January 17th - 27th 2016
Named from the equator which runs through the country, and found on the eastern rim of the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, Ecuador is one of the most volcanically active countries on the planet. Here, the Nasca Plate is plunging beneath the South American Plate and it has buckled the crust to create the Andes mountain range with some of the highest and most active volcanoes in the world. The explorer Alexander Von Humbolt was one of the first Europeans to visit the area and graphically described the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”.
There are 55 volcanoes in the country, eight of them still active.
This tour of mainland Ecuador will take in some of the country’s most well-known volcanoes, including Cotopaxi ~ one of the world’s highest active peaks, Chimborazo ~ the furthest point from the centre of the earth, and Tungurahua, which has been in a state of almost constant eruption since 2008.
In addition to the volcanoes, the tour will also visit some of the best cultural and archaeological sites of the country, and there will be opportunities to view a range of the local wildlife. The party will be escorted from the UK and throughout the tour by Alan Clewlow, an experienced geologist who will also be on hand to offer advice and some explanation of the geological features seen. It will be led by an experienced Ecuadorian geological guide throughout the tour who will have detailed local knowledge of the places being visited.
For bookings and extra information please call us on
01527 832 578 or email@example.com
After a journey from London Heathrow (via Amsterdam), we arrive in late afternoon at Quito, where we will be greeted by our Ecuador guide. Transfer to Hacienda Pinsaqui, one of Ecuador´s leading Hacienda – Hotels.
First to the nearby town of Otavalo. Otavalo is the biggest and most important indigenous market in all of Latin America. Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant to experience a variety of typical regional dishes. The day continues with a visit to the active volcanic crater lake of Cuicocha, located at the foothills of the Cotacachi Volcano. This lake, known as the “place of the gods” by the original indigenous population, has 2 small islands in the centre and is surrounded by the native shrub-like vegetation found along the Ecuadorian Andes. Short walk to appreciate the landscape and, hopefully take a closer look at Cotacachi.
An early departure heading southeast, to reach the heart of the Avenue of the Volcanoes and the next destination, the Antisana Volcano. On the way, we will pass through the main square in the town of Pintag, before arriving at some of the best preserved paramo (highland moor) in the world. We then cross a relatively young lava flow on a path which will lead us up to Humboldt’s refuge in what used to be the famous Hacienda Antisana at an altitude of 4120m. Our transport will drop us off at the Antisana River gorge, a meltwater stream from the Antisana glacier. From here we will walk approximately one hour north to the base of the old Chuzalongos, three peaks formed by an ancient horseshoe-shaped crater sitting to the west of Antisana. Once back on our transport we then leave behind this snowcapped volcano and drive to Quito, the capital of Ecuador and our next destination. Dinner is not included, as there are many nice restaurants at a walking distance from the hotel. We will spend the night at the colonial Hotel Patio Andaluz.
Quito is a colonial jewel that also embraces a modern city filled with spacious parks, commercial centres and a fascinating mix of post-modern architecture. After breakfast, we will leave the hotel for a short drive to Teleferiqo ~ a cable car complex at the foothills of the Pichincha Volcano. The Teleferiqo will help us reach an altitude of over 4000 metres (13000 feet). Once on the top, we will have time to enjoy the breathtaking landscape: on clear days we can enjoy a panorama of 14 Andean peaks, all of them volcanoes. This is one of the best places in Ecuador to observe the magnitude of what Humboldt called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. After this visit, we will descend on the Teleferiqo and have lunch at a local restaurant and continue the afternoon with an exploration of Quito´s colonial centre. As the day before, dinner is not included, giving the chance to seek out another of the great restaurants in the area.
After breakfast, we leave Quito travelling out into the valley below. The Avenue of the Volcanoes opens up before us. As we head south, we will enjoy spectacular views of the Avenue of Volcanoes, this stretch dominated by the magnificent peak of Cotopaxi and neighbouring Rumiñahui, Sinchologua and the Ilinizas. On through the countryside, passing sheep and llamas grazing in the surrounding fields, we pass the highland towns of Pujilí and La Victoria. In Quilotoa crater, a nice, easy walk takes us down to the shore of the dazzling emerald-green Laguna Quilotoa. The lake was formed when, after several violent eruptions, the crater filled with water creating a stunning, natural wonder. We return on foot or horseback up to the top to enjoy a picnic lunch before our journey back up the Avenue of Volcanoes to our next destination: Cotopaxi National Park. We eventually arrive at Hacienda La Cienega, for a one-night stay including dinner.
