This exciting 13-day adventure covers an impressive range of cultural and natural highlights in Ecuador. Starting in Quito, the UNESCO-listed capital, you'll visit Indigenous markets and volcanoes before paddling into the Amazon to stay two nights at an ecolodge. The trip finishes with several days of island-hopping in the Galápagos to observe its unique inhabitants—like giant tortoises and white-tipped sharks—sprinkled with some quality beach time.


  • Shop for colorful textiles at one of the largest Indigenous markets in South America
  • Relax at a resort known for its thermal hot springs before entering the Amazon
  • Hike to the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano, the largest caldera in the Galápagos
  • Bike to a breeding center with giant tortoises, followed by a swim at the beach

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, City Line Tour Quito
Day 2 Day Trip to Otavalo & Cotacachi Quito
Day 3 Transfer to Papallacta, Bird-Watching & Hot Springs Papallacta
Day 4 Transfer to the Amazon Jungle, Stay in an EcoLodge Tena
Day 5 Full Day in the Amazon Jungle Tena
Day 6 Transfer to Baños, Visit the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall & Cable Car Baños
Day 7 Free Day in Baños Baños
Day 8 Transfer to Quito, Fly to the Galápagos Islands, Visit a Tortoise Farm Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Explore Tortuga Bay, Visit an Interpretation Center Isla Santa Cruz
Day 10 Day Trip to Isla Seymour Norte Isla Santa Cruz
Day 11 Transfer to Isla Isabela, Tintoreras Tour Isla Isabela
Day 12 Explore the Sierra Negra Volcano, Visit a Wetlands & Breeding Center Isla Isabela
Day 13 Transfer to Isla Baltra, Fly to Quito & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, City Line Tour 

Plaza Grande in Old Town Quito
Walk through Quito's UNESCO-listed Old Town with sites like the Plaza Grande

Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador! Upon arrival, your tour guide will greet you at the airport and organize a transfer to your hotel in the city center. Enjoy a hot beverage in the lobby while you listen to a short briefing about the next day's activities. Then, get some rest after a day of travel.

You can also take a guided tour starting at Independence Square, where the Presidential Palace and El Sagrario Church are located. Next, visit the Church of La Compañía, with its impressive gilt altars, considered one of the finest examples of Baroque art in the Americas, as well as the 16th-century church and monastery of San Francisco. Finally, drive up to the city's highest viewpoint, El Panecillo, where you will have a spectacular view of Quito.

Day 2: Day Trip to Otavalo & Cotacachi

Otavalo's colorful market offers authentic souvenirs to take home

After an early breakfast, you'll set off on a full-day tour north of Quito. The drive takes you through the Imbabura Province, also called "Lagoons Province," due to the many beautiful lakes in the low valleys of the northern Ecuadorian Andes. Along the way, your driver will make a stop in Cayambe to try delicious local bizcochos (buttery biscuits). When you get to Otavalo, your guide will walk you through one of the biggest Indigenous markets in South America, offering textiles, wooden handicrafts, and ponchos.

Next, drive north for about 20-30 minutes to the charming Andean town of Cotacachi, known for its quality leather goods. Have lunch on your own at a local restaurant, then walk up to a lake inside a volcanic crater at the foot of the Cotacachi volcano. You can take a short hike to enjoy the beautiful views of the lake and surrounding area while observing beautiful Andean flora.

Day 3: Transfer to Papallacta, Bird-Watching & Hot Springs

Papallacta Hot Springs
Spend an afternoon relaxing at Papallacta's hot springs
This morning, you'll take a private transfer from Quito to the small village of Papallacta. Upon arrival, you'll pay a visit to a hummingbird feeder, where you'll watch the spectacle of these colorful birds as they have a meal. This is a great place to spot a diverse range of endemic bird species, like the Andean guan, gray-breasted mountain toucan, turquoise jay, and several types of mountain tanagers. After the tour, you'll have the rest of the day to enjoy the thermal hot springs and pools at a spa and resort in Papallacta. Massage appointments are available if you so choose. 

