Foodie Tour : Ecuador’s Gastronomic Delights

A tour for foodies in 14 days in Ecuador

This trip focuses on the impressive diversity of the country, taking you through regions as rich as diverses like the Andes with its volcanoes, the Amazon rainforest with its mythical flora or the Pacific coast with its white sand beaches. This tour also emphasizes the cultural diversity of the country, made of andean and amazonian communities with very different cultural identites. A tour for all your senses!

Length of stay: 14 days

Kind: Local Experiences

Fix: For all public

Countries visited: Ecuador

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64 travelers reviews 4.8 / 5

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Day 1 : Quito Airport

Welcome to Ecuador !

A proverb says *Traveling leaves you speechless at first, before turning you into a storyteller*

… Let the adventure start in the country of the middle of the world ! Chulla vida ! Private transfer with spanish-speaking driver from Quito airport to your hotel. Reception at the airport by an english-speaking guide. Night at Ikala hotel in Junior Suite room.

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Day 2 : Quito

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will go to the market of Santa Clara, a typical place where you can fin fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. This is a perfect moment to mee people and discover the local life. You will have lunch at the same place. The hornado (pork slowly cooked in a oven) is really delicious! Ecuadorian cooking class at the Plaza Grande Hotel. You will discover in this luxury hotel located next to the presidential palace, the secrets of preparing traditional dishes such as *ceviche* as a starter or *paila* ice cream for dessert. For the main courses, you will have the choice; let’s leave that still a secret. Quito stands out for its topography spread out from north to south, in an Andean corridor flanked by the Pichincha volcano and the valley where the airport is located. But it is above all the largest and most preserved colonial city on the continent.

Then you will visit the colonial and republican center of Quito :

– the Panecillo, the statue of the Virgin of Quito, located on top of a hill overlooking the city;
– the Church of the Society of Jesus (of the Jesuits), the most gold-laden church in South America;
– the Church of San Francisco (of the Franciscans) and its convent/museum;
– the Plaza Grande where the Presidential Palace (Carondelet) and the Cathedral of Quito are located;
– the district of La Ronda for its craftsmen. Dinner at Urko restaurant. The Urko is an original and creative proposal of a collective of young chefs who have revisited the richness and variety of ingredients available in Ecuador. The Tasting Menu offered tonight is made up of organic and seasonal products with 10 regions chosen for a menu in 10 gourmet times. Night at Ikala hotel in Junior Suite room.

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Day 3 : Quito

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will take the road to Mitad del Mundo. You will go to La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) to set one foot in the southern hemisphere and the other in the north! Beware, this is only for the photo because make no mistake, the site was built in homage to a scientific mission that came to determine the passage of the equatorial line, but not to indicate it. The site also includes various pavilions that deal with the geographical and cultural subjects of Ecuador, including the French pavilion dedicated to this expedition led by Charles-Marie de La Condamine in 1736. The Inti Nan Ethnographic Museum, next to the Mitad del Mundo site, presents the different ethnic groups of the country with their customs, clothing and traditions. You will be able to entertain yourself with different experiences such as the water flow or the balancing of eggs, whose results are supposed to be conclusive due to the fact that we are on the equatorial line. We will not give any guarantee but the activities are well appreciated, especially by children! Lunch at restaurant Yaravi. You will go by a scenic road towards the Coast and then through the Equatorial cloudy forest to the Mindo area, a unique place for its biodiversity, in particular for birdwatching. The Alambi reserve is one of the best place to observe hummingbirds. You will make a little stop over on the road to Mindo so as to see around a dozen of species of these magical and emblematic birds of this region. Night at La Bicok Lodge hotel in Standard Cabaña room.

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Day 4 : Mindo

English-speaking guide in a private transport. Hike of Mindo Waterfalls:

On the way to Nambillo, you will take a cable car to go to the other side of the valley and start your walk which will take you to three beautiful places where are the most beautiful waterfalls of the region. According to your wishes and physical condition, the walk can last from 1 to 3 hours.

Difficulty: easy hike: sunday sportsmen, welcome!

Estimated duration: 1 to 3 hours – Elevation: -120m./+120m. – Max. altitude: 1600m. – Distance: 4 km. You will visit the chocolate factory El Quetzal where you will enjoy one of the most delicious chocolates of the country after having seen the manufacturing process. It’s a perfect opportunity to buy a special gift to you family and friends. Night at La Bicok Lodge hotel in Standard Cabaña room.

