MINDO CLOUDFOREST, "CHASKI ROUTE" & MIDDLE OF THE WORLD MONUMENT

KTQ104 - 3 Days / 2 Nights Departures: Tuesdays, Fridays / From Quito

Day 1: Quito – Cotacachi – Cuicocha Lake – Peguche – Otavalo
Departing Quito to the northern highlands of Ecuador, stunning views of valleys such as Guayllabamba and Pisque.   Unique “in situ” opportunity to learn about the formation of the Andes Cordilleras.  Photo stops of the snowcapped volcanoes Cayambe and with some luck, Cotopaxi.  We will drive through rose farming and quilt patched country side with corn, potatoes, quinoa and broad beans fields.  Arrival in the province of Imbabura, the “lake province of Ecuador”. 
Visit the town of Cotacachi known for the manufacture of leather goods:  jackets, bags, belts, wallets.  Tour of Cuicocha crater lake, excellent opportunity to see such an unusual formation of a lake, flanked by peaks and native flora. 
Close to the town of Otavalo, arrival in the village of Peguche which is known for its Otavalo weavers, they continue to work with their traditional and Spanish introduced looms.  Visit to a family that handcrafts wind instruments, demonstration of the making of ancient instruments and playing of native music.  Overnight at a colonial hacienda.

Day 2: Otavalo – Pululahua
Breakfast.  The Otavalo market is special, hence, the better known market in South America, in as far as, to the gentle and soft spoken Otavalo Indians; attired with beautiful and unique costumes.  Interaction with the local people is given to the visitor through the process of bargaining, which is the fun element in the negotiations, while purchasing woven goods both in sheep´s wool and cotton, as well as, hats, belts, bags, jewelry and more.  Tourist´s photography paradise!  Drive to the area of the crossing of the Equator, near Quito.  Arrival at the geo-botanical reserve Pululahua.  Pululahua is the name of the extinct volcano, a rare opportunity to observe farming in what once was the crater of the volcano.  Weather permitting short treks in the area of the reserve.  Overnight at a hotel, edging the crater of Pululahua.”

Day 3: Pululahua – Pahuma Reserve – Mindo Cloud Forest – Middle of the World Monument - Quito
Breakfast. Departing from the Pululahua Crater, we continue west to reach the cloud forests of Mindo.  Visit a fascinating natural reserve filled with dense forests, waterfalls and orchids.  Perfect for nature lovers, in the protected forests of Mindo - Nambillo visitors will have the opportunity to observe an exciting diversity of plants and birds.  On our way back to Quito we visit “Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World) and the Equator Monument situated at 0º0’0” latitude where the eighteenth century French Geodesic Expedition built one of the three pyramids as landmarks for their earth calculations to deduct the shape of the planet in a complex which replicates a Spanish-American colonial village.  We also visit the Intiñan Solar Museum, where you’ll find scientific and experimental aspects of being right at the Equator. Back to Quito.