DAILY TOURS

With such an array of attractions to enjoy, we here at Polylepis have selected a range of tempting day tours to choose from. With certified, experienced and knowledgeable guides, these trips allow you to really make the most out of your visit to this beautiful, diverse country… let us show a slice of our Ecuador in a day…

Introduction - Daily Tours from Quito

If you have some time to spare during your visit to Quito, one of our day tours could be just what you are looking for. The area surrounding Quito has an amazing range of destinations to choose from. There really is something for everyone… a birdwatchers paradise, indigenous market, thermal spas, hiking opportunities at every turn, not to mention a few of the continent’s most stunning volcanoes…

 

City Tour Quito + Mitad del Mundo

On our City Tour you will visit the Independence Monument, the Cathedral, the Government Palace, the Archbishop´s Palace, La Compañía Church , el Sagrario, and the Monastery of San Francisco - the oldest church in Quito, constructed in the XVII century. You will then continue to El Panecillo a glorious viewpoint overlooking the city. On a clear day, you can see the volcanos that surround the city.

Later you visit the “Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo” to see the monument that divides the northern and southern hemispheres. This monument, constructed in the 18th century, was where the French scientific expedition defined the position of the equatorial line. As an option you can also visit the “Museo Etnográfico” or the fascinating “Intiñan” museum, highlighting the equator from the indigenous perspective. 

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $80 p/p      

Otavalo

Following breakfast, you depart for Otavalo - the beautiful indigenous city of the Andes known for its textiles and hand weavings, and home to one of the most important indigenous markets in South America. Along the Pan-American highway you will be able to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the countryside. The first stop is in Calderon, a village known for its unique, brightly colored figurines made of “mazapan”, a traditional bread dough. Continuing the journey there will be a quick stop in Guayllabamba, to try “chirimoyas” a delicious fruit of the region. If the weather is on your side, there will be a few stops to take pictures of the stunning snow-capped peaks of the Andes. You will also visit the San Pablo lake viewpoint, located at the foot of the Imbabura volcano, before arriving in Otavalo. Here you can visit the world famous “Plaza de los Ponchos”, with an amazing array of colorful crafts from local artisans. You will have time to enjoy some shopping (and bargaining!) before departing to the Peguche waterfall, considered sacred to the indigenous people of the area. Finally you will visit a local community near Otavalo to learn more about their crafts and customs before returning to Quito.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $90PP

Min: 2 people

 

Mindo

Mindo is located in an amazing part in the country, where the Chocoan lowlands and the Andes meet. The cloudforests of Mindo offer some of the best hiking and birdwatching in the world. Over 500 species of birds have been seen in the area. You will enjoy a hike leading to beautiful waterfalls while listening to and observing the different species. You also have the opportunity for more adventure, such as zip- lining and tubing. You visit the interesting community of Mindo before returning to Quito.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $90PP

Min: 2 people

Antisana - Papallacta

Enjoy a fabulous day trip from Quito to the dramatic Antisana volcano, fourth-highest in Ecuador with an altitude of 5758 meters. We pick you up at your hotel in the morning and travel about an hour southeast of the city up to the snowcapped glacial peaks. You have the opportunity to experience various activities such as horseback riding, sport fishing, photography, flora and fauna observation, etc. Next is a visit to Papallacta Lake, at 3180 meters. This lake provides drinking water to the city of Quito. The famous hot springs of Papallacta are surrounded by mountains, and lush vegetation, and the water springs from the earth at temperatures between 35°c and 64˚ c. In the past, Papallacta was a center of healing and relaxation for Incan warriors. Today you can relax and enjoy a soothing medicinal bath in this spectacular site, and enjoy the gifts of nature before returning to Quito.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $90PP

Min: 2 people

Cotopaxi National Park

Heading south from Quito you will be able to admire the beautiful Andean landscapes along the “Volcano Route” - passing by majestic volcanoes, small indigenous communities and observing typical animals of the area such as lamas, vicuñas, and alpacas and continuing the journey to the impressive volcano of Cotopaxi at 5897 masl. There is a visit to the National Park museum for an overview of the area, before a quick stop at the Limpiopungo Lake for spectacular views of Cotopaxi. You will hike to the José Rivas Refuge at 4800 meters, and after a rest, if the weather permits, people in adequate physical condition can attempt a more strenuous hike to reach the glacier at 5000 meters, then return to Quito.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $90PP

Min: 2 people

TOUR DETAILS
INCLUDES
  • Bilingual guide
  • Private transportation
  • Lunch
NOT INCLUDES
  • Beverages
  • Personal expenses
  • Additional activities
  • Entrances fee
Introduction - Daily Tours from Cuenca

If you have some time to spare during your visit to Cuenca, one of our day tours could be just what you are looking for. The area surrounding Cuenca is perfect for the nature-lover or culture vulture. Take a stroll in the footsteps of the Incas, horse-ride through peaceful valleys, hike in the hills or venture along tropical trails… the only regret you’ll have is not booking more time off work!

