Enjoy the beauty of Quito´s colonial centre, drive through the amazing Avenue of the Volcanoes, discovering the Humboldt's route, get an up-close look at the people and culture of the towns you visit, and taste the delicious Ecuadorian food. For a really thrilling Andes train ride, the Riobamba - Devil's Nose train ride (Nariz del Diablo) is a must. This journey, a great Ecuador tourist attraction, originally formed part of the Trans-Andean Railroad and is one of the few remaining sections of train track which still operates in Ecuador.
04MIDMTA-A The Andes & the Train to the Devil's Nose
Duration: 5 Days/4 Nights
Re-join ship: Callao
Reserve by: At least 90 Days Prior to Sailing
This Mid-Voyage Land Adventure requires advance booking through Silversea Reservations no later than 90 days prior to the sail date. Requests received after this date may be accommodated on a space-available basis and the programme price is subject to change. Payment in full is due within 120 days prior to sailing. This programme is non-refundable if cancelled within 90 days of sailing. A minimum number of participants is required to operate this programme.
Quintessentially Ecuador, the Andean region (also known as the Sierra and the Highlands) is the most visited region in the country. Its cultural and natural diversity spans grassy highlands (paramo), cloud forests, mountain lakes, active volcanoes, thermal baths, Indian markets, colonial towns and haciendas. One highlight of this Mid-Voyage Land Adventure will no doubt be the Devil's Nose Train ride.
Ecuador's train system is quite remarkable. For the workers and engineers to have created a viable passage from Quito to Guayaquil over a century ago with the technology available at the time is nothing less than heroic. The track goes over rocky ravines, along raging rivers, through dense cloud forests and around mountains. But by far the most impressive section of the railway is the so-called "Devil's Nose", a hair-raising trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through some of Ecuador's most breath-taking scenery.
Day 1 - Manta/Quito
Upon arrival in Manta and after the ship has been granted clearance, meet your guide for the 4-hour transfer to the Guayaquil airport for your flight to Quito, Ecuador. Upon arrival you are transferred to the Casa Gangotena for check-in.
Quito, nestled at the foot of the 15,696-foot (4,784-metre) Volcán Pichincha, is known for its eternally spring-like climate and for the beauty of its well-preserved colonial centre. Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Inca Empire before being destroyed and re-founded in 1534 by Spanish Conquistador Sebastian de Benalcázar. For nearly three centuries, the arts and intellectual societies flourished under Spanish colonial rule, a fact evident in the historic centre's splendidly restored colonial buildings and churches lining narrow, cobbled streets. In 1809, Quito established the first self-governing junta in the colonies and the liberator Simón Bolívar led the country as part of the Republic of Greater Colombia until 1830, when the Republic of Ecuador announced its independence. Due to the city's preservation of its blended past, UNESCO declared Quito the first of its World Heritage Sites in 1978. The city is beautifully situated in an Andean valley at 9,186 feet (2,800 metres), making it the second highest capital city in the world.
Tonight, begin your tour of colonial Quito. This evening's sightseeing demonstrates some of the reasons why Ecuador's capital earned its honour as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drive by the San Francisco Church, built on the site of Atahualpa's Palace, and La Compañía Church's Baroque façade. Marvel at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral of Quito. Gaze at the beautiful centuries-old buildings lit up around you and watch the lights of the city twinkle in the night. With quaint cobblestone streets, flowering balconies, and a way of life little changed for centuries, the historic centre is the lifeblood of Quito. Afterwards, head out for a memorable dinner experience at one of Quito's finest restaurants located in the historic centre of the city.
Overnight accommodation at Casa Gangotena Hotel - Quito
Day 2 - Quito/Cotopaxi National Park
After breakfast, check-out and meet at the appointed time. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing that allows you to be comfortable, wear warm clothes as the temperature varies between 40 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (4-20o C). Bring rain gear, comfortable shoes and do not forget your camera and sunscreen. Join your guide for the approximate 1.5-hour drive to Cotopaxi National Park. Drive south from Quito along the stunning Avenue of the Volcanoes, a nickname bestowed by Alexander Von Humboldt, the German scientist who came to Ecuador in the 18th century and gathered valuable information on the biology and geography of the country.
The park is named for its volcano, the perfectly cone-shaped Volcán Cotopaxi. One of the highest active volcanoes in the world at 19,356 feet (5,900 metres), Cotopaxi dominates the landscape. While in the park, walk around the beautiful Laguna Limpiopungo or visit the Salitre pre-Inca ruins. Keep an eye out for wild horses and the endangered Andean Condor. Lunch is at Tambopaxi - a cosy mountain refuge that has llamas grazing in the surroundings that delights with a spectacular view of the Cotopaxi (weather permitting, of course). Continue to Hacienda Cotopaxi Pungo, built with a magnificent view of the valleys around.
