Breathtaking scenery coupled with overnight stays in luxurious accommodations full of history and local tradition makes for an unforgettable journey through the highlands.
Haciendas Visited During the Tour
- Otavalo indigenous market
- Traditional Andean cuisine
- Interaction with local artisans
- Visits to diverse communities
DAY 1: Traditional Cuisine & Otavalo Market (Quito – Cayambe – San Pablo – Otavalo)Depart from Quito north on the Pan-American Highway crossing the dry valley of Guayllabamba to the small village of Calderón to sample and learn about the tradition of the famous bread dough figures made at a local bakery. Then, continue on to the fertile valley of Cayambe where the highway crosses the equator. Here, on a clear day, it is possible to observe the snowcapped Cayambe Volcano towering in the distance. Also, Quitsato, an interesting independent project that includes a solar clock, provides an innovative view of the equinoctial line.
From there, continue north to the village of Cayambe to sample a local delicacy, the famed “biscochos”, traditional local biscuits. They are best when served with fresh cheese! Further to the north is Imbabura, known as the “Province of the Lakes”. A photo stop at the Miralago viewpoint provides the opportunity to capture breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Continue on to Hacienda Cusín located in the small village of San Pablo on the shores of beautiful San Pablo Lake. After check-in, a typical Andean lunch will be served.
In the afternoon, visit the nearby town of Otavalo and its famous indigenous market, the largest of its kind in Latin America. Here, bartering is the name of the game!
Back at the hacienda, enjoy the gardens and relax in front of a cozy fireplace before a delicious Andean dinner. (Lunch & dinner included.)
DAY 2: Handicrafts and Afro-Ecuadorian Village (Peguche – San Antonio de Ibarra – Salinas)Today, soak in the cultural diversity of the region! Depart Cusín to the north along the edge of Lake San Pablo until reaching the weavers community of Peguche, a place known for the looms found in almost every home. Visit the workshops to learn about the techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. At a nearby Andean musical wind instrument workshop, see how some of the most popular highland instruments are made.
Continue north through various villages like Ilumán, known for its felt hat production and local healers called “yagchas,” to reach San Antonio de Ibarra where the locals are devoted to perhaps what some would call the best wood carving work in Ecuador. Interact with local artisans at a traditional workshop. Only a few more minutes to the north is Hacienda Chorlaví, a former Jesuit property converted into a comfortable resort. After check-in, a typical hacienda lunch will be served.
In the afternoon comes a visit to a totally unexpected community, the Afro-Ecuadorian village of Santa Catalina de Salinas, a place with a fascinating history and traditions. Later, on the return trip to Hacienda Chorlaví, a stop in the city of Ibarra to try the local homemade fruit ice cream.
Upon arrival back at the hacienda there will be some time to relax and enjoy the on-site spa before a nice dinner and a good night’s rest. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner included.)
DAY 3: Andean Condor Rescue Centre (Zuleta Community)After breakfast, depart along an old cobblestone road to the south until reaching Hacienda Zuleta, a 1,600-hectare (4,000-acre) colonial working farm that has belonged to the family of Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador, for more than 100 years. The hacienda produces 10,000 litres (3,000 gallons) of milk each day that is used to make the well-known varieties of Zuleta brand cheese.
After check-in, there is time to explore the hacienda’s grounds and see the dairy farm. A 20-minute walk across green pastures leads to Zuleta’s Andean Condor rescue center where a sighting of this magnificent bird – the symbol of Ecuador – is all but guaranteed. During the rare chance to take photos of the majestic birds, learn in depth about their struggle to survive in this part of the Andes.
Afterwards, return to the house to relax or enjoy some time exploring the family’s library before dinner. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner included.)
DAY 4: Flower Plantation (Cayambe Valley – Quito)Depart Zuleta following the same route south until reaching the Cayambe Valley, rose capital of Ecuador, to visit an important rose plantation to learn more about the industry that exports the loveliest products Ecuador has to offer.
Later, continue on to El Molino de San Juan, a former grain mill converted into a typical restaurant, to enjoy a nice traditional lunch before returning back to Quito later in the afternoon. (Breakfast & lunch included.)
Private English speaking guide and driver with modern vehicle, all meals as detailed in the program, accommodation in selected properties, visits, excursions, bottled water and activities. This excursion is a private-basis tour, however it might include certain shared or group visits at some locations. Guides in languages other than English (German, Italian or French) can be provided. Please inquire about the surcharge.
Beverages, tips and personal expenses.