- Take a stroll along the waterfront in coastal Guayaquil
- Spot wildlife in the biodiverse Podocarpus National Park
- Explore Vilcacamba on a horseback riding excursion
- Shop at ateliers and handicraft shops in quaint Cuenca
- Witness a spiritual ceremony in the Indigenous Saraguro community
|Day 1||Arrive in Guayaquil & Get Oriented||Guayaquil|
|Day 2||Tour the City, Transfer to Cuenca via El Cajas National Park||Cuenca|
|Day 3||Travel to Girón Waterfall & Yunguilla Valley||Cuenca|
|Day 4||Discover Cuenca & Nearby Villages||Cuenca|
|Day 5||Transfer to Loja, City Tour||Loja|
|Day 6||Day Trip to Podocarpus National Park||Loja|
|Day 7||Transfer to Vilcabamba, Horseback Riding||Vilcabamba|
|Day 8||Hike Mandango Mountain||Vilcabamba|
|Day 9||Continue Exploring Podocarpus National Park||Loja|
|Day 10||Visit the Saraguro Community & Transfer to Cuenca||Cuenca|
|Day 11||Depart Cuenca|
Day 1: Arrive in Guayaquil & Get Oriented
Day 2: Tour the City, Transfer to Cuenca via El Cajas National Park
Explore Guayaquil on a guided tour. At the Parque Histórico, discover some native species, such as sloths, monkeys, and parrots, in a park recreating the natural mangrove habitat. The next stop is the Cementerio General, an early 20th-century cemetery where artistic tombs are reminders of the prospering cocoa trade of that time. Finally, walk the historic cobblestone streets of Puerto Santa Ana and the busy boardwalk Malecón 2000 along the Guayas River.In the afternoon, travel to the Andean highlands. On the way there, visit El Cajas National Park. With its countless lagoons, valleys, and peaks, the park is an excellent place for hiking. You might spot endemic or endangered species like the Andean Condor, the spectacled bear, or the giant hummingbird. Continue to Cuenca, where you'll spend the night.
Day 3: Travel to Girón Waterfall & Yunguilla Valley
Leave Cuenca for a day trip. Your first stop is the small town of Girón and the impressive Girón Waterfall. The short walk to the waterfall leads you through lush green surroundings. The next stop will be Casa de Los Tratados, a historical museum.
Continue the journey into the green Yunguilla Valley. The area is known for sugar cane production, and you will pass a few old mills along the way. You will also get to taste jugo de caña, sugarcane juice, and its alcoholic relative, aguardiente. Before returning to Cuenca, visit the dry forest and desert of Jubones, which hosts a valuable ecosystem with many different birds and plants.
Day 4: Discover Cuenca & Nearby Villages
Explore Cuenca's beautiful Old Town, with its narrow streets, big squares, and colonial architecture. Join your guide on a stroll through the city, visit Calderón Park and the cathedral, and see how the famous Panama hat is made. Top off the tour with stunning views from the Turi viewpoint and a visit to a famous pottery workshop.
Just outside Cuenca, you can visit some quaint villages in the afternoon. In Gualaceo, stop at an orchid farm that breeds thousands of varieties of this beautiful plant. If you are more into shopping, you should check out the town Chordeleg, filled with artisans selling handcrafted silver jewelry.
Day 5: Transfer to Loja, City Tour
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Day Trip to Podocarpus National Park
Podocarpus National Park is a stunning area with several ecosystems and incredible biodiversity. It's home to approximately 3,500 species of plants and more than 800 species of birds—a paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers! Visitors can also find pumas, deer, Andean foxes, spectacled bears, and much more.
During a guided hike, you will pass by the La Poderosa Waterfall and the Bombuscaro River, and your guide will point out local flora and fauna. You will enjoy a delicious lunch at an inn, and then, if you like, you can visit a local bamboo forest.
Day 7: Transfer to Vilcabamba, Horseback RidingTravel to the Valley of Vilcabamba, also known as the "Valley of Longevity." The name comes from the myth that its inhabitants usually reach a very advanced age. The valley's moderate climate and the surrounding mountains make it an excellent place to connect with nature. Explore the town and the breathtaking surroundings on horseback. During the riding excursion, you can absorb the tranquility and beauty of this lost paradise.
Day 8: Hike Mandango Mountain
Hike Cerro Mandango (which means "God Lying Down" in Kichwa) one of the most visited places in Vilcabamba because of its impressive cliffs. The trail heads to the mountain's two peaks. Its second peak offers a 360-degree view of the Vilcabamba Valley and its surroundings. Then enjoy a free afternoon in paradise. Relax at your hotel, do a bit of yoga, take a dip in the pool, or take a stroll through town.
Day 9: Continue Exploring Podocarpus National Park
Today, you will explore the part of Podocarpus National Park that is closer to Loja. Following the Spectacled Bear trail and other trails, you will discover the park's biodiversity and learn about local flora and fauna. After a delicious lunch, your guide will bring you back to your hotel in Loja.
Day 10: Visit the Saraguro Community & Transfer to Cuenca
You can't leave Loja without tasting the local coffee! Loja is famous for its coffee production, so use this opportunity and enjoy a cup of delicious, freshly-brewed coffee before continuing your trip. Then you will make your way back north toward Cuenca, stopping at the Indigenous community of Saraguro on the way. Take part in a spiritual ceremony focused on the purification of bad energies through medicinal plants, smoke, and fire. The ceremony will be conducted by one or several yakchas (similar to shamans).
Then take a stroll through town and visit a few local handicraft shops and ateliers. The local people of the Saraguro community produce ceramics, jewelry, and cheese, to name a few. After one more stop at a beautiful waterfall and a viewpoint, leave Saraguro and continue the journey northwards, arriving back in Cuenca in the afternoon.