'Lost Civilisations'

What makes this trip special?

Stunning pre-columbian art

Stunning pre-columbian art

Casa del Alabado - Quito

A very fine collection of artefacts housed in a beautifully adapted colonial mansion.

Quito's past

Quito's past

Quito City Museum

Quito's Museo de la Ciudad is dedicated to the social history of Quito.

The kingdom of Quito

The kingdom of Quito

Quito - old city

Quito's historic centre of cobbled streets and white washed colonial buildings is one of the most important in Latin America. Wander through the narrow streets, watch lively events in the plazas and visit historical landmarks.

Spectacular views

Spectacular views


The teleferico cable car rises above the city of Quito to the top of Pichincha volcano, giving fabulous views of the city and the mountains all around.

Yumbo civilisation

Yumbo civilisation


An extensive archaeological site within the city of Quito, principally relating to the Yumbo civilisation which preceded the Incas.

The god at the centre of the earth

The god at the centre of the earth

La Florida

A stunning archaeological site on the edge of the Quito valley. Concentric burial chambers re-uniting their occupants with a 'Pachamama' deity and a heaven that is downwards.

Astronomical pools

Astronomical pools


A very evocative site deep in the cloudforest, on a trade route between Quito and the ocean. The principal feature is a succession of ceremonial pools associated with astronomical rituals, and there are petroglyphs, trails and other elements. A good site museum helps explain the significance of what has so far been uncovered.




The most important and well preserved Incan complex in Ecuador. Once used as a temple for sun-worship, at Ingapirca you can explore the ruins and visit the on-site museum.

Lush forest, indigenous communities & wild pacific coast

Lush forest, indigenous communities & wild pacific coast

Puerto Lopez - Pacific Coast

From Machalilla National Park, a jewel of differing habitats, to the indigenous Manteno community of Agua Blanca through to the long sweeping bay of Los Frailes the Pacific Coastline is an exciting visit.

Itinerary map for Ecuador & Galapagos 'Lost Civilisations' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Quito
  • 2 Quito
  • 3 Quito
  • 4 Quito
  • 5 Cuenca
  • 6 Cuenca
  • 7 Cuenca
  • 8 Puerto Lopez
  • 9 Puerto Lopez
  • 10 Puerto Lopez
  • 11 Guayaquil
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Lost Civilisations'



You will be met on arrival at the international airport and driven to a hotel in Quito where you stay for the next 4 nights. Rest of the day free to relax after your long international flight.


City Museum & Casa del Alabado

This morning you will be collected from your hotel by your English-speaking private guide who will take you to visit the delightful Casa del Alabado museum, which houses a fine collection of Pre-Hispanic ceramic artefacts beautifully displayed in a restored colonial mansion. You will also visit the Museo de la Ciudad, an attractively informative museum dedicated to the social history of Quito and set in a restored colonial building that was once a hospital. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the historic quarter. Stroll around impressive plazas, convents and monasteries contained within a few streets.


Cable car, Rumipamba & Central Bank Museum

This morning your guide collects you from your hotel for a ride on the Teleferiqo cable car, which rises high up above Quito for wonderful panoramic views over the city. The ride begins on the city’s western fringes, climbing the flanks of the massive Pichincha Volcano from 3,000 up to 4,000 metres. Next pay a visit to Rumipamba, an archeological site overlooking the city, with Incan walls, vestiges of domestic dwellings, and ‘coluncos’, crucial trade pathways that run from the Andes to the coast. The network of coluncos was dug by the Yumbo people, who inhabited the north and northwestern valleys and mountains around Quito from around 800 to 1660 AD. Stop for lunch at Hacienda Rumiloma, perched high on the flank of the Pichincha volcano with a commanding view down upon the city. Back in Quito you will be taken to the Central Bank Museum, where an impressive archeology room displays artefacts from the pre-ceramic era (4000 BC) to the end of the Inca era (1533 AD)


La Florida and Tulipe

Today you visit, with your guide, the newly discovered La Florida Archaeological Site. This is an intriguing site which reveals the world of the Quitus people who inhabited the valley of Quito before the Incas. It is a burial site comprising ten 15m wide cylindrical chambers into which the Quitus carefully stored the bodies of their important dead: returning them to Pacha Mama-Mother Earth. They were provided with ceramics, gold ornaments, wood carvings and, most highly prized of all, spondylus shells carried from the ocean along the coluncos you saw yesterday. Travelling out of the city you visit the Equator, passing the monument to the 1736 French expedition’s line, to the true line 200m away. You visit the small Inti-Ñan museum (rickety but fun) which presents an eclectic mix of folk exhibits and ‘scientific’ demonstrations straddling the true line. You then cross high passes and continue down to Tulipe in the cloudforest. Tulipe was the main ceremonial worship site of the Yumbo, who inhabited the north and northwestern valleys and mountains around Quito from around 800 to 1660 AD and controlled a crucial trade route between the Pacific coast, the Andes and the Amazon to the east. According to one current theory the Yumbo migrated away to the Amazon after a great eruption of the Pichincha Volcano in 1660. The Tulipe site comprises some 2,000 pyramids and mounds, each modest in scale but a vast array in total. Water was of great significance to the Yumbos and the most immediately striking feature of the site is the geometrically shaped and aligned large, sunken, stone-lined immersion pools which had great ceremonial importance. There is a helpful interpretation centre at the site.



This morning you fly to Cuenca in the southern Andes, where you are met on arrival and taken on a tour of this historic city, with its flower-filled plazas, cobbled streets and ornate colonial buildings with ancient wooden doors and ironwork balconies. The period of prosperity brought by the export of quinine and ‘Panama’ hats is reflected in the French and neo-classical style influences in the architecture. You stay here for 3 nights.