Day 4: Transfer to the Amazon Jungle, Stay in an EcoLodge

Yacuma First Day
Paddle into the Amazon for two unforgettable days in the jungle

This morning you'll transfer to the Yacuma EcoLodge in the small town of Tena, where you'll stay two nights in the Amazon rainforest. To get there, you must board a dug-out canoe and navigate the Río Napo, and then head deep into the Yacuma Natural Reserve. Depending on the time of the year and the amount of water running through the rivers, the 30-minute boat ride can turn into a fun activity, as collectively, the group has to push the canoe through sand banks and upriver to get to the lodge.

The staff at the lodge will welcome you with a traditional beverage called guayusa (a caffeinated herbal beverage). After a short welcome talk, you will be taken into your comfortable traditional-style bungalows. Solar panels provide hot water and ambient lighting.

After some time to rest, you'll start a silent bird-watching tour while you look for species like the kingfisher, great egret, great blue heron, and perhaps one of the most strange and fascinating birds of the Amazon: the hoatzin with a blue face and punk hairdo. You can also try fishing for the legendary piranha, which you can have for dinner at the lodge if you catch one! Guided night walks after dinner can also be arranged. 

Day 5: Full Day in the Amazon

Look for squirrel monkeys in Ecuador's Amazon region

After a hearty breakfast, you'll hike deep into the primary jungle with a local guide who will show you various species of birds and, if you're lucky, monkeys and capybaras. You will also see many species of plants used for medicinal purposes, particularly for shamanic healing rituals, as well as food and shelter. Exploring the primary rainforest is a very gratifying and fulfilling experience for all travelers.

You will return to the lodge for a delicious, locally-produced lunch. After resting for a short period, you will visit the home of one of the members of an Indigenous community, where you can appreciate their simple and calm lifestyle. During the walk, travelers can learn to interact with and observe the various crops that grow coffee, bananas, cacao, cassava, papaya, pineapple, and oranges. These are some of the agricultural products that provide sustenance for the inhabitants of the jungle.

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Visitors can also observe and buy locally produced handicrafts such as small pots, necklaces, bracelets, and many more beautiful crafts. The traditional drink called chicha (corn-based beer) will also be explained and passed around for everyone to try. Water-based activities such as gold panning or fishing for piranhas are also available if time permits. Return to camp for dinner and then enjoy a bonfire with live music.

Day 6: Transfer to Baños, Visit the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall & Cable Car

Enjoy the amazing sight of the waterfall
Hike up to views of this spectacular waterfall near Baños

It's time to say goodbye to the Amazon! Today, you'll transfer to the city of Baños, located at 5,906 feet (1,800 m) at the base of the impressive Tungurahua volcano.

Along the route, your driver will stop in the town of Puyo, where you can browse the balsa wood handicraft shops. Later on, you'll pass the small towns of Río Verde and Río Negro, and then begin a 45-minute hike to see the beautiful Pailón del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron) waterfall with impressive views. You'll also have the chance to take a cable car ride and visit the nearby Casa del Árbol for a magnificent panorama of the town.

Day 7: Free Day in Baños

Visit the Swing at the End of the World & Free Day in Baños
Don't miss a ride on the Swing at the End of the World

Today after breakfast, you'll have a free day to explore Baños and its surroundings at your own pace. A good idea is to start with the Swing at the End of the World. At this beautiful viewpoint, you can take photos over the cliffside while riding on a tree swing in one of the most enchanting places in Ecuador. There are plenty more outdoor activities available in the area, from horseback riding, river rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, paragliding, and ziplining. If you'd like to try any of these, ask your guide for recommendations. 

Day 8: Transfer to Quito, Fly to the Galápagos Islands, Visit a Tortoise Farm

Get close to the archipelago's famous giant tortoises

It's time to travel to the Galápagos Islands! First, transfer to Quito and board a three-hour flight to Isla Baltra. Upon arrival, a trained guide from Galápagos National Park will welcome you and guide you to the ferry toward Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz. This is the biggest city on the archipelago and your base for the next few nights.

