Day 1: Quitsato and Imbabura
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 workshop. We continue north to the valley of Guayllabamba and to the southern part of the valley of Cayambe where the equator meets the highway and on a clear day we will have a spectacular view of the Cayambe Volcano in the distance. We have the option to visit Quitsato, an interesting solar clock that was created to provide a unique, innovative view of the equator.
From there 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 and learn about this booming (and blooming!) industry. We will return to the hacienda for lunch. After a short rest we will have the option of a light horseback ride to enjoy the scenic countryside. Back at the hacienda dinner and the cozy fireplace awaits. Overnight in Cusín. (-/L/D)
Day 2: Imbabura Volcano and Zuleta Community
After breakfast we start our half-day hike towards 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 handicraft tradition.
Afterwards, we will continue on to Hacienda Zuleta, a 1,600-hectare (4,000-acre) colonial working farm that has belonged to the family of Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador, for more than 100 years. The hacienda produces 10,000 liters (3,000 gallons) of milk each day that is used to make the well-known variety of Zuleta brand cheese.
Enjoy a magnificent dinner and comfortable night’s rest. Overnight in Zuleta. (B/L/D)
Day 3: Condor Huasi Project
Today we will have the opportunity to see the majestic Andean condor. The Condor Huasi project, located on the grounds of Hacienda Zuleta, was created to support the reintroduction of captive Andean Condors back into the wild. For local communities, it also includes an educational element of conservation of the paramo (high-altitude grasslands).
We will return to the house for lunch and then in the afternoon have time to explore the farm and dairy operation with our guide before dinner. Overnight in Zuleta. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Otavalo Market and Traditional Cuisine
Today, the main focus is gastronomy and there is no better time to visit a market than early in the morning. We will make our way to Otavalo to visit the largest, most famous indigenous market in Latin America where vendors proudly offer a stunning variety of handicrafts and other products.
While at the market our guide will help us choose the ingredients we need to prepare a delicious lunch back at the hacienda where our hosts will offer us a cooking lesson to teach us to create a delicious, typical Andean meal.
After lunch we will have more free time to explore the hacienda before returning to Quito later in the afternoon. (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.