Cotopaxi, at 5,898m. above sea level, is one of the highest volcanoes in the world. We start with a drive that will bring us out onto the plain of Laguna de Limpiopungo, a lake fed by water from the volcano Rumiñahui. At the water’s edge, the park wildlife gathers, providing the chance to spot an eagle or maybe a great Andean Condor. From Lake Limpiopungo, we will walk for about one hour to the Incan ruins of Pucará.
If the sky is clear there are beautiful views of Cotopaxi and the surrounding volcanoes: Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, Pasachoa and Antisana. As we walk across the páramo, we might see hawks, foxes, llamas and deer. After lunch we will head to the town of Baños, located south on the slopes of the Tungurahua volcano. Tungurahua has been in a state of eruption since 2008, and on this night, we will take a chiva (a small open bus) to a nearby hill from where it is possible, on clear nights, to see the eruption of lava from the crater. After the evening excursion, we will head to Hosteria Luna Runtun to have dinner and spend the night.
The town of Baños, located at an altitude of 1,800 meters is considered to be the gateway to the Amazon jungle. After breakfast at the Hosteria, we embark on “The route of the waterfalls”, which runs along the Pastaza River Gorge. The highlight of this route is located beside Rio Verde, where we will have a short walk through the cloud forest to reach the thundering waterfall known as "Pailon del Diablo" (Devil's cauldron).
On this day, there will be a packed lunch en route. In the afternoon, our tour continues to the highest volcano in Ecuador, Chimborazo (6,310 m). From here it is possible to walk to the Edward Whymper shelter that offers a great view from an altitude of 5.000 meters. The day ends in Riobamba, where dinner will be waiting for us at Hacienda Abraspungo.
We will depart early in the morning, after breakfast, through picturesque landscapes and small villages to reach Alausí, where we start one of the most famous train rides in the world. The ‘Devil’s Nose’, as it is known, is an unforgettable train ride down an almost sheer rockface; the train makes switchbacks all the way down the cliff and then back up again. After this, we will have lunch in a local restaurant and then head to the next highlight: Ingapirca archeological complex, the largest Inca site in Ecuador. In the late afternoon we will continue to Cuenca, where we will stay at Hotel Carvallo. This evening, dinner is not included, as Cuenca has a wide variety of culinary experiences in the many restaurants located in the historical centre (where our hotel is also located)
This day's itinerary takes us to the Pacific Ocean to visit the Cerro Blanco Forest reserve. This private reserve, of approximately 6000 ha., preserves an important area of tropical dry forest. The reserve boasts an impressive variety of birds (more than 190 species) such as the Guayaquil Green Macaw, the Crane Hawk and the Snail Kite. The landscape is dominated by towering ceiba trees and it´s wildlife is almost as impressive. In addition to the birds there are numerous mammals that inhabit the area, and though they are harder to see, there is always the possibility of spotting howler monkeys, ocelots, pumas, jaguars and peccaries, amongst other species. The day ends with a farewell dinner at “Lo Nuestro” a charming restaurant specializing in Ecuadorian cuisine, and an overnight stay at the Grand Hotel Guayaquil, in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city.
Check out of the hotel after breakfast, with the possibility of some free time in the city, before transferring to Guayaquil Airport. The main group will board an evening flight back to London, via Amsterdam, arriving in the afternoon on the next day (27th). For those wishing to “add-on” to this tour a visit to the Galapagos Islands, the end of this mainland volcanoes tour has been timed to coincide with the start of a Galapagos tour arranged by Ecuador based “Andando Tours”, which can be booked directly with that company. The Andando Galapagos tour ends on February 2nd, linking up with flights back to the UK via Amsterdam, arriving on 3rd February. If interested in this option, please contact us for further details.
The cost of the Ecuador Mainland Volcanoes Tour tour is £2230* (*see booking conditions). This includes return flights between London Heathrow and Ecuador with KLM via Amsterdam, 9 nights’ accommodation in good quality hotels, luxury coach transport throughout the tour, excursions and admission to sites described in the itinerary. Breakfasts are provided throughout the tour, lunches on 8 days and dinners on 6 evenings.
Accommodation is based on two people sharing a room. It should be possible to arrange single accommodation for those who require it, but this will involve a supplement (estimated at £300). All those taking part in the tour are expected to arrange their own holiday insurance, which can be obtained from any travel agent or insurance broker.
All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate