Markets Description Tour
We leave Quito travelling south following the city as it peters out into the surrounding valley. The clouds sit beneath us and before us: the magnificent Avenue of the Volcanoes. We head down the valley towards one of the highest active volcanoes in the world: Cotopaxi, which means neck of the moon in an ancient indigenous language.
In the Andean town of Tambillo we cross over the train tracks of the ´Ferrocarril´ currently under restoration, the Ecuadorian Train Network runs over 965 km all the way to the Pacific Coast. On a fair day the majestic volcanic peaks create a stunning panorama of the Ecuadorian Andes. From here we go to Saquisilí, a truly traditional highland market with a great variety of colorful products situated in an arid valley in the foothills of the Illinizas.
Otavalo 1 day
From Quito we head down the temperate valley of Guayllabamba, where cherimoyas (cherimoya or custard-apple) and avocadoes grow in abundance and the road opens out into the Andean highlands. Our first stop is breakfast at La Compañía, a hacienda constructed at the turn of the 20th century and full of antiques and decor from the era. We will have a typical highland breakfast of queso de hoja (cheese wrapped in Achira leaves), bizcochos (savory biscuits), bread, homemade jams and fresh fruit juices. After breakfast we will take a stroll around the hacienda and visit the beautifully conserved Jesuit chapel. Before heading off we will take a tour around a neighboring flower plantation seeing how the roses are cultivated and selected for exportation around the world.
Otavalo and Train
We head north to Ibarra and at the train station we will board La Libertad train for a special journey on rails to the valley of Salinas de Ibarra. The train takes us to the Afro Ecuadorian community in Salinas passing through the dry Andean forests, over hanging bridges, along a precipice and through mountainside tunnels.