Wildlife watching tours - bird watching holidays -
culture tours for independent travellers and groups
Torrent Ducks © V PerezBooted Rackettail E Slope © K BarnesRufous-bellied Seedsnipe © K BarnesCollared Aracari © K BarnesBlack-mandibled Toucan © K BarnesSword-billed Hummingbird © K Barnes

Ecuador Culture and Wildlife Tour (10 days) E131

Tour ref. no. E131
Duration: 9 nights (10 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Quito – Otavalo, Cuicooch Lake, Peguche - Cuenca, Ingapirca - Antisana & Papallacta – Quito
  • Quito and Cuenca – impressive World Heritage Site cities
  • Ingapirca – ruined ancient Inca city, Ecuador’s Machu Picchu
  • Andean Condors soaring over extinct volcanoes – a childhood desire to see?
  • Wacky Sword-billed Hummingbirds 
  • San Francisco Church – Baroque architecture – exquisite gold decoration
  • Colourful Otavalo Market and so much more


Quito is a fascinating city to explore and both Quito and Cuenca have a UNESCO city World Heritage Site designation. On this tour you can explore both, and more!  Admire Old Town Quito’s colonial architecture as you walk narrow streets and cross lively plazas of the famous Centro Historico to visit beautifully looked-after buildings, including the famous San Francisco Church, the very impressive Basilica Church with its colourful stained glass windows and Carondelet Palace known as Government Palace by Plaza Grande.  And there’s so much more to see from the Centre of Contemporary Art to Museo de la Ciudad, one of the best museums in the country which describes Ecuador’s fascinating history…. and look up to see the famous statue of the Virgin Mary on the hill at El Panecillo surrounded by stunning mountain views.

Two hours to the north is Otavalo, famous for weaving and other artisan crafts since pre-Inca times.

To the south is Cuenca with its cobbled streets, impressive domed churches above the banks of the Rio Tomebamba and while based in Cuenca you’ll visit the famous Inca ruins at Ingapirca, the most northerly major archaeological site of the Inca empire, often referred to as the “Machu Picchu of Ecuador“.

This tour provides an excellent chance of seeing an Andean Condor soaring on thermals and the scarce Andean (Black-faced) Ibis at Antisana.  Around Papallacta Pass, given a clear day, the views across the high Andes peaks are simply breath-taking.  There are so many wonderful birds to see locally including several high altitude target species – Rufous-bellied SeedsnipeEcuadorian Hillstar, Blue-mantled Thornbill, White-chinned Thistletail and you should see the spectacular-looking Sword-billed Hummingbird too!

Enjoy stunning scenery, the opportunity to stand astride the Equator at Mitad del Mundo (Spanish for Middle of the World City), with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the south, and much, much more.  It commemorates the place where Charles Marie de la Condamine, a French explorer, calculated the globe’s equatorial line to be.

Then, why not extend this tour to include the Amazonian rainforest? A natural choice, easily accessible with a short internal flight to Coca or continue by land from Papallacta. There are many ways to extend this tour, so please contact us for details.

Itinerary and price

Please note that due to weather conditions and other local considerations the following itinerary might need to be revised or re-ordered at short notice to maximise on the best birding opportunities. 
Day 1: Flight to Quito to be organised by you.

