EXPO CRUISES AND TOURS
Duration: February 18, 2019 - March 1, 2019

The country of Ecuador is bisected by the equator, sitting within both the Southern and Northern hemispheres. During this tour, witness a landscape dominated by volcanoes, thermal baths, and Inca ruins. See the beautiful colonial architecture of Quito and Cuenca and the variety of Ecuadorian handicrafts made by artisans and craftsman with their rich traditions and culture. 

Day 1                     Depart CANADA
Day 2                     Quito, ECUADOR                            Hotel Stay
Day 3                     Quito, ECUADOR                            Hotel Stay
Day 4                     Otavalo, ECUADOR                        Hotel Stay
Day 5                     Quito, ECUADOR                            Hotel Stay
Day 6                     Banos, ECUADOR                          Hotel Stay
Day 7                     Cuenca, ECUADOR                        Hotel Stay
Day 8                     Cuenca, ECUADOR                        Hotel Stay
Day 9                     Cuenca, ECUADOR                       Hotel Stay
Day 10                  Guayaquil, ECUADOR                    Hotel Stay
Day 11                  Guayaquil, ECUADOR                    Hotel Stay
Day 12                  Guayaquil, ECUADOR                    Hotel Stay
Day 13                  Depart for CANADA

Day 1 – Monday / February 18                                            DEPART CANADA FOR QUITO, ECUADOR
Meet your tour host at Toronto Pearson Airport.  Depart for your flight to Quito.  Upon arrival you will be met by your local guide and taken to your hotel.  Accommodation: DANN CARLTON HOTEL or similar 2 nights.

Day 2 – Tuesdays / February 19                                 QUITO
After breakfast we will begin our city tour of Quito.  We will drive to the Independence Plaza and visit sites such as the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús, then continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco.  After lunch we will visit the Intiñan Museum, where you’ll enjoy of the gravity in the middle of the world.   (B/L)

Day 3 – Wednesday / February 20                            QUITO – SAN PABLO LAKE – COTACACHI
After breakfast we drive north across the colorful valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe.  Guayllabamba is rich in fertile soil and through effective irrigation systems has become an important producer of avocado and the local cherimoya fruit. Cayambe, traditionally dedicated to dairy cattle and manufacturing of dairy products, has recently enjoyed an important boom in rose farming.  The breathtaking setting offers great photo opportunities and after traveling through the riveting Andean countryside, we arrive to the province of Imbabura, known as the Ecuadorian Land of Lakes.  Visit the Peguche falls – The Peguche waterfall is found in the Faccha Llacta community, 1.5 km from the community of Peguche and 3.3 km from the city of Otavalo.  It is located at an altitude of 1821 meters above the sea level and has an average temperature of 12°C.  This waterfall is 30 meters high and 6 meters wide and forms strong inclines.  Travel to the village of Peguche with traditional looms and handcrafted wind instruments where you can purchase their goods directly from the people who make them.   Accommodation: MAGDALENA KARANKI or similar 1 night.  (B/D)

Day 4 – Thursday / February 21                                 OTAVALO – IBARRA – TRAIN RIDE – SALINAS – QUITO
Today after breakfast we will depart from our hotel and have the morning to mix and mingle with the locals as we walk through the famed craft market of Otavalo which is the most famous and picturesque in South America.  We will then depart to the city of Ibarra and board our train as we experience the early 20th-century railroad system that connects the northern Ecuadorian Andes and the Pacific Coast. As we descend into the warm, dry valley of Salinas we cross by the sugar cane plantations and enjoy the magical landscapes, through tunnels and over bridges panning canyons and patchwork fields.  Enjoy a unique lunch at the Salinas afro Ecuadorian. Accommodation: DANN CARLTON or similar 1 night.   (B/L)

Day 5 – Friday / February 22                                       QUITO – BAÑOS – RIOBAMBA
Departing south from Quito along the “Avenue of the Volcanoes” and stop near the impressive Cotopaxi Volcano (5,897 m) to admire its beauty and continue along a series of temperate valleys with some villages and towns like Latacunga.  This will take us to one of the rose plantations that have made Ecuador the second largest exporter in the world.  We then continue on to Baños, a small and friendly town/thermal bath resort nestled amidst mountains and found midway between the Andes and the Amazon.  After visiting the village, we head down into the Pastaza river canyon to the so called “Avenue of Waterfalls” where we find Cascada de la Virgen, the Bride’s Mantle, Machay, Pailón del Diablo, all of which lie along the riverbed of the Pastaza and are surrounded by green lush vegetation. This afternoon we drive towards the city of Riobamba to view the highest mountain in Ecuador, Chimborazo with over twenty thousand feet.  Enjoy dinner at our hotel. Accommodation: HOSTERÍA ABRASPUNGO or similar 1 night.   (B/D) 

