Northern Ecuador Andes Tour Itinerary
Day 1 (Friday): Quito Hotel Pickup
After being picked up at your hotel in Quito in the morning, we will gather for a Welcome Lunch followed by a Quito Walking Tour before boarding our private transportation for our 3 hours trip to Cotacachi, our central location for our exploration of Northern Ecuador.
We have found the perfect spot for you to call it a night, and the views in the morning, priceless.
Day 2 (Saturday): Otavalo Indigenous Market
We’ll start our day bright and early, making our way to Otavalo to participate in the largest indigenous market in Ecuador, and usually the pinnacle of any tour to the north of Ecuador. We will have lunch at the market & make our way back to Cotacachi using local public bus transportation. If you've never ridden a bus in a foreign country, we promise this is a wonderful way to travel & will become a memorable part of your visit to this amazing country, and if you have, this will be special.
Dinner at a local restaurant, and time for chance encounters
Day 3: Trek around lake Cuicocha
The experience of trekking through the Andes is like no other. We will get more than a taste today, as we set off on our 14km (5 hour) hike around Lake Cuicocha. A reasonable fitness level & a wanderlust to explore is all that you will need to experience another highlight of your trip to Ecuador. Snack lunch is included.
Returning to Cotacachi, we will warm ourselves and relax with a warm beverage & pastry at Rio Intag Coffee, experiencing local coffee in a charming colonial era home turned into coffee shop.
Day 4: Art Class & Lunch + San Antonio wood town
After breakfast, we will travel by public bus north to the town of Ibarra for an Art Class with our dear friend & local artisan at her private studio on her beautiful family property. After our class & lunch, we will travel to San Antonio & explore the shops of local wood artisans, before returning to Cotacachi.
Day 5: Leather Street + Leather College Tour
Breakfast. When you’re in the leather capital of Ecuador, you should explore the fine shops & local artisans that dominate the small town of Cotacachi and produce some of the finest leather works sold around the world.
After lunch we will grab our bathing suits and head to the hot springs via private transport where we will soak in the tubs and pools of the thermal waters and soak our cares away. A truly local Ecuadorian experience.
Or perhaps we will participate in an Indigenous Temazcal Ceremony, or other activity we hear about during the week.
Day 6: Cotacachi Market + Rose Tour + Sean's Farm Tour
Day 6 is a big food day. After Breakfast we will head to the local open air food market, for us there is nothing better than walking the rows past each stall, selling all sorts of known & unimaginable morsels.
Next we will head to our friend Sean's Farm, a former Arizonian turned Ecuadorian farmer raising, butchering, cooking, packing, and delivering a variety of meats sold throughout Ecuador. And a tour wouldn't be complete without a stop at a Rose Farm for a private tour & perhaps a few dozen fresh roses to stuff into your suitcase for the trip home. They also ship worldwide.
Farewell Dinner. Our goal with SAGA tours is to connect people. To different cultures, different ways of doing things, different ways of seeing the world, and to share our love of travel & adventure with others. We hope to bring everyone together on our final night together.
Day 7: Breakfast + Goodbyes
This is it, the last day. We will have breakfast, say goodbyes, and provide a single private transfer returning to Quito.
- hotel properties
Combined with the knowledge of our local network to try and provide a one-of-a-kind travel tour experience. Local, intimate, safe & secure, comfortable. Our list of available properties is growing and when we hear or see about a new, a memorable place to hang out for a night with a small group of epic folks.
While the Northern Andes has a mild climate year round, it can be chilly + at night, or during the day in the shade under the right conditions. It is recommended to layer-clothing, day or night, so that you can best regulate your internal temperature regardless of outside weather conditions.
Central heating & air-conditioning is not available, replaced with warm wool blankets & fireplaces...and layers.
Important Information: Tour Essentials
All these activities, schedule, and itinerary is subject to change.
It is recommended to arrive on THURSDAY before the tour begins on Friday. Most travelers from the U.S. end up on a late night 11:30 pm’ish arrival, & all you will want to do is get a cab to your hotel & sleep. We will see you bright and early on Friday morning.
The tour itinerary was developed around the Otavalo Indigenous Market which operates on Saturday mornings.
The itinerary was created with a “big activity” planned for each day. These are set in stone, and we have transportation pre-arranged. We then connected local attractions with other local attractions that make sense logistically, we can plan for food & transportation around these local attractions. Make sense?
The wrinkle is that we are leaving space (time) in our itinerary for serendipitous experiences, and we are connecting our small travel group with our local network of friends, Ecuadorians & Expats via WhatsApp so that we can “change plans” when we learn about local events, music, celebrations, or really anything that we find interesting during the week.
We are being very up-front; this is not a vacation style trip. This is not an experience for someone that does not consider themselves a Traveler. We are operating OUTSIDE of the Tourist Trail whenever possible. Our indigenous friends live very simply, often with dirt or cement floors. Stray dogs are everywhere. We will walk a lot & take public transportation. You will experience discomfort.
We also want you to slow down. The energy of the Andes and the people that have called this home for thousands of years is what we want you to experience. We are not rushing to go to the next attraction, we simply want you to experience the next moment, in a land & among people with a spirit so large as to make you feel small. With ourselves, our friends, and our personal network as your hosts.
It is possible you will be paired in a room with another traveler, regardless of whether you are a single or double. For example, Hacienda Pinsaqui is a 300 year old family run business that now caters to travelers, but at times only hostel style rooms with 3 or 4 people, are available.
For solo travelers we offer a guaranteed room share, which means we’ll pair you with the same-gender, non-smoking roommate, so you can take advantage of the lower double occupancy rate. If we are unable to pair you with a roommate, you’ll travel single occupancy at no additional cost.
Yes, all guests will be required to have travel insurance for the duration of the trip. We’ll be asking for proof before departure. If you don’t have it, you won’t be able to continue on the tour.
If you require a visa to enter any of these destinations, you’ll need to get that in advance at your own expense. We do not offer any help in this area.
All our tours have lots of walking involved that last between 2-3 hours each. The Northern Ecuador Andes Tour is conducted between 7,000 & 11,000 ft msl elevation, and includes a city walking tour and a 5 hour lake hike. A reasonable fitness & mobility level is recommended.
Yes, you’ll be required to fill out and sign the Liability Waiver releasing us from any and all liability related to the tour.
We understand plans change. But, having an unfilled reservation is detrimental to our small tour business. If you have doubts you can make the trip, please consider waiting for another opportunity. Thx.
Refunds of 50% of the tour price will be given if request is made 30 days prior to Tour Date. No refunds of monies will be given between 0 and 29 days before Tour Date.
Of course! We hate tours that book every minute of your day. While we will be busy, there will also be plenty of time for you to explore on your own. Travel is about adventure and discovery, so we emphasize that on our tours. We want you to see stuff that interests you specifically.
We will be on hand to give you suggestions & you will have direct access to a local network to help you decide what to do. Explore solo, grab a buddy, sit & reflect. Relax & contemplate or layer-up & explore.
The Tourism Industry defines 'small group' as minimum of 10 person per tour & maximum of 24.
At SAGA we have NO minimum. And our max is 10. This is our life first, then a business. If a conscious soul wants a tour we will be more than happy to show them around & help them make connections.