Day 1 – TUESDAY: Depart Quito –Travel to Cotopaxi and Latacunga (B,L,D)
Cities covered: Quito , Cotopaxi , Latacunga
We depart from the Chimbacalle train station in Quito at 8:00 am on board a traditional excursion train which is only used on the first section of the journey and head to Cotopaxi station. Here, our journey continues by coach as we explore the magnificent Cotopaxi National Park, featuring typical Andean volcanic landscapes and a walking tour throughthe Limpiopungo glacial lagoon. Cotopaxi National Park is an important oasis for a variety of Andean flora and fauna, such as Caracara, Andean Gull, Andean Dear, Andean Wolf and the Andean Condor and it is overlooked by the magnificent snow capped Cotopaxi Volcano which rises 5,897 meters above sea level. Our journey continues to San Agustin del Callo for lunch featuring Ecuadorian nouvelle cuisine. This hacienda is a fine example of traditional Inca architecture, as it once stood as an Inca Palace, built well before the colonial period. After exploring the hacienda, we will enjoy a presentation by local dancers in the Lasso train station, our next stop. In the afternoon we will visit an Indigenous market. We will enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in a historic yet upscale Ecuadorian hacienda.
Day 2 – WEDNESDAY: Lasso to Riobamba With Stops at a Rose Plantation and Meet the Last Ice Merchant (B,L,D)
Cities covered: Lasso , Latacunga , Ambato , Cevallos , Urbina , Riobamba
After breakfast, we will depart by bus for the Latacunga train station to board Tren Crucero and continue on our journey. We will head south and will stop for a visit to an Ecuadorian rose plantation where we will learn about the world famous Ecuadorian roses and see where they are grown and how they are distributed across the globe. We will then continue on with Tren Crucero to Ambato and have lunch at the delightful Roka Plaza Hotel, an ancient colonial house. If weather conditions permits, we will have a wonderful view of Tungurahua volcano from a safe distance; the volcano is still active and occasionally displays one of nature´s most impressive events, a volcanic eruption! After lunch our coaches will take us to Cevallos Train Station where we will re-board our train and travel to Urbina station, which is located at 11,840 feet/ 3,609 meters above sea level, making Urbina the highest train station in Ecuador. Here we meet the “Last Ice Merchant”, Baltazar Ushca, who will share with us his daily journey to the slopes of Chimborazo Volcano to collect centuries old ice. If the weather is cooperative, we will also enjoy truly a breathtaking view of Chimborazo volcano. After this visit we will continue by train to the Riobamba Train Station and continue on to the hacienda. We will enjoy dinner and a cozy night stay at a local hacienda.
Day 3 – THURSDAY: Travel in Steam Locomotive from Riobamba to Guayaquil With Many Cultural Stops (B,L,D)
Cities covered: Riobamba , Colta , Guamote , Alausí , Sibambe , Huigra , Bucay , Guayaquil
After being picked up from our haciendas by coach and return to the Riobamba train station. Riobamba is a city surrounded by four active volcanoes and it is known as the “Queen of the Andes”. We will then board Tren Crucero, pulled by steam locomotive, and travel across stunning Andean landscapes to Colta where we have a short stop to visit Balbanera Church, the first landmark of Christianity arriving in Ecuador. After visiting the church we will return to the train and depart for Guamote where we will explore its famous indigenous market. This is one of the last authentic markets in the Ecuadorian Andes and a traditional lunch will be served at the train station. In the afternoon, we will depart and continue on by train to the Alausi train station traveling across fascinating natural geological formations. Once we reach Alausi, we will start our descent by train down to the famous Devil´s Nose where the train has to perform zigzag maneuvers in order to descend 200 meters, traveling approximately 3 kilometers. We then make a short stop at a viewpoint to observe and photograph this magnificent engineering achievement that is known as the most difficult railway project in the world. We will then continue on to Duran where our guide will be waiting for us to bring us to Guayaquil for our dinner and accommodation at a beautiful upscale Guayaquil hotel.
Day 4 – FRIDAY: Guayaquil to Cuenca with a Ride on the Tren de La Dulzura (B,L,D)
Cities covered : Guayaquil , Bucay , Cuenca
Today we will enjoy a train ride tour on the Tren de la Dulzura, or the Train of Sweetness, which received its name from the amount of sugar cane plantations lining the route. You will be able to admire diverse agricultural landscapes as rice paddies merge into sugar-cane plantations and then turn into cocoa plantations! Upon arrival in Bucay we will be welcomed by a traditional dance from the Ecuadorian coast. Our guide will be waiting to bring us on to Cuenca where we will enjoy a wonderful overnight stay at a comfortable Cuenca hotel.
Day 5 – SATURDAY: Full Day in Cuenca With City Tour (B,L,D)
Cities covered : Cuenca
Your day will begin with a wonderful walking city tour of Cuenca. Visit the Calderon Park, the new and old Cathedrals, the Park of Flowers, the Modern Art Museum, the Cañari – Incas of All Saints ruins, and explore the banks of the Tomebamba and Turi Rivers. In the afternoon your guide will drive you to back to the hotel and you will enjoy the rest of your day and dinner at your leisure.
Day 6 – SUNDAY: El Cajas National Park , Cacao Plantation, and Guayaquil Before Departure (B,L)
Cities covered : Cuenca , Guayaquil
After breakfast or guide will drive you to El Cajas National Park is located 30 km. west of the city of Cuenca. This park is well known for its 230 beautiful lakes, most of them product of volcanic activity and glaciers. The park also plays home to a great diversity of fauna and flora. The vegetation includes quinoa trees and small forests that offer shelter to many bird species, such as hummingbirds and the gray – breasted mountain toucan. This beautiful park is located in the Paramo (highlands) ecosystem, which is between 3,000 to 4,700 meters above sea level. During the journey we will enjoy a beautiful day of nature, walking around the largest lake, Lake Toreadora, while discovering its flora and fauna. After visiting El Cajas National Park our tour will continue on descending towards the Coast of Ecuador where you will stop at a local Cacao Plantation where we will have lunch and tour the farm. After this exciting cultural experience we will continue to Guayaquil to catch flights home or continue on to your next destination.
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