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Magical Ecuador 10D/9N

  • Introduction

    Straddling the equator, Ecuador is the second smallest country on the South American continent. With its four geologically distinct regions (the Andes, the Amazon, coastal and the Galapagos), it is a country of fascinating contrasts. A tropical rainforest spreads across the vast eastern region, abutting Columbia on the north and the east. Peru is Ecuador’s eastern and southern neighbor. The Pacific Ocean bathes the sun soaked beaches of the western fringes of the country, providing a gateway to the celebrated Galapagos. The towering Andes, boasting some of the world’s highest volcanoes, cut a swath through the center of the country. Ecuador's rivers and volcanoes spread west From the Andes, west to the coast and east to the Amazon Ecuador’s rivers and volcanoes forge innumerable sites for adventure sports.

    The mega-diverse culture and population, co-existing in near perfect harmony, have given Ecuador the distinction of being identified as one of the world’s seventeen most diverse countries. A sustainable tourist culture has emerged from this diversity, offering a wide range of activities particularly appealing to the adventure traveler in search of non-traditional approaches to tourism. And, a wonderful surprise! The official currency of Ecuador is the U.S. dollar! No hassles with exchanging money, finding acceptable exchange rates / commissions, remembering what to divide or multiply by. So easy for the American traveler! TOURS UNLIMITED is excited to offer this Ecuadorian experience to adventure seeking post age 50 travelers.

    Minimum participants: 2 | Maximum participants: 15

    Languages: Spanish/English

  • Itinerary

    This day to day itinerary is subject to changes based on variables, such as weather and safety issues. Although the local hosts will have the final authority to select alternative activities, they will make every reasonable effort to take the wishes of the group into consideration.

    In addition to the specific points of interests identified below, there are a number of colorful indigenous markets in various locations. “Market Day” varies from place to place. We will make every effort to visit at least one of these local markets.

    Day 1: (Arrival Day)

    An TOURS UNLIMITED representative will meet usat Quito’s international airport from where we will be transferred to a delightful hotel with a home like ambience in Quito’s historic district. Dinner will be offered at a local restaurant.

    Day 2: Altitude Acclimatization and Tour of Quito

    Following breakfast at the hotel we will set out for a tour of this culturally and architecturally rich city. As the least altered and largest colonial center in South America, its historical significance is immediately apparent. Having recently gone through a $200 million renovation, Quito has a unique blend of the modern and the old as well as well as a panoply of the old churches and monasteries underlying the New York Times naming of the City of Quito in 2008 its “places to go” list.

    Our day’s tour will include a visit to some of Quito’s fascinating churches, La Basilica, La Catedral, La Compañía and San Francisco, a walk along the City’s four important squares (known as “plazas”). A key component of our tour of Quito will be the scenic ride on the “Teleferico.” After the ten to fifteen minute ascent from 2950 meters (almost 9680 feet) above sea level to 4100 meters (almost 13,451 feet) above sea level where the panoramic views of the city of Quito and the surrounding Andean mountains are truly awesome. At the summit we will have an opportunity to take a short (about fifteen minutes) hike to a comfortable location where we will relax with a cup of coffee as we enjoy Quito’s best vantage point for viewing.

    Lunch will be served in a local restaurant overlooking one of the spectacular volcanoes. Yet another significant stop on our tour of the City of Quito will be at the equator where we will have an opportunity to experience some of the physical phenomena associated with being at a 0 – 0 - 0 degree latitude position. Of course, we will all have the opportunity to have our photo taken as we stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one foot in the southern hemisphere.

    At the end of our first full day in the remarkable City of Quito, we will return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

    Day 3: Downhill bike trek; Yanacocha Hummingbird Reserve

    After breakfast, we will be transferred by van up the western slope of the Pichincha Volcanoto the Yanacocha Hummingbird Reserve. At an altitude of 3500 meters (nearly 11,483 feet) above sea level we will start our trek of about 2km (about 1.24 miles) along the main trail. If weather permits we will be able to see spectacular views of the Andean ridge, including Guagua Pichincha Volcano. In cloudy weather (usually later in the day), the birds, especially hummingbirds at the feeders are more active. This pleasant walk will take us to our downhill bike starting point where we will receive our mountain bikes and helmets. After some safety instructions we will leap into an exhilarating (but completely safe) downhill ride. At the end of the trail, our transport will be waiting to take us back to Quito.

    We will take a break during the day for a box lunch. After a short rest break, dinner will be served in our hotel.

    Day 4: Indigenous Market; Zip Lining; Horseback Riding

    After breakfast we will depart our hotel and head off to a colorful indigenous market where we will experience some interesting sights, sounds, smells and sometimes tastes, along with a few surprises.

    Near the market we will view the plaza housing the impressive tribute to one of Ecuador's national heroes, Rumiñahui, the last leader of the Inca warrior resistance to the Spanish conquistadores.

    Our next stop, after a drive through the Andean countryside, will be at Hacienda Santa Rita where we will have the opportunity to soar across deep chasms on a series of five zip line of varying lengths and speeds.

