Half day with a guide to explore the history and architecture of Ecuador’s capital city
Stay in a stylish hotel in the heart of the old city
Quito is the highest constitutional capital in the world. Surrounded by volcanoes and Andean peaks, this was the first city to be declared a UNESCO world heritage site. With beautifully preserved colonial architecture and vibrant markets, this is an excellent starting point for any trip to Ecuador.
With two nights at Casa Gangotena, our favourite boutique hotel in Quito, you will have a full day to explore this exciting city. We will arrange for our guide to meet you at the hotel in the morning and take you for a gentle overview of the city’s history and most impressive sites. This includes a stunning 17th-century monastery and art gallery in a quiet courtyard behind thick walls above the Old Town. Visit the San Francisco Church, the first Catholic church built by the Spaniards in Quito and La Compañia church is well known for the beauty of its altars covered with gold leaves and for being the best example of baroque style in the country.
Days 3 – 5
The Mashpi Reserve
Explore the incredible biodiversity of the cloud forest in the Mashpi Reserve
Travel over, under and through the arboreal canopies on the ‘dragonfly’ cable system
Mashpi Lodge is one of the most impressive examples of a lodge that exists for the benefit of its location. Working with local communities, a resident team of scientists and conservation professionals, Mashpi has dedicated itself to protecting the natural habitats of the reserve.
The lodge sits on a hillside surrounded by forest. The floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every space immerse guests in the forested surroundings. A connection with the rainforest is never lost during a stay at Mashpi. Rooms are spacious with soft lighting and calm colours that reflect the peaceful location.
The Mashpi Research Lab is on the site and open to guests of the hotel. Some of the weird and wonderful insects found in the forests over the years are on display, and talking to the resident scientists gives you first-hand access to the incredible biodiversity and endemism of the Mashpi reserve and Ecuador’s Choco rainforest.
Days can be spent traversing the canopies on the hotel’s bespoke cable system, taking expert-led nature walks in daylight or after dark to experience the habitats of the forest and exploring hidden waterfalls and lagoons.
Days 6 – 10
The Andean Highlands
Visit the Otovalo Indian Market in the heart of the Andes
Stay at a 17th Century working farm
Hacienda Zuleta is steeped in history. This working farm is rooted in the community and has been the home of the Plaza Lasso family for over a century. You will be welcomed with the warmth of long-lost family members.
Only 2 hours by road from Quito, Zuleta feels like it is a world away from modern life. The cuisine is deliciously fresh and inspired by local Andean recipes, and the farm produces its own tasty cheese. Gather in the evenings in peaceful courtyards under the stars or cosy up by a log fire.
We will include a full day with our guide and driver to explore the Otavalo region. As always, this day is designed to suit your personal interests. You may wish to awaken your senses as you discover small Andean towns and the buzz of the Otavalo Indian Market. Then take a gentle hike to Cuicocha Crater Lake for jaw-dropping views from the top of the Cotacachi Volcano.
Available activities at Hacienda Zuleta include horse riding, walking trails on the farm, visits to embroidery workshops, cooking lessons with the fabulous chefs and mountain biking.