Rail and Natural Wonders of Ecuador
If you’ve ever thought of visiting this wonderful South American country now is the time to act. The last two years have seen much improvements to the infrastructure of the country with the new airport, motorways and most importantly, from our perspective, the complete restoration of the major railway. In one journey you are able to travel from the Pacific coast through the jungle up into the Andes Mountains and on to Quito, the world’s first UNESCO Heritage city. In the past it was possible only to do small parts of the railway piecemeal including the famous Devil’s Nose. The government took back ownership of the railway a few years ago and has now fully and wonderfully restored the whole line. Each station has been refurbished and luxury trains purchased from Spain on which you embark on a three-day adventure. Overnight accommodation is provided mainly in quality Hacienda’s each with their own colonial history.
Steam is already used on parts of the journey and we have been promised an enhanced steam itinerary for our visit scheduled next year. We’ve also arrange that the rail enthusiasts will be able to stay on the train the whole journey so as not to miss any of the trackage (this is not normally available), whereas for the majority of travellers the opportunity of visiting many different local places in excursions from the train will prove rewarding.
The food on board and in the accommodation on route is the higher standard, reflecting the aim of the operators to deliver a really quality experience. At many of the stations artisan markets have been established which enables passengers to purchase authentic local crafts.
As well as this delightful railway experience our tour will spend time in the capital city, Quito, exploring both the historic city centre and the Andes region to the north of the city. We will spend a further day on another historic railway line the restoration of which was only completed last year.
Stephen Martin who will lead the tour has already conducted a detailed inspection tour and lead our first tour there in 2016 including evaluating the options to visit the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, either staying in a safari lodge or riverboat; and what for many will prove to be an absolute highlight of visiting Ecuador, going on to the unique and famous Galapagos Isles for a seven night cruise.
Tour Manager: Stephen Martin
Day 1 Thursday 9th November (L) Our schedule flight options are either via Madrid or Amsterdam with the advantage of arriving the same day in the coastal city of Guayaquil. Accommodation four-star city centre hotel.
Day 2 Friday 10th November (B, L,) A full day to explore the historic city of Guayaquil, the largest in Ecuador and its commercial hub. In the morning there will be a city tour taking in the key historic buildings and the promenade fronting the sea where there will be an opportunity to view the only restored surviving historic coach from the railway. Lunch will be taken in a typical local restaurant before an afternoon visit to an authentic Panama hat factory – these famous hats are indeed Ecuadorian not Panamanian. Accommodation four-star hotel city centre.
Day 3 Saturday 11th November (B, L, D) An early morning departure from our hotel to the railway station located a few kilometres from the city. An opportunity of viewing the locomotive as it prepares for our journey with a steam departure from the terminal. Today is spent traversing the coastal plain with its intense agricultural activity, where many different crops will be seen. Our day’s journey concludes at the foothills of the Andean mountains with an opportunity of a nature walk before an included evening meal. Accommodation local tourist standard hotel – best available.
Day 4 Sunday 12th November (B, L, D) We ascend through the jungle climbing up into the Andean foothills. With visits from the train to a typical large historic farming operation where we will have the opportunity to see many agricultural activities and dine outside. Accommodation historic Hacienda hotel.
Day 5 Monday 13th November (B, L, D) Today our journey takes us through the high Andes, including a climb up the famous Devil’s Nose. We will make stops at several historic Andean towns with opportunities for guided tours and shopping for local artefacts. Accommodation historic Hacienda hotel.
Day 6 Tuesday 14th November (B, L, D) Today is spent in the high Andes passing by some of the world’s most famous volcanoes before a descent into Quito, the historic capital of Ecuador. We dine in historic lodge high in the Andes. The train stop at the highest station will include an explanation of the tradition of taking ice from high up on the mountain sides down into the villages.
It’s hoped that our arrival into Quito will be steam hauled which is not currently done. We will transfer by coach to our city centre accommodation.
Accommodation is in the luxury Swiss Hotel.
Day 7 Wednesday 15th November (B, L, D) Today we enjoy a steam hauled train trip on the line recently restored north of Quioto travelling from Otavalo to Ibarra. Accommodation in a very historic country estate.
Day 8 Thursday 16th November (B, D) Today we will head north of the capital to visit the historic location of the line of the equator. As well as containing a monument this site has a number of interesting museums, but has now been found not to lie exactly on the equator, which is the location we next visit, where some very interesting science will be demonstrated to us. We journey further north visiting one of the famous Artisan markets before arriving at our overnight accommodation set in a colonial garden. Accommodation in a very historic country estate.
Day 9 Friday 17th November (B, L, D) Today we have an excursion on the other main restored line in Ecuador,. Our first stop will be at a 19th-century cotton mill still containing all of the manufacturing equipment brought in from the UK. It’s now a wonderful museum with a fascinating history.
Our journey continues higher up into the Andes to an area famous for its salt mines. African slaves were brought into labour in these mines and it is their villages and culture that we will be exposed to during our lunchtime stop with cultural show and enjoy a lunch of traditional cuisine. We will return on the train, the complete length of the line during which it’s planned to have some steam running. Return to overnight accommodation in central Quito.
Day 10 Sunday 18th November ( B, L, D) A full day to explore this, the first UNESCO city world Heritage site accompanied by an expert local guide. Our visit will take in the Grand Plaza, the colonial and government office buildings, cathedrals and churches as well as archaeological museums. Our meals today will be taken in exclusive restaurants located within the city centre.
Overnight accommodation is in a historic converted Spanish colonial buildings close to the Grand Plaza.
Day 11 Monday 19th November (B) Return transfer to the international airport is included
Today you will have choose one of several options of extensions to the tour to take full advantage of travelling to Ecuador.
- The unescorted tour will mean an early morning flight from Quito over to the Galapagos Isles – approximately 90 minutes and a transfer on to our luxury cruise boat. Taking a seven night itinerary which enables you to visit the more remote islands with their more interesting geology and ecosystems. The exciting itinerary is packed with an opportunity to see much of the varied wildlife and geology of this unique island chain. At the completion of our cruise our return flights to Europe departing from Guayaquil, avoiding the need to travel back to Quito.
- If you’ve never visited the Amazon jungle this is an ideal opportunity to enjoy the huge variety of wildlife. We have looked at three different lodge options and selected the best. It’s a luxury lodge on a private estate run by Swiss company. The Lodge area includes a spa and a lakeside viewing area and acts as a central point from which nature tours depart. All meals are included at the lodge. Those who chose this option last year really enjoyed it.
Alternatively we are able to offer a luxury river cruise which goes down as far as the Peruvian border. This probably gives the opportunity for single greatest variety of wild life, including the famous pink dolphins found further down the Amazon river system. Again, all meals on board are included.
It should be noted that some clients have requested the option of doing more than one of the additional add-on and individual tailored arrangements can be made by PTG Tours. The Galapagos Islands will not be escorted by PTG Tours.
A reasonable degree of fitness is required for this tour, although fortunately, whilst we do climb high in the Andes all the accommodation at lower levels but still high above sea level. Any doubts its worth checking with your doctor prior to booking.