For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can complete the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Meals: Payable directly today There is a flight departing London Heathrow early morning which arrives in Quito in the evening. Some flights departing the UK earlier in the morning arrive in Quito late afternoon/evening. Your driver will be outside Quito airport (look for your name on a placard) to welcome you and transfer you to Hotel Sebastian or similar. Relax for the remainder of the day. Note: Quito is located at high altitude in the Andes, almost 3,000 metres. To avoid any symptoms of altitude sickness and prepare for the following day we advise as early a night as possible with plenty of sleep AND avoid alcohol until you reach lower altitudes. Night at Hotel Sebastian or similar
Day 2: Quito – Otavalo Market (Iluman)
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Your guide will meet you at your hotel at a time to be decided (we recommend by 0730 hours to avoid some of the traffic). The journey takes about 2 ½ hours. Guided activities with bilingual guide will include some stops on the way. You’ll visit Parque Condor. Enjoy lunch at Hacienda Cusin. In the afternoon take a short visit to Otavalo Market, Iluman town. Night at Las Palmeras Inn
Day 3: Otavalo Market (Iluman) - Cuicocha Lake, Cotacachi and Peguche
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Full day guided walking/hiking around Cuicocha Lake including lunch in Cotacachi. You can have a short visit to Cotacachi town to explore the leather working which goes on here.  In the afternoon visit the town of Peguche and observe the weaving processes at a textile workshop. Return to your hotel for a second night at Las Palmeras Inn
Day 4: Iluman - Quito - Cuenca
Meals: Breakfast and lunch (dinner is payable directly this evening) After breakfast return to Quito. The journey takes about 2 ½ hours and you will be dropped at the Airport.  Then take the flight to Cuenca.  You have booked Tame Linea flight no. EQ155 departing from Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport at 1230 hours arriving at Cuenca Mariscal Lamar International Airport at 1325 hours.  You will find your driver waiting for you with your name on a placard and you will be transferred (a journey of around 15 mins) to Hotel Posada del Angel where lunch will be served (any time till 1500 hours).  Relax for the rest of today.  Alternatively if you wish to explore the city you may do this on your own.  We haven’t included a guide for this afternoon as having some free time to yourselves is often welcomed.  Cuenca’s streets are narrow and the traffic can be slow so we would suggest you explore places nearby on foot.  If you wish the hotel would be able to arrange for a taxi on direct payment should you require one. Night at Posada del Angel
Day 5: Cuenca - Ingapirca Ruins - Cuenca
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Full day guided visit to Ingapirca Ruins with your guide.  He will also drive you. These ruins are a little far from Cuenca city, located in Canar province, so you will have an early start. Ingapirca is part of Inca’s legacy.  It is not as big and magnificent as Machu Picchu, but the site is still of great significance. Today be ready to leave your hotel at 0800 hours and from here you will visit Cojitambo (about 25 km from Cuenca).  From here it is on to Biblian town (a 30 minute drive) to visit Virgen del Rocio Church (beautiful Gothic church where many devotees gather from various parts of the south). Then drive to Ingapirca Ruins, see the Inca Face and you can expect the visit to take approximately two hours or so. If there is time, you could also visit the Indian market of Cañar.  Returning to Cuenca you can expect to arrive into the city around 1630 – 1700 hours. Night at Posada del Angel
Day 6: Cuenca - Quito
Meals: Breakfast and lunch (dinner payable directly this evening) This morning you’ll be able to enjoy sightseeing in Cuenca city with your guide (and some shopping if you have any spare time).  We recommend starting out with your guide at 0800 hours if this is ok with you.  Places to visit include Cuenca downtown and the Church and Park of San Sebastián, Plazoleta del Vado, 10 de Agosto Market, the famous Panamá hat Factory, San Francisco Plaza, a handicraft market, Park of Flowers and Church of Carmen de la Asunción, Cathedral and Calderón Park.  So we suggest you enjoy the morning with your guide, returning to your hotel by 1200 hours for a light lunch and we recommend you arrive at the airport by 1300 hours at the latest for your Tame Linea flight no. EQ154 (booked by you) departing Cuenca Marisscal Lamar International Airport at 1405 hours.  We have included your transfer to Cuenca airport within the price (arranged by Posada del Angel).  Your flight arrives at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport at 1500 hours and you will find your driver waiting for you with your name on a placard and he will take you to your hotel. Night at Hotel Sierra Madre
Day 7: Quito
Meals: Breakfast (lunch and dinner are payable directly today) Breakfast should be available from 0730 hours. Your guide will arrive at your hotel reception by 0830 hours.  Note: Most places open at 0900 hours and close around 1630 – 1700 hours). Full day in and around Quito to explore Mitad del Mundo, Pululahua, Museo Casa de la Cultura, Rumipamba Arqueologic Park – a small Park located on the west side of Quito as well as Panecillo, Plaza Independencia, Plaza Santo Domingo and Calle la Ronda. Night at Hotel Sierra Madre
Day 8: Quito - Antisana - Termas Papallacta
Meals: Breakfast in Quito, lunch at Condor restaurant and dinner at Termas Papallacta You'll change guides for today and tomorrow. Your guide will be at your hotel reception for 0800 hours. He knows the birdlife locally very well and other wildlife too. The drive to Volcan Antisana and Antisana Reserve will take around 1 – 1 ½ hours depending on stops on the way.  You’ll pass old lava flows and reach some really dramatic scenery over which the Andean Condor flies. It’s a spectacular area with some very special wildlife.  Rare birds include of course Andean Condor, but also Andean (Black-faced) Ibis, Carunculated Caracara and Ecuadorian Hillstar, the highest altitude hummingbird, to name just a few. At some point around lunch time you will visit the Condor viewing area opposite breeding cliffs and then you will continue your drive over Papallacta Pass to Termas Papallacta. Overnight at Termas Papallacta with use of facilities, including the spa. Treatments, for example massages, are extra and payable directly. Night at Termas Papallacta
Day 9: Papallacta area - Quito
Meals: Breakfast at Termas Papallacta and lunch at Guango Lodge (dinner is payable directly) Your will be with you again today and you’ll enjoy the full day in the Papallacta area, visiting Guango Lodge and the surrounding locations before returning to Quito.  Weather permitting the views around here can be stunning, with plenty of birdlife to see.  Sword-billed Hummingbirds and Chestnut-breasted Coronets are just a couple of the lovely hummingbirds which visit the Guango Lodge feeders.  Your experienced bird guide will take you down to the river here to look for the charismatic Torrent Duck, so fingers crossed! Later in the day you’ll return to Quito and your guide will say his goodbyes.  Dinner is payable directly in Quito as again there are many good restaurants and nearer the time we can recommend some. Night at Portal del Cantuna
Day 10: Quito
Meals: Breakfast Today you will have at your leisure to explore Quito further.  Room check-out is by 1230 hours at the latest but if you wish you can always leave luggage with staff at the front desk until your departure to the airport. Other places you could visit may include La Basilica Church, Itchimbia, Guapulo, La Catedral, La Compania, San Francisco Church and the Wax museum. Note: You should allow around 1  1/2 hours for the drive from your hotel to the airport and you arrive at the airport three hours prior to your International flight departure time. The cost of the transfer to Quito airport (with Spanish speaking driver) to connect with your flight home is included. Tour ends However, from here you can also visit the Amazon Rainforest, staying in one or both of two comfortable lodges - Sacha Lodge and/or Napo Wildlife Centre. Please ask for the cost of extending this tour to include the Amazon experience and we'll price it for you. if you haven't been to the Amazon before, then this really is a must! Per person price to 31 Dec 2019: Approx. US $2980 based on two travelling and sharing a room Single room supplement: $420 Price includes: Accommodation as specified All land transfers Meals as mentioned above All entrance fees Experienced guide for days listed in the itinerary on an exclusive basis Bird checklist, pre-travel and top tips for travel advice Price excludes: International flight Internal flight Travel insurance All drinks Tips Phone calls, laundry and anything else of personal nature