The Hacienda Cotopaxi Pungo lies on a farm on the slopes of Pasochoa Volcano and is surrounded by the Cotopaxi, Antisana and Sincholagua volcanoes, with spectacular panoramic views. Cotopaxi Pungo means 'Gate to Cotopaxi', and it caters to guests headed to the national park. Many come just to relax and share the gourmet cuisine by a big log fire. Explore the property and meet for dinner with the remainder of your evening to be spent as you wish.
Overnight accommodation at Hacienda Cotopaxi Pungo - Pasochoa
Day 3 - Cotopaxi/Riobamba
Today you will visit Laguna Quilotoa, a spectacular crater lake in the Andes after breakfast at the hotel. Drive through a fantastic mountain landscape towards the western side of the Andes. Observe small villages and fields sprinkled with farmers and shepherds along the way. One cannot see the breath-taking, aquamarine Quilotoa until the last few steps approaching the rim. Then the whole lake and its vista leave one with a sense of awe. All sides of the volcano have a ragged, rugged ridge which drops over 1,320 feet (400 metres) down to the shore. While in the area, visit the villages of Tigua and Pujilí, each known for their artisans.
After enjoying a boxed lunch, continue on to Riobamba. Surrounded by spectacular snow-capped peaks such as Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak at 20,565 feet (6,310 metre), Riobamba, the former capital of Ecuador, is known as the Sultan of the Andes. With its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, Riobamba's Old Town is a local favourite.
Enjoy time at your leisure at the hotel. Tonight's accommodation is at the Hacienda Abraspungo, surrounded by the magnificence of the Ecuadorian Andes. It is named after a glacial valley which is situated between the Chimborazo Volcano and Carihuairazo, in the exact centre of Ecuador. The architectural style found here offers the best of traditional colonial design often used in the ancestral mansions and haciendas of Ecuador. The Hacienda is adorned with old photographs and illustrations of Andean landscapes, which today constitutes as a testimony to eras gone by. The antiques on display in the social areas give a colonial flavour as well as a feel for the pre-Colombian cultures of the region.
Dinner and accommodations - Hacienda Abraspungo, Riobamba.
Day 4 - Train to Devil's Nose/Cuenca
Depart early this morning for one of the most beautiful and impressive train journeys on the continent. Today, this classic train ride is run purely for visitors who can enjoy the experience of travelling through the fantastic Andean scenery from Riobamba to Alausi, then the adventure of travelling down the Devil's Nose section of the line which zigzags along the edge of the Andes in a truly exhilarating and exciting ride of a lifetime. This train journey is classed amongst the most spectacular in the world. Learn about the Incas during their short time in Ecuadorian Lands and visit the monuments they left during this time.
Upon arriving in the quaint town of Alausí, board the classic train to the Devil's Nose. Along the way, we encounter breath-taking Andean scenery, the Palmira desert and, finally, the Devil's Nose itself. One of the most unique train routes in the world, and certainly one of the best known in South America, the Devil's Nose is truly an amazing feat of engineering. While constructing the Quito-Guayaquil train line in the early 20th Century, the engineers were faced with a major obstacle - The Andes. With no clear path into and out of the forbidding range, the engineers finally decided to tackle the problem head on. They created a series of switchbacks that allow the train to navigate a 45 degree rock slope while descending over 2,600 feet (800 metres). It makes for a spectacular journey through one of Ecuador's most scenic landscapes. Recently re-opened after years of reconstruction, it is now available to experience just as it was a century ago.
After descending the Devil's Nose, stop to enjoy some refreshments while exploring the beautiful surroundings. There is also a charming museum offering information about local culture, history, flora, and fauna in the area.
Arriving back in Alausí, head to the Inca ruins of Ingapirca. Before your visit, lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Ingapirca, meaning "The Inca wall" in Quichua, is the most important complex of ruins existing in the country and it was built on top of Cañari constructions which go back to 1200 AD. The site was used as a political and religious centre until the Incas conquered the Cañari and started the construction of a temple in 1460. Upon completion it served as a site for Sun worship and as a calendar for agricultural purposes. The complex also has other important sections such as the ancient residing place of the virgins of the sun, the Inca baths, and more. There is also a small museum on-site featuring artefacts from both Cañari and Inca civilizations.
Drive for about 90 minutes to Cuenca, where dinner and your hotel room await.
Accommodations this evening are at the Mansion Alcazar - Cuenca.
