If you are looking for a unique honeymoon destination full of culture, adventure and relaxation, Ecuador provides a perfect destination. Ecuador is a unique destination and provides a lot of diversity to its visitors. It is full of history and culture, which you will experience as you visit historic towns and wonderful ruins filled with mystery; but it is also stunningly beautiful, with breathtaking scenery and sights which allow you to reconnect with nature and the world such as the Papallacta hot springs and the cloud forest.
You will have a private transfer from the airport to your selected hotel in Quito. Look for a sign with your name on it when arriving. The airport is located in the town of Tababela, about 43 km from Quito and it will take approximately 45 minutes to one hour to arrive.
Pacari Awarded Chocolate Box
Delight your senses with this exclusive chocolate arranged for you as a welcome gift to Ecuador. This wooden box contains a variety of forty different mini-bars of Pacari’s best chocolate with a detailed presentation of this selection and its award-winning flavors.
Today you will take part in a tour of Quito’s old town and many of its most famous attractions.
Tour of Quito
During the historical city tour of Quito, you will explore the best preserved colonial centre of all of South America. As one of the first World Heritage Sites, it will be an unforgettable experience as if you were stepping back in time.
The first stop is the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Due to its size and style, it is considered the largest neo-Gothic temple in the Americas, and the most important piece of neo-gothic architecture in Ecuador. You will continue to the Plaza Grande, or Independence Square. Admire the historical buildings surrounding the square and it’s important history! Located here is the Presidential Palace, the Catholic Cathedral, and the Archbishop’s Palace.
Another visit you will enjoy is the most impressive of all churches, the San Francisco de Quito. The church houses masterpieces of talented indigenous artists from the famous methods of Escuela Quiteña, “Quito School”, which are the artistic traditions associated with the 17th and 18th centuries. Walk through the lively colonial streets of the old town to visit other historical highlights such as the Panecillo, from where you will have an amazing 360 degree view over the city.
The second part of this tour will take place at the north part of the city (35 minutes’ drive from Quito’s Old Town) where the equator line meets the prime meridian and the coordinates indicate point 0° 0’ 0”.
La Compañia Church
One of the highlights of the city tour is the visit to La Compañia Church, considered to be a Baroque masterpiece. The facade is made of volcanic stone and the interior is all covered with gold.
Middle of the World Monument
A must-see stop during your visit in Ecuador is the Middle of the World. Here an Equator Monument was built to honour the 18th century French Geodesic Mission, led by French scientists Condamine, Bouguer, Godin and the Ecuadorian geographer, Pedro Vicente Maldonado, who studied the curvature of the planet and who determined the supposed location of the equator. This unique place allows you to be a part of a historic landmark in what was once thought as the exact equator line, and of course you can’t miss taking your picture with the monument in the background with one foot in each hemisphere! Additionally, the complex offers an Ethnographic museum, a planetarium, artisanal stores great for picking up souvenirs, coffee shops, and restaurants that serve local food.
The Intiñan Museum is a smaller, but highly interactive museum located right next to the Mitad del Mundo Monument. Even though the monument features the division of the equator, when technology improved, geologists and cartographers realised the real equator line was just a bit off. It features outdoor exhibits of astronomical geography and explanations of the importance of Ecuador’s geographical location. One of the highlights are the solar dials, fun experiments that can only be done here, like balancing an egg on a nail, and many more activities, as well as reconstructed native homes found all over Ecuador.
Mashpi – Tulip Ruins
Mashpi Lodge is located about 3 hours traveling to the North-West of Quito via the western flanks of the Andes. It blends in perfectly in the surrounding Ecuadorian Choco cloud forest with a modern, luxurious design and decor and it is where you will be staying for the next two nights.
The Ecuadorian or Andean Choco cloud forest is known for being one of the world’s best sites for bird-watching, just a few years ago it was named as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. There are many endemic plant and wildlife species here, meaning they cannot be found anywhere else in the world other than this specific micro-climate in the Andean Choco cloud forest. Once you arrive in Mashpi, you will plan your activities with the Mashpi team and receive a briefing on the lodge, accommodations, and how the activities will operate during your time in the cloud forest.
On your way to Mashpi Lodge, you will visit the archaeological ruins at Tulipe, said to have belonged to the ancient Yumbo civilization of pre-Inca Quito, set in a magical forested location. You will taste delicious Ecuadorian appetizers and fresh-brewed coffee prepared by members of the local community before your final one-hour descent into Mashpi Lodge. You will be introduced to your naturalist guide who will briefly speak about the cloud forest and the activities offered during your stay, as well as helpful tips about what to wear and bring during the excursions. Afterwards you have time for lunch before the afternoon activities, which may include a hike through the forest or an opportunity to see the forest from above on Mashpi’s Dragonfly aerial cable car.
