A Culinary Trip through the Ecuadorian Andes

A Culinary Trip through the
Ecuadorian Andes


Otavalo: Get lost in the exotic flavors, smells, and sounds of Otavalo's indigenous market


Quito: Learn how to prepare typical Ecuadorian dishes


Cotopaxi: Explore Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of the highest active volcanoes on Earth

Day 1Arrival in Quito, Craft Beer Tour in QuitoQuito
Day 2Quito City Tour, Quito Cooking ClassQuito
Day 3Otavalo Market & Cuicocha LagoonQuito
Day 4Pasochoa Volcano Trek, Empanada MakingQuito to Cotopaxi
Day 5Explore Cotopaxi National ParkCotopaxi to Isinlivi
Day 6Free Day in Isinlivi, Cheese Factory VisitIsinlivi
Day 7Quilotoa LagoonIsinlivi to Quito
Day 8Chocolate Tasting in Quito, Departure

Transfer from Quito Airport to the City

Private transfer · 45 minutes

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival at Quito’s airport, a private driver will meet you for the ride to your hotel in the city center.

Craft Beer Tour in Quito

Small group · 2 hours

Enjoy the opportunity of sampling a variety of award winning beers made in Ecuador. This refreshing and delicious tour lets you dive into Quito’s craft beer culture, expanding your knowledge of beer and the history of the city along the way.

Quito City Tour

Private group

Explore Quito with a guided tour, and see why it’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 9,350 feet (2,850 m), Eucador’s capital is one of the highest cities in the world, with plazas organized among
Andes mountain peaks. See Baroque La Compañía church with its gold-covered interior, and neo-Gothic La Basílica. Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, then head to Panecillo Hill for skyline views.

Quito Cooking Class

Private group · 2.5 hours

Today is your chance to learn about—and taste—Ecuador’s traditional cooking with dishes such as locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). Meet a local Quito chef for a trip to a market to buy the ingredients needed for each dish. Learn about the recipes and then follow steps to create a meal to share with your group.

Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Lagoon

Private group · 8 hours · Breakfast Included

Leave Quito today and head into the Northern Andes, more precisely into Imbabura province, still home to a large First Nations population. Start the day by visiting the famous, colorful market of Otavalo, where you can find everything you can think about. Handmade jewelry, traditional clothes, typical food, fresh fruit juice, and many souvenirs. Dive into the narrow passageways with all your senses and get lost in this
overwhelming place.

Afterward, we will leave Otavalo and drive a bit farther north until reaching the beautiful Cuicocha Lagoon at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano. It was formed by a massive eruption approximately 3.100 years ago and contains two forested islands in the middle of the lake, a beautiful photo spot. If you want, follow the crater rim trail leading to various viewpoints. After a day full of new and unforgettable impressions, we head back to Quito in the late afternoon.

Pasochoa Volcano Trek

Private group · 7 hours · Breakfast, Lunch Included

Today you’ll spend the day hiking on a volcano near Quito. The Pasochoa Volcano is a beautiful 13,770- foot (4,199 m) high peak, surrounded by a humid cloud forest that’s home to over one hundred species of birds and fifty species of endemic plants.

This hike is also one of the best places to see the famous Andean Condor, and the climb up to the top offers wonderful views of the mighty Cotopaxi and the other surrounding volcanoes. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to ascend, and you can hike up to all summits—there is a beautiful trail leading across three small summits in total—or just head to the most prominent one. After descending, you will travel southwards and spend the night close to the Cotopaxi National Park.

Empanada Making

Private group · 1.5 hours

This hands-on cooking class is suitable for experts, families, and avid amateur chefs who want to experience regional gastronomy and traditions. The class starts with a cooking lesson of the famous cheese empanadas recipe, followed by the elaboration of ají (hot sauce). Ají is a very important part of Ecuadorian cuisine, and you will learn how to
make it the traditional way: on a stone mortar and seasoned with various herbs and spices. We will also learn how to prepare the delicious canelazo, a traditional hot drink that is commonly served on celebrations in the highlands of Ecuador.

Explore Cotopaxi National Park

Private group · 8 hours · Breakfast Included

Your adventure takes you into the Cotopaxi National Park today.

Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes on earth, and the views of its perfectly shaped cone and the surrounding volcanoes are incredible. The park is also home to wild horses which can sometimes be spotted. With a bit of luck, you might even spot an Andean Condor!

During a walk around Limpiopungo Lagoon, your guide will explain to you the high altitude flora and fauna. Afterwards, if you are up for it, you can trek upwards to the refuge Jose Rivas at 4.800m – and even further to the base of the glacier! Alternatively, you could do a 2-hours horseback riding through the National Park

In the afternoon, we continue our journey towards the Quilotoa Lake, where we will spend the night close to the lagoon in a cozy mountain lodge.

Free Day in Isinliví

Small group

Today you’ll have a free day to explore Isinliví at your own pace! Choose from countless activities in this picturesque small town and its Andean surroundings. There are dozens of interesting hikes of varying lengths to choose from. You can also visit a local market, take a tour of a local cheese factory, or go horseback riding—it’s up to you!

Cheese Factory Visit

Private group · 3 hours

It’s just a 45-minute hike up the hills behind the village of Isinliví to reach the beautiful cheese farm of Señora Magaly Hernandez. Her family has been making fresh cheese for over 45 years, and she is now running her business together with her husband Marco, their four children and nine grandchildren.

Magaly has a large property where she also raises her own cows, but she also collects milk every day from the tiny farms in the surrounding mountains of Isinliví, since these farmers often don’t have the means to
transport their milk to the big cities; the Cheese Factory in Isinliví is of great economic importance to them!

At a small fee you can visit the factory and watch the cheese making process from close-by. The best time to get there is at 10h30 when the milk is almost pasteurized and ready to be poured into the rectangular cheese molds. After the cheese is pressed and ready, Magaly will show you around her property and welcome you in her kitchen where you can taste the final product with a fresh juice and homemade sugarcane honey.


Calvary Hike

Self guided · 1 hour

Today you can hike to the Calvary hilltop where you’ll have an amazing view over the Toachi Canyon, the Toachi River, and the village of Isinliví. This pre-Columbian hilltop was originally called Ñuñurco and used by the Incas as a strategic viewpoint from where they could be on the lookout for intruders in their territory. It is recommended to visit the Calvary early in the morning to see the sunrise or in the late afternoon when
the clouds come in for epic photographs

Ñahuira Hilltop Hike

Private group · 2 hours · Breakfast Included

After breakfast in Isinliví, you’ll take a beautiful short hike called Ñahuira. This is an ideal trail to get acclimated to your new surroundings. For the local people, the Ñahuira hilltop represents old indigenous culture and beliefs and is the subject of local myths and legends. It’s also a great place to catch stunning views of the surrounding mountaintops with the Quilotoa crater rim in the distance. Though the climb to the top can get quite steep, you’ll find the views worth it in the end!

Quilotoa Lagoon

Private group · 7 hours · Breakfast Included

Driving through the beautiful Andes, our visit takes us to the stunning turquoise crater lake of Quilotoa today, the pinnacle of the ecological reserve of Ilinizas and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes.

You have the chance to hike down into the crater for approx. 45-60 minutes. At the bottom, you have the opportunity to hire a kayak to paddle into the middle of the lake and take another glimpse of the jawdropping 360-degree views. We will walk back up the trail to the edge of the crater after spending some time enjoying the view.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to head down to the lake, you can follow the path at the crater rim to various viewpoints. After lunch at the top (optional), we continue our journey to Ecuador’s capital Quito.

Pujilí / Saquisilí Market Visit

Private group · 1 hour

Today, depending on the weekday, we will visit one of the traditional Andean markets, for example Pujilí or Saquisilí. These Andean villages with largely indigenous population host a weekly market where farmers from all around the region gather to offer their goods. Take a stroll over the market and try exotic food!

Transfer to Quito Airport, Depart

Private transfer · 1 hour

It’s time to say goodbye to Ecuador! Enjoy a leisurely morning in Quito before your driver transfers you to Quito Airport for your ongoing departure. Safe travels


Day 1: Craft Beer Tour in Quito (small group)

Day 2: Quito City Tour (private group), Quito Cooking Class (private group)

Day 3: Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Lagoon (private group)

Day 4: Pasochoa Volcano Trek (private group), Empanada Making (private group)

Day 5: Explore Cotopaxi National Park (private group)

Day 6: Free Day in Isinliví (small group), Cheese Factory Visit (private group)

Day 7: Quilotoa Lagoon (private group)

Day 8: Chocolate Tasting in Quito (private group)


Day 1: Transfer from Quito Airport to the City

Day 8: Transfer to Quito Airport, Depart


Your specialist has not yet selected any hotels for you. Please ask your specialist to select hotels with availability for your travel dates.