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Day 5 : Mindo

English-speaking guide in a private transport. Trip to Otavalo, famous for its handcrafts. Visit of the Cuicocha lake, one of the most beautiful in Ecuador with a shiny blue water.

At the centre of a former crater at 3064 meters, the nature lovers will enjoy a very various vegetation (orchids, elephants ears …) with more than 400 species identified there.

For the more sporty, you can walk around the lagoon. Lunch in the restaurant El Mirador de Cuicocha overlooking the lagoon and trout ceviche. Visit of the Condors Park in the upper Otavalo and watch a rapace’s flight show. You can get close to the condors, the Andes’s emblematic bird. Night at Las Palmeras hotel in Cabaña room (Standard category).

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Day 6 : Otavalo

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will visit the indigenous market of Otavalo, the most famous Ecuadorian handicraft market in the Andes.

There you will meet the indigenous Otavaleños wearing espadrilles, brown felt hats and a blue poncho on their shoulders. They are the most prosperous indigenous people in Ecuador and are formidable traders.

Obviously this market has a very developed tourist aspect, but it is one of the country’s must-sees. You will meet Claudia, originally from the Otavalo region, who will introduce you to the traditional Quechua cuisine. An authentic experience, in the heart of a local village and in contact with locally produced ingredients.

Take advantage of your host’s generosity to learn more about her customs. She is the perfect ambassador to introduce you to the cosmovision of her people. You will visit the village of Peguche, with its sacred waterfall and its Andean music instrument fabrication workshops. You may witness a local music session and the weaving process, an art well established in the area. You will spend some time with your host family, a privileged opportunity to discover their way of life, their culture and their traditions. During your walks in the community with your hosts, you will discover San Clemente, its people, its artisans, the workers in the fields, its medicinal plant trail carefully maintained because they use it frequently, the guinea pig farms, the llamas and much more. Dinner and overnight in the Karanqui indigenous community of San Clemente. You will be hosted in a family where you will share the meal.

This stay is one of the most genuine exchange experiences within an indigenous community.

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Day 7 : San Clemente

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will take a tour of the medicinal plant path used by the community for its care. Then you will spend some time with the village healer and other plant connoisseurs to learn about their uses. You will also learn about the importance of these plants in the cosmovision of the Kayambis Indians. You will have the lunch at San Clemente Community Way down toward Quito. Departure from Quito to San Isidro. Night at San Isidro Lodge in Standard room. Dinner at the San Isidro Lodge.

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Day 8 : Quito

English-speaking guide in a private transport. Following the road to Baeza and Tena which climbs all the eastern cordillera up to 4000 meters, you will observe the evolution of the ecosystem from the Andean paramo to the tropical environment. You will join the community of Santa Rita where you will learn more about the origin of the cocoa selected by the manufacturer Pacari. You will see how the cocoa is processed as well as all the technical process necessary to create the unique taste of Pacari chocolate.

During your walk through the plantations, you should go through petroglyphs. These are the ancestral traces of the native cultures that inhabited this area, known as the Sacred Valley of the Anaconda. You will also look for ripe cocoa pods to taste the flesh coating the beans, sweet and slightly tart .

You will also learn how to make chocolate paste and hot chocolate. You will learn the complete process of cocoa making with local secrets. Economical lunch at a local restaurant. You will spend the night at the Hamadryade Lodge. You will have various activity options:

– Relaxation by the pool;

– Walking on the trails of the lodge;

– Visit the village of Misahualli on the banks of the Napo River;

– Take a walk to the Latas waterfalls;

– Dinner at the lodge’s panoramic restaurant from where you can enjoy the view of the jungle and the Rio Napo.

– Option of a relaxing massage next to the fire in the outdoor massage room.

*NOTE: these options have different prices to be agreed on site or with your guide.*

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Day 9 :

English-speaking guide in a private transport.

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Day 10 : Misahualli

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will take the road towards Puyo, gateway to the Amazon. Half day of participation in a solidarity activity of reforestation:

You will take part in solidarity reforestation activities such as weeding, fertilizing and/or planting a tree. This in order to better understand this complex environment that is the Amazon and the fragile balance of these ecosystems threatened by human activities. It will be a way to make your contribution to this fundamental struggle.

Lunch at the Reserve before or after the activity, depending on your program.

Vegan menu. Way to the Pailón del Diablo, in direction to Banos. You will visit the Pailón del Diablo , the most famous waterfalls in the country. You will discover them by descending to a viewpoint where you can appreciate this powerful waterfall, which is made up of three sections, the highest of which is 80 metres high. From its vertiginous stairs try to find the shape of the face of the devil who gave the name to the waterfall.