    Proceeding with our drive through the Andes, our next stop will be at the comfortable country inn where we will be spending the night. Following lunch at the inn it is off to the on-site stables where we will gear up with chaps and ponchos, depending on the weather. A horse will be assigned to each of us commensurate with our individual riding ability. For those of us not accustomed to the thrill of being on horseback, some basic instructions will be provided.

    With everyone comfortably mounted we will start our approximate two hour horseback journey through the Andes. Helmets while horseback riding are provided. Dinner and overnight at the inn.

    Day 5: Volcano Hiking; Transfer to Santo Domingo

    After breakfast we will set off for Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s second highest summit (and one of the world’s highest active volcanoes). We will drive to an elevation of 4500 meters (about 13,500 feet)above sea level and then hike approximately one hour to the mountain climber’s refuge located at4800 meters (approximately 14,400 feet) above sea level. Anyone finding the trek up Cotopaxi too strenuous can opt to hike around the Limpiopungo glacier lake which, at 3800 meters (approximately 11,400 feet), will be equally interesting but less demanding.

    After lunch we will proceed to the City of Santo Domingo where we will have dinner and spend the night.

    Day 6: Toachi & Blanco River Rafting

    After breakfast we will head out to the Toachi & Blanco Rivers where we will spend an exhilarating few hours whitewater rafting. The Ríos Toachi and Blanco are a fantastic introduction to the rivers of Ecuador. Flowing off the coastal side of the Andes they have some of the longest navigable sections of whitewater in the country. Combine this with the sights and sounds of the forest environment we pass through and you are guaranteed a day to remember.

    Before setting off we will fit you with life jackets and helmets, give you a comprehensive safety briefing and train each crew in the paddling techniques needed to navigate our way down the river. Once on the river you can expect both the action of thrilling whitewater and the tranquility of drifting silently through tropical rainforests. So while you’re guaranteed to get wet you’ll also have the opportunity to be absorbed by the sounds of the forest and to see wildlife up close from our mobile “viewing platform”. Rafting time approx. 3½ hrs. (NB. From March to May we usually run the upper Blanco river – 43km, approx. 4½ hrs).

    During the trip we’ll stop by the side of the river for a delicious picnic lunch including fresh tropical fruits and served with soft drinks, juice and water. At the end of the trip we celebrate a fun day on the river with a few ice-cold beers and we will head towards the city of Riobamba.

    Day 7: Ecuadorian Railway(Devil’s Nose Train); Tour of the Ingapirca Ruins

    We will start the day with an early breakfast so that we can leave our hotel at 08:00 a.m. in order to make the mandatory 11:00 a.m. arrival at the local railway station in Alausi where we will board our train, the “Devil’s Nose,” so named as a result of the series of switch backs through the Andes.

    In the early 1900’s when the “Devil’s Nose” rail line was being built, it was considered among the world’s most dangerous railway construction projects. Nevertheless, persistence prevailed, resulting in today’s most spectacular railroad experience.

    This rail venture goes from Alausí down to Zibambe where we will take our box lunch at a cafe run by the local Indian community.

    After lunch we will return to Alausí and then head south along the Panamerica Highway where we will encounter yet another Ecuadorian ethnic group, Los Cañaris. Then it’s on to the province of Cañar we will stop at Ingapirca’s arqueological site, Ecuador’s most important Inca’s site.

    In the late afternoon or early evening we will arrive arrival at our final destination for the day, the City of Cuenca.

    Day 8: Tour City of Cuenca

    Following breakfast in our hotel we will start a two to three hour hike hike through Cajas National Park, a beautiful natural area located 29 km (about 18 miles) west of Cuenca, near an easily accessible high plateau forest. The area, speckled with over 230 lakes, separated by rocky ridges, has been a Ramsar site,i.e. a wetland of international importance, since 2002.The well managed park, the source of Cuenca's drinking water is a favorite with birdwatchers, trekkers and trout fishermen. The rich birdlife includes 125 species including the condor and many varieties of hummingbird.

    After lunch in a local restaurant, will head back to Cuenca for a city tour that will include a visit to the colonial churches, parks and streets. We will also have the opportunity to visit a ceramics factory as well as the production center where the world famous straw hats (mistakenly known as “Panama” hats) are manufactured. These hats are remembered as Teddy Roosevelt’s headgear of choice.

    Tonight’s dinner, served at la local restaurant, will be a typical Cuenca meal. We will spend the night in a comfortable local hotel.

    Day 9: Transfer to Guayaquil; City Tour

    Breakfast will be offered at our Cuenca hotel and then it’s off to the enchanting city of Guayaquil. Our tour of this vibrant city will include several panoramic visits of local civic, cultural and historical importance.

