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Southern Ecuador Highlights

Ecuador, South America

Southern Ecuador Highlights

Hiking
·
Start: Guayaquil
·
End: Quito

Explore the untamed and diverse landscape of Ecuador in this nature-focused tour of the country's So

Activity
Hiking
LocationEcuador, South America
Duration9 days
Start / EndGuayaquil / Quito
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

Ecuador, South America

Southern Ecuador Highlights

Hiking·
9 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Guayaquil
·
End: Quito

Description

Beyond the Galapagos Islands and beaches that most travellers associate with Ecuador is a land of breathtaking mountain ranges and colourful communities that live in their foothills. Run your hands over the rugged edges of Ecuador in this tour, exploring the dense forests and eden-esque valleys that comprise some of the most beautiful vistas in all of the Americas. This trip offers the opportun...

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Itinerary

Day 1Guayaquil
Welcome to Guayaquil, officially Santiago de Guayaquil, the coastal gateway to your Ecuador adventure. First things first, join your group and tour leader for a welcome meeting at 3 pm. If you're going to be late, let the hotel know and they’ll pass the message on. After the meeting, we will embark on a walking tour to the Malecon 2000. Afterwards, feel free to use the rest of your afternoon and evening to explore Guayaquil. Maybe take a stroll along the boardwalk overlooking the Guayas river, which is particularly lively in the evening. Here you’ll find monuments, interesting sculptures and food stalls where the humble plantain is made into everything from dumplings to chips.
Day 2Cuenca
After breakfast we’ll take a 3.5-hour bus ride to what many consider Ecuador’s most attractive city, Cuenca. We arrive at approximately 12pm. See for yourself why this medieval fortress town earned a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during a walking tour of the city. Cuenca is a study in how architecture can complement environment, where ornate buildings are built into craggy cliff faces. After the tour, the rest of the day is yours. Why not wander this imminently strollable city while munching on a skewer of cuy? This rich, roasted meet is popular all over the Americas, but is particularly renowned in Cuenca, though you might know the animal by its Western name: guinea pig!
Day 3Cuenca
Today is a free day to explore Cuenca. There are loads of impressive 500-year-old churches (among them, La Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción which took 100 years to finish, and its blue and white domes are a real standout) and colonial buildings, made out of marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. It’s the country’s third largest city but still has a small town and Old World air, and it’s great for just wandering around and exploring. Think you can pull off a Panama hat? Well Cuenca is the home of the famous headwear, and if there’s time you could visit a factory and pick up one that fits perfectly. You can also learn about the Cañari and Inca cultures at the Ingapirca Archeaological site, or, if nature is more your scene, be sure to check out Cajas National park (3050m-4450m). and revel in the amazing variety of ecosystems which includes 270 glacier lakes and lagoons. There are also many plant species are endemic to Cajas' coud forest and it is home to a number of important wildlife species, in particular the violet-throated metaltail, endemic to Cajas and surrounding valleys which is the largest hummingbird in the world. If you're lucky you may spot some of the fourty-four species of mammal identified in the park such as deer, alpaca, llama,fox or the ever reclusive puma. For those looking for authentic souvenirs a day at the handicraft villages of Chordeleg and Gualaceo provide ample opportunity to grab some one of a kind jewelery, textiles and pottery. Cuenca is also a university town, so all the students give it a buzzing nightlife, and there are some good bars and restaurants to choose from in the evening. 
Day 4Vilcabamba
Set off for Vilcabamba, making a couple of stops along the way. Visit Saraguro, a town named after the Kichwa Nation indigenous folk who have called the area home for over 500 years, for a tour of the town and its beautiful church. Continue to the neighbouring farming village of Namarin for lunch. Although the contents of lunch will depend on the day, be prepared for rustic, hearty dishes made from potatoes – a staple of Southern Ecuadorian cuisine.Today we will explore this verdant valley town via a walking tour, wandering roads shared by tame livestock such as donkeys. This relaxed town was once named the “Valley of Longevity,” and while claims of residents extra-long lifespans have since been disproven, there’s no doubt the mineral-rich produce, clear mountain water and fantastic weather make for a happy and chilled out community. Later, we will travel to Podocarpus National Park where you can breathe deep the heady scent of orchids and spot endemic plant species. Spend up to 3 to 4 hours wandering this biodiverse park, including natural wonders like the mist-filled elfin forests you’ll find at 3000 metres elevation.
Day 5Vilcabamba
Your day is as clear as an Ecuadorian summer sky. You could opt to see more of nature’s bounty at the Tapichalaca Reserve, or follow the white crosses that line the road on an invigorating 2 hour hike from the centre of town up Caraarango to the shrine of Tuku Tuku. If you’re seeking something more relaxed, why not sip a blood-red horchata (a drink infused with local roots and herbs) and then perhaps walk to the lush banks of the Vilcabamba River. This body of water was the subject of the first court battle to successfully cite Ecuador’s constitutionally protected right for nature to flourish free from man-made interference, and you can experience up all the ambiance that was protected by the ruling.
Day 6Vilcabamba / Otavalo
A 4.30 am pick up time from the hotel is necessary to try and make the famous craft markets of Otavalo. A boxed breakfast will ease you into the day before the short journey to the airport, where the hour-long flight to Ecuador’s capital leaves at 7.20 am. Upon landing, a private van will take you on the almost 2 hour drive to Otavalo, where you can shop for dramatically patterned textiles, handwoven bags and knick-knacks.
Day 7Otavalo / Quito
Today we explore the epic green valleys of Otavalo, a spot so enchanting it’s no surprise local Shamans observe summer solstice here. We will visit a local Shaman before embarking on an hour-long hike of the area, visiting the Peguche Waterfalls. We then return to Quito.
Day 8Quito
Today is a free day in Quito. Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do. Optional activities and Urban Adventures (best booked ahead of time) include market tours, food tours, a guided Cloud Forest hike, or a day of relaxing at Papallacta Hot Springs. The choice is yours!
Day 9Quito
Today marks the end of your adventure with Intrepid. There are no activities planned for today, though there is so much more to explore in Ecuador and beyond if you have the time. We'd be happy to book you additional accomodation (subject to availability).

