Offices for Adventure Tour Galapagos

Epic Treks of the Andes and Amazon

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Get Immersed in the Local Culture

Effort: Moderate, basic hiking experience recommended.
Activities: Hiking, indigenous cultural exchange and wildlife observation.
Accommodation: Tourist-superior hotels, historical haciendas, and eco lodges.

Itinerary

DAY 1: LATITUDE ZERO ON VOLCAN PULULAHUA
Our adventure starts heading north out of Quito. After a quick stop at the equatorial monument, we continue north until we reach Volcan Pululahua, an extinct volcano surrounded by a geobotanical reserve. Pululahua’s crater is directly crossed by Latitude 0°. As we hike into the reserve and toward the crater, we pass through a series of unique ecosystems, including montane cloud forest, myrtle forest, and dry acacia forest. This reserve is also home to a huge number of bird species, including hummingbirds, mountain tanagers, eagles, and hawks. After arriving at the crater, we continue on toward Rio Blanco, we cross the river to nd an otherworldly landscape called Infiernillo (Little Hell), an arid patch of sulfur deposits within a dry forest. After our hike, we drive to a beautiful, historical hacienda, where we enjoy a delicious meal and comfort accommodations to finish the day. (L, D)
DAY 2: CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE

This morning, we drive to Cuicocha, a crater lake collected in a secondary caldera of the extinct Cotacachi
Volcano. Cuicocha translates as “Lake of the Guinea Pigs,” named for the shape of its two central islets.
The lake and surrounding slopes are protected as a nature reserve. At around 3,000 meters, Cuicocha’s
ecosystem is a combination of paramo and Andean forest. We will nd many unique plant species in this
rare combination of two ecosystems. Our path circumvents the crater rim, revealing stunning views of the
lake and the volcanoes Cotacachi, Mojanda, and Imbabura. We keep our eyes open for native wildlife,
and if we are lucky, we might even catch a glimpse of the rare Andean Condor. After lunch, we stop to
visit the leather market in Cotacachi and the famous indigenous handicraft market in Otavalo. In the late
afternoon, we head back to the hacienda for another delicious dinner and relaxing evening. (B, L, D)

DAY 3: CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TO PAPALLACTA

Today we drive east through the inter-Andean valley, gaining elevation as we climb into the heights of
Ecuador’s eastern Andes. At 4,100 meters, we reach the continental divide, a high pass that separates
the Pacic and Atlantic watersheds. We begin our hike through the Cayambe-Coca nature reserve,
home to some of the best highland paramo scenery in the country. This humid area is part of the largest
hydrological system in the world, and features one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the Andean
range. The high altitude and humidity of the paramo create a very unique ecosystem with a host of
endemic species. We hike mostly downhill, heading toward the Amazon lowlands on the other side of the
eastern Andes. As we walk, we seek out three native deer species and the elusive spectacled bear, and
of course we continue our search for the Andean Condor! Our hike ends in Termas de Papallacta Spa &
Resort, where we spend the evening relaxing in the mineral-rich, curative waters of the local natural hot
springs. The highly recommended spa treatments are booked separately. (B, L, D)

DAY 4: MACAW JUNGLE TRAIL

After breakfast at Termas de Papallacta, we drive along a scenic road that descends further into the
Amazon basin until we reach Sumaco National Park. The local ecosystem is montane cloud forest,
where many species from the jungle and the highlands coexist, in addition to some endemic mammals,
birds and insects. We will see cock of the rocks, toucans, macaws, monkeys, and more. As we descend
along a remote trail through dense vegetation, we can observe the gradual change from cloud forest to
rainforest. We continue to descend until reaching a good spot for a healthy picnic lunch. In the afternoon,
we continue by vehicle to Archidona to visit an indigenous community, where we learn about the Kichwa
culture and jungle life. After our visit, we head into our jungle lodge. After a delightful dinner, we prepare
our ashlights for a jungle night walk in the nature reserve next to our lodge. (B, BL, D)

DAY 5: RAINFOREST WALK, EXPLORE THE PASTAZA GORGE
This is our most relaxed hike, with plenty of time to enjoy the jungle wildlife at an easy pace and recover
at a lower altitude. The forest displays a great variety of trees like balsa, cedar, rubber and cinnamon.
As we hike, our guide identies countless species of orchids, vines, ferns, insects, and reptiles, teaching
us the traditional ways indigenous tribes use many of these plants. After lunch, we drive south and start
climbing back into the Andes through the Pastaza River Gorge. This scenic route, with rocky cliffs in
a deep cloud forest canyon, is known for its many waterfalls. We stop to admire some of the largest,
including Pailon Del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil). We pass through
Baños, an attractive subtropical town set on the slopes of the very active Volcan Tungurahua, and enjoy
some fantastic views of Tungurahua before arriving to an Andean Hacienda, where we will spend the
night. (B, L, D)

 

DAY 6: MYSTERIES OF THE LLANGANATES

The Llanganates mountain range has a long history of mystical events and legends. To this day, it is one
of the few places in the world that remains largely unexplored and uncharted. Locals relive stories of
failing compasses and disappearances, and the most famous legend tells how Inca general Rumiñahui
hid a vast fortune of gold in one of the range’s lakes. The Llanganates is protected as a vast, 220,000
hectare national park, it covers four provinces and the altitude in the park varies between 4,500 and
1,200 meters.

Our hike starts around 3,500 meters and takes us through cloud forest, Andean forest, and paramo
ecosystems. This picturesque and remote trail gives us the chance to enjoy great views of the surrounding
volcanoes and spot an abundance of hummingbirds, mountain tanagers, and deer. We continue our hike
to Laguna San Borja seeking for the elusive spectacled bear, looking up for evidence of its presence,
following its prints and traces. If we are very lucky we may see one! In the afternoon we continue the
journey through the avenue of the Volcanoes to the Cotopaxi area for dinner and overnight at an Andean
Hacienda. (B, L, D)

DAY 7: COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK

Cotopaxi Volcano, with its symmetrical, glaciated cone and imposing presence, is one of Ecuador’s most
enduring images. The wild paramo that surrounds this 5,897 meter giant is designated as Cotopaxi
National Park, and is a spectacular place to hike while searching for highland wildlife and admiring
incredible volcanic scenery. We begin our adventure on the slopes of Volcan Rumiñahui, where we
get stunning views of Cotopaxi rising over 2,000 meters above the high plain. As we hike, we spot
hares, foxes, falcons, deer, and with luck, condors ying overhead. We descend the slopes of Rumiñahui
Volcano, all the way to Limpiopungo Glacier Lake, home to scores of aquatic birds. It is common to see
gulls, ducks, teals, lapwings, shore birds, and even the occasional high-altitude amingo on the banks of
Limpiopungo. After stopping for lunch at a local hacienda, we return to Quito to rest and celebrate an
Epic Adventure! (B, L)

Quick Facts

Included
Accommodations in tourist-superior hotels,
historical haciendas, and eco lodges, private
land transportation, all meals as described
(breakfast, lunch or box lunch, and dinner
daily), high-quality adventure and protective
equipment, professional English-speaking
adventure guide.

 

Not Included
Tips, Hotel and restaurant beverages

and personal expenses.

 

Notes
This itinerary is subject to change without notice due to seasonal changes, inclement weather conditions, and adjustments of National Park policies.

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