South Expeditions

Cover Itinerary - South Expeditions Inca Ruins and Andean Culture


Discover ancient Inca ruins and their history, and engage in cultural, dynamic, and interactive activities.


Inca Ruins and Andean Culture

The history of the Incas is very intriguing and full of astonishing accomplishments. Although the Inca Empire originated in Peru, it extended as far as Bolivia and Chile, including Ecuador. Many historically significant cities, paths, ritual/sacrifice pools, ceremonial structures and forts were built on strategic locations throughout the country, vestiges of the fascinating Incan past. Ecuador’s rich cultural diversity is reflected on its people’s language and ethnicity. The official language of the Inca Empire was Quechua but, even today, many of local languages and dialects of Quechua are still spoken aside from Spanish, Ecuador’s official language. Indigenous communities struggle but have managed to maintain their traditions, territories and beliefs. During the duration of our trip, we will deepen our knowledge on the Inca influences by visiting various significant sites, and truly get to know its people as we engage in hands-on cooking and ceramic classes as well as visiting local artisans and markets.






Culture - Walking - Horseback - SpecialInterest


1105 USD


  • Ingapirca ruins, the most significant vestige of Incan existence in Ecuador.
  • Inca ruins at Pumapungo, in the heart of Cuenca.
  • Cooking classes where locals impart their knowledge of Ecuadorian cuisine.
  • Hike along a cloud forest trail through the Cajas National Park in Tushipungo Valley.
  • Prices per person, based on a minimum of 6 guests. Prices will fluctuate as the number of guests varies.

Day by Day



City Tour, Cooking Class & Pumapungo

Cuenca is a beautifully preserved colonial city nestled in the lush hillsides of the Andes. Although it is Ecuador’s third largest city, Cuenca exudes a predominantly small town feel, boasting a distinctive Spanish architectural style sprinkled with French influences. For lunch, locals will impart their knowledge of Ecuadorian cuisine—a fusion of traditional ingredients, colonial Spain, and Andean fare. We will learn how to rustle up some exquisite Ecuadorian culinary creations! Later, we will visit Pumapungo, an archaeological site that used to be part of one of the most imposing and beautiful cities of the ancient Inca Empire.



Cojitambo School Visit & Ingapirca Ruins

Today, we will visit the elementary school, “Dr. Angel Enrique Montalvo” in Cojitambo. During the visit, we will exchange stories with local kids and faculty. This is important feedback and helpful in improving the conditions of the school. We will conclude our visit with a fun activity such as a competition, a dance, or a quick soccer match. Very close by lies the Cojitambo Archaeological complex, strategically placed by the Incas back in the day. From here, we will enjoy spectacular views. Then, we will visit the Ingapirca Ruins, the largest known Inca ruins in all of Ecuador. The most impressive structure is the elliptical ‘Temple of the Sun’—a significant ceremonial and ritual spot for the Inca-Cañari, who worshipped the sun and moon.



Andean Arts, Crafts & Cuisine

Today, we will drive to San Bartolomé, a town with an agricultural vocation, which is now known as the “Land of Guitars and Apples”. We will walk for around this traditional, picturesque little town before stopping at an artisan guitar workshop where we will learn how these instruments are made. We will continue to Chordeleg, a town filled with artisans who showcase their arts, crafts and silver and gold designs. Then, we will head to Gualaceo to experience a local food market that offers regional foods and dishes, such as hornado and “cuy,” the famous roasted guinea pig. After lunch, we will visit back strap loom artisans where textiles are dyed and woven. At the end of our day, we will drop in a show room and orchid farm, where we will learn about the diversity of orchids in Ecuador and admire the most beautiful flowers.



Hoseback Riding & Black Ceramics Class

We will embark on a horseback-riding journey overlooking the valley of Tarqui. Along the way, you can admire the local architecture, culture, and diverse ecosystem. Our horses are well trained and easy to ride. Later, we will engage in one of the most authentic experiences, a visit to the Encalada Family Ceramic Shop. The owner, Jose Encalada and his four sons, have spent their lives creating a diverse variety of traditional style pottery, based on a unique technique called the “Black Ceramic”. Considered the only black ceramic shop in Ecuador, numerous ceramic designs of varying shapes and sizes are exhibited throughout the shop. After watching the entire process, we will be invited to create our own piece of art with the unique black ceramic.



Cajas National Park – Thermal Bath Spa

The pretty Tushipungo Valley sets the scene for this hike as you meander through cattle farms until your arrival at the spectacular ‘El Cajas National Park’, a stretch of protected land extending for 71,000 acres and home to an incredible 230 glacial lakes. Will traverse rolling paramo grasslands, along rippling brooks and lakes, and through fields of wild quinoa and rosemary. Afterwards, we will head out for a relaxing evening at Piedra de Agua, a thermal bath Spa.


Boutique Hotel Mansión Alcazar

Mansión Alcázar is located in the heart of the city of Cuenca. It was once a colonial mansion but has now been transformed into a luxurious Boutique Hotel. The interior decoration evokes the style of the beginning of the century, with careful selection of fine furniture and objets d’art that embellished in earlier times, the most luxurious rooms in one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador.

Hotel Santa Lucía

The house, was built in 1859 by the governor of the province, Don Manuel Vega Dávila. In 1999, a thorough restoration and adaptation transformed it into Hotel Santa Lucía. During the process it preserved and rescued the architecture of this beautiful house as an example of traditional XIX century buildings.

Hotel Casa de Aguila

Casa del Aguila is a restored traditional colonial house located in the historic center of Cuenca. Its name comes from the its street name "Calle del Aguila."


You may also like:

View Full Itinerary

Iconic Ecuador Exploration

Visit the most iconic sites in Ecuador to understand its people’s culture, traditions, and heritage while appreciating the breathtaking Andean landscapes.

1712 USD

View Full Itinerary

Active Ecuador Adventure

Breathtaking scenery and thrilling multisport adventures.

1078 USD

View Full Itinerary

Galapagos Multisport Exploration

Explore the most bizarre wildlife while enjoying multisport activities.

2715 USD

View Full Itinerary

Galapagos Wildlife Adventure

Renowned natural wonders and distinctive wildlife found nowhere else in the world.

2308 USD