- Explore the charming old town and many museums of high-altitude Quito
- Soak in the volcanic hot springs of Papallacta
- Trek to one of the highest active volcanos in the world
- Climb waterfalls in the Amazon
- Trek and mountain bike through cloud forests
|Day 2||Trekking to one of the highest active volcanoes in the world||Baños|
|Day 3||Biking through a cloud forest||Baños|
|Day 4||Canyoning in the Amazon||The Amazon|
|Day 5||River rafting & volcanic hot springs||Papallacta|
|Day 6||Hiking the cloud forest & visiting the Otavalo Indigenous Market||Otavalo|
|Day 7||Trekking to Cuicocha Crater Lake||Quito|
Day 1: Welcome to Quito!
Welcome to Quito — the largest, best-preserved colonial city in the Americas! Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the city was the second most important of the ancient Inca Empire and is the modern-day cultural capital of South America. Arrive early and spend your day exploring the charming old town and the city's many churches, museums, and parks. End your leisurely day of exploration with a welcome briefing at your hotel and a traditional dinner.
Day 2: Trekking One of the World's Highest Active Volcanoes
Snow-capped and imposing against a deep blue sky, Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the world's highest active volcanos. It's also the backdrop for your first day of adventuring in Ecuador! After breakfast, make your way south along the beautiful Avenue of Volcanos to Cotopaxi National Park. From here, strap on your hiking boots and make sure your water bottles are full before heading out on a hike around Limpiopungo Lagoon in the foothills around the Rumiñahui volcano. The best views of striking Cotopaxi are here, so don't forget your camera. If weather permits, continue your trek to Cotopaxi basecamp at 16,000 feet.
In the afternoon, make your way back to the vehicle and drive toward Llanganates National Park — also known as the sacred mountain — stopping in the town of Baños. This is the gateway to the Amazon and an excellent spot for cocktails and salsa dancing.
Walking distance: 4 miles
Day 3: Biking Through a Cloud Forest
On your second full day of adventuring, mount your mountain bike and make your way through the famous cloud forest from Llanganates National Park down to the Pastaza River Canyon. Wind your way through Andean farms and a beautiful canyon full of waterfalls and don't forget to stop for photos of the breathtaking views of Baños and the Tungurahua volcano. End your day with a stroll around town and a trip to the world-famous Swing of the End of the World, where the winner of the National Geographic 2014 photo contest took his famous shot.
Biking Distance: 20 miles
Day 4: Canyoning in the Amazon
Start your fourth day in Ecuador with a canyoning adventure along a route known appropriately as the "road of the waterfalls." Your first stop is Bride's Veil Waterfall, where you'll board a cable car across the river and hike down to the Pailong del Diablo Waterfall — the second highest in the nation. From here, trek deeper into the jungle of Llanganates National Park, climbing along several more waterfalls as your native guide offers insights into the local rainforest flora and fauna. End your day at a basic jungle lodge run by an indigenous family deep in the rainforest.
Day 5: River Rafting & Volcanic Hot Springs
Get your gear ready and board a raft to ride the wild waves of the Jatunyacu River. In between paddling through rapids, stop to explore hidden canyons and play river games. Then paddle on to the adventure's end and a hearty picnic. After lunch, drive back up into the Andes, pausing to take in the hummingbird-rich Guango Reserve along the way. End your day at a volcanic hot springs resort where a comfortable bed and a delicious dinner await.
Day 6: Hiking Through a Cloud Forest & Visiting the Otavalo Indigenous Market
Start your day with another trek — this time through the cloud forest at nearby Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. Here you'll find a rich landscape of orchids and rainforest birds. Continue on to the Equator line where you can stand in both hemispheres at the same time. Then grab a local lunch and head to the bustling Otavalo Indigenous Market to shop and experience the ancient culture that still lives on here today. And if starting the day with another trek sounds too taxing? Book a morning at the spa before joining your group for the rest of the day.
Walking distance: 3 miles
Day 7: Trekking to Cuicocha Crater Lake
Enjoy a hearty, healthy breakfast and start your day with a drive to Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, where you'll find the stunning Cuicocha Crater Lake. Today's adventure will take you around this still-active volcano on beautiful, flower-lined trails. Once you've circled the lake, board a boat and ride to its center, where bubbles rise from the active volcano's caldera. Then make your way back to Quito for a farewell dinner.
Walking distance: 7.5 miles
Day 8: Departure
Pack your bags, put away your hiking boots, and wave farewell to the colonial cities and lush cloud forests of Ecuador. Today is the day you board your flight home. We wish you a buen viaje (good trip)!