ECUADORIAN COMMUNITIES & "CHASKI ROUTE"

KTQ027 - 3 Days / 2 Nights - Departures: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays / from Quito

Day 1: Quito – Peguche – Cotacachi – Cuicocha Lake - Magdalena
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.  After a two-hour drive arrival in the province of Imbabura, the “lake province of Ecuador”. 

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.

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. 
 
Through a marvelous Andean setting, we reach Magdalena, an agricultural, cattle and sheep raising community located in rolling hills east of the Imbabura volcano.  The women of the region traditionally have embroidered the blouses of their costumes, now you can purchase utilitarian goods with this beautiful multicolored embroidery. Overnight in a comfortable room with private facilities and hot water; enjoy the most authentic Andean home cooking. The taste of this hidden mountain niche can be absorbed in a series of optional activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, or hiking up to the nearby hills.

Day 2: Magdalena – Otavalo – Ibarra – train ride - Salinas – Magdalena
Breakfast. 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!

Continue to drive further north to the city of Ibarra to start with the train ride which travels on an early 20th century railroad system, built to connect the northern Andes and the Pacific coast.  A two-hour ride, dropping from over 8,000 ft. to almost half this altitude, embraces high altitude vegetation, dry zones with bromeliad and pear cacti, ending in a sub-tropical zone with sugar cane plantations.  The main attraction of this ride is the travelling through tunnels and bridges following the canyon of river Ambi.   Arrival in Salinas an Afro- Ecuadorian village to enjoy lunch and cultural experience.   We implemented this project in an effort to boost the economy and the safe keeping of the cultural roots of the region.  In the afternoon, we return to Magdalena, for a relaxing evening, dinner and lodging in a local home.

Day 3: Magdalena – Rose Plantations - Quito
Breakfast. Before leaving Magdalena we shall participate in a family gardening demonstration. Continue to a visit of a rose plantation of the region.  Delight your senses in observation of the process of rose producing activity, from the hoop houses to the post-harvest rooms.  Beauty in colors, perfume and the sizes of the roses will prove to be a tour for the senses!  Return to Quito by the way of Cayambe valley.