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Cloud Forests, Incas, Panama Hats and the Avenue of Volcanoes

This journey incorporates some of Ecuador's most spectacular Andean assets. These mountains form the spine of the country and are punctuated by the highest volcanic peaks in the World. Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world and to the south, Chimborazo's extinct peak is the highest point from the centre of the earth.

Our journey begins on the western Pacific facing slopes of the Andes where the mountains are cloaked in cloud forests. These forests bear some striking similarities to the Amazon facing cloud forests of eastern Ecuador, but they have been separated for 200 million years. It is no wonder that species either side have evolved differently.

Both sides of the Andes these forests vary from lowland tropical, to cloud and montane forest right up to the world's highest growing trees called Polylepis. Collectively these Andean forests are called the Tropical Andes which is a zone containing more living species than any other area of the planet.

From the cloud forests we travel up to the high and open alto plano where we admire Ecuador's highest volcanoes from below. We do this first of all horseback riding close to Cotopaxi's neighbouring volcanic peak of Ruminahui (named after a famous Inca General). This is one of Ecuador's most beautiful Andean national parks and we stay up here in an attractive hacienda.

At Chimborazo we trek; not to the top as this often requires oxygen, but to the edge of its glacier where traders carve away pure ice for sale in market towns far below. We then travel south by train for a spectacular ride through the Devil's Nose. This is an incredible zig zagging railing which descends rapily through the Andes to Alausi.

From here we travel to Ecuador's best preserved Inca sites at Ingapirca. We spend a night close to the ruins and then visit what is probably Ecuador's most beautiful Andean city of Cuenca. This is the modern home of the incorrectly named Panama hat which were first made in Ecuador's coastal town of Montecristi.

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Price: £1190 per person sharing
Single traveller add £695

Price includes
Flight Cuenca - Quito.
All land transfers by road and rail in a combination of private and small group travel.
Guiding on a mixed private and small group basis.
Meals and activities specified including guided hiking and horseback riding.
Entry to Ingapirca ruins and museums visited in Cuenca.
All accommodation.

Price excludes
Entry fee to Cotopaxi National Park ($10 per person at time of writing).
Insurance, drinks, tips, items of a personal nature.

Optional Extension to Baños

Instead of flying back to Quito from Cuenca, we can take you overland via the popular mountain area of Baños.  Within this we can incorporate natural history treks in the Sangay and Llangantes National Parks, or other parts of Ecuador's southern Andes  if the Tungurahua Volcano is rumbling.


By visiting the rainforests of Ecuador with Aqua-Firma we will sponsor an acre of rainforest on your behalf in cloud forests of the Choco-Andean Rainforest Corridor.
For further details please visit

Photographs kindly provided by Rainforest Concern, Luis Hernandez, Ralph Pannell, Marcelo Meneses, FUNEDESIN, Juan Carlos Garcia


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