Southern Ecuador Lowlands and the Andes - 7 days
Day 1: Guayaquil - La Danesa
Transfer from Guayaquil to La Danesa, this drive takes approximately 1 1/2 hour. Welcome to Hacienda La Danesa!
Your host will greet you and give you a warm welcome to the farm and tell you about Hacienda La Danesa's rich history. You will have time at leisure to explore the gardens and property, enjoy refreshing cold-infused drinks and a traditional snack.
Day 2: La Danesa
Today you can enjoy the different activities that the Hacienda offers:
Cacao & Chocolate Experience
Upon check in, we will visit the plantations to learn the history and process of the cacao in Ecuador surrounded by cacao trees. You will continue to visit the fermentation and drying process up until the final stage where the cacao beans are stored and ready to be sold. We will then continue to the workshop where our local chocolatier will show you how artisan chocolate is produced. We will cover the tempering and crystallization process up until the packaging. You will have the opportunity to make your own chocolate bar to take home!
Milking in the Gardens
Hacienda La Danesa produces around 1,200 liters of milk every day and had won for 20 years in a row the best dairy cattle in coastal Ecuador. One of our beloved cows will visit us in the gardens and share some of her milk with us. If you want a Café au Lait you will have to take the espresso straight to the cow's udder for fresh warm milk!
Lazy River Tubing / Biking
At this time you may explore the property by bike, float down the lazy rivers surrounded by trees and birds, go horse riding or just sit back and relax with your favorite Ecuadorean wine or gin tonic.
Day 3: La Danesa- Cuenca (Tambo Coyoctor & Ingapirca Ruins)
The location of Coyoctor in the El Tambo town and its proximity to Ingapirca ruins, lead archeologists to conjecture that these two places were part of the same ceremonial-administrative complex in the region. Los Baños del Inca is a rock of cyclopean dimensions (approximately 100mt long and 8 high), on whose surface several elements were carved.
We now drive South to Ingapirca, an Inca observatory and fortress. This is the largest and most important Inca site in Ecuador, where the Emperor and his entourage would rest during trips to this northern segment of the Empire. It was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar, this Temple served for ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, also had strategic-military purposes.
Day 4: Cuenca "Local artisans experience"
Cuenca is a city of artisans with skillful hands, who developed a hobby and ability to carefully work with different metals and thus manage to capture figures of all sizes and colors.
In a small and magical place south of Cuenca, some of the most elaborate pieces of jewelry in Ecuador are manufactured. Chordeleg, is recognized for being home to some of the best jewelers in the country. In this place, silver melts at thousands of degrees to form tiny braided threads that later give shape to chains, earrings, tiaras and crowns. The technique of these artisans is known as filigree and the jewelers of this small town have practiced it for generations. The impressive ability to weave small threads together into a jewel makes this an activity worthy of being admired, and the pieces produced here qualify as small pieces of art.
Shawls of Ikat
For centuries, an ancient technique of dyeing clothes called ikat has been practiced in Gualaceo. This technique consists of tying small strands of cabuya, a fiber of vegetable origin that comes from the fique plant (known locally as penco), in threads to draw patterns for what will later be a shawl. The more knots tied, the more complex and elaborate the process, which then, passes to the step of hand dying with leaves and fruits like walnut, to finally being woven by hand on a warp and becoming the famous shawl of Gualaceo. These shawls are of particular importance for being part of the traditional dress of the Chola Cuencana. There are shawls that take months to manufacture due to the complex process of elaboration. Learning from the hand of the artisans their techniques and processes is one of the most beautiful memories you can have in your visit to Cuenca.
The small traditional street that crosses Las Herrerías neighborhood, houses the workshop of Don Sergio Guerra, who, for more than 25 years, has been working in the traditional craft of the arts of fire. In his workshop, he shapes various pieces by hammer and anvil. The “Herrero” manufactures anything from antique style door locks to the coronation roosters of the traditional houses of Cuenca. Accompany him during his workday and he’ll even allow you to forge your own figure. Natural forms, padlocks, horseshoes and various handcrafted pieces take shape in his workshop, which is surely a place to be visited.
At the entrance to this workshop, in the traditional neighborhood of Vado, you can find a unique aroma of wood. Here some of the most famous guitars in the country are manufactured. This craftsman tells us about his process, how he treats and works the wood to give it the shape of a guitar, charango or even a cuatro. The tuning is everything, some of their pieces take up to 6 months to complete, national and international artists commission the development of their instruments to this skillful instrument maker who embeds pieces of ivory and marble customized according to the taste of the artist who commissioned its development. Admiring this fine work and then listening to a melody from one of his creations is undoubtedly a sight worthy of applause.
The Antique Gallery
On La Condamine Street there is a private gallery, where you can recall history through the pieces on exhibit. The show is infinite: toys, cameras, saints and religious figures, instruments and many items that define eras and represent the way of life of the aristocracy of Cuenca in past times.