Cuenca City Tour

Join us to discover the beauty and historical importance of Cuenca. This charming city was declared a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 1999 in recognition of the well preserved colonial architecture in the historic ‘el centro’.            

On this tour, you’ll see the Old and New Cathedrals, The Museum of Modern Art, outdoor plazas such as San Sebastian, and traditional markets lining the quaint cobblestone streets of the city. Enjoy a visit to a local “paja toquilla”, or Panama hat factory. The internationally famous Panama hat originated in Ecuador in the 17th century, and some of the best master weavers are in Cuenca. You also head up to Mirador de Turi for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, and visit the gallery of Mr. Eduardo Vega, famous for his ceramic crafts.

Activity length: Approx 4 hrs (half-day) Approx 8 hrs (full-day)

Price: from $24 (half-day), $49 (full-day) p/p

 

El Cajas National Park

About 30 km west of the city of Cuenca, El Cajas National Park is one of the most beautiful natural places in South America. Its more than 28,000 hectares of protected land, encompasses an amazing diversity of ecosystems, over 230 glacial lakes, and is the origin of two of the four rivers that run through Cuenca. The park is a paradise for hikers and home to a variety of unique flora and fauna, including an amazing variety of bird species. You will also have a chance to see the distinctive ‘fairly-tale’ tree of the Ecuadorian Andes, known as “Polylepis” or “Paper Tree” which inspired our company name.

Activity length: Approx 4 hrs (half-day) Approx 8 hrs (full-day)

Price: from $24 (half-day), $49 (full-day) p/p

Ingapirca Archaeological Complex

Explore the largest archaeological complex in Ecuador. Dating back to the 15th century, the site is thought to have been built by the Cañaris, a pre-Inca civilization, and later was expanded by the Incas. We pick you up at your hotel in Cuenca for a two hour drive through the beautiful Andean landscape. En route, you stop at the Biblian Sanctuary, home to the beautiful Virgen del Rocio Church. The altar of this church sits on a mountaintop, giving you a beautiful panoramic view of the town and its surroundings. You will also spend a little time here discovering some of the local food and the preparation techniques commonly used in the area.

Arriving at the complex of Ingapirca, you will tour the fascinating stone ruins which were once vast storehouses and a fortress surrounding a central elliptical structure, the Temple of the Sun, and learn about the unique ancient cultures of this area.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $49 p/p

Girón Waterfalls and Busa Lake

Today you explore one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in Ecuador known as “El Chorro de Girón”. En route, we pass through beautiful landscapes where we find local ranchlands and haciendas, we will make a short stop here to taste a delicious yogurt typical of the area. Once we arrive to breathtaking Girón Waterfall, we will enjoy a hike of approximately 3 hours from the first to the second waterfall, with the opportunity to view some of the unique flora and fauna of the region. After this we will continue on to visit Busa Lake, considered sacred to the Cañari people.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $54 p/p

Susudel - Oña -Saraguro

South of Cuenca, we find small towns with a magic all their own. We pick you up at your hotel and drive south through the Andean countryside to our first stop that will be at one of the local dairy producers to try the delicious yogurt of the area.  We’ll then continue to the town of San Felipe de Oña, one of the most traditional settlements of Ecuador, to see the production of the local agave liquor. Finally we reach Saraguro in the province of Loja, a fascinating community that has preserved its indigenous identity. Enjoy an incredible cultural experience filled with Andean tradition, local foods and the natural beauty of the area.

Activity length: Approx 10 hrs

Price: from $89 p/p

Min 2 people

Devil´s Nose - Ingapirca

We pick you up from your Cuenca hotel at 7 a.m. to depart for Alausí to ride a train known as “The Devil’s Nose”. When completed in 1908, it was immediately celebrated as one of the great railway journeys in the world. Its steep curves down the rocky slopes of the Andes make it one of the most impressive feats of railway engineering. The train ride provides the perfect opportunity to take in the surrounding scenery, learn about the railway project and enjoy the local traditions. After lunch, we continue our journey to Ingapirca, the most important archaeological complex in Ecuador. We explore the site and learn about the Cañari and Inca cultures, dating back over 500 years.  

Activity length: Approx 10 hrs

Price: from $84 p/p

Horse riding & Cooking class

Located in a beautiful valley just outside Cuenca, this great combination tour provides you with the opportunity to take in the scenery from horseback and then visit a local organic food producer, where you can take part in a fun cooking class… and then enjoy your culinary creations!

