From $2,260 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview

Highlights

  • A community project-day at a rural school
  • An active adventure for school groups in the land of the Equator
  • Historic Quito and the Avenue of the Volcanoes
  • Visit the high refuges of Iliniza, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi

This tremendously varied school adventure showcases the best of Ecuador's breathtaking natural environment, as we explore amongst the country's towering volcanoes. After sightseeing in Quito, including a visit to the Mitad del Mundo where we can stand astride the equator, we travel north to the area around Otavalo. Here we enjoy a unique experience, staying as guests of the San Clemente indiginous community, participating in their daily routine and even milking the cows if we wish!. We also complete a series of day-hikes, to the beautiful crater lake of Cuicocha and climb the accessible viewpoint peaks, Cubilche (3826m) and Fuya Fuya (4263m). A cultural highlight of this part of the holiday is the famous and colourful craft market of Otavalo. Heading south, we trek to the top of the active Gagua Pichincha (4794m) and visit the refuge Iliniza stunningly located between the twin peaks of Iliniza Norte and liniza Sur. Another trip highlight is a ride on the amazing 'Devil's Nose' train which uses a Victorian marvel of engineering to drop 1000 metres from Riobamba on the Andean Plateau. We also hike up to the refuges on Chimborazo and Cotopaxi which offer stunning views over the Avenue of Volcanoes and there is time for some relaxation and/or play in the utterly charming spa town of Banos. Here we can make use of the thermal pools or choose to include a range of activities. At the end of the trip schools can choose to take part in a community project in a rural school or enjoy a day of hiking amongst the lagoons and glaciers of Antizana. Finally, we return to Quito for a last night in the capital before flying home after a memorable adventure in the land of the Equator. This tried and tested KE Schools itinerary can be adjusted to better fit the needs of your group - please call and speak to a KE School Groups Coordinator or email schools@keadventure.com

Is this holiday for you?

During this school adventure we will make ascents of a number of Ecuador's volcanoes up to and beyond 4000 metres. For the most part this involves trekking on a mixture of terrain from local village tracks, along forest roads, through open grassland and the occasional more rugged slope of scree or loose volcanic material. The average walking time on each of these hikes is between 5 and 7 hours. These hikes are not strenuous but it should be borne in mind that walking at even moderately high altitudes does make extra demands, and you should aim to have a reasonable level of fitness before embarking on the trip. In order to see as much as possible of Andean Ecuador, there are several transfers involved in this trip. However, Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries and these transfers are generally both short (1 - 3 hours) and highly scenic. Mostly the roads we use are very good highways but there is some travel on smaller roads and the refuges on Chimborazo and Cotopaxi are accessed by dirt tracks in 4x4 vehicles. 

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Arrive in Quito.
  • In Quito.
  • Drive to Zuleta for walk and community stay in San Clemente.
  • Community activities. Afternoon transfer to Otavalo.
  • Drive to Cuicocha, trek around the lake.
  • Climb Fuya Fuya.
  • Ascent of Pichincha and transfer to Machachi.
  • Refuge of Iliniza, transfer to Riobamba.
  • The Devil's Nose Train Ride.
  • Visit the refuge on Chimborazo and transfer to Baños.
  • Activity day in Banos.
  • Visit the Jose Rivas refuge on Cotopaxi.
  • Community Project or visit to Antizana Ecological Reserve, transfer to Quito.
  • Departure day.

Land Only

The price of our trips does not include international air travel to the start location in the destination city and country. The start location for joining the trip is identified for each trip. It's usually a centrally located hotel. KE can easily arrange all airport transfers for you.

International Air Travel

Please contact us at KE for air travel advice. We will be happy to discuss the flight arrangement which best suits your group.

2 teachers FREE

The Guide Price assumes that 2 teachers will accompany the group. Their Land Only costs are covered by the group's payment.

Guide Price $2,260*
Park Fees/permits N/A
Other Charges N/A
Enquire

* We give a price estimate for all of our school trips. This is based on 12-16 pupils and includes two free teacher places. If you are interested in a specific trip, we will send you a quote letter. You may wish to take extra teachers or add on additional days and this can all be included into your quote, on request.

Itinerary

Holiday Itinerary

  • Arrive in Quito.

