Day One Arrival in Quito
We meet you as you arrive into Quito airport, and transfer to a comfortable hotel for overnight. Quito is at 9,350', on the eastern flank of the twin volcanoes Rucu Pichincha and Guagua Pichincha (15,725').
Day Two Into the Cloud Forest
We depart bright and early, leaving the city behind and driving up into the moorlands on the northern slope of Pichincha Volcano. We're following the El Quinde Ecoroute, the so-called Route of the Hummingbird. Within half an hour our surroundings are transformed from urban streets into the lush greenery of the Ecuadorean highlands. We stop to look for hummingbirds in the high pasture, then continue down past the quaint village of El Nono. Soon the fields and pastures are replaced by the steep mountainsides and cloud forest of the Mindo-Nambillo Reserve as we descend alongside a rushing river. In mid-afternoon we emerge at the main highway and soon reach our country inn just outside the town of Mindo at 4,200'. We include lunch and dinner
Day 3 Mindo
We spend the morning hiking on trails in the lush forest of the private reserve surrounding our country inn. We'll view waterfalls, many birds, and an exotic forest full of epiphytes. We return to Sachatamia for lunch, then drive down into Mindo town to visit the Mariposarium, a butterfly farm. In the afternoon you have time for optional activities -- tubing, rafting, zipline, or more nature observation in the forest.
Day 4 Equatorial Line/Hacienda
We return toward Quito following the main paved highway, to Calacali and the Solar Museum. Located almost exactly on the Equatorial line, the Solar Museum is a small, privately-owned institution with fascinating exhibits on the indigenous awareness of the Equator. We continue south, bypassing Quito, and reach our lovely highland hacienda (Hacienda Hato Verde or similar) where we settle in for a two-night stay. We include lunch and dinner
Day Five Chimborazo Volcano
We visit a native market in the Avenue of the Vocanoes. On market day, indigenous highland farmers congregate to buy and sell, to get haircuts and baptisms, and to socialize. These traditional markets continue to be an integral social foundation for the regional community. Following the market, we climb steadily toward massive Chimborazo Volcano (20,696'). Above the level of the highest pasture, we traverse the "despoblado", the vast slopes of volcanic ash and sand. Part of this highland country is a Chimborazo Fauna Reserve, where we may view troops of the elegant vicuna grazing near the highway. We continue our circuit of the mountain, and descend back down into the Avenue of the Volcanoes at Riobamba. From here we turn north and return to the hacienda for overnight. We include lunch and dinner.
Day Six Quito
We depart the countryside, returning in the morning to Quito. After settling into our hotel, we enjoy an afternoon tour of the colonial heart of Quito. We visit the Plaza de Independencia, the church of La Compañia, and the San Francisco Plaza. You also have time for some shopping. Lunch is on your own; farewell dinner tonight at the Itchimbia Park.
Day Seven Depart for home
We transfer you to the airport for your flight home.
- Breakfast daily, and all meals except on arrival and departure days, 1 lunch in Quito on Day 6.
- Private transportation with excellent English-speaking guide
- Entrance fees to sites and reserves
- 2 nights hotel in Quito
- 2 nights Sachatamia Lodge (or similar) in Mindo area, in double standard room with breakfast and dinner; use of facilities (pool, jacuzzi,) guided walk to bird canopy; self-guided trails at the private reserve
- 2 nights Hacienda Hato Verde in double standard room with dinner included
- Horseback riding tour at Hato Verde
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tips to guide, driver and hotel staff
- Long distance charges, laundry and other personal expenses
Suggested Optional Add-ons -- choose from a wonderful array of possibilities, including the list below:
- Amazon Lodge Stay (4 or 5 days or more)
- Galapagos Island cruise (4, 5, or 8 days)
- Stay at Hacienda Cusin, visit Otavalo market, or your choice of any of Ecuador's large variety of haciendas
- Visit colonial Cuenca in the South