Northern Andes Adventure
from $1015per person
Explore the northern Andes of Ecuador, featuring the unique El Angel Ecological Reserve and the old-growth Polylepis Forest.
Different! Unique! Surprising! These are just some of the adjectives used by our past guests to describe the excitement of going beyond what is obvious within the Ecuadorian Andean highlands on this unusual program. See an exquisite hacienda with its immense variety of world-class roses as you cross the equator into the Northern Hemisphere; train-track your way down into a subtropical village before rising into a forest reserve only a handful of avid explorers have ever known, harboring species new to science (many endemic – found nowhere else on earth!); with your trusty torch in hand, follow native story-tellers into the night as they share with you their legends and beliefs; and enjoy downtime at inviting spas that reward your intrepidness as a true explorer of different worlds. You might think that only a vivid imagination could dream it all up. The good news is that it’s for real!
DAY 1. Quito / Equator crossing / Rose farm / IbarraFirst stop is the Quitsato Equatorial Marker where guests can straddle latitude zero “all to themselves”, away from tourist crowds. Moreover, here you will learn about the “correct” way to view Planet Earth and the constellations, with the Big Dipper and Southern Cross visibly opposite one another at the same time. Additionally, some interactive experiments will prove you are indeed at latitude zero. Afterwards, we come upon historical Hacienda La Compañía de Jesús and its fascinating rose farm, owing its name to the Jesuit order when they arrived to Ecuador 300 years ago. However, in 1767, King Charles III expelled them from Spain and all their colonies. Built in 1919, the hacienda has been in the Jarrín Family for 5 generations, preserving its French neoclassic architecture and furniture, including the exquisite ceiling, wall paper and floors. We then continue to the town of Ibarra and overnight at an inviting hotel-spa. (Lunch / Dinner) Note: The rose farm is open only on weekdays; therefore, the order of visits may vary to accommodate this schedule.
DAY 2. Train to Salinas / El Ángel & The Polylepis LodgeToday we have some morning downtime to enjoy the spa before embarking our train bound for the Afro-Ecuadorian village of Salinas, through a series of hand-carved tunnels, bridges and deep canyons. Upon arrival, witness some native music and dance, as well as striking murals depicting their cultural legacy. We then continue overland and up to the cool “páramo” life zone in the region of El Ángel and the Polylepis Lodge. For the past 20 years, this lodge has earned its reputation as a landmark for environmental research within a forest that is comparable to the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands, harboring plants and animals endemic to this part of the world.(Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)
DAY 3. Full Day at Polylepis Lodge (El Ángel)We have an entire day to explore this amazing ecosystem, ideal for birders, plant enthusiasts, zoologists, photographers and nature lovers in general. Treks take you through a network of trails that may be covered in 2 to 6 hours, depending on personal interests, as well as chances to horseback ride through the grounds. One of the amazing highlights is the Polylepis forest, with its unusually flaky bark, as well as a most rare tree-like plant known as the “frailejón” with rabbit-like leaves that glisten in the sun. And in the understory there is even more life to discover – perhaps more species that remain unidentified by the scientific community. At the end of the day you may review what you saw at the on-site museum, in addition to a comprehensive display of archaeological artifacts of the region, and/or enjoy the spa facilities. After dinner, it’s a most unusual torch-lit night walk through the forest with your trusty guide, where many indigenous stories come to life amongst the dense vegetation – a truly fun experience. (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)
DAY 4. El Ángel / Mascarilla / QuitoToday it’s a gradual backtrack journey to Quito, enjoying en route a number of sites not to be missed, like the town of Mascarilla where the natives craft masks depicting their culture and traditions, as well as the breath-taking landscapes at every turn of the road. Late afternoon arrival to Quito. (Breakfast / Lunch)
2019 Rates (per person; minimum 2 people)
|From $ 1,015|
- A 30% deposit is required to confirm the booking.
- Balance payment is due 30 days before departure.
- If cancellation is made 90 to 61 days before departure, the deposit will be refunded.
- If cancellation is made 60 to 45 days before departure, 50% will be charged.
- If cancellation is made 44 to 30 days before departure, 80% will be charged.
- If cancellation is made less than 30 days before departure, full payment will be charged. The tour may be rescheduled to a later date, plus administrative costs.