Ecuador and Galapagos

Volcanoes & Jungle (2-weeks)

This is the ideal two-week tour encompassing many of the highlights of the country. Starting and finishing in the colonial capital of Quito you will barter in traditional Andean markets, take the Liberty Train through the scenic highlands, descend to the Amazon basin in search of monkeys and colourful toucans, get an adrenalin rush in the adventure town of Banos, learn about local life at a village homestay and travel along the stunning Avenue of Volcanoes. There are lots of activities but the pace is not too quick to allow for acclimatisation. You will be escorted by an English-speaking guide throughout.

Highlights

  Pick a poncho in Otavalo market
  Take an exciting Andean train trip
  Stand in both hemispheres at once
  Learn how to use a blowpipe
  Make & eat tasty empanadas
  Spot monkeys in the Amazon
  Hike to stunning Quilotoa Lake

15 days from £1,975 pp

Plus international flights from £600

A two-week holiday for a family of four to mainland Ecuador (not including the Galapagos) would usually cost a minimum of around £7,895 (excluding international flights) based on comfortable hotels and including most activities and some meals.

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Volcanoes & Jungle (2-weeks) day-to-day itinerary

DAY 1 Quito – Otavalo
Upon your arrival in Quito you will be welcomed at the airport by a representative of Stubborn Mule Travel and escorted to your hotel in the gorgeous old colonial town of Otavalo around 90 minutes away. Otavalo is slightly lower than Quito so this will aid in acclimatisation.


DAY 2 Otavalo
Otavalo is world-famous for its textile market, packed full of blankets, wall hangings, handbags, table runners, alpaca-wool sweaters and scarves. After a fun bartering session, travel to the nearby market town of Cotacachi to stock up on leather goods (get your souvenir shopping over at the start of your trip!) and to view the stunning Cuicocha Lake, named after the word for guinea pig. Braver children will have many opportunities to try ‘cuy’ or guinea pig in restaurants as it is the renowned national dish – we think it tastes like chicken…

Continue to the town of Peguche about midday where you will witness the ritualistic ‘Pachamanka’ lunch where vegetables, fruit and meat are covered with cabbage leaves and a cloth, which is then put deep into the hot volcanic earth. Possibly the most unique meal your children will ever experience. While the food is simmering it is decorated with flowers and turned into a lovely Andean Altar.

Afterwards you will visit the Condor Park and observe these incredible birds, which have been rescued from illegal captivity. Return to Otavalo.


DAY 3 Ibarra train ride – the Equator – Quito
Hop on board ‘The Liberty Train’! This traditional route runs 30 kilometres from Ibarra to Salinas passing through beautiful scenic countryside, over breathtakingly high viaducts in the heart of the majestic Andean midlands. This route is particularly famous for passing through several tunnels, carved out of the rocks by workmen using little more than picks and shovels. The route ends at Salinas, famed for its native population of Afro-Ecuadorians. You will be welcomed with traditional dancing and invited to visit a salt museum before travelling south to Quito

On your way you will stop at the Middle of the World and visit the Intiñan Museum, the true site of the equator line. Here your GPS will actually read zero degrees latitude and zero degrees longitude. Children will love standing in both North and South hemispheres and watching the famous ‘balance an egg on a nail’ trick. And which way does toilet water flush at the Equator….? Overnight in Quito, the capital city.


DAY 4 Quito
Explore both colonial and modern Quito on a city tour taking in historic plazas, churches and colonial buildings. A visit to La Compañia Church cannot be missed as it is one of the most impressive in Latin America, plus San Francisco Church, one of the great religious buildings of the New World. Children will love a visit to the local grocery market where they will be able to taste traditional food and delicious fresh fruit juices.

The day ends on a high note with a trip on the Teleferico (cable car). You will have the most incredible view of the city, both old and modern parts, plus the dominant peak of Pichincha Volcano and, if you are lucky, mighty Cotopaxi in the distance. Just remember to take it easy at the top as you are now over 4,000 metres.


DAY 5 Papallacta hot springs – Amazon Jungle
Time to head to the jungle. But first you have to ascend a 4,000-metre pass offering breathtaking (literally) views of the Antisana volcano and lush surrounding wetlands. You will stop at the Papallacta hot springs for a healthy dip in the thermal waters (parents, you will feel years younger!) before descending to the Upper Amazon basin and your jungle lodge.

Relax in rustic bungalows surrounded by gardens full of amazing jungle plants and flowers. A delicious dinner will be served by candlelight and you will fall asleep to the enticing sounds of the Amazon jungle.