In the evening, your guide may ask you if you’d like to go out and search for wildlife on a night walk. When the sun sets in the Choco cloud forest, all sorts of different life forms come to life such as frogs, snakes, insects, and even tarantulas. Your guide will know how to find them and show you the best way to experience these incredible creatures.
The highlight of any trip to Mashpi is the Dragonfly – an exciting, open-air cable car system that carries you over, across and sometimes even directly through the forest canopy, offering guests a relaxing way to enjoy the reserve from overhead. The guides can stop the gondola you ride across the forest at any point to allow for an extended observation of any flora and/or fauna that catches your eye. An entire circuit (roundtrip) takes about 40-minutes to complete. Gondolas can carry up to 4 guests (plus 1 guide).
On your second day in Mashpi you may be awakened by the mixture of bird activity, as you know, the early bird gets the worm. After breakfast your guide may invite you for a walk to a waterfall where you can bathe in the pools with the water crashing behind you, or maybe your guide will suggest visiting the hummingbird garden, or the life centre’s butterfly farm. Here you can explore the life of butterflies, the many species found in the Mashpi area and their metamorphosis from egg, larva, caterpillar, and chrysalis to winged wonder. The guides will also discover various species of host plants that butterflies use to lay their eggs on, such as passion flowers, birds of paradise, milkweeds.
Afterwards, you’ll be back for a delicious lunch where your guide will explain further the other exciting and interesting activities available at Mashpi. You might have the opportunity to pedal on the sky bike above ground and through the canopy like one of the many birds found in the Choco Forest. Mashpi guides are keen on noticing every sound and rustle in the leaves, hoping to reveal colourful birds, while explaining the habitat’s ecology. Another activity available is to climb up to the observation tower to view much of the Choco cloud forest from above with a bird’s eye view and watch the sunset as it descends slowly. In the evening, the guides and staff like to prepare different and engaging lectures on the diverse wildlife and plant life, or the scientific research projects conducted in the same Choco Forest you’ve been discovering.
For your final day in Mashpi you have time to fill in as you wish. You can let your guide know if you are interested in additional activities before heading back to Quito. You might be able to visit a waterfall or special place in the forest to soak it all in one last time. Check out will be at about 11:00 am and you will be transported back to Quito to your hotel.
Dinner at Theatrum Restaurant
Located in Quito’s Historical Centre on the second floor of the Sucre National Theater, the oldest theatre built in Quito in the 1880’s and an important cultural building, you will find the Theatrum Restaurant & Wine Bar; a perfect setting for top-class theatre performances, from dance to musical concerts.
Here, you will enjoy a five-course tasting menu, composed of spectacular traditional Ecuadorian-Mediterranean cuisine created by some of the most talented chefs in the country.
This day has two options depending on if you choose the Luxury or Comfort trip.
Compania de Jesus Hacienda and Rose Plantation
Both trips start with a visit to the rose plantation. Ecuador is the third largest exporter of roses in the world. They are much more appealing compared to roses from other locations due to their size, longevity, and variation of over 500 colours, thanks to the special micro climate conditions of Ecuador, especially along the equator.
You will visit the hacienda “La Compañia de Jesus”. It originally belonged to the Jesuit Order when they established themselves in Ecuador about 300 years ago. What was once a barn for the Jesuits to keep them safe and in hiding, has been transformed into a unique rose museum with an exquisite permanent exhibition showing more than 5,000 different stems of the most colourful varieties of roses grown at the plantation. You will be able to discover this interesting and colourful showroom while enjoying a typical refreshment known to the region.
Otavalo and Surroundings
Both trips will also first visit the town of Otavalo, famous for its indigenous market that is held every day, with the largest bargains and traders present on Saturdays. The market is an ancient tradition and cultural exchange site among the Otavalo community. Furthermore, you can visit the peaceful town of Cotacachi, famous for its leather products such as shoes, purses, coats and belts. You can browse the products and meet the local craftsmen who create these beautiful pieces.
This is where the day ends on the Comfort trip and you will return to Hacienda Piman.
The Luxury option sees you stay at Hacienda Zuleta, where there a number of activities included which you can enjoy while you stay. The full list of these are included in the Additional Information section.
For both Comfort and Luxury options, this day is left free for your leisure.
If staying in Piman you can enjoy the facilities within the Hacienda and enjoy a special dinner with a bottle of wine. Activities have extra cost.
If staying in Zuleta, you can choose from a number of activities included in the Additional Information section. You also have breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.
Today you will travel from Otavalo to Papallacta.
Papallacta Hot Spring
You will visit the Termas de Papallacta, located in the area where the Andes begin to transform into the cloud forest and shortly after into the Amazon. It is a place where the beauty of the natural environment combines with unique and cosy atmospheres. This will be a special stay designed with you in mind in order to enjoy unforgettable moments as a romantic getaway.
On your final day you will have a private transfer from your selected hotel in Papallacta to the Quito airport.