Ingapirca & Cañari culture

This morning you are driven with your guide along the Pan-American Highway through dramatic Andean landscapes, to Ingapirca, originally a temple built for sun-worship, and today the most important and well-preserved Inca complex in Ecuador. You explore the ruins and visit the site museum. Depending on the day of the week, there are opportunities to visit picturesque Cañari markets for an impression of traditional Cañari crafts and customs, or local indigenous communities, artisans, beautiful churches and other highlights of the area.


Cajas National Park

Today you are taken to visit Cajas National Park, with its beautiful mountain landscapes of dramatic rock outcrops, glacial lakes, high moorlands and forest. Take a nature walk, perhaps around a small tarn, and explore unusual elfin forests of paperbark polylepis trees. Lunch is picnic style.


Puerto Lopez

Flying to Guayaquil you are met by your local guide and driven via Salinas to Puerto Lopez at the northern end of the Ruta del Sol. You stop at the Los Amantes de Sumpa Museum, which houses displays offering an insight into the ancient cultures of the region. The museum is built on a burial site said to be the home of the oldest human remains yet found in Ecuador. Continue on to Mantaraya Lodge, a well-run small hotel set in the hills near Puerto López where you stay for the next 3 nights. Its colourful adobe-style buildings are set around a lovely pool.


Machalilla, Agua Blanca & Los Frailes

Today you visit Machalilla National Park. The main section of the park protects a full transect of vegetation from arid scrub and tropical dry forest near the sea, through moist forest, up to true cloud forest: great for hiking, birdwatching and just being out and about. Within the park, the indigenous Manteño community of Agua Blanca welcomes visitors. Volunteers show you their village and the smallholdings where they grow grenadines, papaya, mango, oranges, limes, maize, chilli and much more. At the river the village laundry is washed by hand using the fruit of the barbasco tree as a soap. You may be invited to bathe in a sacred sulphur lake, where the whole community gathers for ceremonial bathing at solstices and equinoxes. A viewpoint looks from this dry lightly forested area towards the lush hills of San Sebastián. The archaeological site near the village has been excavated to reveal the remains of 3 solar centres for measuring the sun’s motion and a large ceremonial hall where stone jaguar thrones were positioned every 5 paces. A small museum contains relics and artefacts including thrones, funerary urns, tattoo stamps and spondylus shells which were used as currency. This is a fascinating glimpse of pre-Incan society, made possible by its direct descendants. Also within the park is the beautiful bay of Los Frailes: a paradisiacal long sweep of fine sand, though with little shade.

DAY 10

Today you are free to relax and enjoy your hotel facilities or perhaps take the boat trip at additional cost to Isla de la Plata, a small uninhabited island skirted by cliffs 9km offshore. It is home to colonies of Nazca, blue-footed and red-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and, seasonally, waved albatross. Sea lion and fur seals are occasional visitors. It is well worth a visit at any time of year, especially if you are not also visiting the Galapagos. Between June and October, Humpback Whales are regularly seen in the surrounding waters, along with large schools of dolphin and pods of Sperm, Pilot, False Killer and Killer Whales. It is quite a stretch to compare Isla de la Plata with the Galapagos Islands, but the very pleasant day trip to the island goes some way to indicate what is on offer 600km further into the Pacific.

DAY 11


Today you are driven back to Guayaquil airport in time to catch your onwards flight home, or to the Galapagos, Quito, or perhaps Peru.

Guide prices for 'Lost Civilisations'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide price 2 people sharing £2,650
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Ecuador
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • all excursions as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Lost Civilisations'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'Lost Civilisations'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
2 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
3 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
4 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
5 Cuenca 18°C rainfall 67mm
6 Cuenca 18°C rainfall 67mm
7 Cuenca 18°C rainfall 67mm
8 Puerto Lopez 29°C rainfall 52mm
9 Puerto Lopez 29°C rainfall 52mm
10 Puerto Lopez 29°C rainfall 52mm
11 Guayaquil 31°C rainfall 172mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Lost Civilisations'

Days 1 - 3

Plaza Sucre, Quito

historic quarter

Hotel Plaza Sucre is a good functional mid-range B&B  located in Quito's historic quarter, four blocks back from its main sights and squares.

There are 25 comfortable guest rooms each with TV and private bathrooms.

The 4th floor rooftop breakfast room has wonderful views out to the Panecillo monument which stands guard over the city.

No lift.

For other meals there are several restaurants in easy walking distance in the well policed historic centre.

Plaza Sucre, Quito
Inner courtyard
Days 5 - 7

Santa Lucia

downtown Cuenca

Average rating 4.3 (9 ratings)

Built by the provincial governor in 1859, this mansion is set around three internal courtyards and in the manner of the best houses of that time was beautifully restored and converted into a first rate hotel, opening in 2002. The style is traditional and opulent with polished wood floors, luxurious fabrics and period furnishings, with the courtyard layout bringing a sense of quiet spaciousness. Hostería Santa Lucia has 20 bedrooms, each well furnished and generously sized and is conveniently located for independent city sightseeing.

Santa Lucia
Internal courtyard
Days 8 - 10


Puerto Lopez

Average rating 5.0 (2 ratings)

Friendly hippyish, nicely done back packers place. Beach front location on the edge of the town. Wooden cabins nestling amid exuberant tropical garden foliage. We have a restaurant and bar, tourist information services in 5 languages, wireless internet connection, a games room, a music room, a video room, private hammock cabanas on the beach, a book exchange and reference library, laundry service and private car park.

Double cabin