This eight-day itinerary is perfect for travelers hoping to see Ecuador's most notable national parks and explore the country's most populous cities. You'll begin your trip with a free day in the capital of Quito before heading off to hike the Quilotoa and Cotopaxi Volcanoes and explore Ecuador's gateway to the Amazon. Then, make a stop at Mount Chimborazo, take a scenic train ride through the Andes, and take a walking tour of the historic port city of Guayaquil.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a free day exploring Quito's attractions and markets
  • Kayak the turquoise Quilotoa Lake
  • Explore Cotopaxi National Park
  • Hike Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest mountain
  • Ride the Devil's Nose train through the Andes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito Quito
Day 2 Transfer to Quilotoa - Volcano Hike Quilotoa
Day 3 Cotopaxi National Park - Baños Baños
Day 4 Hike Mt. Chimborazo - Riobamba Riobamba
Day 5 Devil's Nose Train Ride - Ingapirca - Cuenca Cuenca
Day 6 Walking Tour of Cuenca Cuenca
Day 7 El Cajas National Park - Guayaquil Guayaquil
Day 8 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito

Plaza Grande in Quito
Plaza Grande in Quito

When you arrive in Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), a driver will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in Quito. You'll have the evening free to spend as you'd like.

Day 2: Transfer to Quilotoa - Volcano Hike

Quilotoa Lagoon
Quilotoa Lagoon

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you about three hours through the Andes to beautiful Quilotoa

Upon arrival, you will be able to check in at your hotel, drop your bags, and have lunch in town.

Later in the afternoon, you can take a hike around the rim of the Quilotoa Volcano or descend to the shores of Quilotoa Lagoon and rent a kayak.

Day 3: Cotopaxi National Park - Baños

Cotopaxi Volcano
Cotopaxi Volcano

After breakfast, a private driver will pick you up and transfer you to Baños, your next destination.

Along the way, you will stop to visit the famous Cotopaxi National Park, which is home to the Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. You will be able to hike around the area and see its unique vegetation and wildlife, and there will be many opportunities for you to snap some great photos. 

After your hike, you will be able to have lunch and do some hikes before continuing on to Baños.

When you arrive late in the afternoon, you will have the rest of the evening free. As Baños is a gateway to the Amazon, you can easily book additional activities such as zip-lining, rafting, and mountain biking.

Day 4: Hike Mt. Chimborazo - Riobamba

Acuña in front of Mt. Chimborazo
Vicuña in front of Mt. Chimborazo

Early this morning, you will pack up your baggage and begin your ride to Riobamba.

On the way, you will make a stop at Ecuador's highest mountain, Chimborazo, and you will have the opportunity to do some hiking in this beautiful area. If you're lucky, you will spot wild vicuñas wandering around the plateau.

After you're finished exploring, you will continue your trip until you arrive at your hotel in Riobamba.

Day 5: Devil's Nose Train Ride - Ingapirca - Cuenca

Devil's Nose train route through the mountains
Devil's Nose train route through the mountains

After an early breakfast, a private transfer will take you to the town of Alausi, where the famous Devil's Nose train departs. This train is a unique and impressive way to tour the Andes, and as you will take a short ride down one of the zig-zagging railroads, you'll be treated to some incredible scenery. 

After the train returns to Alausi, your driver will take you to the country's largest Inca and Cañaris ruins known as Ingapirca. A guide will show you the most significant pre-Colombian buildings like the Temple of the Sun, an elliptical stone temple that dominates the landscape. 

At the end of the day, your driver will take you to your accommodation in the nearby city of Cuenca.

Day 6: Walking Tour of Cuenca

View of historical Cuenca
View of historical Cuenca

This morning, you'll head out on a walking tour of Cuenca, one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador.

You will meet your guide in the center of the city, and you will tour the cathedral, main historical buildings, and the Las Conceptas Museum, which is housed in a former 16th-century convent. Inside the museum, you can see a unique display of colonial-era religious art and a permanent exhibition of photographs.

The tour continues with a stop at the Panama Hat Factory and ends with a visit to the colorful flower market. You can spend the rest of the afternoon on your own, or you can book a guide for additional sightseeing.

Day 7: El Cajas National Park - Guayaquil

El Cajas National Park
El Cajas National Park

After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel, and you will depart for your 121-mile (196 km) journey to Guayaquil.

On the way, you will make a stop at El Cajas National Park which lies in Ecuador's highlands. If you'd like, you can take a hike to soak in the natural scenery like its many beautiful lakes and small forests of the high-altitude polylepis tree. Birdwatchers will be able to spot the giant cone bill, the dacnis, the grey-breasted mountain toucan, and a variety of enchanting hummingbirds.

After your hike through the park, you will continue on to your accommodation in Guayaquil. After you check in, you'll have the rest of the evening free.

Day 8: Departure

Aerial view of Guayaquil
Aerial view of Guayaquil

After your last morning in Ecuador, a driver will pick you up and drive you to José Joaquín De Olmedo International Airport (GYE) for your flight home.

Map

Map of Best of Ecuador: Quito, Quilotoa, Baños, Cuenca, & Guayaquil - 8 Days
Map of Best of Ecuador: Quito, Quilotoa, Baños, Cuenca, & Guayaquil - 8 Days