How to book

The booking of this itinerary is with Wild About Travel Limited and our booking terms and conditions apply. In order to protect your payments we operate a trust account in accordance with the requirements of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.

Please contact Jo Thomas at Wild About Travel (jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk) / 01480-370593 to register your interest and request a booking form.

To confirm your booking please complete the booking form and send a 25% deposit by £ sterling cheque * payable to Wild About Travel Trust to the Wild About Travel Office, 27, Reeve Way, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 2PH, UK. The balance payment would be due 40 - 60 days (to be confirmed at the time of booking) prior to your travel dates.

* Note: Where a price is given in another currency you can pay in £ sterling. We will use the Lloyds Bank exchange rate at the time of making the deposit payment and the balance payment to convert the figure to £. If you would prefer to make a payment by internet banking please let us know and we can supply you with the bank details.


We can advise on appropriate flights and timings that you may wish to book, but we do not organise or arrange flights on our customers’ behalf. You will need to make your own flight arrangements directly with a flight retailer or the airline concerned.

For any help or advice please call or email Wild About Travel and we would be happy to assist.
Tel: +44 (0)1480 370593 Mobile: +44 (0)7817 574235
Email: jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk
Wild About Travel Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.
Reg. no. 5522066. Registered Office: 27, Reeve Way, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 2PH, UK