- See Cotopaxi volcano as you hike and horseback ride at Cotopaxi National Park
- Jump from waterfalls and swim in natural lagoons as you go canyoning in Baños
- Climb Fuya Fuya volcano for stunning views and hike around Cuicocha Lake
- Reward yourself by soothing tired muscles at Papallacta hot springs
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito||Quito|
|Day 2||Colonial Quito City Tour & Visit the Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Transfer to Cotopaxi, Hike in Cotopaxi National Park||Cotopaxi|
|Day 4||Horseback Ride in Cotopaxi National Park||Cotopaxi|
|Day 5||Transfer to Baños via Quilotoa Lagoon||Baños|
|Day 6||Canyoning near Baños||Baños|
|Day 7||Explore Baños & El Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Quito||Quito|
|Day 8||Climb Fuya Fuya Volcano, Transfer to Otavalo||Otavalo|
|Day 9||Transfer to Quito via Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Lake||Quito|
|Day 10||Transfer to Papallacta, Hot Springs & Spa||Papallacta|
|Day 11||Transfer to Quito & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador! Your flight will touch down in Quito, Ecuador's capital city, where a private driver will pick you up and take you to your accommodation. During the 45-minute trip, enjoy an introduction to the city and a rundown of the itinerary for the next day from your driver. After settling into your hotel, you'll have the rest of today to explore the city. Sitting in the valley of the Cotopaxi volcano, Quito has an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level, making it the second-highest capital in the world.
You're in for a fantastic adventure in the city, from the incredibly well-preserved colonial center to the lively bars and nightclubs around Plaza Foch. Take a walk through Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua, the largest urban park on the continent, or ride the TelefériQo to the top of Cruz Loma for dramatic views of the city's skyline.
Day 2: Colonial Quito City Tour & Visit the Mitad del Mundo
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel this morning and take you on a city walking tour. Quito's colonial center is home to many historic squares and buildings, and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Plaza Grande and its beautiful churches of La Compañía de Jesus, known for its intricate carvings and ornate gold interior, and La Basílica del Voto, the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. End with a stroll down La Ronda, the oldest street in Quito and one of the most romantic, where local vendors and artisans ply their wares along the narrow cobblestones.
Later, see the monument that marks the equator, the Mitad del Mundo ("Middle of the World"). Located just 16 miles (26 km) north of Quito, this is where French scientists determined the position of the central line many years ago. While here, be sure to take a selfie as you stand on top of the equator posing with one foot in each hemisphere. Once you've had a look, visit some of the nearby attractions. You'll find a miniature "city" home to art exhibits, a planetarium, a small-scale model of Quito, an ethnographic museum, an old train station, a beer museum, a small chapel, and exhibits on cocoa and chocolate.
Day 3: Transfer to Cotopaxi, Hike in Cotopaxi National Park
Enjoy a change of scenery for the day as you head south for the Cotopaxi National Park, which is about 43.5 miles (70 m) from the center of Quito. As soon as you arrive, you will see the towering 19,347-foot (5,897 m) volcano, whose peak boasts a perfectly symmetrical snowcapped cone surrounded by picturesque parkland. Volcán Cotopaxi is not only the second-highest summit in Ecuador, but it's also one of the world's most active volcanoes.
Upon arrival, start at Lake Limpiopungo, where you'll find various birds and see herds of wild horses. A short walk around the lake will allow you to admire the Andean flora and fauna. Explore the rugged surroundings and stunning scenery of the páramo (high Andean grassland) landscapes as you enjoy heading ever-higher into this sky-high region, stopping at the 15,800-foot (4,830 m) Padre Rivas Refuge, where you will have a spectacular view of Cotopaxi's gigantic cone. In the afternoon, you'll settle into a local hacienda for the evening.
Day 4: Horseback Ride in Cotopaxi National Park
Early this morning, remain in Cotopaxi National Park for another outdoor adventure. You'll get saddled up at your hacienda and explore the Andean landscape on horseback, cantering along under the shadow of the looming Cotopaxi volcano. As your horse picks up the pace through terrain formed by ancient eruptions and high-altitude forests, keep an eye out for hawks, condors, weasels, and other wild animals. After a day of discovery in one of Ecuador's most iconic natural areas, relax and unwind back at the hacienda.