More info

Trip title

Southern Ecuador Highlights

Trip code

GGSH

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

Beyond the Galapagos Islands and beaches that most travellers associate with Ecuador is a land of breathtaking mountain ranges and colourful communities that live in their foothills. Run your hands over the rugged edges of Ecuador in this tour, exploring the dense forests and eden-esque valleys that comprise some of the most beautiful vistas in all of the Americas. This trip offers the opportunit... Read more

Style

Original

Themes

Explorer

Transport

Local Bus,Private Vehicle

Physical Rating

3

Physical preparation

We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest.

Joining point

Guayaquil

Finish point

Quito

Important information

NEW TRIP Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leade... Read more

Safety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more

Communications

It is recommended that you download WhatsApp prior to departure; please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive, unless you have international roaming enabled. WhatsApp is usually the preferred method for your leader to be in contact with you and the rest of the group while on tour. It is also good for sharing information and photos with th... Read more

Visas

PASSPORT: Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months' validity remaining. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or frie... Read more

Why we love it

The ingenious design of medieval fortress town Cuenca sees beautiful buildings built into the jagged cliffs the city is built on

Is this trip right for you

This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this. It’s important to wear sunscreen and other sun protection, and always drink plenty of water. This trip involves a lot of walking, though not much of it is o... Read more

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat ... Read more

Money matters

When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in ... Read more

What to take

Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need ... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential nega... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsible... Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving... Read more

Transport notes

Our overnight buses have reclinable seats - usually more comfortable than your average economy plane seats. You may be offered a simple dinner on board or stop at a service station to buy snacks and drinks. Before boarding an overnight bus, it's always a good idea to have music, a book, water, snacks and warm clothing ready.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights)
9days
€912per person
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Apr 21
Guayaquil
Apr 29
Quito
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Guayaquil
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Quito
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Guayaquil
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Quito
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Guayaquil
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Quito
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