Explore Ecuador's cultural highlights and outdoor landscapes on this action-packed eight-day itinerary. Begin in Quito with a city tour and a cooking class, then bargain for traditional crafts in the famed Otavalo Market. Discover the Amazonian rainforest, including an Indigenous community, when you arrive at a jungle lodge by boat. Finish with a hike near Baños and a quick visit to Cotopaxi National Park.


  • Learn how to prepare traditional Ecuadorian dishes in a cooking class
  • Shop for handicrafts in the famous Otavalo Market
  • Visit an Indigenous community in the jungle
  • Soak in the relaxing thermal waters of Papallacta

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Cooking Class  Quito
Day 2 Tour Quito & Transfer to Otavalo Otavalo
Day 3 Shop in Otavalo & Cotacachi Papallacta
Day 4 Travel to Tena in the Amazon Rainforest via Santa Rosa Tena
Day 5 Explore Yacuma & Visit an Indigenous Community, Tena
Day 6 Transfer to the Waterfalls & Rivers of Baños Baños
Day 7 Transfer to Quito via Cotopaxi National Park Quito
Day 8 Soak in the Hot Springs of Papallacta,  Depart Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Cooking Class 

Typical seafood dish ceviche
Learn to prepare ceviche at a cooking class in Quito

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 de Jesús, with its incredible gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica del Voto. Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city. In the evening, 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.

Day 2: Tour Quito & Transfer to Otavalo

Traditional handicrafts in Otavalo
Browse traditional handicrafts in Otavalo

Continue exploring Quito on a guided tour. You'll visit Independence Square, where the Presidential Palace and El Sagrario Church are located. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco (1535), the oldest church in Ecuador. Finally, drive up to the city's highest viewpoint, El Panecillo, for a stunning view of Quito. 

In the afternoon, you'll visit the equatorial monument known as Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). 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! Continue to Otavalo, where you'll spend the night.

Day 3: Shop in Otavalo & Cotacachi

Bargaining at the traditional market of Otavalo
Bargaining at the traditional market of Otavalo

After breakfast, visit Otavalo, home of a famous marketplace. You'll arrive just in time to bargain for beautiful tapestries, local paintings, hand-knit wool sweaters, socks and gloves, wood carvings, silver jewelry, embroidered blouses, and straw hats, to name only a few of the items on offer.

Following lunch, head to Cotacachi, renowned for its handmade leather goods. If time allows, you'll visit Cuicocha, an ancient, eroded volcanic crater famous for its deep lake. Then transfer to Papallacta for dinner and an overnight stay among the town's famous hot springs.

Day 4: Travel to Tena in the Amazon Rainforest via Santa Rosa

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Sunrise in the rainforest near Tena

After breakfast, a transfer will take you to Santa Rosa, where guides will be waiting to greet you. Step into a canoe and sit back as they take you on a short 30-minute ride down the river and into the Amazon rainforest. Your destination is the Yacuma Ecolodge in Tena, where you'll spend the next two nights immersed in the sights and sounds of the Ecuadorian jungle. Following a briefing and a welcome drink, you'll have the chance to visit Yacuma's exclusive Hidden Lagoon before finishing the day with dinner and a nighttime rainforest walk to spot nocturnal animals. 

Day 5: Explore Yacuma & Visit an Indigenous Community

Viewpoint at Yacuma
Relaxing at a viewpoint at Yacuma
Wake to the sounds of the rainforest this morning, and enjoy breakfast before setting out on a two-hour jungle hike, during which you'll learn about the forest's many medicinal plants. Enjoy lunch back at the lodge and some free time. Later on, you'll join your guide for a visit to the nearby Kichwa community, where you'll get the chance to meet the rainforest's residents, learn more about their culture, and hear about Indigenous crafts, including the tribe's history of ceramic manufacturing. Back at the lodge, go for a dip in the Río Chontayacu before dinner is served.  

Day 6: Transfer to the Waterfalls & Rivers of Baños

Follow the Avenue of Waterfalls to reach Baños

On your final morning in the rainforest, climb to a lookout platform high in the jungle canopy for a bird's eye view of the lush surroundings and plentiful wildlife.

When the time comes, you'll bid Yacuma farewell and transfer to the town of Puyo. This trip offers plenty of fantastic views of the rugged landscape of Pastaza Canyon as you wind your way along the Avenue of Waterfalls. Stop for a short hike to the foot of the famed 265-foot (80 m) Pailón del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron) waterfall, then continue to the city of Baños, located at the base of the impressive Tungurahua volcano. Settle into your hotel and enjoy dinner—tomorrow, you'll explore more of the "adventure capital of Ecuador."

Day 7: Transfer to Quito via Cotopaxi National Park

Limpiopungo Lagoon and Cotopaxi Volcano
Reflections of the Cotopaxi volcano in Limpiopungo Lagoon
After breakfast, begin the trip to one of the most famous parks in Ecuador, Cotopaxi National Park. Located in the Ecuadorian highlands, this reserve is known for its eponymous towering volcano and the sweeping páramo (Andean grasslands) landscapes that surround it. You can enjoy the views of the world's highest active volcano while you stop for an hour-long trek to José Rivas Refuge. Keep your eyes open for various birds and possibly even wild horses grazing on the plains below. Relax over a delicious lunch in a traditional hacienda, then continue to Quito for the evening.

Day 8: Soak in the Hot Springs of Papallacta, Depart Quito

Papallacta Hot Springs
Soothe tired muscles with a morning at the Papallacta hot springs
On your final morning in Ecuador, relax and recuperate from yesterday's hike with a couple of hours in the thermal hot springs of Papallacta, an easy side trip from Quito. Soak in the pools, enjoy the beautiful Andean scenery, or treat yourself to a massage. After an al fresco lunch, you'll transfer back to Quito to catch your flight home. 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 eight days in Ecuador, or discover the best time to visit Ecuador.


Map of Culture & Outdoor Adventure in Ecuador - 8 Days
Map of Culture & Outdoor Adventure in Ecuador - 8 Days