ANDEAN REGION

THE HIGHLANDS

The two Andean cordilleras that run parallel and cross Ecuador from north to south, offer a most varied topography: volcanoes and snow capped mountains, green valleys with impressive Colonial cities like Quito and Cuenca, quaint Indian villages, farmlands, haciendas, lakes and rivers of crystal blue waters.

QUITO

The capital of Ecuador has a setting that few cities can match. During the 13th century it was the prosperous center of the Kingdom of Quitus. It later became the northern capital of the Inca Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Colonial architects built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Quito’s artistic creativity awaits the visitor in cosmopolitan galleries and boutiques filled with contemporary paintings, sculptures and exquisite traditional crafts. The stay in Quito must include a visit to the Colonial sector, the old and charming city with 400 years of Spanish heritage. Also, visit the Center of the World, the very center of the earth, at latitude 0°, and enjoy a performance of the JACCHIGUA Folklore Ballet featuring a troupe of brilliantly costumed dancers reenacting traditional rituals and celebrations. We offer a variety of half day and full day tours of Quito and surroundings. Please check with us for tour information and rates.

INDIAN & ARTISAN MARKETS

Color is the essence of the ancient Indian markets of the Ecuadorian highlands: in the native dresses of both men and women, in the fresh produce piled in neat rows, in the bluest sky, the brightly colored designs of hand-woven woolen sweaters and in the naïf paintings of Tigua. Farm products, wares and handicrafts are displayed everywhere on the plazas and the colorful fruits, vegetables and costumes provide countless opportunities for taking pictures.
OTAVALO: Main market day Saturday but now open daily.
LATACUNGA INDIAN MARKET – Tuesdays and Saturdays only.
PUJILI INDIAN MARKET – Sundays only.
SAQUISILI INDIAN MARKET – Thursday only.

OTAVALO MARKET

To the north of Quito, the province of Imbabura is one of the most popular destinations in Ecuador: a magical land of lakes, snow-covered mountains and terraced farmlands. For centuries, regional markets have played an important role in Indian life, providing regular gathering places for trade and socializing. The colorful local markets of the Andean Valleys are famous for their fine handicrafts. The Otavalo Indian market dates back to pre-Inca times and is famous for its textiles woven on backstop and shuttle looms.

ALONG THE AVENUE OF THE VOLCANOES

Follow the footsteps of the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt and discover what in 1802 he called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. This route is surrounded by snowcapped summits and the mystical beauty that, in times past, nourished the mythology of early cultures and later provided incentive to the conquering Spanish to settle here. Brooks and rivers run down from the mountains past small villages of adobe houses and terraced farmlands. Where the land is worked beneath the plow, one might think the farmer’s true objective was to paint the hills in fascinating patterns, not just to till the dark, fertile soil.

BAÑOS

Located four hours by road from Quito, Baños offers hot springs, a perpetually mild climate, a pleasant atmosphere and a great location, completely surrounded by mountains. Midweek, Baños is a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity. However, on weekends and holidays, Baños explodes with tourists from all over the world and becomes a lively town with all kinds of street vendors and tables spilling out of cafes onto sidewalks. Locals arrive to Baños to immerse in the curative natural hot springs and to pay respects to the Lady of Holy Water. Try the sugarcane juice, fresh toffee and “firewater” sold everywhere. Baños is built on the shelf under the steep slopes of the Tungurahua volcano.

CUENCA

Ecuador’s most beautiful city, Cuenca, enjoys a mild climate and a fabulous geographic position. Altitude: 2,550 meters (7,650 feet above sea level). Surrounding the city of Cuenca are hills like Cullca to the north and Turi to the south, which are great lookout points. Cuenca has the placid atmosphere of a small city, both deeply religious and artistic, which fascinates the visitor. The beauty of its landscape combined with the harmony between old and modern architecture, has prompted, UNESCO to name Ecuador’s third largest city, Cuenca, a World Cultural Heritage Site. Houses stretch down the slopes along the Tomebamba, one of the four rivers that cross Cuenca, whose banks are covered with multicolored laundry under the riverside willows and linden trees. Both the Hispanic colonial downtown and the new homes in the residential neighborhoods, show how the city keeps traditions of bygone eras close to its heart, but accepts the presence of modernity that abound in the city: new hotels, banks, art galleries and shops. Cuenca’s cobblestone streets, graceful balconies, blossoming gardens and religious art treasures invite you to visit it, on foot and at a leisurely pace. Cuenca’s handicrafts are outstanding in variety, color and quality. These treasures, inspired by local imagination are created in straw, horn, cloth, embroidery, knit, clay, wrought iron, leather as well as gold and silver jewelry. We offer a variety of tours in Cuenca from either Quito or Guayaquil ranging from 2 to 5 days.  Please check with us for detailed itineraries and rates.

DAYS OF NATURE

Nature lovers will fully enjoy our one-day and two-day outings departing from Quito, to the protected nearby forests. Please check with us for detailed itienraries and rates.

MINDO CLOUD FOREST

The Valley of Mindo is within the protected Mindo-Nambillo forest, located a short two-hour drive to the northwest of Quito. The 48,000-acre (19,200 hectares) forest stretches over the slopes of Pichincha Volcano and covers diverse ecosystems ranging from the cloud-high, treeless plateau or “paramo” through subtropical forest to tropical jungle. A first short stop is made at the rim of the crater of the extinct Pululahua Volcano, before descending into the Valley of Mindo

PAPALLACTA

Located over 10,000 feet above sea level in a temperate montane forest, Papallacta Thermal Springs Resort is just two hours away from Quito. Nestled high in the Andean Cordillera at the entrance of the Amazonian jungle, Papallacta features several hot thermal spring pools of different sizes and temperatures, with hydro-massage and bubble jets; private and public pools are used by our guests. Resort facilities include a first-class Spa and restaurants offering local and international cuisine.

PASOCHOA PROTECTED FOREST

The Pasochoa wildlife refuge, one of the last remaining areas of ancient humid Andean shrub forest, is only 45 minutes south of Quito, around the crater of the extinct Pasochoa volcano. Here the forest is the home of many native species of Andean plants, birds and mammals. The prolific bird life is one of the major attractions in Pasochoa. More than 100 species of birds have been recorded including the endangered Andean condor and 16species of hummingbirds. It has been estimated that there are more than 250 species of plants in Pasochoa.

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G T TOURS OFFICES:

Plantation, Florida  
13494 NW 7th Street
Plantation, Florida 33325

Miami, Florida 
9930 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176

Toll Free USA & Canada:
(800) 666 8687
Local Number: 
(305) 436 0933 
Fax:     
(305 436 0843

Send us a Message

ENQUIRE NOW

We will be happy to answer your questions or comments.

G T TOURS OFFICES:

Plantation, Florida  
13494 NW 7th Street
Plantation, Florida 33325

Miami, Florida 
9930 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176

Toll Free USA & Canada:
(800) 666 8687
Local Number: 
(305) 436 0933 
Fax:     
(305 436 0843

Send us a Message

ENQUIRE NOW

We will be happy to answer your questions or comments.

G T TOURS OFFICES:

Plantation, Florida  
13494 NW 7th Street
Plantation, Florida 33325

Miami, Florida 
9930 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176

Toll Free USA & Canada:
(800) 666 8687
Local Number: 
(305) 436 0933 
Fax:     
(305 436 0843