Once you've arrived on the other side of the Itabaca Canal, private transportation will take you to the highlands, where you'll visit a remote farm and take a hike. This is where you can observe the archipelago's giant tortoises in their natural state, as well as unique bird species, including the tiny Galápagos rail and the vegetarian finch. Following the adventure, transfer to your hotel in Puerto Ayora and enjoy some free time.

Day 9: Explore Tortuga Bay, Visit an Interpretation Center

Snap some excellent photos today as you explore Tortuga Bay Beach

Today kicks off with a morning hike to Tortuga Bay Beach, one of the most beautiful soft coral beaches on the Galápagos Islands. The first part of the beach has strong waves and therefore is not recommended for swimming, but an additional 10 minutes to the west will take you to a bay of calm water where you can observe marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and marine birds, as well as mangroves, cacti forest, and interesting flora off the coast. Enjoy the beach before returning to town using a local boat. Take some free time to have lunch (on your own) and rest.

In the afternoon, you'll walk to Fausto Llerena Interpretation Center to observe wildlife and learn about Galápagos National Park's conservation efforts. At the center, you'll even have the chance to enter a special air-conditioned chamber where you can see the embalmed body of the world-famous tortoise, Lonesome George, now on exhibition. 

Day 10: Day Trip to Isla Seymour Norte

Look for male frigates who swell their red throats in order to lure females

This morning, you'll take a day trip to Isla Seymour Norte. This is one the most interesting wildlife areas in the Galápagos, where the main vegetation, bushy and low, hosts the largest nesting colony of great frigatebirds. You'll head to the Palo Santo Forest on the south shore, where birds nest on the island, including frigates and blue-footed boobies.

In the afternoon, you'll head for Bachas Beach, where the sand is made of decomposed coral, making it very white and soft, and a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. To the side of one of the beaches is a small lagoon where occasional flamingoes can be observed, as well as many other animal species, such as the black-necked stilts and whimbrels. Here you will also encounter sea lions as well as marine iguanas, and several marine birds. You will have some time to enjoy the calmness of the beach with the option to swim and snorkel. 

Day 11: Transfer to Isla Isabela, Tintoreras Tour

Marine iguanas on Isla Isabela

After an early breakfast, it's time to pack up and head to the pier, where you'll sail toward Puerto Villamil, the largest town on Isla Isabela. During this 2.5-hour journey, there are great chances to observe marine turtles, manta rays, marine birds, dolphins, and perhaps whales (from June to September). Upon arrival at the bay of Puerto Villamil, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel. 

Once settled, you'll take a guided tour of the scenic area known as Las Tintoreras, with colonies of marine iguanas and sea lions. You can also observe tintoreras (white-tipped sharks) that rest in the channels formed by lava flows. The area is also well known for snorkeling, perhaps in the company of sea lions, penguins, and marine turtles. At the end of the tour, you'll be transferred to your hotel, where you can enjoy some free time. 

Day 12: Explore the Sierra Negra Volcano, Visit a Tortoise Breeding Center

The volcanic slopes of Sierra Negra 

Drive up to the highlands of Isla Isabela until you reach the visitors' control area of the national park. From here, start an easy 1.5-hour walk to reach the rim of the impressive crater of the Sierra Negra volcano, which has the largest caldera of all the Galápagos volcanoes. From here, you'll get one of the most spectacular views in the Galápagos, showing how powerful nature is. Return to the hotel for lunch (on your own).

In the afternoon, take a bike ride to a Tortoise Breeding Center to observe giant tortoises of different species and sizes. Then continue biking along a well-maintained trail that leads to the humedales (wetlands), where you'll be surrounded by lagoons and four species of exuberant mangroves. Observe flamingoes and migratory birds in the lagoons. The biking tour will end at the main road, close to a beach, where you will have free time to relax on the sand before returning to the hotel.

Day 13: Transfer to Isla Baltra, Fly to Quito & Depart

Until next time, Ecuador!
The day has come to say goodbye to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands! At the appointed time, you'll transfer to Baltra Island to catch your departure flight back to Quito. This is where you'll connect to your international departure. Safe travels!

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