Avenue of the Volcanoes


Day 1: Quito/Cotopaxi National Park

This morning, depart for Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and the central feature of the park. The volcano offers climbing experiences to suit all skill levels. You can explore the Andean moorlands (páramos), hike up to the snow line (15,800 feet), or drive around to enjoy the landscapes provided by other close volcanoes like Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, and Quilindaña. The park is home to deer, pumas, condors, wild horses, llamas, highland foxes, and rabbits, but these highland creatures can be difficult to spot. The plant life you will see is diverse and unique, having adapted to the harsh conditions of the strong sun, fierce winds, and cold weather. Enjoy lunch at a local country inn, and in the afternoon, retreat to a typical hacienda, where you can see the erupting Tungurahua Volcano. (L,D)

Day 2: Baños

This morning continue to Baños, a small town nestled in the shadows of the Tungurahua volcano, perched high above the Amazon Basin. The area is rich in vegetation and orchids and is famed for its nearby hot springs that provide hot running water to the local baths. Take a cable car ride over a river valley and see local farmer’s small fish farms and orchards. Then, a pleasant hike will take you to Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, a powerful waterfall surrounded by tropical plants and orchids. You might even have the chance to enjoy freshly squeezed tropical fruit juice along the way. Return this evening to your hacienda. (B,L,D)

Day 3: Local Market/Quito

This morning, depart for Quito. Stop on the way in Ambato, Sasquasili, Latacunga, or another local town (depending on the day of the week) to enjoy one of Ecuador’s colorful and authentic indigenous weekly markets where locals barter for fruits, vegetables, colorful spices, and livestock. At the market you can also find a multitude of handicrafts to bring home. Return to Quito this afternoon. (B)