NORTHERN ANDES, OTAVALO & "CHASKI ROUTE"

KTQ106 - 3 Days / 2 Nights - Departures: Tuesdays, Fridays / from Quito

Day 1: Quito – Cayambe – Cóndor Park – Peguche – Otavalo
Leaving Quito north along the Panamerican Highway we drive across colorful valleys. Guayllabamba valley, an important area producing avocado and the local chirimoya fruit (custard apple).  Cayambe valley on the other hand, traditionally dedicated to dairy cattle and manufacturing of dairy products, in the last three decades, has seen an important boom in rose farming. The region offers great photo opportunities of the Andean countryside.  Arrival in the province of Imbabura, known as the “Ecuadorian lake province”.
Visit Condor Park, rescue center for a variety of birds of prey;  arrival in Peguche known for the textiles produced with traditional looms and handcrafted wind instruments where you can observe demonstrations of the making and the playing of native music. Overnight at a local hacienda.

Day 2: Otavalo – Ibarra – train ride – Salinas – Otavalo
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 traveling 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. Overnight in a traditional hacienda in Otavalo.

Day 3: Otavalo – Cotacachi – Cuicocha Lake – Quito
Breakfast.  Visit the town of Cotacachi known for the manufacture of leather goods:  jackets, bags, belts, wallets.  Tour of Cuicocha crater lake, excellent opportunity to see such an unusual formation of a lake, flanked by peaks and native flora.  Return to Quito for hotel accommodation.