This morning we will drive to the local train station to take a ride on the newly restored railway traveling by train to the village of Santa Catalina de Salinas, a very unique community. The train follows the Ambi River canyon passing through tunnels and crossing high bridges, providing for very dramatic scenery. After one and a half hours we reach our destination, the Afro-Ecuadorian community where we will learn about the history and traditions of the local people before enjoying lunch at a restaurant that serves very typical food from the region. Afterwards we will return to Ibarra soaking in the beauty of the picturesque countryside along the way. A short visit to the old part of the city will show us a lovely historic, colonial-looking town with ample plazas and cobblestone streets all bustling with commercial activity
Later we will return to Hacienda Chorlaví for dinner. Overnight in Chorlaví. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Cuicocha Crater Lake
After a hearty breakfast we depart to the south through the village of Cotacachi to the Cuicocha Crater Lake for a five-hour nature hike following the trail that circles the lake. A wide variety of native plants and birds can be seen on this hike that reaches the Andean tree line and leads you onto the open grasslands of the paramo. Of course, all along the way magnificent scenery of the nearby mountains and valleys will show you the beauty of the Andes in their great splendor. A box lunch will be served along the way.
After the hike we will drive back to Cotacachi for a short stop in this village known for its great leather crafts and superb bargains. Later in the afternoon we return to Quito. (B/L/-)
Included: Private English speaking guide and driver with A/C vehicles, all meals as detailed on the program, accommodation in selected properties, visits, excursions daily bottled water and activities. This excursion is a private basis tour however it might include certain shared or group visits on some locations.
Not Included: Beverages, tips or personal expenses. For other languages than English (German, Italian or French) please ask for the surcharge.
IMPORTANT NOTE The itinerary could be modified due to regulations from National Parks, restoration of certain areas at haciendas or colonial houses or force majeure events.