Home > Ecuador > Unique tour of haciendas, lakes, flowers and train, Part Two

Unique tour of haciendas, lakes, flowers and train, Part Two

May 28, 2011

We leave the Hacienda after a stroll around its gardens and head South on the Pan American Highway, past the green and vast Valley of Cayambe, located at the foothills of the namesake Volcano, which presides over the magnificent scenery, with its 19.000 feet of elevation, covered with a dazzling white mantle of snow.  Further south, we take a slight turn, to bypass the city of Quito through the “Inter-valleys Highway”.  The views along the route combine the placid atmosphere of rural Andean countryside; quaint and pretty pueblos, rich in handicrafts and gastronomic specialties and a never ending succession of cultivated fields, growing dozens of varieties of vegetables, potatoes, grain, maize and diverse fruit products, produced by the superbly rich soils. Also in view are ample pastures where abundant cattle graze, providing the sources of the dairy products used in the north central Andean Region of Ecuador.

The close to two-hours scenic ride is broken by intermittent stops for short strolls; picture taking or to inspect the colorful villages we pass by, with their pretty plazas and smiling inhabitants who wave at us with friendly gestures… We have now reached the Valley of Los Chillos, south east of Quito, and we start catching glimpses of the monumental Cotopaxi Volcano, the world’s highest active, at close to 21.000 feet of elevation.  Framed by the rugged summits and old calderas of the Pasochoa and Rumiñahui Volcanoes, plus the impressive backdrop of giant Cotopaxi, is our next Hacienda, yet one more three centuries old property, filled with history and memorabilia, equally serving nowadays as a charming Country Inn.  Fernando and Paulina the owners greet us at the main entrance and show us around their beautiful estate and the guest installations. We are treated with afternoon tea, Ecuadorian style, while chatting with our gracious hosts. After a short rest, dinner at the Hacienda is another culinary treat, featuring delicious recipes of the country’s superbly varied cuisine, with elegant touches of modern day gastronomy.

The following day finds us having a hearty country breakfast with dairy products from the farm, exotic local fruit juices and mouth-watering “humitas”, melting corn and cheese soft patties, served wrapped on the maize’s own leafs. We say good bye to Fernando and Paulina and with the always smiling David at the wheel, Carla, Doris, Sebastian and I, head now to the west, across the wide and fertile valley of Machachi, crossing the Pan American Highway and up towards the western Andean Range.  To our left the Ilinizas twin volcanoes stand with their sharply pointed summits, slightly covered with snow.  We reach the old and now fully restored Aloasì-Machachi Train Station, converted into a rail museum for a short visit, in perfect timing to see and hear the diesel locomotive arrive, hauling two old-style train carriages, painted in red.  We board the train and set off for a short yet memorable train ride, along the awesome Avenue of the Volcanoes, in the heart of Ecuador’s central Andes. The ride, choo-chooing, past small rivers, gorges and Andean grasslands, and across more picturesque villages lively with waving people, is a real treat and provides a different dimension to the voyage than the one you have by road…. As we continue with direction to the south, we realize why Alexander Von Humboldt called this part of Ecuador and of the entire Andean Cordillera, an “Avenue of Volcanoes”…  The East and West Ranges of the Andes run here, parallel to each other, leaving a central backbone of intermittent and endless valleys and plateaus, escorted by the immense colossus, creating a unique sight…..

We reach El Boliche Train Station and disembark from the train, for a thrilling visit of the western part of Cotopaxi National Park.  Everywhere, the gigantic figure of the colossal Volcano, its perfect cone shape and huge glacier and snow fields dominate the scenery. At Limpiopungo Lake we can see the volcano reflecting its splendid summit on the crystal clear waters; while we enjoy the view of unique fauna and flora of the high Andes, including the majestic flight of two condors, hovering above us, against the blue sky.  A fun-filled horseback ride leads us into one of the oldest Haciendas of the area, this one close to five hundred years old and boasting authentic Inca Walls; where we have a sumptuous lunch, with a delicious potato and avocado soup, the famous “locro” as the centerpiece….  Llamas and vicunas escort us on one last stroll through the gardens and grasslands before we board again our van to return to Quito after this fascinating voyage, featuring a theme of ancient Haciendas, Lakes, flowers and a train ride… One more of the fascinating trips you can take in Ecuador…..

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