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Secrets of Ecuador

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Tour Pace: Comfortable
Otavalo Market, Ecuador
Tour Style: First Class
9 Days from $2,295 per person

Ecuador's colors and contrasts are featured on this incredible exploration from Otavalo's outdoor market, Cotopaxi National Park, Devil's Nose Train and to UNESCO World Heritage sites like Quito and Cuenca.


You'll enjoy Insider moments like… taking in the dramatic architecture of Ecuador, from its churches to its cobblestone streets. It's where you'll learn all about the art of decadent chocolate-making and the ancient weaving culture used to create Panama hats.

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  1. Welcome to Ecuador, a local host will greet you at the airport for a transfer to your hotel in the village of San Pablo del Lago, located just outside Otavalo and ideally situated at the base of the Imbabura Volcano. Hacienda Cusin, founded in 1602, is one of the oldest haciendas in all of Ecuador. Enjoy the rest of your day to relax and get settled in.
    hotel:Hacienda Cusin Authentic Accommodations
  2. Depart mid-morning to meet a local family who introduces you to the Andean tradition and Cultural Insight of flute-making, including a musical interlude using the handmade instruments. You'll even get the chance to try playing the instruments yourself. Enjoy a Welcome Reception Lunch with your Travel Director and fellow travelers at a traditional hacienda. Visit the public market alongside native Otavalenos and put your bartering skills to the test. Stroll through the different vendor stalls offering a variety of handcrafted items in search of the perfect keepsake.
    meal(s):FB, WR, D
  3. Your morning is at leisure before heading to Cayambe where you will meet a local family for a Be My Guest Lunch at Hacienda La Compania, a beautiful home and rose plantation. Tour the grounds, including the charming chapel and learn about the roses grown here before indulging in a meal of Ecuadorian specialties. Arrive in Quito and enjoy the evening to relax.
    meal(s):FB, BG
    hotel:Hilton Colon
  4. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Quito, Ecuador's capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn all about the religious and cultural influences of this bustling city, located just 14 miles (22 kilometers) from the Equatorial Line. Visit a candy shop to watch a third generation candy-maker create a traditional Ecuadorian candy called colaciones, a Cultural Insight. Eat lunch at a local restaurant and try another Cultural Insight, canelazo, a delicious spiced cinnamon rum drink. Continue to the Equatorial Line Monument and stand in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time. Later, meet a Local Specialist, an Ecuadorian organic chocolate-maker, who tells you all about the production process and shares samples for you to enjoy. Indulge in a Regional Meal this evening featuring local cuisine.
    meal(s):FB, L, RM
  5. Travel south along the Panamerican Highway, through stunning landscapes of valleys and mountains before arriving at Cotopaxi National Park, the site of an active volcano standing 19,642 feet (5,987 meters) high. Meet a Local Specialist who shares his knowledge and passion for this spectacular natural wonder. Continue on to Limpiopungo Lake where you'll observe a great number of high-altitude birds, and occasionally, wild horses. Return to the valley where lunch is served at a 300-year-old hacienda. Venture back to the main road and continue along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes." Riobamba awaits as you continue alongside massive Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador.
    meal(s):FB, L, D
    hotel:Hacienda Abraspungo
  6. Head south to the train station in Alausi where you board the Devil's Nose Train, an engineering feat of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The railway allows you to discover the topographic obstacles of Ecuador's diverse landscape as you zigzag down the steep mountainside. Disembark at Sibambe to visit a local museum built and run by the Nizag community. See displays of local crafts, fruits, and medicinal plants. After your train journey, enjoy a picnic lunch before visiting the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.
    meal(s):FB, L
  7. Discover the charm of Cuenca with a Local Specialist and admire the red-tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and flowery plazas. Founded as a Spanish settlement in 1557, the beauty of its landscape with the harmony of old and modern architecture has prompted UNESCO to name Cuenca a World Cultural Heritage Site. Today's highlights include the Todos los Santos ruins, a flower market, and the main square surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral. Visit surrounding communities including an arts and crafts village for a Cultural Insight into the ancient weaving process of Panama hats and other items made of toquilla straw. Learn weaving methods that date back to pre-Columbian cultures while visiting a local pottery maker in action. The evening is yours to explore.
  8. Journey to Guayaquil through El Cajas National Park. Watch the ever changing flora and fauna as you travel through the beautiful cloud forests to the coast for a visit to a cacao plantation. Here, learn all about growing and harvesting cacao with a Local Specialist before a delicious lunch. Arrive in Guayaquil and enjoy a short city tour. Tonight, toast an unforgettable vacation during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
    meal(s):FB, L, FD
    hotel:Oro Verde
  9. Your Ecuadorian adventure comes to an end with a transfer to the airport for your flight home, or extend your stay at the Hotel Oro Verde.

30 Day Refund Guarantee

We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Most Meals Most Meals

Meal Summary

8 nights' accommodations, 8 full breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners.

Included Highlights

Hidden Treasure

  • Enjoy at least one surprise Hidden Treasure.

