KTQ124 - 3 Days / 2 Nights - Departures: Wednesdays, Saturdays / from Quito

Day 1: Quito – Otavalo & surroundings
Departing Quito to the northern highlands of Ecuador, stunning views of valleys such as Guayllabamba and Pisque.  Unique “in situ” opportunity to learn about the formation of the Andes Cordilleras.  Photo stops of the snowcapped volcanoes Cayambe and with some luck, Cotopaxi.   We will drive through rose farming and quilt patched country side with corn, potatoes, quinoa and broad beans fields.  Arrival in the province of Imbabura, the “lake province of Ecuador”. 

The Otavalo market is special, hence, the better known market in South America, in as far as, to the gentle and soft spoken Otavalo Indians; attired with beautiful and unique costumes.  Interaction with the local people is given to the visitor through the process of bargaining, which is the fun element in the negotiations, while purchasing woven goods both in sheep´s wool and cotton, as well as, hats, belts, bags, jewelry and more.  Tourist´s photography paradise!

Visit Cuicocha (guinea pig lake) crater lake.  Opportunity to observe this unusual formation of a lake, flanked by peaks and a variety of flora specimens.  Continue onto Cotacachi, a delightful small town which specializes in the manufacturing of leather goods, ranging from wallets to travel gear.  Arrival in the village of Peguche which is known for its Otavalo weavers, they continue to work with their traditional and Spanish introduced looms.  Visit a family that handcrafts wind instruments, demonstration of the making of ancient instruments and playing of native music. Accommodation at a traditional hacienda.

Day 2: Otavalo – Papallacta
Breakfast.  Departure south-east towards Papallacta.  Enjoy the Andean countryside, moorland vegetation including the always intriguing Polylepis trees.  Unwind at the spa and thermal pools.  Dramatic changes in climate and vegetation are a highlight of this drive.  Accommodation.

Day 3: Papallacta – Ecological Reserve Antisana – Quito
Breakfast.  Back to Quito through the Ecological Reserve Antisana we’ll explore relatively recent lava formations and a series of cliffs where condors roost. Antisana is a pristine territory which displays good amounts of interesting plants and perfect chances to observe  birds, such as Andean gulls & seedeaters, carunculated caracaras, sierra finches, eye stripped cinclodes and if you’re lucky the unique black faced ibis and the Andean condor.  Occasionally, white tailed deer or Andean fox can be seeing, as well as, some small wild rabbit. Discover the unspoiled nature surrounding Lake Mica with many interesting plants such as wild gentians and various species of daisies adapted to this harsh mountain environment; vast plains form the landscape adorned by some peaks like Sincholagua or Cotopaxi and weather permitting the massive glaciers of Antisana volcano.  Box lunch.  Return to Quito.