Day 5 - Cuenca/Lima
Rise and enjoy breakfast and check-out of the hotel before embarking on a panoramic tour of the city of Cuenca. Cuenca is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the country and is often hailed as "The hidden treasure of Ecuador". It was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, primarily for having been able to preserve the most valuable cultural and architectural features found in its historic centre.
Drive along Cuenca's cobblestoned streets, visiting flowery plazas and picturesque sites. See Cuenca's famous flower market and its dazzlingly colourful displays of arum lilies, orchids, and roses. Continue to the neo-Gothic 'New Cathedral' and its distinctive blue domes which dominate the skyline. Construction on the New Cathedral began in 1880; it was erected to replace the Old Cathedral (still standing across from the new one), built by the Spanish in 1557, the year the city was founded.
Approximately three hours of driving will bring you back into Guayaquil, your guide will take you on an informative panoramic city tour. Located on the banks of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is Ecuador's principle port and largest city, with about 3 million inhabitants. Guayaquil's strong culture and traditions stand in amazing contrast to the modernity of its new constructions. Guayaquil's port, "Puerto Maritimo", is the main sea port of the country and is where 80% of the country's imports and more than 50% of its exports are handled. The commercial and industrial centre of Ecuador, Guayaquil lies about 37 miles (60 kilometres) from the Gulf of Guayaquil and the Pacific Ocean.
Visit the commercial centre, the Malecón 2000 along the Guayas River, the Parque Seminario, locally known as "Iguana park" due to the many land iguanas lounging in the grass and trees, and then through the historic neighbourhood of Las Peñas for a visit to one of the local museums.
Enjoy lunch at a traditional restaurant before you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, you will be transferred to the ship in time for a later dinner, to be served onboard
Please note: This Mid-Voyage Land Adventure requires an extensive amount of walking, some of which is on cobblestone paths and unpaved trails, with uneven surfaces. There are many steps to climb. This excursion is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Altitude sickness may be a problem for guests suffering from palpitations, shortness of breath or severe headaches. This programme involves fairly long drives. All vehicles utilised are the best available. Pack carefully; luggage weight restriction is limited to 50 lb. (23 kg) plus one carry on limited to 22lbs. (10 kg). Warm clothes are necessary; trekking or comfortable walking shoes with non-slip soles are important. Plan on wearing layers of clothing for comfort depending on the weather. You will be at higher altitude so sunblock, wide-brimmed, expedition-style hats and sunglasses are necessary. This Land Adventure involves touring outdoors and guests may be exposed to warm, humid and/or wet weather and insects. Bring rain gear and insect repellent. The tour itinerary and order of sites are subject to change without prior notice and airline alterations to the flight schedules may affect the tour content. This description is a general overview of the programme only and changes may be made if local conditions require. Space is limited, but a minimum of participants is required to operate this excursion.
· One-night stay at The Casa Gangotena (or similar) - Quito
· One-night stay at Hacienda Cotopaxi Pungo (or similar) - Pasochoa
· One-night stay at Hacienda Abraspungo (or similar) - Riobamba
· One-night stay at Mansion Alcazar (or similar) - Cuenca.
· Scheduled flights, Economy-Class: Guayaquil/Quito and Guayaquil/Lima. At this time the airlines do not offer a Business Class of service on these flights.
· Four breakfasts, three lunches, two boxed lunch, and four dinners (lunch and dinner include choice of two beverages, local beer, house wine, soft drinks), in addition to two in-flight snacks served with soft drinks, tea or coffee.
· Train Passage to Devil's Nose
· Bottled water on coach
· All sightseeing and transfers as per itinerary
Any meals and drinks not specified above, charges incurred by the airlines for excess or overweight luggage, gratuities to drivers and tour guides, laundry, telephone calls, cancellation insurance, and other personal items.
All Land Adventures require a minimum number of participants in order to operate as described. If this minimum number is not met, Silversea reserves the right to offer the programme at a different rate based on private arrangements, or to cancel the specific departure. Silversea's published cruise cancellation policy will remain in effect. All Land Adventure fares are subject to change and are not guaranteed until payment is received in full by Silversea. Onboard Spending Credit may not be applied to the purchase of this programme. All Land Adventures are non-transferable and non-refundable for any reason, within 90 days of sailing and are recommended to guests 18 years of age and older. This description is a general overview of this programme. Our local operator reserves the right to substitute other sites if local situations, including holidays, changes made by airlines, government activities, and weather, require. The programme described in this brochure is provided by independent contractors. Silversea acts solely as ticketing agent. Silversea shall have no obligation or liability of any kind to guests for the business practices, acts or omissions in connection with or arising out of arrangements with independent contractors, including but not limited to airline carriers, ground-tour operators, private game reserves, and hotels since they are neither agents for nor employees of Silversea Cruises. Silversea's liability does not extend beyond the vessel.