    On arrival at Quito Airport, we are met by our KE Schools Adventure leader or a KE representative who will arrange a transfer to the group hotel. After check-in and expedition briefing, there will be some free time to explore before dinner. Quito is at 2800 metres so it is important to take things easy when we first arrive.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • In Quito.

    We spend a day in and around Quito which will be an important part of our acclimatisation before heading up into the high Andes. In the morning we head north out of the city, driving for approximately 45 minutes to the 'Mitad del Mundo' (Middle of the World) monument where the line of the Equator is marked on the ground. Here we can stand with one foot in the Northern hemisphere and the other in the Southern hemisphere. The Mitad del Mundo complex which is modelled on a colonial era village, contains several museums dedicated to equatorial and local history matters and also has a scale model of colonial Quito. Returning to Quito, in the afternoon we have a guided tour of the fascinating 'Old City' which is set apart from the modern metropolis and contains many public buildings and highly decorated churches dating from the Spanish colonial period. We spend a second night in Quito.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Zuleta for walk and community stay in San Clemente.

    We drive north along the Pan American Highway to the village of Zuleta, where we enjoy a beautiful walk of 3 - 4 hours through a patchwork quilt of cultivated fields and forests of eucalyptus with superb views towards the volcano Imbabura which gives the region its name. Reaching the lake of San Pablo we rejoin our tour vehicle and make the short transfer to the village of San Clemente where we have a unique experience, staying as guests of this small indiginous community. While in San Clemente we will stay with local families, in seperate apartments with bathroom and shower. Our stay here will give a real insight into rural community life and traditional agriciultural methods aswell as local culture and cuisine.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Community activities. Afternoon transfer to Otavalo.

    This morning we will spend time with our host families and participate in community activities. In the afternoon we drive to the town of Otavalo where we check into our hotel before enjoying a short hike out through the town to visit the small, gnarled tree that is known locally as 'El Lechero’ and is reckoned to have magical healing powers. There are great views of the surrounding countryside, including the pretty lake of Laguna San Pablo. Returning to Otavalo we will have some free time to look around the many craft shops at 'Poncho Plaza'. Otavalo is particularly famed for its colourful textiles and there are blankets, ponchos, jumpers, tapestries, hats, and hand bags in bewildering profusion and styles. This is also a very good place to buy locally made musical instruments such as charangos and zampona (pan pipes), or to buy ceramics and pottery. We stay overnight in Otavalo.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Cuicocha, trek around the lake.

    After breakfast, we have a short (30 minute) transfer to Cuicocha crater lake (3246m), a dormant volcano with water filled caldera. The lake, which is a stunning azure blue, has two islands in the centre – lava domes from its last major eruption. Now better acclimatised from time at this altitude, we will make a complete circuit of the lake, taking around 4 - 5 hours. From here we drive to Peguche and walk on a winding cobblestone path through eucalyptus forest to the 60 foot waterfall fed by the Lago San Pablo. Afterwards we return to the hotel in Otovalo for a second night.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Climb Fuya Fuya.

    Today we climb the volcano, Fuya Fuya (4250m). From Otavalo we drive for about an hour to Laguna Mojanda, from where our objective is clearly visible. We skirt the lake on a steep and rocky trail to reach the open "paramo" grassland which form the slopes of this long-dead volcano. It will take 2 – 3 hours to reach the summit from where we have views of the volcanoes Cayambe, Cerro Cotacachi and Imbabura. Afterwards we descend to our tour bus and make the return drive to Quito (2 – 3 hours) where we check into the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Ascent of Pichincha and transfer to Machachi.

    Quito is built on the slopes of the active Volcan Pichincha, which provides an excellent hike with magnificent views over the city. We make an early start to enjoy the clear morning weather. We first drive on a dirt road to around 4000 metres. This is not a long way but its slow going on rough roads and will take us around 2 hours from leaving the hotel. Then by foot to the refuge at 4600 metres. From here it is a straightforward ascent to reach the rim of Pichincha’s smouldering crater. We continue around the rim and up to the summit of Guagua Pichincha (4784m) which offers spectacular views along the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’ and across the city. Descending the peak, we return to Quito in one hour and continue for approximately one hour to Machachi where we check into our hostal accommodation.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Refuge of Iliniza, transfer to Riobamba.