Cultural Insight

  • Traditional Andean flute-making and weaving, candy making with a local candy maker, try a delicious cinnamon rum drink and witness the art of Panama hat weaving.

Be My Guest

  • Enjoy lunch at a rose plantation in Cayambe.

Authentic Accommodations

  • Stay at Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th century Andean estate.

Local Specialist

  • Meet a chocolate maker at the El Cajas National Parks and an expert in the city of Cotopaxi, as well as Cuenca.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City tour in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca
  • Visit Otavalo's outdoor market, Equatorial Line Monument, Riobamba and artisan villages near Cuenca
  • View the Cotopaxi Volcano
  • Scenic drives along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" and El Cajas National Park
  • Iconic train journey aboard the Devil's Nose Train
  • Definite Departure
Depart Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
17 Sep 17 25 Sep 17 checkmark $2,295pp Call 1-877-622-9109
12 Nov 17 20 Nov 17 $2,295pp Request Quote Book Now
3 Dec 17 11 Dec 17 $2,295pp Request Quote Book Now

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $1,975.

Guaranteed Room Share is not available on this trip.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $91 per person.

Early Payment Discount: Pay in full to save the amount listed above. For details, click here.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift!  Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

Past Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the Land Only price of the vacation.

  • U.S. citizens traveling to Ecuador must have a current passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here.  No visa is required for US citizens to enter Ecuador.

  • Ecuador uses the US Dollar. t’s generally a good idea to carry some cash on you while you travel; however, you will be able to pay with your debit or credit card in many places.  The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks. It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.

  • Ecuadorean cuisine makes use of the country’s bountiful seafood and its many mountain crops. Potatoes are indigenous to the Andes, which produce over 2000 varieties of tubers. Most meals include rice and potatoes as the primary starches, however plantains and yucca are also frequently eaten.  Many meals include a soup course; locro de papa  is a delicious creamy soup made of sweet potatoes,  avocados, and cheese. Another regional favorite is encebollado, a tomato-based fish soup filled with yucca and marinated vegetables.  Maize dumplings, humitas, are slightly sweet and served in corn husks, and commonly sold at markets or by street vendors.  Pork is a popular meat, often served roasted on a spit or fried.  If you find yourself getting chilly in the highlands, stop for a steaming mug of canelazo, hot water with rum, cinnamon, sugar and lemon.

  • We suggest bringing a variety of lightweight clothing items that can be layered to save space in your suitcase and give you more options for how to dress. Sturdy walking shoes are important, and you will likely want a light jacket for evenings at high altitude. Insect repellent and sunscreen may come in handy, as well as a light jacket and reusable water bottle. A more formal outfit will serve you if you plan on dining out in nicer restaurants.  Keep in mind that your shoulders and knees should be covered while visiting religious sites. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • When dining out at restaurants it is appropriate to leave up to 10 percent gratuity.

    At the end of your guided vacation, it’s customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity.  We recommend the equivalent of $4 per person/per day for your driver and $6 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is the equivalent of 1-2 dollars per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group. 

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.


Trip not yet reviewed

Extend your vacation with a post-itinerary 5 day Galapagos Islands Cruise package.

Prices for the extension start at $4,187* per person twin share (single supplement from $3425).

Prices include internal flights, Galapagos National Park fees, Galapagos Transit Control Card, and all taxes and gratuities on board the cruise. Please note that guaranteed room share is not available on this extension.

DAY 1 - 8 Operate per Secrets of Ecuador Itinerary

Fly to Baltra Island and transfer by ferry to Santa Cruz Island. Visit Las Bachas and its salt water lagoons. These lagoons are the feeding grounds for many different types of wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. Board your ship and enjoy a Welcome Drink before dinner.

Explore the coastline along the imposing cliffs of Buccaneer Cove. Enjoy the fantastic natural formations such as the Elephant Rock, The Bishop, and an impressive natural cave.  Depart for Santiago Island and Puerto Egas where you might catch a glimpse of some marine birds amidst the lava flows and tuff-stone layers.

Land near a red colored beach on Rabida Island, where sea lions and marine iguanas laze on the rocks. With your choice of sightseeing, either get up close and personal with vibrant undersea colonies on a snorkel excursion, or view them from a glass bottom or panga boat. Visit Bartolome Island with its stunning landscapes. Hike to the island summit for impressive views. The island is also home to the Galapagos Penguin, the only penguin species to live near the Equator.

The morning begins with a climb to a flat, rocky plateau. Along the way, you might have the chance to observe large colonies of Nazca, red-footed boobies, and great frigate birds. Or perhaps enjoy a panga boat ride along the cliffs (weather permitting). In the afternoon, land at Darwin Bay to enjoy some swimming and snorkeling. Later enjoy a leisurely stroll to observe more of the native wildlife.

Transfer to Guayaquil Airport for your flight home. Airport arrival will be at 4.30pm - please be aware when booking your flights to the USA (not included in the extension price). Should you choose to extend your stay, you will be transferred to the Guayaquil hotel.


*Prices are accurate as of 17 October 2016.

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