Further on the road, following the inca style, you can use a suspended basket called locally tarabita to cross the Pastaza and reach a waterfall called Manto de la Novia . Road on the waterfalls avenue until the little city of Baños. Night at Samari hotel in Standard room.

You can relax in the spa or enjoy the swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna or turkish bath at your disposal. Possibility to have a massage to reserve on site.

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Day 11 : Banos

English-speaking guide in a private transport. The road to Riobamba follows a fertile and green valley where you can observe recent lavas from the Tungurahua. You will make a nice stop at the lama museum which presents the relationship of the Andean populations to the llama (breeding, its medicinal virtues,…). You will finally know the difference between a lama, an alpaca, a vicuna and a guanaco. Lunch in a communitarian restaurant, next to the lama museum, with a traditional andean dish : the lama meat. Visit to the Chimborazo Natural Reserve:

In a landscape of paramo , these Andean plateaus with high grass swept by the winds of altitude, you will certainly come across herds of vicuñas. You will drive up to the first refuge.

Then you will be able to get closer to the summit (you don’t have to, of course, you can stay at the refuge), the highest in Ecuador, at 6,263m / 20,548 ft. when you reach the second refuge.

You will not be far from the first snows and never so close to the sun because due to the bulging of the earth at the level of the equator, the summit of Chimborazo is considered the furthest from the center of the earth.

*NOTE: Altitudes: 1st refuge (Carrel): 4800m. / 2nd refuge (Whymper): 5100m.* Night at Mansion Santa Isabella hotel in Standard room.

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Day 12 : Riobamba

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will travel by vehicle to Ingapirca by a scenic road in the middle of the Andes. Visit of Ingapirca. It is the most important Inca site in Ecuador and here the stone is full of history and legends. Ingapirca was built by the Inca Huayna Capac in the 15th century. It was an imposing fortress housing a temple, warehouses and an observatory made of stones assembled without mortar. This complex was certainly a tambo (relay) along the Inca royal road from Quito to Cuenca. The locals also see the shape of a puma.

There is a path near the site where Inganahui is located, the face of the Inca that rain and wind carved into the rock, probably inspired by Inca powers. You will then reach the beautiful city of Cuenca, by a road winding through the middle of the Andes and offering magnificent panoramas of the colorful patchwork of typical agricultural crops and the last high volcanoes of southern Ecuador. Night at Santa Lucia hotel in Standard room.

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Day 13 : Cuenca

English-speaking guide in a private transport. The city of Cuenca has an indefinable charm. This colonial city, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, combines a warm and lively atmosphere with splendid historical buildings, with colonial and republican style.

To appreciate its warm colors, you will stroll among the paved streets, lined with white houses with Romanesque tile roofs and flowered wrought iron balconies. Cuenca is also unique for the treasures of colonial art that it shelters in the heart of its churches and convents of the 17th and 18th centuries.

During this half-day visit, you will discover

– the old town and the colonial houses;
– the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the old Cathedral;
– the flower square with its market;
– the local markets to soak up the local life;
– the city’s churches, such as Santo Domingo or San Francisco. It’s time for the cooking class. An opportunity to discover Ecuadorian flavors and especially ingredients that you may not know. Taking home these little touches, which will make a difference with your friends, is a useful souvenir. And of course you will have lunch with what you have prepared. Suggestion of activity :
Enjoy a relaxing moment in the Piedra de Agua thermal baths, with an access to the inside and outside thermal pools, the rain showers and the steam baths. If you want, you can reserve on the spot a massage or the access to the volcanic mud pool.

*NOTE: to be paid on the spot: about 35 US$ per person.* Dinner at El Mercado restaurant. Night at Santa Lucia hotel in Standard room.

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Day 14 : Cuenca

English-speaking guide in a private transport. You will follow up Western cordillera to Cajas park where you will enjoy stunning views over the many lakes of this protected area. Cajas National Park is located in the southern Ecuadorian Andes and comprises a complex of 235 lagoons of glacial origin, connected to each other by small rivers.

The park includes several stretches of the Qhapaq Ñan, the famous Royal Inca Trail, which connects the coast with the highlands, the north to the south, and served as a network for the management of the empire.

You will be able to hike with a local guide. The choice of the path will be made on the spot according to the duration and difficulty. Journey to get to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city and economical capital.

Down from the mountains you will pass by fertiles lowlands with huge orchards and banana plantations before arriving to Guayaquil. Private transfer with your guide to Guayaquil airport. Free connection with your international flight.

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