- Bike down Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes
- Relax in hot springs at Papallacta, a resort in the Andean highlands
- Go biking, rafting, horse riding or canyoning in the adventure town of Baños
- Climb up a waterfall, an exhilarating activity known as reverse canyoning
- Spot llamas and alpacas as you hike in the Santa Lucia Highlands Plateau
- Visit an indigenous community and learn how they maintain their traditions
Ecuador has magnificent scenery and incredibly varied terrain. During this tour, you'll hike in cloud forests and highlands and bike through lush river valleys and down an active volcano. You'll also spend time at some beautiful lodges, where relaxing in hammocks or going on nature walks is a great way to unwind. If you'd rather stay active, then jungle canyon traverses, and ‘reverse canyoning’ up tropical waterfalls may be more appealing!
With free time in Baños – a beautiful little town at the foot of the immense Tungurahua Volcano - you can add some adrenaline-pumping activities to try or enjoy some of the local cuisine and scenery. You can expect everything from humid, lush tropics to snow-capped mountains on this short adventure. Since this tour starts and ends in Quito, be sure to add a couple of extra days for exploring nearby attractions and to help you acclimatize at the start.
|Day 1||Arrive Quito, explore an Ecuadorian ranch||Quito|
|Day 2||Baños, Cycle Cotopaxi Volcano||Baños|
|Day 3||Free time in Baños||Baños|
|Day 4||Amazon Jungle, hike to a local community||Local Lodge|
|Day 5||Jungle Hike and reverse canyoning, soak in hot springs||Papallacta|
|Day 6||Hike Santa Lucia Highlands, short drive back to Quito||Quito|
|Day 7||Quito, depart for home|
Day 1: Arrive Quito, explore an Ecuadorian ranch near Cotopaxi
Your trip begins in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Your trip leader will meet you at the airport or your accommodation in the morning. This afternoon you’ll head to Cotopaxi, one of Ecuador’s most spectacular mountains in the heart of the Valley of the Volcanoes. Here you’ll make yourself at home at Hacienda La Alegria, a typical, family-run Ecuadorian ranch, and meet our hosts, locals Gabriel and Patty. Try your hand at milking the cows, wander around and check out the amazing scenery, or just relax inside this beautiful home and enjoy Patty’s incredible cooking!
Day 2: Visit Baños, cycle Cotopaxi Volcano
Today is definitely a highlight of your Ecuador adventure as we head into Cotopaxi National Park. The centerpiece of the park is the perfect cone-like, snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi (elevation: 19,347 feet). Here we begin our cycling adventure down one of the world’s highest active volcanoes!
Ride downhill at your own pace through the lunar landscape and beautiful lakes that encircle Cotopaxi, ending your ride at 10,000 feet. The scenery is magical. If you’re game, we’ll hike up to the snowline of this majestic volcano for some of the best views in Ecuador. Later, we’ll drive through the “Valley of the Volcanoes” to Baños – a beautiful mountain village in the Rio Pastaza Valley.
Day 3: Free time in Baños
Baños, nestled between the Rio Pastaza canyon and Tungurahua volcano, is a playground for adventure activities. There are lots of optional activities here, including canyoning, biking, rafting, horse riding and even salsa dancing lessons!
The magnificent, subtropical cloud forest environment of Baños offers incredible hikes too, and the town itself is charming. There are hot springs, great cafés, a beautiful town square and rows of little stores along the sidewalk where the locals weave melocha (toffee).
Day 4: Amazon Jungle, hike to a local community
Today we’ll head east out of Baños, down the Rio Pastaza Valley. The high cloud forest gives way to lush rainforest, sweeping all the way down the canyon walls into the river below as we descend into Ecuador’s Amazon jungle lowlands. We’ll get straight into the action when we arrive at our rainforest lodge, with a hike to a community of indigenous people living in the rainforest.
We’ll take a dugout canoe across the Napo River, then hike two hours into the jungle to the village. This is a real highlight of the trip – you’ll learn how these small indigenous communities maintain their traditional ways of life and get some sense of the important role the rainforest plays in their lives.
This afternoon we’re back into the action with a hike into the pristine virgin jungle and we’ll venture deep into an elaborate canyon system. These canyons become a series of caves and limestone cliffs. With bats as spectators, we’ll hike through the canyons back to our Lodge.
Day 5: Jungle Hike and reverse canyoning, soak in hot springs
Using 4x4 trucks, we’ll travel deeper into the rainforest where we’ll take a short hike along a jungle trail to our first waterfall climb. The climb up these waterfalls is a lot of fun, even for absolute beginners at the art of reverse canyoning – which is typically everyone! Once we climb above the waterfalls, we traverse a rainforest ridge to a rustic Lodge, where we’ll have lunch.
If there’s time later, we’ll hike to a beautiful lagoon for a swim before we head back to the highlands to Papallacta. Here we’ll soak in glorious hot springs that sit right outside our rooms, and take in the cloud forest and mountain views before dinner.
Day 6: Hike Santa Lucia Highlands, short drive back to Quito
This morning we’ll hike up into the Santa Lucia Highlands Plateau, on the northwestern side of Antisana volcano (elevation: 13,800 ft). It’s a heart-pumping hike to reach the plateau, passing llamas and alpacas on the trail, but the views of the Antisana, several other snow-capped peaks and the surrounding rugged Paramo area are magnificent.
We’ll also get amazing views of the massive Antisana Glacier that drops down the side of the volcano. Keep an eye out for condors too, as they’re often seen in the area. Later we’ll take a short drive back to Quito where we’ll have the afternoon free to explore the city. We’ll meet again this evening for our final dinner in Ecuador.
Day 7: Quito, depart for home
Today is the last day of your 7-day Ecuador adventure. If you have time to spare, we’re happy to help with some ideas for what you can do for the rest of your time here. You’ll return home relaxed and refreshed from all the great activities, fine food and friendly people you’ve met while traveling with us in Ecuador!