- Explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town and museums of Quito
- Soak in the volcanic hot springs of Papallacta
- Hike around an active volcano in the town of Baños
- Trek to waterfalls in the Amazon rainforest
- Go mountain biking through cloud forests
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Optional Activities||Quito|
|Day 2||Day Hike Around Cotopaxi Volcano||Baños|
|Day 3||Cycling Through Cloud Forests & Canyons||Baños|
|Day 4||Canyoning in the Amazon||The Amazon|
|Day 5||River Rafting & Hot Springs||Papallacta|
|Day 6||Cloud Forest Hike & Otavalo Market||Otavalo|
|Day 7||Trekking to Cuicocha Lagoon, Transfer to Quito||Quito|
|Day 8||Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Optional Activities
Welcome to Quito, the oldest and best-preserved colonial city in the Americas! Founded in 1534 over the ruins of a once mighty Inca city, this is the oldest capital in South America. Nestled high in the Andes at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level, Quito's historic center is so well-preserved that it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1978.
Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will transfer you to your hotel. Then you can spend the day exploring the charming historic center. Highlights include colonial churches like La Iglesia de la Compañía and the Convent of San Francisco. There are also pre-Columbian ruins on the outskirts of the city, such as Pucará de Rumicucho. Quito also boasts fine museums, including the National Museum of Ecuador, which houses a vast collection of ancient artifacts. To see both pre-Columbian and contemporary art, head to La Capilla del Hombre. In the evening, enjoy dinner in the center.
Day 2: Day Hike Around Cotopaxi Volcano
At 19,347 feet (5,897 m), Cotopaxi is one of the world's highest active volcanoes. It's also the setting for your first day of outdoor adventures in Ecuador! After breakfast, you'll take a ride south out of the city to Cotopaxi National Park. From here, strap on your hiking boots and fill your water bottle, and embark on a 4-mile (6 km) hike around Limpiopungo Lagoon, located in the foothills of the Rumiñahui volcano. From here you'll enjoy the best views of snow-capped Cotopaxi, so don't forget your camera. If weather permits, continue your trek to Cotopaxi basecamp at 16,000 feet (4,876 m).
In the afternoon, make your way back to the vehicle and continue on to Llanganates National Park—also known as the "Sacred Mountain"—stopping in the town of Baños. This is the gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon and is a great base for excursions. After checking into your hotel, enjoy dinner in town followed by drinks and dancing.
Day 3: Cycling Through Cloud Forests & Canyons
Wake up early for day three of your great adventure through Ecuador. Along with a guide, you'll hop on a mountain bike and head out on a 20-mile (32 km) ride through the famous cloud forest in Llanganates National Park down to the Río Pastaza canyon. As you go, you'll wind your way through Andean farms and a beautiful canyon full of waterfalls. There will be stops at viewpoints along the way to enjoy the wide vistas of Baños and the adjacent Tungurahua volcano. End your day with a stroll around town and a trip to the world-famous Swing of the End of the World.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Canyoning in the Amazon
Transfer to the Amazon rainforest this morning and embark on a canyoning adventure along 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 Pailón del Diablo. Plunging 265 feet (80 m), these falls are the second highest in the nation. From here, trek deeper into the jungle of Llanganates National Park, hiking along several more waterfalls as your local guide offers insights into the region's flora and fauna. End your day at a basic jungle lodge run by an Indigenous family deep in the rainforest.
Day 5: River Rafting & Hot Springs
There's more Amazon adventure in store today as you brave the rapids of the Río Jatunyacu. It begins with a transfer to the put-in, where you'll meet your group and receive your safety gear and instructions. Then head out on the water and paddle over Class III rapids. There will be tranquil sections along the route during which you paddle through secluded canyons and take a break to do some swimming.
At the end of the ride, you'll arrive at the banks where a delicious picnic lunch awaits. After eating, drive back up into the Andes and the village of Papallacta, stopping at the hummingbird-rich Guango Reserve along the way. End your day soaking in volcanic hot springs at a mountain resort before enjoying dinner.
Day 6: Cloud Forest Hike & Otavalo Market
Start your day with another trek, this time through the cloud forest at nearby Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. During a 3-mile (5 km) hike, you'll see unique flora like orchids and spot rainforest birds like tanagers and hummingbirds. Continue on to the equator, where you can stand in both hemispheres at the same time.
After enjoying lunch at a rustic local restaurant, you'll get back in the car and drive northwest to Otavalo, a town in the highlands north of Quito. It's most famous for its bustling Otavalo Indigenous Market, which is the largest municipal market in Ecuador. On a tour, you can browse the various vendor stalls and shop for artisanal items and textiles. The fabrics and clothing are most prized here, as locals have been making them since pre-Incan times. When the shopping has ended, you'll return to your hotel and will have the rest of the day free.
Day 7: Trekking to Cuicocha Lagoon, Transfer to Quito
Start your day with a hearty breakfast. Then, hop in the car for the drive northwest out of Otavalo to the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, where you'll find Cuicocha, a stunning crater lake. Today's adventure involves a 7.5-mile (12 km) hike around this still-active volcano on beautiful, flower-lined trails. At the end of the hike, you'll board a boat and travel to the center of the lake, where you'll witness bubbles rising to the surface of the water from the depths of the volcano's caldera. When you get back to shore, you'll return to Quito and enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 8: Depart Quito
Pack your bags, put away your hiking boots, and say farewell to the colonial cities and cloud forests of Ecuador. Today is the day you board your flight home. Buen viaje (have a good trip)!
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