    We have little under an hour’s drive to the roadhead where the trek begins at Virgen (4020m). From here we ascend to the refuge at 4750m. This 4 hour walk rewards us with splendid views of the ‘Avenue of the Volcaones’. The refuge is situated on the former volcanic crater and is the base for both Iliniza summits, the South (5260m) with its impressive glaciers and the rocky North summit (5116m). We walk through Polylepis forest, also known as the ‘tree of paper’ for its feather like leaves and multi-layered papery bark. It is one of the trees that grow at the highest altitudes in the Andes. After our walk we transfer (3hours) to the town of Riobamba where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • The Devil's Nose Train Ride.

    Today we travel the recently reopenned 'Devil's Nose' train line, an amazing piece of railway engineering which takes us through some stunning scenery as it descends 1,000 metres down a steep slope on a series of switchbacks. First opened in 1901 and still considered one of the great railway engineering feats of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the line initially ran from Guayaquil on the coast to Quito. Currently only the track between Riobamba and Sibambe is operational but this includes the most incredible Devil's Nose section from Alausi. After our excursion we return to the hotel in Riobamba.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Visit the refuge on Chimborazo and transfer to Baños.

    At 6310 metres, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and, due to the equatorial bulge, its summit has the distinction of being the furthest point from the centre of the Earth. Until the last century it was thought to be the tallest mountain on earth and Edward Whymper made the first recorded ascent under that mistaken belief. Today there is a mountaineers’ refuge named after this great alpinist, located high on the mountain at close to 5000m. We drive for 1.5 hours on a switch-back dirt road up to a parking area below the hut from where we make the short hike of around 45 minutes to the Whymper Refuge. If the weather is good it is also possible to make a return hike of around 2 hours to reach ‘Whymper Point’ for breathtaking views. Returning to our vehicle we descend the mountain and join the Panamerican Highway, travelling north-east for 2 – 3 hours to reach the charming spa town of Baños. We check into our comfortable hotel and enjoy the evening ambiance of this resort town with its mix of pavement cafes, restaurants, craft and book shops.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Activity day in Banos.

    We have a full day to enjoy the amenities of this picturesque and laid-back town. Situated in the shadow of smoking Tungurahua, the town is famous for its thermal pools and is also known as ‘the Gateway to the Amazon’ due to its position, perched on the edge of the Andean plateau. Baños is a very relaxing place just to stroll around and to visit the thermal pools, particularly the Piscinas Las Modernas/Las Peñas with its waterslides. We can also arrange a variety of activities for this day including horse riding, biking, a day trip into the jungle or 'Selbe'. In the evening we can enjoy some typical Ecuadorian cuisine at a local restaurant. We spend a second night in Banos. The activity level of nearby Volcan Tungurahua is carefully monitored and at certain levels of alert, it may be necessary to accommodate the group outside of Banos.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Visit the Jose Rivas refuge on Cotopaxi.

    In the afternoon we drive (2 hour 30 minute) to the Cotopaxi National Park. Reaching the lakes at Limpiopungo, we climb another switch-back road up the side of Cotopaxi, the second highest mountain in Ecuador, and the World’s highest active volcano. The dirt track leads to a car park below the Jose Rivas refuge at 4800m. This alpine hut which is situated just below the level of the glaciated part of the mountain is the starting point for climbers wishing to scale the peak. We take a slow walk up to the hut which at this altitude takes around 45 minutes (it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to return). There are breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. Afterwards we transfer (approximately 1½ hours) to our overnight accommodation in Machachi.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Community Project or visit to Antizana Ecological Reserve, transfer to Quito.

    If your school has elected to take part in a community project, we will drive to a nearby rural school to participate in this community action. Alternatively we will drive (1½ hours) o the very wild Antizana Ecological Reserve for a hike of around 4 - 5 hours. The snow capped Antizana Volcano (5753m) dominates our walk as we encounter 2 lagoon lakes (Micacocha and Papallacta) and the glaciated terrain of this snow giant. After the community project or our walk, we drive for approximately 1½ - 2 hours back to Quito where we check into our comfortable hotel close to the heart of the new city for our final evening in Ecuador.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day.