  • International flights
  • The meals not mentioned in the trip plan
  • Personal expenses
    Travel insurance, and repatriation insurance
  • Optional excursions, activities, and optional tours
  • Reservations marked as “reserved by traveler” are reservations that the traveler is responsible for directly.
  • These items are not reserved or supported by authenticecuador and are included in the trip plan just for completeness


4 nights

Ecuador’s most culturally rich city, Quito is packed with attractions, from impressive archeological museums to hilltop viewpoints high above the metropolis. Not to be missed is Quito’s old center, a Unesco World Heritage site dotted with colonial mansions and gilded churches, some of which date back to the 16th century. High-quality
lodging options and some of the country’s best restaurants make Quito an excellent base before or after visiting other parts of the country.

City tours take you to key landmarks in Quito, like La Compañia, a gold-filled Jesuit church that took over 160 years to complete. Just north of the city, the Inti Ñan museum, which lies near the equator line, has interactive exhibits and demonstrations on water and energy. You can also learn about Andean culinary techniques during a private cooking class.

Suggested things to do:

  • Take a day trip to the Termas de Papallacta, a hot springs complex with over a dozen steaming pools amid mountain views.
  • Ride the TelefériQo, an aerial gondola, to the top of Cruz Loma for lofty views from an elevation of 12,900 feet (3932m).
  • Have a craft beer inside one of a growing number of microbreweries around the city. Cherusker Cervecería Alemana, located in the lively Mariscal district, has some excellent drafts.


1 night

The perfect conical peak of Volcán Cotopaxi soars high above the high-altitude Andean grasslands and is encircled by a national park where you can go hiking, wildlife watching and horseback riding. Most people come fornoutdoor activities, but you can also come to Cotopaxi to reconnect with nature. The park is home to historic
mountain lodges where you can unwind while experiencing the beauty of one of the world’s highest volcanoes.

Scenic trails crisscross Cotopaxi National Park. Highlights of a day’s hike include a visit to Lake Limpiopungo, for a look at the massive rocks that were expelled during Cotopaxi’s last eruption. You can get a glimpse back in time at
the pre-Incan ruins of Salitre, or make the challenging ascent to the Jose Ribas Refuge, set at an elevation of 15,748 feet (4800m). For a different perspective, see the mountainous landscape on a two-hour horseback riding
excursion or go mountain biking along the base of the volcano.

Suggested things to do:

  • Spend the night in a traditional hacienda, some of which date back to the 18th century. Expect antique furniture, gorgeous views, excellent meals and a wide range of activities.
  • Visit the park’s small Interpretation Center. You learn more about the region’s natural history, have a drink in
    the cafe and browse the craft shop.
  • Rise early in the morning and look for wildlife such as guanaco, Andean fox, orange-faced falcons and the Andean condor.


2 nights

Set in Ecuador’s central highlands, the small settlement of Isinliví is a key stop for travelers making the multi-day hike along the Quilotoa Loop. Lush mountain peaks surround the town, and there are several guesthouses where you can stay overnight while taking in the rhythms of Andean village life.

It’s well worth planning a trip around one of the big market days in nearby indigenous villages: Sigchos on Sunday, Zumbahua on Saturday and, best of all, Saquisilí on Thursday. All have an authentic vibe, and feature clothing, textiles, ceramics, livestock and loads of other wares. The clean air is ideal of outdoor activities, and you can go
mountain-biking around Quilotoa Lake, hike through Andean valleys or go rock-climbing at Tangán and Zumbahua.

Suggested things to do:

  • Make a day hike from Isinliví. For panoramic views you can follow the road to a high Andean pass; if you’re It’s well wortaround on Monday, the morning market in Guantualo is another good option.
  • Rent a kayak or canoe for a paddle out on Quilotoa Lake, a deep crater lake that sits within an extinct
  • Visit the village of Tigua, home to a group of artists that paint Andean landscapes in an art-naïf style.