4 days from £1625pp plus international flights.
This 4 day trek is ideal for anyone wanting to experience the natural beauty of the rural Andes and to witness daily life and learn about local culture. You will need to have a reasonable level fitness, trekking for up to 5 hours, though the pace is not hurried and there are plenty of stops to catch your breath and admire the scenery. You travel along trails that have been used by local people for centuries as they journey between communities.
Many aspects of life in the rural villages and valleys remain much as they have for generations. You will see small farms where workers practise traditional methods of cultivation, and spend time with crafsmen and women whose skills vary little from those of their forefathers. Not that the region is untouched by progress. Since the early 1900s Hacienda Zuleta has been a pioneer in the use of modern agricultural techniques and technologies which have benefitted not just the estate but the wider community. The strong bond between the hacienda and local people continues today.
You stay in 3 lovely properties, each with its own special character. Casa Mojanda is an organic farm in the highlands near Otavalo with cosy cabins and tasty home-cooked food. Sacha Ji is a modern mountain retreat offering spa treatments, therapies and gorgeous gardens with stunning lake and mountain views. Hacienda Zuleta is an estate of of over 2,000 hectares owned by the family of a former president and is filled with precious heirlooms and antiques.
You leave Quito early this morning, taking the Pan-American highway north to Mojanda. Your trek starts from the top of Yanahurco Hill at a height of 3,900 metres. You follow your guide on a route that leads down to the largest crater lake at an altitude of 3,734 metres. This trail is one of many that has been used by local people for centuries, and along the way you pass areas of unspoilt grass and shrubland termed 'paramo', Trekking time is around 4 to 5 hours, and afterwards you are transferred to Casa Mojanda where you spend the night. Ease any tired muscles with a soak in the jacuzzi or relax in the TV and games room as you look forward to a well earned dinner. Snack, lunch, dinner
Leaving Casa Mojanda you walk on a traditional pathway to Otavalo, where you visit the food market. The variety of produce is truly impressive and includes many colourful fruits and vegetables. From here you head to the craft market in the Plaza de Ponchos, with time to wander around the stalls. Leaving the busy town behind you see the lovely waterfall at Peguche and visit a family of weavers in Agato to see for yourself how the beautiful textiles are produced by hand. Your route then takes you into a remote rural region in the foothills of Imbabura where you witness traditional farming techniques and enjoy scenic views. From here you are driven to you next lodge, Sacha Ji, Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner
Following breakfast you are driven to the start of today's trek. The route takes you through a valley and ends at Hacienda Zuleta, and takes about 4 to 5 hours. On the way your guide explains the history of the area, and how the successive generations of the owners of the hacienda have applied new techniques and liberal land reforms to boost the agricultural output and help the local community. You are welcomed to a local home for lunch, and can help produce the meal using many of the ingredients you've seen growing during your trek. Later you visit embroidery shops for a look at some of the fine work and maybe collect some souvenirs, before being driven to Hacienda Zuleta for an overnight stay. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After breakfast you visit the hacienda's Condor Huasi project, a walk of about 2 hours which takes you past some interesting pre-Inca sites. As well as seeing these magnificent birds up close you can learn about the valuable conservation work being undertaken. Later you hike back to the hacienda where you can visit the cheese factory, embroidery workshop and find out about their Andean horses. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the grounds and maybe for horse riding (extra charge), until the late afternoon when you are transferred back to Quito. Breakfast, lunch
Guide price from (pp sharing): £1625 (ex. international flights)
3 nights twin share accommodation, transport as specified, meals as specified, support vehicle for luggage throughout the trek, bilingual naturalist trekking guide, first aid kit
International flights and taxes, visas, travel insurance, meals not specified as included, drinks, park entrance fees, trekking gear, tips, items of a personal nature
Getting there: This trip starts and ends in Quito. Return flights from the UK cost from around £900 per person depending on season and availability. We normally book these flights for you.
Casa Mojanda is a mountainside inn and farm set between 4500m foot volcanoes, near the indigenous town of Otavalo.
A family owned and run working farm in Andes, offering good guest accommodation and wide range of activities.
A mountain lodge specialisiing in well-being therapies and offering visits to local places of interest.
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Find the best time to visit Ecuador
Time: GMT -5 hours
Flight time: There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.
Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.
Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.