    Depending on flight times the morning is free for shopping or independent sightseeing. A group transfer is provided to the airport where KE Land Only package services end.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A qualified UK KE Schools leader
  • Professional English-speaking local guide and support staff
  • Quito airport transfers
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • Guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips for local staff
  • Airport transfers other than group transfers
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.
Ecuadorian cuisine is varied across different regions and includes excellent seafood, potatoes, toasted corn, and pastries stuffed with spiced meats. For those wishing to fully immerse themselves in the local culture, you can try roasted cuy (guinea pig), but this is strictly optional. Ecuador is famous for its exotic fruits and these will be served with most meals. Breakfasts generally consist of fruit, yoghurt, eggs and toast. Depending on the day’s itinerary lunches may be taken in a restaurant or café, or they may be provided as a packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit and biscuits. Dinner will normally be a set meal taken either in the hotel or in a nearby restaurant. The KE leader will order this meal taking into account what is the best food in the region and also individual members' dietary requirements.
All meals included from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 14
Airport transfers are included on arrival and departure. The KE School Group Leader or KE representative will meet you on arrival and assist with the transfers to the group hotel. Full joining instructions along with hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with the booking confirmation.
Hotel accommodation for this trip is in a variety of comfortable hotels and smaller pension-style accommodation known locally as 'hostals'. Accommodation is generally on a twin-share but some nights may be in a mix of twin rooms and single sex dormitories. Single rooms are available on request for a supplementary cost.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

All KE school adventures are led by a specialist UK KE Schools leader. The KE leader will be assisted by a local English-speaking guide and various local support staff such as minibus drivers.
We suggest you allow approximately US$150 for miscellaneous expenses. This amount should be sufficient to cover tips to local staff plus your soft drinks, snacks etc. If you intend to take back lots of souvenirs you should budget accordingly. It is possible to use credit and bank cards to withdraw cash from ATMs in Quito, Banos and other major towns. If you intend to bring your spending money in the form of cash, you should bring US dollars in small denominations (tens and twenties).
It is usual to tip your local guide, driver and other local staff to say 'thank you' for their services. Tips aregiven from the group as a whole rather than from individuals. As a rough guide we suggest that each group member contributing $40 – 50 to a tipping 'pool' will provide for an adequate level of tips. Your KE leader will give you advice on the level of tipping for local staff.
There is no weight limit on this trip other than that set by your international carrier but we do ask you to limit your luggage to one bag (your KE trek bag) plus a small day pack.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 4000 metres. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude. www.keadventure.com/page/altitude.html

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots
  • Socks
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Underwear
  • Baselayer shirts
  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Eyewear - Sunglasses
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Headtorch with spare batteries
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre (1 Quart) x2
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
  • Daypack 25 - 30 litres
  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters (band-aids) and blister treatment,and insect repellent.

The following items are optional:

  • Trekking poles
  • Training shoes /Sneakers or similar
  • Shorts
  • Gaiters
  • Scarf or buff
  • Swimwear and towel (for thermal pools)
  • Travel clothes
  • Camera, memory cards, batteries

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport for each country that you visit.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

With the Pacific Ocean to the west and the great basin of the Amazon to the east, Ecuador has a complex pattern of weather. In general the eastern highland region receives the most precipitation. In the Central Highlands it is drier though cloud and rain can and do occur at any time during the year. In general the days are warm with temperatures between 12 and 22°C. Evenings can be chilly in the higher towns with the possibility of night-time temperatures dipping below freezing point once above 3500 metres.
Ecuador. Lonely Planet guidebook. Ecuador. Rough Guides The Andes – A guide for Climbers. John Biggar Trekking in the Central Andes – Lonely Planet
Ecuador. ITMB 1 ; 700,000

Double-sided map dividing the country north/south with a generous overlap. Relief is depicted by altitude tinting and spot heights for peaks and volcanoes. Glaciers, swamp areas, national parks and reserves are marked. Intermediate driving distances are indicated and further symbols depict places of interest, archaeological sites, thermal baths, beaches, etc. Latitude and longitude lines are drawn at 1° intervals. There is an index of place names and the legend is in English and Spanish.

Recent Reviews & Blog Posts

Good or bad we publish ALL reviews so you can make an inspired and informed choice.