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Welcome to “Avenue of the Volcanoes”! Ecuador is made up of infinite volcanoes, witnesses of the peculiar biodiversity of the Andean region. Here, you will visit different Andean zones, each of them offering multiple opportunities to enjoy spectacular photographic moments. Why buy souvenirs when you could take home the golden plains of the pajonal which embraces the Antisana Volcano, home to the largest population of Andean condors in the country, mystical Carunculated Caracara (Phalcoboenus carunculatus), sacred Incan birds, and graceful white-tailed deer. Contemplate the magnificent views of the dawns and dusks which dye the snows of the Cotopaxi Volcano in red. But save some memory in your camera, as your companion for the end of the trip is “Taita Chimborazo” (father Chimborazo), the point on Earth closest to the sun, home to flirtatious vicugnas which freely graze upon its skirts.
A good night’s sleep is imperative for this tour. Therefore, you will be provided comfortable accommodations in selected hotels, which fulfill standards of quality and the perfect balance between comfort and closeness to fauna and flora.
The lodgings have been selected because of their outstanding services, such as their nutritious and delicious cuisine, as well as their comfortable spaces to rest and sociable areas to share moments with each other.
During this tour, you will be accommodated in lodges along the way as follows:
The lodge is located in the Antisanilla paramo, next to the Farallones del Isco. This is a rocky geographic structure where the majestic Andean Condor finds shelter to sleep and lay its eggs. This is what prompted the construction of the Inn, which aims to respect its privileged location and conserves the local fauna and flora. This option combines a traditional country style house with modern comfort and services.
This is the only eco-touristic lodge within the Cotopaxi National Park, located at 3720 meters (12205 feet) above sea level. The building has all of the necessary commodities, as well as large windows on the first and second floors. These windows provide a beautiful panoramic view at every hour of the day.
This magical place, surrounded by numerous volcanoes besides Cotopaxi, has a wide variety of flora and fauna. At night, the sky is coated by a sea of stars, and the surreal brilliance of the moonlight.
The lodge is located at the foothills of the tallest volcano of Ecuador (6268 meters, 20564 feet). This pleasant lodging combines a rustic architecture with modern comforts and services. Furthermore, there is a clear view of “Taita Chimborazo,” which will astound you every day.
The cabins are decorated with beautiful ceramic tiles, wooden structures and objects, which tell stories of the place. Additionally, there are living rooms and recreational areas to share unforgettable moments with other guests.
You begin your journey in Quito, travelling to the Antisana Ecological Reserve. In less than an hour, you arrive to a homely lodge, where the hosts will await with snacks and beverages.
Once your hunger has been appeased, you will arrange in your respective rooms and will have a couple of minutes (about 45 minutes) for a brief rest. After this, you will gather at the lodge’s main living room to receive points and information about the tour. This is also an opportunity to clear up any doubts you may have. After this welcome and information session, you will enjoy a delicious lunch.
After lunch, you will depart with the cameras and equipment to enjoy a photo session amidst the Andean sunset.
This day you will travel to the heart of the Antisana National Park, where the first objective will be to photograph the Carunculated Caracara (Phalcoboenus carunculatus), a charming species of bird with colorful faces and speckled breast. These birds are frequent characters in local stories and legends.
Another objective will be to capture the black-faced ibis (Theristicus melanopis). These birds are recognizable due to their long beaks. In contrast to the Caracara, the ibis are not so trusting with humans. For this reason, you must be careful and patient when approaching these creatures.
This day is dedicated to the search of the splendid mammals with ostentatious antlers: White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus peruvianus). It is important to note that in the past, large groups of these animals would graze upon the andean meadows, but, sadly, hunting caused a significant decrease in their population.
In Ecuador, the Ministry of the Environment prohibits the hunting of wild fauna, and as a positive result, the deer population has begun to increase again. Only with patience and silence will you be able to photograph these animals, as they are extremely elusive.
On your fourth day, you will set out towards the colossal Cotopaxi Volcano. According to local legends, its power and imposing size represent the Andean warriors.
Once you have settled down in the lodge and your batteries are charged, you will prepare for your first photographic expedition of this zone. You will be given a small presentation about the area and immediately wander about its surroundings, photographing the views and birds you encounter. You will wait for sundown, so that you can experience a beautiful and astonishing light which will keep you company while you photograph this majestic view.
This day, you will get up early to witness the change from night to day and carry out a spectacular photo session that the sunrise at this volcano allows you to see. On some occasions, you may encounter a light curtain of fog, which cause beautiful light effects on the mountains and the animals visible on the horizon.
At noon, you will continue exploring the Cotopaxi National Park, in search of the emblematic flora and fauna, the lighting of the lush landscapes, and dramatic skies.
After a delicious breakfast, you will pack your equipment and advance towards the “Taita,” the Chimborazo Volcano. Once you arrive to the lodge, your hosts will welcome you with a traditional “canelazo,” a local beverage which is very much appreciated by mountaineers as it helps their bodies warm up.
After settling in and enjoying your lunch, you will immediately depart to shoot some of the magnificent flora and fauna around the hotel. If the night is clear, you will also perform a nocturnal photo session of the volcano.
Once again, you will raise before the sun, and head towards a key site, where you will be able to photograph the contrasting sunrise of the volcano. If you are lucky, the previous night will cause a snowfall so that in the morning, you will be able to see a white sheet covering the skirts of this volcano.
Other than this attraction, you will focus on photographing the second major attraction of the reserve: the Vicugnas (Vicugna vicugna), the only wild species of camelid in Ecuador, and first cousins to the domesticated Alpacas (Vicugna pacos). Their beautiful fur contrasts perfectly against the andean paramos. The Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve is the best site in the country to view these charismatic animals, and to capture their sweet essence with your cameras.
After nine fascinating and amusing days, it is time to bid adieu to the mountains. Your spectacular photographs and incredible memories will serve as evidence of a marvelous voyage through the Avenue of the Volcanoes.
After having breakfast and a small farewell talk, you will pack out things to begin our journey back to the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.
NOTE: This is a sample itinerary which may be subject to changes due to the climate, safety and particular interests of the group.
Any changes will be done with the objective of maximizing viewing and photography of wildlife.
You will visit places in the Andean region of Ecuador with an elevation higher than 3000 meters over sea level (9800 feet). At this altitude there are strong winds and cold temperatures. In this trip, it is important to bring warm and waterproof clothes.
In general, the hikes will take place on grassy trails or dirt roads, and therefore it is important to bring hiking boots, thick socks and rubber boots.
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