Ecuador - Highlights of the Andes: 5 Days / 5 Nights - Cotopaxi, Riobamba, Cuenca

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5 Days | 5 Nights
Dates: All year-round possible (June - September is recommended - dry season, sunny days) 
Countries to be visited: Ecuador (Cotopaxi, Riobamba, Cuenca)
Departure & Return Locations: Quito International Airport
This tour is ideal for highlights of the Andes in Ecuodor and can be combined with other tours to vist the galapagos. Cotopaxi is famous because of its beauty and also because of its volcanic activity and history. But you will be travelling with a guide and in luxury with an option to do some hiking to the Jose Ribas mountain refuge. Riobamba, located in the Chambo River Valley of the Andes, is in central Ecuodor. Cuenca is in souther Ecuador and is known for its inttelectual and artistic tradition and colonial architecture. 


DAY 1: Quito – Cotopaxi

We start in Quito with a 2-hour drive through the Andes to Cotopaxi. We will see bustling towns and small villages in route, along with beautiful alpine views (weather permitting). As we approach Cotopaxi National Park, you will be able to see the snow-capped summits of both the Cotopaxi and the Antisana volcanoes on a clear day.

We will visit the Cotopaxi Interpretation center to learn about the history of its major eruptions as well as the local flora and fauna. Later, we will go to the windswept Limpiopungo Lake and discover the area by walking around it. Surrounded by beautiful peaks with Cotopaxi looming in the distance, it’s a beautiful setting to begin your discovery of the Andes ecosystem.

Optionally, if you feel like a longer walk, we can drive up the lower slopes of Cotopaxi, then embark on hike to the Jose Ribas mountain refuge (4800m), a small hostel used as a base for climbers preparing to climb to Cotopaxi’s summit. From here you will have spectacular views of Cotopaxi itself and the surrounding volcanoes of the Andes.

INCLUDED: Dinner, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

DAY 2: Cotopaxi – Quilotoa – Riobamba

After breakfast we leave Cotopaxi and continue our route through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Our drive to Quilotoa will take approximately 3 hours. Along the way, we will see indigenous markets. These markets are as authentic and untouristed as we can find in Ecuador today. They are important for the local indigenous people because the markets are the center of their social and economic worlds.

(*Markets take place in the following days. - Tuesday: Latacunga Wednesday - Sunday: Pujili Thursday: Saquisili - Saturday: Zumbahua). Then we will visit the volcanic crater of Quilotoa, where we can appreciate a serene, green lake that is over 800 feet deep. The 2-mile-wide caldera was formed by the collapse of the now-dormant volcano following a massive eruption about 600 years ago. We’ll have the option of a short walk of 1.7 km along the crater's slope to take in the fantastic scenery.

On the way back, we will stop to visit the galleries of Tigua community where we can appreciate the paintings that represent the folklore of this area in the Andes, art that has transcended and up to the third generation. We have the option of taking a painting class from a local artist, trying to learn the skills of these master artists and briefly immersing ourselves into their world.

INCLUDED: Breakfas, Lunch, Dinner, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fees, Accommodation

DAY 3: Riobamba – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca

After breakfast we will drive for 2 hours to Alausi to meet the Devil’s Nose train. The biggest complication faced by the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad was the Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle, a zigzag railroad was built, enabling the train to climb or descend, first going one way and then reversing. The transition from Andean to coastal vegetation in an incredibly short distance is one of the journey’s most remarkable features. We descend nearly 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) in only 12 km (7.5 miles) of track. This, right on the Equator, translates into a dramatic shift in climate and environment. It is one of the most spectacular railway journeys in the world, and remains an impressive piece of engineering.

While recovering from the hair-raising descent you will enjoy the views of the narrow gorge of river Chanchán and will have the chance to learn a bit about the traditions and worldview of the Puruhua people in Sibambe.

We have two options for departing Sibambe we can either hike or drive to the Pistishi viewpoint. The scenic, uphill hike takes about an hour. Either way, we have spectacular views of the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) railroad from the viewpoint. If you prefer, we can also have transportation waiting to drive us to the viewpoint.
The Devil
s Nose Train runs from Tues Sun, plus some holidays. After admiring the view of the Devils Nose, we will drive approximately 2 hours to Ingapirca.

