Cotopaxi National Park & Llanganates (Patate valley)
Starting in Quito, we drive towards the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Named by the famous expedition leader the German scientist Alexander Von Humboldt in the XIX century, here the Andes split in two branches creating a Central Valley offering breathtaking views.
We explore Ecuador’s most famous volcano, the perfectly conical Cotopaxi and have lunch at San Agustin Inca Hacienda where you’ll dine on gourmet cuisine inside Inca walls over 500 years old. Next we head to Papate Valley for overnight at Manteles Hacienda which features impressive views of Tungurahua, Chimborazo and Altar volcanoes. After dinner, we learn more from our guide about the legends of Atahualpa’s treasure hidden at the nearby Llanganates National Park.
Llanganates – Baños – Riobamba
Start the day by either exploring over 200 hectares of protected cloud forest and admiring the impressive Tungurahua volcano, active for over 30 years; or going down the mountain to the village of Baños village at the foot of Tungurahua’s slopes.
The Pastaza river flows through Baños on its path from the Andes down to the Amazon basin creating myriad waterfalls. The most famous is Devil’s Cauldron, an impressive 80-meter tall waterfall that produces a deafening sound as water hits the rocks.
After lunch, we head high into Chimborazo’s moorlands to Andaluza Hacienda, historical property converted into a guest ranch that has witnessed Ecuador’s history from the early stages of the colonial ages to the independence wars and later independence.
Devil’s Nose train – Ingapirca Fortress – Colonial Cuenca
The Devil’s Nose train awaits us on our last day in the Southern Ecuadorian Andes. This portion of the Ecuadorian railroad is known as one of the most difficult railways in the world due to the many lives the mountain claimed while the railways were constructed. The project found its most difficult challenge outside of Alausi where a huge wall of stone blocked the construction of the railway. The engineers sorted out this problem by designing the railway to make a zigzag going forward then back making its way up the steep mountain.
After lunch we pay a short visit to Ingapirca fortress, the best example of the Inca influence in Ecuador with impressive Inca ruins and walls. At night, we arrive to Cuenca for overnight at Mansion Alcazar, a historical manor from the late XIX century converted into a boutique hotel located in colonial district of the city declared to be a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Colonial Cuenca – Hacienda La Danesa
The Tomebamba River surrounds the city’s unique environment with its colonial stone bridges, which connect the modern and old areas of the city. The cobblestoned street historical center offers example of the Baroque style, which emerged centuries ago when Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and South American indigenous artistic styles blended. After exploring the colonial center by foot, we head high over the Andes towards the Pacific Coast through Cajas National Park. The park offers fantastic views with over 230 glacial lakes spread in the moorlands.
We arrive to la Danesa Hacienda near Guayaquil. The property was founded in the late XIX century at the same time the train was built. Nowadays, La Danesa exhibits the Montubio style (“the word for local cowboys”) blended with luxury appointments creating a unique ambiance. The property also has its own teak wood and cacao plantations.
Hacienda La Danesa – Guayaquil
Our guests will visit the cacao plantation to taste some of the world’s finest raw cacao at its different stages in production to become chocolate. Later our exclusive chocolatier will teach us more about cocoa as we prepare the chocolate we harvested. We have lunch at the property and in the afternoon drive to Guayaquil where we arrive to the historical Hotel del Parque.
Built in 1891, the property was formerly located in the center of the city. Later it was moved piece by piece to Parque Historico, a restored historic district next to the Daule riverbanks. Fully restored into a 5-star hotel, it offers a unique experience with two inner patios, an orchid collection and surrounded by an exuberat tropical forest.
After breakfast, transfer to the Guayaquil airport where we fly to Galapagos.