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 via Santa Rosa Tena
Day 5 Explore Yacuma & Indigenous Community Tena
Day 6 See the Landscapes Around Baños Baños
Day 7 Discover Cotopaxi National Park Quito
Day 8 Soak in the Hot Springs of Papallacta, Depart  

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, 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. 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
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 hill, for a stunning view of Quito. 

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! 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-knitted 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.

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

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Riverside Tena, Ecuador

After breakfast, travel to Santa Rosa and then to Yacuma Ecolodge in Tena. The trip involves 20-30 minutes of river navigation. Welcome to the Amazon Rainforest! Following a briefing and a welcome drink, you'll have the chance to visit Yacuma's exclusive Hidden Lagoon. Finish the day with dinner and a nighttime walk. 

Day 5: Explore Yacuma & Indigenous Community

Viewpoint at Yacuma
Relaxing at a viewpoint at Yacuma
Have breakfast before a two-hour jungle hike, during which you'll learn about medicinal plants. Enjoy lunch, then rest for 30 minutes. Visit the Indigenous Kichwa Community and hear about native crafts, including the tribe's history of ceramic manufacturing. Go for a dip in the Chontayacu River before dinner is served at the hotel.  

Day 6: See the Landscapes Around Baños

Rolling green hills near Baños

Visit Yacuma's lookout before transferring to the town of Puyo. This trip offers plenty of fantastic views of the rugged landscape of Pastaza Canyon. Take a short hike to the impressive Devil's Cauldron waterfall. Then continue to the city of Baños, located at the base of the impressive Tungurahua Volcano. You'll have dinner and overnight here.

Day 7: Discover Cotopaxi National Park

Limpiopungo Lagoon and Cotopaxi Volcano
Limpiopungo Lagoon and Cotopaxi Volcano
After breakfast, begin the trip to one of the most famous parks in Ecuador, Cotopaxi National Park. You can enjoy the views of the world's highest active volcano and an hour trek to José Rivas Refuge. Keep your eyes open for various birds and possibly even wild horses. Relax over a delicious lunch in a traditional hacienda, then transfer to Quito.

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

Papallacta Hot Springs
Papallacta Hot Springs
Enjoy a couple of hours in the thermal hot springs of Papallacta, an easy side trip from Quito. Relax in the pools, enjoy the beautiful Andean scenery of the surroundings, or treat yourself to a massage. After an al fresco lunch, you'll transfer back to Quito to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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