Offering a mix of culture, nature, and adventure, this six-day journey around Ecuador takes you from the busy streets of Quito to the snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi National Park. Stand on the line of the equator and learn to cook Ecuadorian dishes, then venture into the Mindo Cloud Forest for an unforgettable hike. Spend the last full day of the trip on a horseback excursion around the volcanoes and lagoons of Cotopaxi.


  • Explore Quito with a local guide
  • Shop for traditional crafts in Otavalo Market
  • Hike in the Mindo Cloud Forest
  • Ride horses in Cotopaxi National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Explore the City Quito
Day 2 Enjoy a City Tour, Cooking Class & Mitad del Mundo Quito
Day 3 Shop in Otavalo Market Otavalo
Day 4 Explore the Mindo Cloud Forest Quito
Day 5 Discover Cotopaxi National Park on Horseback  Cotopaxi
Day 6 Hike Around Quilotoa Lagoon, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore the City

Views over Quito and Cotopaxi
Views over Quito and Cotopaxi

Welcome to Quito! You'll arrive at the airport and meet your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. After taking some time to get settled in, explore the historic center. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) and welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas between mountain peaks.

Stroll through its narrow streets and visit some of the city's most important churches, such as the Baroque La Compañía, with its incredible gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica. Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, then head to Panecillo Hill for incredible panoramic views.

Day 2: Enjoy a City Tour, Cooking Class & Mitad del Mundo

Colonial Quito City Tour - Cooking Class with a Local Chef &  the Middle of the World
Venture to the Mitad del Mundo

After breakfast, your guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you on a walking tour of the city. Then you'll head to a cooking class inside a colonial house in the historic center. Learn to prepare various traditional Ecuadorian dishes, then enjoy the meal.

In the afternoon, you'll visit the equatorial monument known as Mitad del Mundo. It's located just 16 miles (26 km) north of the capital city in the spot where French scientists determined the position of the central line many years ago. You'll have the chance to stand on the line of the equator and strike a pose with one foot in each hemisphere! Visit the adjacent museum, featuring a planetarium, cocoa and chocolate exhibits, and a small-scale model of Quito.

Day 3: Shop in Otavalo Market

Textiles in a market booth in Otavalo
Textiles in a market booth in Otavalo
Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

This morning, your driver will pick you up at your hotel in Quito and take you to Otavalo, an Andean town located in the northern province of Imbabura. The drive takes around 1.5 hours, and you'll stop to see interesting highlights along the way, learning about the surrounding landscapes and grabbing a bite in a recommended local spot.

Continue to the famous Otavalo Market, where you can shop for locally made handicrafts. Lose yourself in the sights and sounds of the market, where the past is preserved through native language and local traditions. Sample street food such as salted mango and fritada (braised pork). Return to Quito in the evening. 

Day 4: Explore the Mindo Cloud Forest

Expedition to Mindo Cloud Forest
Greenery in the Mindo Cloud Forest

Today you'll explore the lush green cloud forest of Mindo. Its location on the western slopes of the Andean highlands gives the region mild temperatures and lots of rainfall. Stretching over 48,000 acres (19,200 ha) and reaching an elevation of 15,700 feet (4,778 m), Mindo is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world. It's also one of the premier birding destinations in the world, home to more than 500 different types of birds.

You'll have the chance to visit a butterfly farm, trek to waterfalls, go river tubing, soar between the treetops on a zipline, and taste locally made chocolate and coffee on today's excursion. Return to Quito for a good night's rest.

Day 5: Discover Cotopaxi National Park on Horseback 

Cotopaxi National Park on Horseback - Overnight in Cotopaxi Hacienda
Cotopaxi National Park 

Rise early this morning and travel to the province of Cotopaxi for an epic horseback ride through Cotopaxi National Park. Arriving at a traditional hacienda, you'll be met with sweeping views of the páramo (typical Andean landscape) and the snowcapped peak of Cotopaxi Volcano

Gallop across windswept plains and explore the area's native forests on this guided journey through the wilderness of the Andes. Keep your eyes open for wild horses, rabbits, birds, and deer along the way! You'll return to the hacienda for a cozy overnight.

Day 6: Hike Around Quilotoa Lagoon, Depart

Quilotoa Lagoon
Enjoy a morning hike around Quilotoa Lagoon
This morning, visit the picturesque Quilotoa Lagoon. You can walk along the crater's rim to enjoy the splendid view or hike down a path to the crater lake. The way back can be a bit longer, so you can ride a mule for the uphill return. In the afternoon, transfer to Quito and head to the airport to catch your flight. Safe travels!

More Great Ecuador Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Ecuador? Check out these other Ecuador itineraries, explore different ways to spend six days in Ecuador, or discover the best time to visit Ecuador.


Map of Culture, Nature & Adventure: Quito, Mindo & Cotopaxi - 6 Days
Map of Culture, Nature & Adventure: Quito, Mindo & Cotopaxi - 6 Days