You can decide to enjoy this tour either from Quito to Cuenca or Cuenca to Quito. This tour of the Avenue of the Volcanoes covers the main highlights of the area including Lake Quilotoa, the Devil’s Nose Train and Ingapirca ruins. As you travel you’ll make several stops at different locations such as national parks, artisan workshops or local markets. Drop off in Quito can be either in the city itself or at the airport, to ensure you make your flight on time.
There are more than 80 volcanoes running down the Andean center of Ecuador and innumerable places of interest for travelers which means that this tour can easily be extended to cover more days. Additional highlights can include: Baños (adventure travel destination), Palacio Real community (a llama breeding project), horse riding at a hacienda
or Cajas National Park. Specific itineraries depend on the day of the week (as different indigenous markets open on different days of the week) and climatic conditions. At time of booking we can confirm availability at particular haciendas
As more passengers book for particular dates we can reduce the rate per person. If you prefer a private tour, we can tailor it to suit your personal taste, timeframe and budget, as well as ensure you reach the airport on time if you’re trying to catch a plane home.
This tour includes
· A bilingual (English/Spanish) guide
· Private transportation
· Meals mentioned in itinerary
· Entrance fees
This tour does not include
· Travel insurance
· Tips and gratuities
· Personal expenses
· Any other service not mentioned herein
· Good walking shoes
· Fast-drying comfortable clothing
· Rain jacket
· Warm clothes
· Warm hat and gloves
· Sun protection
· Sun glasses
· Swimming clothes
Sample itinerary: Quito – Cuenca
Day 1 - Quito - Cotopaxi - Hacienda
Head south from Quito to visit Cotopaxi National Park. You’ll then arrive at the Hacienda in time to enjoy activities on offer, including horse riding or bike riding, before enjoying a delicious dinner and getting some rest. Meals included: -/L/D
Day 2 - Quilotoa Crater - Indigenous Market - Estrella de Chimborazo
Spend the day visiting Quilotoa Crater. You’ll then visit a local market (depending on the day of the week), before heading to Estrella de Chimborazo located at 4100m and located within the nature reserve. Meals included: B/L/-
Day 3 - El Arenal - Refugio del Chimborazo - Calpi - Alausí
Start out the day with a visit to El Arenal and Chimborazo base camp. Enjoy a lunch in the indigenous community of Calpi. Reach Alausí for a needed rest at local hacienda (La Quinta or similar). Meals included: B/L/-
Day 4 - Devil's Nose Train - Ingapirca - Cuenca
Head south towards Alausí to take the Devil’s Nose Train. After lunch head to the Inca ruins of Ingapirca before continuing on to Cuenca. Meals included: B/L/-
Located about 50km south of Quito, Cotopaxi National Park is home to the Cotopaxi volcano, the dormant Rumiñawi volcano and Sincholagua volcano. Cotopaxi is amongst the highest active volcanoes in the world at 5900 meters and is clearly visible from Quito on a clear day. It has one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world and is popular with climbers.
Located about 90 km west of Latacunga is the isolated Lake Quilotoa, a spectacular crater lake filled with emerald water and one of the highlights of any trip to Ecuador.
Guamote is located 50 km south of Riobamba and is home to a fabulous highland market that takes place on Thursdays and attracts hundreds of indigenous locals from the surrounding sierra. When visiting make sure you arrive early in the morning and make your way to the chaotic animal market where locals buy and sell guinea pigs, piglets, ducks, sheep and chickens.
Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador, at 6310 meters, and is a currently inactive volcano. Its summit is also the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center, due to the equatorial bulge. Chimborazo is 150km south of Quito. It’s summit is completely covered by glaciers. It is a popular climb which can be ascended all year around.
Located at 2,357 meters above sea level, Alausí is a small town with an attractive colonial-style architecture known mainly for its train station from which travelers can take the Devil’s Nose train.
Devil's Nose Train
In 1899 work started on the construction of Ecuador’s first railway running between Guayaquil and Quito. 130 kms east of Guayaquil the tracks reached El Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose), a vertical rock wall that created a huge challenge to engineers. The solution was found in an ingenious zigzag track running for 2 kms from Sibambe to Alausí which took the train uphill in small distances both forward and backwards. Many lives were lost in the construction of this masterpiece of railway engineering. The track reached Alausí in 1902 and the section to Quito was completed in 1908. In the 1980s and 1990s the Devil’s Nose Train became famous as a tourist attraction for travelers who would ride on the roof to the amusement of locals. In 1997 the tracks were devastated by El Niño and have recently been restored as part of a large project called the Tren Crucero that runs the entire train line from Quito. A museum, café and small market have been built at Sibambe, while the train station at Alausí has been revamped.
Located at the top of a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, Ingapirca is the most important Inca complex located in Ecuador. It was built during the Inca expansion into Ecuador at the end of the 15th century on a site that had been occupied by the Cañari people for 500 years. The original Cañari structures were mostly destroyed and replaced by the Incas and their settlement was probably used as a fortress and place of worship on the Inca road between Cuzco and Quito. Today the Temple of the Sun is the only structure that remains mostly intact. The temple features stone walls constructed in the Inca way using massive blocks chiseled to fit together perfectly without the use of mortar.
Located in the southern Ecuadorian Andes Cuenca is known for its historic city center, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, and the magnificent surrounding mountains. Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador and an attractive destination for travelers and expats due to its pleasant weather, relaxed pace, colonial architecture, stable economy and its natural surroundings which are ideal for adventure activities.
||Price (per person)
* Please specify at booking if you would like a private tour or if you’d like us to try to find more passengers for your dates in order to reduce the price per person.
** Contact us to find out about group departure dates for discounted prices.
This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of the available options for travel in Ecuador. But keep in mind:
- We can tailor this trip to suit your needs, tastes, time frame and budget
- Check out our Andes Travel Guide for inspiration