Hike to Mojanda Lake

Highlands and Amazon Itinerary

Mainland Ecuador is a rich blend of scenery, wildlife, culture and history and this holiday is designed to showcase these different aspects.

15 days from £5900pp plus international flights.

Full itinerary

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Alex-neaves
Talk to Alex - Travel Consultant

Call:  01473 890499

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Client Rating for Ecuador 5/5 from 82 reviews

Highlands and Amazon

Day 1

Quito

Having arrived at Quito international airport you are met by a local guide who transfers you to your hotel in the heart of the historic old town. The rest of the day has been left free to allow you to rest after your journey. Go down to the lounge where you can enjoy a drink and meet fellow guests. This evening you can either dine at the hotel restaurant or head out into the old town where there's a wide choice of restaurants. It's been a busy day and you should sleep well tonight.

Highlands and Amazon

Day 2

Quito City Tour

After breakfast your guide takes you on a tour of Quito, to introduce you to the city's rich history. Starting at the Museum Casa del Alabado you see the impressive archaeological collection covering 7,000 years of history. The museum has a special display dedicated to plants and their use in spiritual and medicinal practices over the centuries. Afterwards you visit Quito's main square, Plaza de la Independencia, whose fine buildings include the cathedral, archbishop's palace and municipal palace. You also spend time at the church and monastery of San Francisco, whose construction began just a few days after the founding of the city in 1534.

Breakfast

Highlands and Amazon

Day 3

Quito To Otavalo

It's time to leave the city behind and enjoy the countryside. This morning you are collected from the hotel and driven north to Yanahurco Hill. This is the starting point for today's trek which leads down to Mojanda's largest crater lake, and continues by the lake shore to where you driver and vehicle are waiting. The total trekking time is around four to five hours. Your hotel for tonight is Las Palmeras Inn, tucked away in the Quichinche valley near the market town of Otavalo. You have dinner at the hotel, a chance to talk to other guests, as you enjoy a choice of Ecuadorian or continental fare largely made from produce grown in the organic garden.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 4

Trekking And Culture

You are driven to Otavalo this morning. You start with a visit to the food market for a glimpse into the lives of the locals, then to Plaza de Ponchos with its large craft market where items such as blankets, ponchos, scarves, hats and tapestries are sold, where you have time to wander round and soak up the atmosphere. From here you drive to the to start of the Peguche waterfall trail, then alight for the walk to Peguche village and on to the waterfall, an impressive sight with a drop of 18 metres. The hike leads on to the small town of Agato, where you meet a family who make their living through weaving, using the same type of backstrap loom that has been used for centuries. From here the trail continues into a more rural region where you can observe farmers working the land and growing traditional crops like quinoa. The views from here are magnificent, and on a clear day you can even see Cotacachi Volcano. You are met here for the short drive to Medina del Lago where you stay tonight.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 5

Otavalo To Zuleta And Mindo

This morning you trek for some four to five hours from your lodge to Hacienda Zuleta, and as you do so your guide recounts some the intriguing history of the area, very much bound up with the owners of the hacienda. The impressive buildings date back to the late 17th century and came into the ownership of the Plaza-Lasso family in 1898, whose descendants still own and run the estate and farm. During their tenure they have restored much land back to the local Caranqui people to farm independently, while the hacienda provides employment to many others. Today you are a guest at the hacienda where you take part in a cookery class using local produce to create tasty dishes. You sit down to a 3-course lunch after which you are driven the four or so hours to your next lodge, El Monte, in the cloudforest.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 6

Cloudforest And Chocolate

This morning you have the opportunity for a hike in the cloudforest to the Cordillera San Lorenzo. This trail ascends about 300 metres. The area is known for its rich bird life and you should see many species during your walk. The plantlife is equally impressive with ferns, bromeliads and orchids. The route loops back to El Monte, where you should arrive around lunchtime. In the afternoon you travel into Mindo village for a chocolate tour. You learn about the different stages of the production process and have the opportunity to sample some of the finished products, before heading back to El Monte for dinner.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 7

Mindo Flora And Fauna

It's an early start today for the visit to the cock of the rock lek, a place where male and female birds carry out their courtship rituals. This is an excellent chance to watch these birds with their distinctive red plumage and crest, and should be a good photo opportunity. There should also be time to visit a nearby butterfly farm before lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon you can go on a gentle two hour hike by the Mindo River and in the forest. As well as bird watching you can learn about the different plants and their medicinal uses from your guide.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 8

