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Excursions in and around Otavalo

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Hike around Lake Cuicocha

Cuicocha is one of the most famous lakes in Ecuador. In a private car we drive to the entrance of the Cotacachi-Cayapas reserve, where we start a 5-hour walking tour that runs between 3100 and 3500 meters above sea level. Along the way we enjoy the biodiversity, the views of the picturesque lake of Cuicocha with its two islands and the view of the mountain peaks of Cotacachi, Imbabura and Cayambe.
Difficulty: moderate
Mandatory: good walking shoes, sun protection, mosquito repellent, fleece or pull, water (min.1 liter)
Recommended: camera, binoculars, rain jacket, reasonable condition also at height

Hike the lakes of Mojanda and Fuya-Fuya Mountain

Discover the paramo grasslands on the lakes of Mojanda and the vista from the top of Mount Fuya Fuya. With a private car we drive to the shores of the Mojanda lake at 3700 meters altitude. From here starts a hiking tour through paramo grasslands to the top of Mount Fuya Fuya at 4265 meters. At the top we enjoy a snack and the views over the lake and over the mountains Imbabura, Cotacachi and Cayambe. Then we descend and drive back to Otavalo where an evening meal is served.
Difficulty: moderate
Mandatory: good walking shoes, sun protection, fleece or pull, water (min.1 liter), reasonable condition also at height
Recommended: camera, binoculars, rain jacket

Cycling to the cloud forest of Intag

This is a beautiful descent by bike from the high mountains to the cloud forests of Intag. With a private car we drive to the village of Urcusiqui at an altitude of 3400 meters. Here we start cycling for 3 to 4 hours. We descend 1800 meters, with some short climbs on the way. Along the way we notice the change in climate and vegetation from high Andean region through cloud forest to the tropical valley of Intag. When we arrive in the village of Nangulvi we have lunch and rest at the hot springs of Nagulvi before returning by car.
Difficulty: moderate
Mandatory: sun protection, some cycling experience
Recommended: camera, water, fair condition, bathing suit with towel, rain jacket

Cycling from Cuicocha to Cotacachi

By mountain bike you will get to know the Cuicocha lake and the region of Cotacachi. From an altitude of 3300 meters, not far from the Cuicocha lake, we descend by bike for about 3 hours. We will cross indigenous villages and visit the Turuco Botanical Garden. Then we continue to the town of Cotacachi and the village of La Calera, where we have lunch. We return by car or bicycle.
Difficulty: light-moderate
To bring: sun protection, fleece or pull, water

Lake Cuicocha & Indigenous Villages

We will visit different indigenous villages and local workshops, we will go to the waterfall of Peguche and the lake of Cuicocha.
During this tour we visit various indigenous villages, workshops and workshops of eg reed mats, musical instruments, tapestry weaving, wool spinning, making jewelry from seeds. We also visit the Peguche waterfall and the town of Cotacachi which is known for its leather. Finally, we will trek to Lake Cuicocha in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve.
Difficulty: light
Recommended: camera, water, sun protection, fleece or pull

Bike tour – lakes of Mojanda and archeology Cochasquí

We leave in the early hours for the Mojanda lakes which are about forty minutes away from Otavalo. These lakes are located at an altitude of 3700m. The largest lake is called Kari-Cocha. From here, a nice bike ride through paramo grasslands starts towards the archaeological site of Cochasquí. Cochasquí is known for its ancient pyramids built by the Quintu-Cara peoples. It is a beautiful varied bike ride with beautiful natural landscapes.
Difficulty: moderate.
Mandatory: sun protection, raincoat, warm fleece or pull.
Recommended: camera, water (min. 1 liter) and a reasonable physical condition.

The coffee route

Find out how pure organic coffee is grown and processed. We drive by car to the Intag valley and enjoy the spectacular views along the way. In Intag we arrive at the organic farm where we learn something about the cultivation of coffee, about the harvesting process and about the first steps in processing. We taste what coffee really tastes like. After lunch in Nangulvi we will take some free time to walk around or to (optionally) visit the hot springs. Then we return by car.
Difficulty: light
Mandatory: sun protection
Recommended: camera, water, bathing suit with towel

Native health and spirituality

Discover how ancient indigenous traditions and knowledge are still used today. After a brief explanation of the health situation in the area, we learn about the daily work of an indigenous midwife in the village of La Calera. We then visit a shaman who explains the Indian spirituality and their vision of the cosmos. After a healthy meal we learn about the medicinal herbs in an organic garden. We end with a visit to the lake of Cuicocha where we take some time for a walk or a short boat trip (optional).
Difficulty: light
Recommended: camera, water, sun protection, fleece or pull

On horseback to Lake Cuicocha

Enjoy the vistas of the Andes, the indigenous villages and a visit to the Cuicocha Lake on horseback. By car we trek to the village of La Calera, where our horseback ride (5 hours) begins through the countryside and past indigenous villages. When we arrive at the lake of Cuicocha, we take a rest and take a walk or (optionally) a short boat trip on the lake. Then we return to the farm and from there by car to the starting point.
Difficulty: moderate
Mandatory: sun protection, fleece or pull, water, minimal experience with horses
Recommended: camera, clothing that can get dirty

Horseback riding to Alpaca farm

You will be picked up at the hotel in the morning and then a 20-minute drive to the Arrayanes community. There we get some explanation from the guide and we get to know the horses. After this, the tour starts along beautiful landscapes with a view of the surrounding volcanoes. After about three hours of driving we arrive at the alpaca farm where we get an explanation about these animals and where we also have time to rest. Then we begin the retreat.
Mandatory: sun protection, fleece or sweater, water (min. 1 liter), minimum experience with horses.
Recommended: camera, clothes that can get dirty and a snack.