Activity length: Approx 7 hrs

Price: from $79 p/p

Min 2 people

**Only available with advance booking

Tropical Waterfalls & El Cajas National Park

Visiting two different eco-systems in one day, this tour is a great opportunity to appreciate the incredible diversity of Ecuador. Starting out early from Cuenca, our first stop will be El Cajas National Park, where your guide will take you on a moderate hike to enjoy the stunning scenery and learn about the Andean flora and fauna. From here your journey will take you towards the coastal region, descending through a range of landscapes and arriving at a system of tropical waterfalls. The weather, wildlife, and vegetation here is a fascinating contrast to that in El Cajas… to take in the highlights you will hike for a few hours alongside waterfalls, streams, and through forests before returning to Cuenca.

Activity length: Approx 9 hrs

Price: from $77 p/p

Min 2 people

Cycling Cuenca tour

Would you like to explore a little more of Cuenca? This cycling tour could be just what you are looking for. Sticking to river-side paths and cycle-routes, this is a safe, relaxing and alternative way to see what Cuenca has to offer.   Starting off along the Tomebamba river, you will visit the famous Puente Roto ‘broken bridge’ before continuing down river to the gardens of the Pumapungo Museum, where you can learn about the Cañari and Incan cultures… and do a little llama spotting. You’ll stop off in a local neighborhood popular for its tortillas and humitas to try one of these traditional snacks, accompanied by a delicious home-made hot chocolate. After re-fueling here, you will have time for a little bird-spotting in Parque Paraíso before continuing along the Yanuncay river and towards the modern part of the city. This tour combines some of the popular tourist destinations of Cuenca, with some great alternatives.

Activity length: Approx 2.5 hrs

Price: from $23 p/p

Wild Cajas

We have a selection of alternative hikes to offer on one of the lesser followed paths of El Cajas National Park at around 4000 masl, which provide an adventure for those who have already visited the main routes of the park or are looking for something a little more challenging.

Please note: This tour is designed for people with mountain hiking experience.

Activity length: Approx 8 hrs

Price: from $54 p/p

Guayaquil - El Cajas - Cuenca (or vice versa)

If you are travelling between the cities of Guayaquil and Cuenca, why not take advantage of this transfer/tour combo? A journey of ever changing scenery, at almost every turn there is a new view to enjoy. First stop is a short visit to a cacao finca to learn about this crop so representative of the country. Continuing in the direction of Cuenca, there is then a stop at the beautiful El Cajas National Park, where you have the opportunity to take a moderate hike with your guide. From El Cajas the road descends 45 minutes, where you then arrive in the city of Cuenca.

Activity length: Approx 9 hrs

Price: from$84 p/p

Min 2 people

 

Quito - Riobamba - Cuenca (or vice versa) 2 days

The journey from Quito to Cuenca is one of the most beautiful in the country. Dotted with majestic volcanoes and a changing landscape to keep your camera busy, we offer this two day trip to make the most of the ride. With an early start from Quito, the first stop is Cotopaxi National Park to enjoy views of the volcano and Limpiopungo lake. Following this you will have the opportunity to discover the city of Riobamba, where you will spend the night. The next day takes you to Alausi, where you will ride the famous Devil’s Nose train. Continuing the drive south, you will then visit the most important archaeological complex in Ecuador, Ingapirca, to learn more about the Cañari and Inca cultures. After these two action packed days, you will then arrive in the charming city of Cuenca.

Please note: should you choose this route in the opposite direction, starting in Cuenca, in order to arrive in time for the train, the visit to Ingapirca will not be included.

Activity length: Approx 10 hrs per day

Price: from $295 p/p

Min 2 people

Cuenca - Saraguro - Vilcabamba (or vice versa)

If you are travelling between Cuenca and Vilcabamba, why not take advantage of this transfer/tour combo? Descending from the highland city of Cuenca to the lower lying Vilcabamba, this journey passes through a wonderful range of landscapes – from rugged mountains to rolling hills. To make the most of being in the area, this route includes a stop in the traditional indigenous town of Saraguro. Enjoy an incredible cultural experience filled with Andean tradition, local foods and the natural beauty of the area before continuing to Vilcabamba.

Activity length: Approx 9 hrs

Price: from $95 p/p

Min 2 people

One Hundred Birds in one day from Cuenca!

Calling all bird lovers… did you know that it is possible to see one hundred birds in just one day? Good news, this is possible with Polylepis Tours! It could be a long day, but it is really worth it. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of different eco-systems, for example; the Andean forest, paramo, humid tropical forest and dry tropical forest. We invite all, from beginners to avid birders to share this amazing trip…

This tour takes place in El Cajas National Park and the Puerto Inca area.

Activity length: Approx 10 hrs

Price: from $95 p/p

Min 2 people

TOUR DETAILS
INCLUDES
  • Bilingual guide
  • Private transportation
  • Lunch or box lunch (full day tours only)
NOT INCLUDES
  • Beverages
  • Personal expenses
  • Additional activities
  • Entrances fee