Day 6 – Saturday / February 23                                  RIOBAMBA – CUENCA
After breakfast, we start the day traveling through some of the country’s most picturesque areas before reaching the railway station at Alausí. Travel by train through the Andes down tracks that form a unique zigzag pattern known as the Devil’s Nose, a true feat in railway engineering of the early twentieth century. Continue south and experience a dramatic landscape change with deep canyons and small green valleys to reach the village of El Tambo and detour to visit the Incan Archaeological site of Ingapirca, which means “Wall of the Inca”.  It is the most important Incan relict in Ecuador.  This citadel was built in the fifteenth century on an ancient route that connected Quito to Cuzco. The Solar Temple and the surrounding buildings follow the system of construction found in the ancient Incan capital.  Visit the archaeological site and also the site museum displaying pottery and metal artifacts found.  We arrive in Cuenca by nightfall.  Accommodation: HOTEL LOS BALCONES or similar – 3 nights.   (B/L)

Day 7 – Sunday / February 24                                     CUENCA
After breakfast we will depart on our half day tour and explore one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Ecuador and also a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.  Cuenca is a city of facades dated from the last five centuries which has been kept intact due to the unique privilege of being the only city on the Ecuadorian Andes which has not being hit by major quakes. Today we visit the Cathedral, Main Square, the flower market, San Francisco and Santo Domingo churches and the Central Bank Museum.  Enjoy dinner this evening at a local restaurant.  (B/D)              

Day 8 – Monday / February 25                                  CUENCA
Enjoy your morning at leisure.  After lunch, we will visit a Panama hat factory where a wide variety of goods made from “toquilla” fiber like bags, dolls and of course literally a thousand possible hat styles, colors and prices.  “Panama Hat” has deep ancestral roots. The aborigines of the coast of what is now Ecuador used “tocas” made of toquilla straw to protect themselves from the sun.  The lightness and flexibility of this fiber favored its use to make hats that over time have become a symbol for Ecuador, being a fusion of nature, manual dexterity of Ecuadorians, and their culture.   (B/L)

Day 9 – Tuesday / February 26                                  EL CAJAS NATIONAL PARK – GUAYAQUIL
Today we drive to El Cajas National Park, famous for its more than 200 lakes and lagoons.  We’ll stop at the highest point to observe some of the different habitats responsible for Ecuador’s diversity before descending to sea level.  You will be amazed by the rapid, contrasting change of landscape and weather as we pass from the highlands to the cloud forest and then through tropical banana plantations.  Accommodation: HOTEL WYNDHAM or similar – 3 nights.  (B/D)

Day 10 – Wednesday / February 27                         GUAYAQUIL
After breakfast we will visit Centenario Park devoted to the independence and freedom of the old city from the Spanish domain to continue on to the legendary Barrio Las Peñas, the original and only surviving colonial district of the city where you can have some fantastic panoramic views of the city and Guayas River.  Stroll along the charming river promenade and admire the Rotonda monument dedicated to San Martin and Bolivar, leaders of South American Independence together with some important historical landmarks such as the Moorish clock tower and the Central Bank Archaeological Museum.  Tonight, we will gather for delicious dinner at a local restaurant.    (B/D)            

Day 11 – Thursday / February 28                              GUAYAQUIL
Discover what everyday life is like in a tropical hacienda; explore local fruits and produce including sugarcane, bananas, coffee, cocoa and more. You can appreciate the process of growing cocoa, from the seed to the final product “CHOCOLATE”. You will also be able to discover Ecuadorian cattle ranching as well as the montubio traditions and enjoy a first-rate meal amidst the colorful gardens.  After the tour you will enjoy a typical lunch offered in the main house surrounded by a quiet and cozy atmosphere.   The rest of your day is at your leisure.   (B/L)

Day 12 – Friday / March 1                                            GUAYAQUIL – CANADA
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the International airport for your flight back to Canada.   (B)

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       Double Occupancy $4,995                       Single Occupancy $5,995    
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All prices are in Canadian dollars, per person based on double occupancy and include:

Return airfare from Toronto, for Ottawa please add $200 pp other departure cities upon request
11 Nights in first class hotel/lodge stays
All gratuities for local guides and drivers
Breakfast daily and most meals are included
All departure taxes/fees and surcharges
Locally fully guided tours as per our itinerary
Fully hosted by Expo Cruises & Tours*