HIGH LANDS AND TROPICAL RAINFOREST

Luxury lodging Explorer by day, royalty by night. Trek, horseback ride, and bike from the mystic highlands of the Andes to the hummingbird-filled cloud forests, and then deeper into tropical forests for an exciting 2-day rafting trip. And at the end of each day, step into Ecuador’s past and relax in some of the oldest and most historic haciendas.

ITINERARY (9 days / 8 nights)

DAY 1 Arrive in Quito. You will be met at the airport by a ECOSPORT representative and escorted to Hostal Santa Barbara, a beautiful colonial house that has been converted into a charming bed and breakfast.

DAY 2 Cayambe. In the morning, head North to the paramo (high barren plateau) and the ice formations of Cayambe Volcano (5,790 m/ 18,996 ft), the mountain of the sun where the Equatorial Line crosses its glaciers. After an extensive trek, we will descend towards the valley where a comfortable night and a cozy fireplace await us at Hacienda Guachalá (circa 1580). Famous historic guests include climber Edward Whymper and French scientist Charles Marie de La Condamine.

DAY 3 Oyachachi. Our day starts on horseback as we cross fields, farms and towns, a wonderful opportunity to take a glimpse of daily life in the Andes. Picnic lunch. In the late afternoon we head by car towards a magical place hidden between the mountains called Oyacachi where giant trees and soothing hot springs await. Dinner at Hacienda Guachalá.

DAY 4 Zuleta to San Pablo. With our energy restored after a peaceful night at Guachalá, get ready for our cross country bike tour. Ride from Zuleta, a small town where the women are known for their exceptional hand-embroidered works to San Pablo, a peaceful town built on San Pablo lake. A support vehicle will accompany us throughout the day. In the afternoon, arrive at the elegantly restored Hacienda Cusín (built in 1602). Hacienda Cusin’s beautiful gardens boast 58 plant species and attracts 49 species of birds. Each room has its own fireplace.

DAY 5 Otavalo. Visit the famous Otavalo market in Ponchos Plaza. Farmers, artisans and peddlers from all over South America come here to sell their wares. A must-see, must-shop bazaar of people, animals, produce, and crafts that will overwhelm your senses. An ideal place to do all your Christmas shopping - a warm alpaca sweater or a panama hat. After a picnic lunch, leave the Andean highlands and descend into the cloud forest reserve of Bellavista. Spend the evening at Bellavista Lodge.

DAY 6 Bellavista. Take advantage of the birdwatching trail early morning before breakfast (optional). Bellavista is famous for its hummingbirds. After breakfast we hike through primary forest learning about the ecosystem and the natural history of various species. Picnic lunch. In the afternoon, take a refreshing plunge under the waterfalls. Head back for dinner at Bellavista Lodge.

DAY 7-8 Rio Blanco. We leave in the morning towards our great two-day adventure on the Rio Blanco (Class III). After a safety talk, start 60 km of exciting whitewater descent. Picnic Lunch. Continue towards a beautiful sand beach, where we will build our camp. Our dinner is accompanied with a warm fire and the lulling sound of running water. On day 2 after breakfast, continue our trip until we reach the town of Valle Hermoso. Return to Quito in the late afternoon for our farewell dinner.

DAY 9 Transfer out for international flight

Cost includes: Lodging, transportation, meals with a non-alcoholic beverage, equipments and specialized guides.
Cost does not include: extra meals or beverages.

Meeting point: Quito
Departure point: Quito
Difficulty: Medium