El Angel National Park – return by train

We are picked up at the hotel in the morning and then drive to El Ángel. There we start the excursion with a nice walk to the lake “El Voladero” at 3800 meters altitude. Here we mainly see ‘frailejones’ and small polylepis trees around us. Both plant species are typical for that region. After this nature walk we go to Salinas, a village where a nice lunch is waiting for us. Around 3 pm we take the train to Ibarra. The train crosses mountains, tunnels and sugar cane plantations to finally arrive in Ibarra, where the driver will be waiting for us to drive back to the hotel.
Recommended: sun protection, raincoat, warm fleece or pull, water (min 1 liter), camera.

Native villages of Otavalo and Botanical Gardens

Today you will visit various workshops with a guide. You will visit a textile workshop, where they process sheep and alpaca wool from basic to finished product. After this, you will travel to an indigenous family where you can see how they make baskets and carpets with the “totora” plant. A workshop of musical instruments is also visited. Then we go to the Peguche waterfall to take a short walk in nature. Lunch is offered by a family in La Calera. Then we will go to Cotacachi to visit various botanical gardens where you will get an explanation about the medicinal plants and how they are grown and used in the region. Then you return to the hotel.
To bring: protection against the rain and the sun and water.

Birdwatching: the birds of Intag

For this excursion, the guide will pick you up at the hotel at 04:00 in the morning and drive to Intag. There the driver will drop you off in the Azabi community and with the guide you will start a five hour hike through the cloud forest where you will have the chance to see different types of hummingbirds, tanagers, manakins, toukans etc. After the walk you will get a nice lunch and then drive back to Otavalo.
Difficulty: easy, moderate.
To bring: sun and rain protection, sporty footwear, water, camera and binoculars.

Climbing the Imbabura volcano (4639 mt height)

Climb the Imbabura and enjoy the view over the province that gave this mountain its name. Before sunrise we drive to the village of Casha Pampa which is located at 3300 meters altitude. Here we start the climb that takes 5 to 6 hours between the paramo-grasslands with a spectacular view of the city of Ibarra and the snowy Cayambe. A little higher the trail becomes rocky and we walk around a volcano crater to the top at 4610 meters. After a break and a snack we descend.
Difficulty: moderately difficult
Mandatory: good walking shoes, sun protection, fleece or pull, water (min.1.5 liters), rain jacket, reasonable condition also at height
Recommended: camera, walking sticks

Climbing the Cotacachi volcano (4932 meters)

This is a high-altitude climb to the highest volcano in the region.
We leave before sunrise and drive up to 4000 meters by car. From here we walk through grassland for 3 to 4 hours until we reach the snow line at an altitude of about 4750 meters. We rest for a while and enjoy the view of the Andes Mountains. Then we descend and return by car to our starting point.
For safety reasons one does not climb all the way to the top (4939 meters).
Difficulty: moderately difficult
Mandatory: good walking shoes, sun protection, fleece or pull, water (min.1 liter), rain jacket, reasonable condition also at height
Recommended: camera, walking sticks
Note: You can also make this trip on two days with a night camping on the mountain.

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Tom, guide in EcuadorI’m Tom from Belgium and I’ll make sure your trip to Ecuador or cruise in Galapagos goes as smoothly and pleasantly as possible. I have been living in Ecuador for a decade and have been working in tourism for 8 years now. Before that, I obtained my guides diploma in Ecuador. Traveling and discovering new places is my passion.
Together with the local travel agency Descubre-Ecuador, we offer tailor-made tours in Galapagos and on the Ecuadorian mainland. Over the years, Descubre-Ecuador has built a reliable partnership with the best hotels and the best nature guides in Ecuador. Our small-scale way of working ensures easy accessibility and a lot of flexibility when traveling.
Customer satisfaction is the essence for us. And even in those rare moments of unforeseen difficult circumstances, we make sure that we are there to make sure your trip runs smoothly.
Explore Ecuador and Galapagos!


Indian woman from SalasacasIn South America, Ecuador is one of the smaller countries, but the country is hugely diverse in terms of geography, climate and population. You can visit the Andes, the Amazon rainforest as well as the tropical coast without taking extremely long domestic flights or transfers. And then you have the Galapagos Islands, a once in a lifetime experience. The diversity of flora and fauna per square mile is enormous. Ecuador is South America in a nutshell. Moreover, the country is relatively safe and little visited. The national currency is the USD and you have a wide choice of direct flights to Quito and Guayaquil from Europe and the United States.


Tom - guide in EcuadorIk ben Tom uit België en zorg ervoor dat jullie reis naar Ecuador of cruise in Galapagos zo vlot en aangenaam mogelijk kan verlopen. Ik woon al een tiental jaren in Ecuador en werk nu 8 jaren in toerisme. Daarvoor heb ik in Ecuador mijn gidsen-diploma behaald. Reizen en nieuwe plaatsen ontdekken is mijn passie. Samen met het lokale reiskantoor Descubre-Ecuador, bieden we reizen op maat in Galapagos en op het Ecuadoriaanse vasteland aan. Descubre-Ecuador heeft door de jaren heen een betrouwbare samenwerking opgebouwd met de beste hotels en de beste natuurgidsen van Ecuador. Onze kleinschalige manier van werken zorgt voor een vlotte bereikbaarheid en veel flexibiliteit bij het reizen. De tevredenheid van de klant is voor ons de essentie. En ook op die zeldzame momenten van onvoorziene moeilijke omstandigheden zorgen we dat we er zijn om jullie reis toch perfect te laten verlopen. Ontdek Ecuador en Galapagos!