Mindo To Cotopaxi

On your final morning at El Monte you can go on an early nature walk before breakfast. Later you set off on your travels, heading to a place known as 'hummingbird paradise', a cloudforest refuge with a dedicated hummingbird garden where you can stroll among the plants and flowers that attract over 40 species of these delicate creatures. From here you are driven to la Mitad del Mundo, 'the middle of the world', where the northern and southern hemispheres meet. You have lunch then tour the Intinan Museum which has information and displays about the many different tribal peoples of Ecuador, celebrating the country's diverse cultural heritage. From here you are driven to your next lodge, near the breath-taking sight of Cotopaxi Volcano.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 9

Cotopaxi

Today you explore the Cotopaxi region. In the morning you travel in to the National Park where there are options for horse riding and mountain biking (extra cost) as well as hiking. At the Interpretation Centre you can learn about the area's flora and fauna and about Cotopaxi's volcanic history. There is time to walk by the shores of Limpiopungo Lake, a good place to watch wildlife. After lunch you set out to the Pita River, formed by glacial meltwater from Cotopaxi. The hike takes about four to five hours and takes in tumbling waterfalls and lush forests. A warm fire and hot dinner are very welcome on your return to Chilcabamba Ecolodge.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 10

Cotopaxi To The Amazon

Following breakfast you are driven to the airport in Quito, a trip of around two hours, for the 35 minute flight to Coca and the next stage of your Ecuadorian adventure - the Amazon! Your journey to Sani Lodge involves a motorised canoe ride of two and a half hours, during which you will see varied birdlife, pass several villages and enjoy a picnic lunch, followed by a 15 minute walk through the forest. You are then paddled by canoe across the limpid waters of Challuaccocha Lake to the lodge. After a warm welcome you are shown to your cabin. There should be time for an introductory walk in the rainforest, just enough to whet your appetite for the next few days. You have dinner back at the lodge and later there's the option to be paddled out into the lake in search of nocturnal life, a thrilling way to conclude the day.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 11

Amazon Hiking And Kayaking

Your first full day in the Amazon is bound to be an exciting one. Having breakfasted you set off with your guide for a lengthy hike to learn about plants, animals and people of the area. There's so much to see and learn, but with the help of your guide, you soon gain an understanding of the rainforest. Watch frogs, insects and primates, learn how plants are used to treat illnesses and find about the local Sani culture, even learning how to use a blowpipe! Lunch is a tasty picnic, after which you take to the water in kayaks to explore the waterways. It's a great way to see different aspects of the forest. You paddle back to the lodge where dinner is soon ready.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 12; Observation Tower And Sani Village

An early breakfast is followed by a kayak ride to the observation tower built next to a lofty kapok tree. Climb the 36 metre stairway to the deck where your efforts are rewarded with far-reaching views over the forest canopy, and the chance to spot dozens of birds, and possibly squirrel and howler monkeys. If you're really lucky you may spy a sloth lazing among the topmost branches. Descend the tower where a member of the local Sani community is waiting to take you to the village. On the way you learn about different facets of the Sani lifestyle and how they have adapted to life in the Amazon. On arrival at the village you can help the women in the kitchen as they prepare lunch. This is a great opportunity to learn about Sani day to day life first hand. You enjoy lunch together then it's time to hike back to Sani Lodge, arriving in time for dinner.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 13

Yasuni National Park

Today you visit Yasuni National Park, the largest on mainland Ecuador, a UNESCO biosphere reserve and home to a wide range of species. You walk to a hide set up near a clay lick, a favourite feeding place of parrots and parakeets. Watching these vibrantly coloured birds is endlessly fascinating, and a great photographic opportunity. On the conclusion of the visit you return to Sani Lodge for lunch. The afternoon has been left free so you can chose how you spend your time: go hiking in the forest or take a kayak out onto the lake, or perhaps opt to stay at the lodge, lazing in a hammock. After dinner you can follow your guide into the rainforest to experience the abundant nightlife.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Highlands and Amazon

Day 14

Amazon To Quito

After breakfast it's time to depart the Amazon, travelling by kayak, on foot and by motorised canoe back to Coca. Along the way you hear about some of the challenges local communities face and what can be done to combat them, In Coca you board the flight back to Quito, where a guide is waiting to take you to La Casona de la Ronda, where your holiday began 2 weeks ago. This evening you can stroll in to the old town to choose a restaurant for dinner, or opt to dine at the hotel.

Breakfast

Highlands and Amazon

Day 15

Depart Quito

Enjoy breakfast at La Casona de la Ronda before, with bags packed, you are transferred to the international airport for the flight back home.

Breakfast

Chris-3
Talk to Christine - Travel Consultant

Call:  01473 890499

Start planning your tailor-made holiday now. Tell us what you want, and we will tailor make your perfect trip.

Client Rating for Ecuador 5/5 from 82 reviews