For this family pottery is a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation. Warmly opening the doors to their home-workshop, Don Juan tells you the story of how he has been practicing with clay since he was a child and that after more than 40 years he is just now perfecting his skills. In the workshop, located in La Convención district, unique pieces of clay are formed and then baked at thousands of degrees to obtain a unique black finish. The potter teaches you how to work the clay in his lathe to make all types of pots and the various pieces that are manufactured there
Day 5: City Tour in Cuenca
After breakfast, you will have a city tour and admire the colonial architecture. One of the first things you notice when entering Cuenca is the magnificent skyline marked by shining church domes. Cuenca’s winding rivers, graceful ironwork balconies, and beautiful gardens are part of the pleasant atmosphere of this historic city, declared Cultural Patrimony by the UNESCO in December 1999, it’s a perfect place to discover walking and is ideal for those looking to blend into the relaxed setting of a truly romantic colonial city.
Our route in the Colonial are will include San Francisco Market, Flowers´ and San Sebastian Squares, Abdon Calderon Park, the two cathedrals of the city.
Later we will continue to El Turi and the visit to Eduardo Vega Gallery. Eduardo Vega is one of the most esteemed creators of murals and designers of ceramics of Latin America. He has contributed to beautifying public spaces in Ecuador, his native land and other places of the continent. The gallery/workshop produces, exhibits and offers for sale a rich sample of artistic, decorative and utilitarian pieces made by hand in an ambience of color and luminosity. One can find a range of pieces from small tiles decorated with native birds, to heritage houses, or plants, to mugs, cheese dishes, coffee-cup sets, to complete sets of dishes or murals in high relief.
Day 6: Cuenca- El Cajas National Park- Guayaquil
Today, we will visit El Cajas, a 70,000 ha. National Park, which hosts several ecosystems from cloud forests to rocky lunar landscapes. However, it is the lakes (more than 200 of them) scattered among jagged peaks that best characterize the reserve.
Most of El Cajas lies above 3,000 meters, with grassland covering most of the rugged terrain. The frost and ice that can be found above 4,000 meters is a deterrent to most vegetation, but the tiny, and hardy, Quina tree clings to life here, higher than any other tree in the world. Keep a look out for these 200-year-old specimens tucked up against hillsides in pockets of primary forest, clothed in a green palette of mosses and ferns and fighting each other for sunlight.
En El Cajas there is a good chance of seeing the wild llamas that were reintroduced to the park in the late 1990s. The park’s other animal inhabitants, such as the spectacled bear, puma, and tigrillo, are more elusive. The long list of birds that can be seen here includes hummingbirds, toucans and magnificent Andean condors.
Later drive towards Guayaquil.
Day 7: Guayaquil
Transfer Guayaquil (airport-hotels)
2023 PRICES PER PERSON, double occupancy :
* Bilingual naturalist guide
* Private transportation
* Entrance fees
* Meals as described above
* Any services not included in the itinerary
* Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
* Personal Expenses
La Danesa (Heritage bedroom)
Hacienda La Danesa is conveniently located a 1 hour drive from Guayaquil in the interior of Ecuador between Naranjito and Bucay just before the wonderful Andes mountain range. The 500-hectare estate is surrounded by beautiful fields, forests, and rivers, and is directly accessible from the main road.
They pride themselves on offering a conscious approach to living the good life. Hacienda La Danesa models hospitality with enduring expressions of nature and the family that nurtures and sustains the charming hacienda. “Deeply Green” with understated luxuries, traditional architecture, privacy and grace is what makes La Danesa a unique property in Latin America.
Hacienda La Danesa is built on the possibility of a meaningful exchange between the traveler and the host. We are committed to caring for an unusual set of priorities in order to create a connected, insightful, and meaningful experience for our guests. We believe in our intentions and hope that our exceptional service, environmental practice, and our authenticity create an experience that each guest will remember forever.
Hotel Itza (Queen Interior room)
Itza International Boutique Hotel is located in Cuenca, Ecuador, the most charming city in this Andean country. With its cobblestone streets, ancient cathedrals, colonial parks and harmonious architecture. The hotel was built in 1930 by the Italian architect Alfonso Durini, since then its historical and cultural value has grown.
Today, Itza opens its doors in the heart of the city, with its memory intact and brighter than ever.
Hotel Cruz del Vado by ArtHotels (deluxe room)
Located in Cuenca, an 18-minute walk from the Pumapungo Museum, Hotel Cruz del Vado provides accommodations with a bar, private parking and a terrace. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi. The property is close to popular attractions like Museum of "Las Conceptas", Museum of the Cañari Identity and Modern Art Museum.
All guest rooms in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. All rooms are equipped with an electric tea pot and a private bathroom, while some rooms come with a balcony.
Popular points of interest nearby include Straw hat Museum, Cuenca New Cathedral and Abdon Calderón Park.
Hotel del Parque
Set amidst the exotic greenery of the Guayaquil Historical Park, this beautiful boutique hotel lies in the luxurious Samborondón neighborhood, just 3 minutes' walk from the magnificent Sánchez Aguilar Theatre and 4 miles from José Joaquin de Olmedo Airport. Housed in a historic 19th-century property, this peaceful riverside oasis offers sophisticated elegance with a colonial vibe.
Dine on fresh seafood in the refined, waterfront restaurant, or enjoy a massage or beauty treatments in a unique setting within the wood-beamed bell tower of a Gothic chapel. Partake in cultural experiences such as chocolate tasting, coffee roasting and wildlife walks in the stunning tropical grounds. Featuring traditional Ecuadorian furnishings, the 44 rooms and suites are decorated in gentle hues and include impressive marble bathrooms, free Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service, plus minibars and full air conditioning.