    At Iguana Park we will be charmed by the appearance of numerous “strolling” iguanas. A visit to the Southern Malecon 2000 will allow us an opportunity to appreciate the Integration Plaza with its famous Southern Marketplace or Cristal Palace and then connect to the Plaza Olmedo dedicated to the recognized Guayaquil poet and ex president Jose Joaquin de Olmedo. Continuin our visit to the city’s important monuments, we will view the Morisca Tower, then the Rotonda Monument with the statues of Simon Bolivar and San Martin.

    Our tour of Guayaquil would not be complete without a visit to the neighborhood of Las Peñas, the oldest part of the city and making the easy ascent up the 444 steps to the top of Santa Ana Hill. Las Peñas was once a decaying part of the city, falling rapidly into further ruin. With the aid and encouragement of the local government, coupled with the fierce determination of area residents, the area has been transformed into a quintessential example of an urban renewal success story. The quaint shops, boutiques and clubs that line the steps to the summit of Santa Ana Hill are a Guayaquil “must see.”

    Our final full day in the enchanting country of Ecuador will end with a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. We will spend our last night in Ecuador in a local hotel.

    Day 10: Departure Day

    After breakfast we will be transferred to the Guayaquil international airport for our homeward bound flights or for connections for trip extensions.

    Trip Extenstions: If you wish to extend your Ecuador adventure by adding a rainforest jungle tour, a Galapagos tour, and / or a Peruvian experience, TOURS UNLIMITED can assist you with arrangements.

2013 DATES

June 19 to June 28, 2013

December 23 to January 1, 2014

2013 PRICING:

2 persons: $3215.00 (per person, based on double occupancy)

3 persons: $2770.00 (per person, based on double occupancy)

4 to 9 persons: $2570.00 (per person, based on double occupancy)

10 to 15 persons: $2315.00(per person, based on double occupancy)

A single supplement of $750.00 applies unless a solo Participant agrees to share lodging and TOURS UNLIMITED is able to arrange same sex shared lodging.

The stated price includes all transportation from the meeting point at the Quito International Airport on Day 1 to the drop off at the Guayaquil International airport on Day 10, all lodging in double rooms, all mealsfrom dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10, allentrance fees, activity and safety equipment, Day 7 train fare and the services throughout of a bi-lingual Spanish – English speaking guide.

The stated price does not include international flights, international departure taxes*, gratuities, beverages or items of a purely personal nature.

A $1800 deposit is due at the time of booking. The remaining balance (including single supplements, if applicable)is payable thirty days prior to Day1 of this expedition.

*At press time, the per person international departure tax from the Quito is $41.00; $27.00 from Guayaquil.

PAYONLINE

LODGING

Unless otherwise stated in the day to day itinerary above, our lodging will be in various three and four star hotels.

LOCAL HOSTS/GUIDES

An English speaking local host / guide, thoroughly familiar with the areas that we will be visiting, will accompany the group throughout.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

The activities on this trip do not require any particular experience or skill level. Participants should be prepared for high altitude hiking. To maximize your enjoyment of this Ecuadorian experience, you should be able to hike up to three hours over uneven mountainous terrain. In order to participate in the Day 4 equestrian event, your weight must not exceed 120 kilo ( 264 pounds).

TOURS UNLIMITED recommends that all participants engage in a physical conditioning and fitness program as part of trip preparation. Our fitness partner, Fit for Trips®, provides custom designed fitness programs designed especially for the activities of each of our TOURS UNLIMITED vacations.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Participants who are nationals of countries other than Ecuador are advised to check with the Ecuadorian embassy (or anEcuadorian consular office) in their home countries to determine the applicable passport / visa requirements.

As of the time of publication, U.S. nationals planning to enter Ecuador are required to present a passport with a validity period of at least six months beyond their anticipated departure date. You may be required to furnish evidence of intended onward travel, e.g. an airline ticket. For stays of ninety days or less, a visa is not required. ninety days, a visa is not required.

If you are in the United States, you may contact the Ecuadorian Embassy in Washington, D. C. at 202-234-7200. Consulates are located in the following U.S. locations:

Atlanta (404) 746-5859; Boston (781) 400-1212; Chicago (312) 338-1002/03, fax (312) 338-1004; Dallas (972) 712-9107; Houston (713) 572-8731; Jersey City (973) 344-8837; Las Vegas (702) 384-8802; Los Angeles (323) 658-5146, (323) 658-6020, fax (323) 658-1198; Miami (305) 539-8215; Minneapolis (612) 721-6468; Newark, NJ (973) 344-6900; New Haven (203) 752-1947; New Orleans: (504) 523-3229 ; New York City (212) 808-0331; Queens (718) 651-8797; Phoenix (602) 693 5892; San Francisco (415) 982-1819; San Juan, Puerto Rico (787) 999-5226 or Tampa (561) 544-8946.

INOCULATIONS

No inoculations/vaccinations are required to enter Ecuador, unless you are coming from a country where Yellow Fever is present; in this case you may be required to show a current vaccination. All participants are advised to have a current tetanus shot. TOURS UNLIMITED recommends that you consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/travel/ or your personal physician to consider whether you wish to get shots for typhoid, hepatitis, and other diseases.

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