Trek in the Ecuadorian Andes and discover a magical world of stunning landscapes, hidden rural villages, and local communities on the famous Avenue of the Volcanoes. Follow narrow mountain trails deep into the heart of Andean culture as you explore the Quilotoa and Chimborazo volcanoes. Swim in the icy waters of the Quilotoa Crater Lake and relax in the spring waters of Baños.

Highlights

  • Explore the rich cultural history of Quito
  • Follow historical mountain paths between villages
  • See rare wildlife, such as vicuñas and Andean condor
  • Hike up Quilotoa and Chimborazo — active volcanoes 
  • Visit Ecuador's second tallest waterfall, Pailon del Diablo 

Brief Itinerary 

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Quito  Quito 
Day 2 Trekking in Cotopaxi National Park  Isinlivi
Day 3 Trekking through the Toachi Canyon to Chuglichán Chugchilán
Day 4 Chugchilán to Quilotoa  Quilotoa 
Day 5 Trekking to Quilotoa Crater Lake  Riobamba
Day 6 Chimborazo Volcano, Baños Hot Springs  Baños
Day 7 Hike to the Road of Waterfalls, return to Quito  Quito
Day 8 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival In Quito City

On a nice day, you can find people relaxing and socializing in most plazas in Quito
On a nice day, you can find people relaxing and socializing in most plazas in Quito

Welcome to Quito! Originally the second-most important city of the powerful Inca Empire, the city is now the biggest and best-preserved colonial city in South America. Take the day to wander the city as you acclimatize to the higher elevation. 

In the evening, meet your trip leaders at the hotel for an informational briefing and a chance to ask any questions you may have about the following week. 

Day 2: Trekking in Cotopaxi National Park 

Oxygen levels drop at such high altitudes, and it is harder to breathe. Take it easy today
Oxygen levels drop at such high altitudes, and it is harder to breathe. Take it easy today

You begin your day heading south from Quito to visit Cotopaxi National Park, with magnificent views of the Cotopaxi volcano. Here you will have your first two-hour acclimatization hike around Limpiopungo Lake, located at 13,000 feet above sea level. You'll get a chance to see herds of wild horses and a variety of other species.

In the evening, drive to Isinlivi, where you will spend the night. 

Day 3: Trekking through Toachi Canyon to Chugchilán

The Toachi River canyon winds through the stunning forest and steep mountain slopes
The Toachi River Canyon winds through the stunning forest and steep mountain slopes

Today's hike will take you along the Toachi River Canyon for an 8.4-mile round-trip loop. Hike downhill to the Toachi River and then back uphill up to the main road, with stops to enjoy the stunning views of small villages. From there, the main road takes you past agricultural fields and towards Chugchilán, a small town located in the middle of the Quiltoa trail loop. Check into your eco-house accommodations, and spend the afternoon exploring the village at your leisure. 

Day 4: Chuglichán to Quilotoa

Local kids stop for a photo in front of the piercing blue water of Quilotoa Lake
Local kids stop for a photo in front of the piercing blue water of Quilotoa Lake

Your trek today is 6.9 miles, so get an early morning start!  After breakfast, head out to the small trails that wind their way through the mountains. Created by generations of footsteps and still used by the locals as trading routes for products and goods, these paths reach across canyons to connect neighboring communities. 

Hike down into the steep canyons and climb back to the top of the crater rim for a spectacular view of Quilotoa Lake, where the incredibly blue water and a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains will take your breath away. Tonight, lodge in Quilotoa village and enjoy the local cuisine for dinner.

Day 5: Trekking to the Quilotoa Crater Lake

Related to the llama and the alpaca, the once-endangered vicuñas are making a comeback
Related to the llama and the alpaca, the once-endangered vicuñas are making a comeback

Your main hiking goal for today is the Quilotoa Crater Lake. After breakfast, hike downhill to the bottom of the crater along a path that provides a beautiful view of the lake, as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs of the piercing turquoise water. 

Once at the bottom of the lake, explore the crater basin of this mythical, active volcano. Here you will have the opportunity to go for a swim in the volcanic water, or go kayaking. If you're feeling adventurous, rent a mule to help you up the steep, challenging trail to the top of the crater. In the afternoon, transfer to Riobamba, centrally located in the Ecuadorian highlands.

Day 6: Chimborazo Volcano and Baños Hot Springs

On clear days, the impressive Chimborazo Volcano towers for miles around
On clear days, the impressive Chimborazo Volcano towers for miles around 

Get an early start this morning for the drive past farming communities and through rural valleys towards the Chimborazo volcano. With an elevation of 20,700 feet, this is the highest mountain in Ecuador. Despite its relatively low summit elevation, Chimborazo's summit is the world's farthest point from the center of the earth! On a clear day, the majestic peak of Chimborazo dominates the view for miles around.

Start with a short hike for just over half a mile to reach an elevation of 16,400 feet where the glacier ice begins. On the hike, you might see wildlife — unique birds like the caracara and the Andean condor, and the timid wild vicuña. Once extinct in Ecuador, later reintroduced, and now protected, this beautiful animal is related to alpacas and llamas.

Leave the rocky and rugged landscape of Chimborazo and continue to the tropical town of Baños. In the evening, soak in the relaxing hot springs of Baños and enjoy the town's nightlife.

Day 7: Hike to the Road of Waterfalls and Return to Quito 

The Pailon del Diablo is the second highest waterfall in Ecuador and a tourist destination for many families
The Pailon del Diablo is the second highest waterfall in Ecuador and a tourist destination for many families

Baños is one of the most beloved holiday spots in the country and you will see many local families vacationing here. The town, famous for its location in the foothills of the active Tungurahua volcano, is the perfect setting for outdoor activities, including canyoning, horseback riding, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and rafting.

Today, take a tour of the famous local waterfalls. Visit the magnificent Bride's Veil waterfall and take the tarabita (cable car) to cross the Pastaza River. From there, the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, the second highest in Ecuador, is just an hour's hike. After a day full of adventures in the cloud forest, relax and enjoy the scenic ride that will bring you back to Quito.

Day 8: Departure

The central plaza of Quito with the church of San Francisco in the background
The central plaza of Quito with the church of San Francisco in the background

Today is the last day of the trip! Transfer to the airport, or stay and extend your visit in Ecuador. Have a buen viaje!