This tour provides the perfect introduction to one of the most astonishingly beautiful destinations in the world: the northern highlands region of Ecuador. Travel back in time as you visit four of the country’s most popular haciendas that each offer a variety of activities. Feel close to nature on horseback, at a colourful rose plantation, or simply when taking a hike to soak in the breathtaking scenery.
Ride on a newly restored Andean train through tunnels and along rivers, visit a unique Afro-Ecuadorian community and enjoy contact with the local people in the bustling plazas of colonial towns. All of this, coupled with luxurious accommodations and excellent Andean cuisine, makes for an unforgettable journey through the highlands.
Haciendas Visited During the Tour
- Andean train
- Adventure activities
- Immersion into Andean lifestyle
- Variety of haciendas visited
DAY 1: Quitsato, Rose Plantation & Horseback Riding (Quito – Calderón – San Pablo)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.
Continue on to the province of Imbabura to Hacienda Cusín located in the small village of San Pablo on the shores of the beautiful San Pablo Lake. After checking in, visit a neighbouring rose plantation to learn about this booming industry. Lunch will then be served at Cusín.
In the afternoon, take a leisurely horseback ride along narrow cobblestone streets and up into the hills for breathtaking views of the mountains and San Pablo Lake. Back at the hacienda, enjoy the cozy fireplace before a delicious Andean dinner. (Lunch & dinner included.)
DAY 2: Imbabura Volcano & Handicraft Workshop (Zuleta Community – Ibarra)Today’s activities begin with a half-day hike toward the eastern flank of Imbabura Volcano crossing fertile farmlands, walking on old cobblestone roads and taking different trails to reach the Angochahua Valley Pass at 10,000 feet above sea level. To maximise the time, a box lunch will be served along the way. Later, descend into the valley and the community of Zuleta, well known for its elaborate embroidery. Visit a local workshop to learn about this handicraft tradition.
From there, travel to the city of Ibarra and the popular Hacienda Chorlaví. There will be a chance to relax in the on-site spa before dinner. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner included.)
DAY 3: Train & Afro Ecuadorian Village (Santa Catalina)After driving to the local train station, take a ride on this newly restored railway down to the village of Santa Catalina de Salinas, an unexpected surprise. The train itself follows the canyon created by the Ambi River crossing high bridges and passing through tunnels. The scenery is stunning. After one and a half hours, arrive to the Afro-Ecuadorian community of Santa Catalina and learn about the interesting history and traditions of the people. Later, enjoy lunch at a typical community restaurant. Then, return to Ibarra while enjoying the panoramic views along the way. A short visit to the old part of this lovely colonial town allows time to visit its ample plazas and cobblestone streets to observe the bustling commercial activity and a few of its more historic locations. Later, return to Hacienda Chorlaví. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner included.)
DAY 4: Cuicocha Crater Lake (Cotacachi – Quito)Begin the day traveling to the village of Cotacachi and to Cuicocha Crater Lake for an interesting five-hour nature hike following the trail that circles this lake. A wide variety of native plants and birds can be seen on this hike that reaches the Andean tree line and the open grasslands of the paramo. Magnificent scenery of the nearby mountains and valleys highlight the beauty of the Andes in their great splendour. A box lunch will be provided along the way.
After the hike, drive back to the town of Cotacachi for a short stop. Cotacachi is known for its quality leather goods, and superb bargains are sure to be found. Return 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.