The Ingapirca Ruins, are the largest and best-preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. The Inca Empire’s only remaining sun temple, it was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar. The temple served as a venue for ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, and also had strategic military purposes. We will explore the complex, learning about the various structures from baths to the wineries.

After our time at Ingapirca, we will drive approximately 1.5 hours to reach Cuenca where we will overnight.

INCLUDED: Breakfast, Lunch, English speaking guide, transport, entrance fees, excursion, Accommodation

DAY 4:Cuenca

Today we explore and celebrate the traditional craftspeople of Ecuador. The towns of Gualaceo and Chordeleg, are located just 45 minutes East of Cuenca. In these traditional settlements set in beautiful Andean landscapes, we will meet families who are still making textiles the way the "Cañaris" (the pre-Inca inhabitants) did more than 500 years ago. We will also visit the workshops of a traditional jewelry maker, a guitar maker’s that forms part of the Guitar Trail’, and a ‘Chola Cuencana,who stills makes her straw hats in the traditional manner. Along the way we will have the opportunity to visit an orchid farm that houses more than 2,000 species of orchids, as well as visiting shoemakers, jewelers, the food and fruit market, and more.

INCLUDED: Breakfast, Lunch, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation

DAY 5: Cuenca – Bucay – Guayaquil

Departing very early from Cuenca, we will begin to make our way to Bucay on Ecuador’s coast. The drive takes approximately 3.5 hours straight through, however we will likely be tempted to stop and take in the views or stretch our legs with a short hike in the stunning Cajas National Park on our breathtaking descent from the Andes. This park, virtually unknown outside of Ecuador, is home to Lord of the Rings type landscapes, along with incredible flora and fauna.

As our drive continues, we make our way through a variety of Ecuador’s incredible ecosystems. Our rapid descent from the Andes into the lowlands is spectacularly scenic, with snowy peaks, misty forests, and finally the coast.

On arrival in Bucay, we will visit Hacienda La Danesa. Located in Ecuador’s tropical coastal region with the spectacular Andes Mountains as backdrop, Hacienda La Danesa is a 500 Ha. traditional dairy farm that produces about 2,000 liters of milk per day, as well as fresh cheese for guests every morning. The hacienda also has cocoa and teak plantations and breeds beautiful pinto quarter horses.

In the Olsen family for over 50 years, the exceptional service, ‘deep green’ environmental practices and authenticity will create an experience every guest will remember. La Danesa is also committed to improving local standards of living through tourism, and implements strict policies to create jobs in the neighboring communities, start-ups and sourcing local ingredients. During your day at Hacienda La Danesa you will be able to choose from the following activities: a tour of the cacao plantation, teak plantation tour, mountain biking and tubing on lazy rivers.

You will also enjoy a delicious three-course lunch menu prepared by the Haciendas expert chefs. After lunch, we will drive approximately 2 hours to Guayaquil.

INCLUDED: Breakfast, Lunch, English-speaking guide, Transportation, Activities as described, Entry fee, Accommodation


  • Price shown is for a person based on twin share accommodation. 
  • All prices displayed are subject to availability and can be withdrawn or varied without notice. 
  • Prices are guranteed once booking is confirmed by us and paid in full by the due date. 
  • Depending on your needs and group size (individual, couple, family, group, etc.) we will provide the final pricing for your tour.
  • Flexible booking terms and conditions are available. Contact us for enquiries  

Price Includes

✔ Accommodation for 5 nights and all meals mentioned in the itinerary
✔ All transfers throughout the stay
✔ English speaking guide
✔ Tickets to attractions mentioned in the itinerary
✔ Transfer to and from the airport
Price Excludes
International and domestic airfare
X Travel Insurance (required)
Airport taxes and charges
Any Private Expenses
Meals not mentioned
Personal Incidentals such as Telephone calls , Room Service, Laundry
Tip to Guide/Driver, Porterage Fee and others which are personal in nature
Other services not mentioned in the itinerary



Please refer to our standard booking conditions. For this particular booking the following terms apply relating to cancellations and rebooking.