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DAY 6 Amazon Jungle
After an early breakfast you will don boots and raincoats (well this is the rainforest after all) and begin your jungle adventure. Take a canoe downstream along the imposing Napo River to the Animal Rescue Centre “AmaZOOnico” which specialises in the rescue of wild animals for species conservation and reintegration into the wild. Here you will observe toucans, colourful parrots, various kinds of monkeys, jaguars, capybaras and much more.

Enjoy a picnic lunch on the river shore with the opportunity to swim before heading to a native Quichua village where you will learn about their culture and traditions such as panning for gold in the river, traditional pottery making, brewing ‘chicha’ from the yucca plant and the use of the ‘serbatana’ (blowpipe) for hunting.

Return to your lodge on foot through the jungle in time for a hearty dinner around the fire.


DAY 7 Amazon Jungle
Take a canoe upstream then embark on an exciting walk through the rainforest to a waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip – a fun and very unique shower! After returning to the lodge for lunch you will enjoy a fascinating guided walk where a native expert will reveal the secrets of the jungle. Learn how certain plant species have amazing medicinal properties, observe a spine-tingling variety of insects and spot high-flying monkeys swinging between the giant trees above. Flashes of colour dart around in the form of tropical birds, whistling startling tunes – a magical place indeed. Return to the lodge for one last night in the jungle.


DAY 8 Banos
Say farewell to the jungle and continue to Baños, the adrenalin capital of Ecuador. Follow the famous ‘Route of the Waterfalls’ to the spectacular ‘Pailon de Diablo’ or ‘Devil’s Throat’. There are options to hop on a cable car to enjoy the lush scenery or, for the daredevils amongst you, go bungee jumping. Time permitting you can ascend the mountain to the famous swing at the ‘Casa de Arbol’ – also known as the ‘Swing at the End of the World’ – where thrill-seekers swing out into an abyss…


DAY 9 Banos
Enjoy a free day in the scenic town of Banos. There are numerous optional activities such as kayaking, canopy walks, canyoning, white water rafting, mountain biking, taking a dip in the hot springs or just relaxing amidst the tropical scenery. Enjoy the local specialities ‘llapingachos’ (potato cakes) or ‘taffy’ (melted sugar cane) in one of the many convivial cafes of this atmospheric town. A guide and transportation will be available.


DAY 10 Chimborazo – Guamote
Journey to Chimborazo National Park where the highest volcano in Ecuador is located. Quirky fact to impress all geography teachers – although it is not the highest mountain in the world, it is considered to be the furthest point from the centre of the earth due to the ‘Equatorial bulge’. At over 6,000 metres, Chimborazo is a popular goal for mountaineers from all over the world. Enjoy lunch with this stunning backdrop, surrounded by llamas and vicunas. Continue to Guamote for the night.


DAY 11 Meet the Intisisa Community
A wonderful day of meeting the locals at the Inti Sisa Educational Centre. Learn more about the history of the region, the indigenous culture and traditions at a primary school where the children can tell you about their daily life. Take the locals on with a game of ‘pato-ganzo’ and meet a local family to gain an idea about how people live in the mountains. Return to Guamote or there is the option to enjoy a scenic 1.5 hour walk back.


DAY 12 Get Cooking!
The best way to get to know a country is by experiencing its cuisine! Today you will get a taste of Ecuador with Inti Sisa’s cooking workshop. This starts with a visit to the local market to buy the necessary ingredients for your empanada class. Empanadas are small dough packages that can be filled with virtually everything: chicken, cheese, meat and more… We tend to find though that the children’s favourites are empanadas filled with cheese and topped with sugar! After enjoying the fruits of all your hard work, you continue to Salcedo.


DAY 13 Quilotoa Crater Lake – Tigua
Leave in the morning to visit the dramatic Quilotoa Crater Lake. Quilotoa is a beautiful lagoon at the top of the Quilotoa volcano and is one of the most spectacular places in the Ecuadorian Sierra. The mineral water of the lagoon is a bright emerald green colour, which can vary from bluish green to almost yellow.

You can hike down to the lagoon and then back to the top of the crater (those with little or tired legs can rent a donkey). Later visit the small village of Tigua which is famous for its painted craft; here you will find coloured paintings made on sheep skin and symbolic masks. After some fun last minute bartering it is back to Salcedo.


DAY 14. Cotopaxi – Quito
Time to leave the land of volcanoes and jungle as you head back along the scenic Avenue of Volcanoes, past the mighty Cotopaxi volcano and to Quito for your flight home.

Or why not consider an extension to the Galapagos Islands?

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Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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