Day 5: Transfer to Baños via Quilotoa Lagoon
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Canyoning near BañosYou're in for an adventurous day today, as you embark on a canyoning excursion to Casahurco outside Baños. This area offers thrilling whitewater surrounded by massive canyons. Located within Llanganates National Park and just 45 minutes from Baños, your professional guide will show you the ropes of this multi-faceted activity as soon as you arrive. After the briefing, you'll get to jump from waterfalls, rappel down the sides of the canyon, slide down natural chutes, and swim in freshwater pools. After a two-hour experience, enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant where you can relive your outing with your group.
Day 7: Explore Baños & El Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Quito
This morning your guide will take you south from Baños along the Avenue of Waterfalls, following the Río Pastaza along a scenic route through a valley. Passing many waterfalls, you'll reach the small village of Río Verde, where you will stop to see the famous El Pailón del Diablo ("The Devil's Cauldron") waterfall. If you'd prefer a more challenging excursion, you can choose to rent a bike and cycle to the falls. In the afternoon, you'll have some more free time to visit the thermal pools of Baños and relax.
Or you could head to the famous treehouse, Casa del Arbol, and swing at El Fin del Mundo ("The End of the World"), balancing on the edge of a steep valley. From the swing, at 8,530 feet (2,600 m), you'll experience the exhilarating sensation of soaring over the cliffside with the Baños and Tungurahua volcanoes in full view. If you are looking for some more adrenaline, opt for rafting or ziplining instead. When you've had your fill of adventure, your driver will take you back to Quito for the evening.
Day 8: Climb Fuya Fuya Volcano, Transfer to Otavalo
Today's hike will be a little more challenging than the others you've done on the trip, but it's the perfect end to your grand Ecuadorian adventure. A transfer takes you north from Quito to find Fuya Fuya, a collapsed volcano whose two distinctive summits are connected by a narrow ridge.
Start at beautiful Laguna Grande de Mojanda, an alpine lake among rocky peaks. Surrounded by vegetation like achupallas (Andean tall pineapples), the trail to Fuya Fuya's summit requires an effort, with a few relatively exposed rock scrambles to reach both of its two peaks, but the views and the feeling of accomplishment you'll experience will be worth it! After hiking, continue to Otavalo, where you'll settle in for the night and relax.
Day 9: Transfer to Quito via Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Lake
This morning you'll visit the local market in Otavalo, famous for products ranging from musical instruments, jewelry, and embroidery to vegetables, traditional sweets, terracotta objects, alpaca-wool ponchos, and more. Don't forget to bargain a little, as that is included in the price vendors first quote you. Next, it's off to the nearby volcanic crater lake of Cuicocha. The volcano's collapsed caldera filled with water after an eruption, with two islands that emerged due to later eruptions. Stroll along the shore to admire its midnight blue water and beautiful flowers as you listen to to the hum of hummingbirds.
Take a boat tour of the lake or have lunch at the nearby restaurant and enjoy its panoramic views. Then, it's on to the charming town of Cotacachi to visit its leather artisans. At the town's central plaza, you will see the lovely church with palm trees standing at attention in front of it. The main street, 10 de Agosto, is known as "Leather Row," though there are leather shops and workshops all around the central plaza and throughout the side streets. After a fascinating day, your driver will take you back to Quito for the evening.
Day 10: Transfer to Papallacta, Hot Springs & SpaThis morning, you'll have an opportunity to ride a cable car up to the Pichincha volcano on the eastern side of Quito. Once you've reached the slopes, take some time shooting photos of the city and Pichincha's highest peaks, Wawa Pichincha and Ruku Pichincha. You can also go for a walk through the páramo high-altitude ecosystem. Simply follow a path that leads to the Ruku Pichincha summit as far as you'd like, and then return to the cable car station for a ride back down to Quito.
Day 11: Transfer to Quito & Depart
Have a leisurely morning at the spa, enjoying breakfast and packing your luggage. When the time comes, your driver will take you to Quito Airport for your international flight. Safe travels!