- Go on city tours of Quito and Guayaquil
- Learn to prepare Ecuadorian dishes in a cooking class
- Ride horses with an expert guide in Cotopaxi National Park
- See spectacular lagoons and volcanoes like Quilotoa and Chimborazo
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Cooking Class Experience||Quito|
|Day 2||Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Go Horseback Riding in Cotopaxi National Park||Cotopaxi|
|Day 4||Transfer to Baños via Quilotoa Lagoon||Baños|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Pailón del Diablo Waterfall||Baños|
|Day 6||See Chimborazo Volcano & Travel to Guamote||Guamote|
|Day 7||Explore Dunes & Ruins on the Way to Cuenca||Cuenca|
|Day 8||See Cajas National Park & Transfer to Guayaquil||Guayaquil|
|Day 9||Tour Guayaquil, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Cooking Class Experience
Welcome to Quito! You'll arrive at the airport and meet your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in the city. After taking some time to get settled in, explore the historic center on a guided tour. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) and welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas between mountain peaks.
Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city. You'll visit Independence Square, where the Presidential Palace and El Sagrario Church are located. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco (circa 1535), the oldest church in Ecuador, then drive up to the city's highest viewpoint, El Panecillo, for a spectacular view of Quito. In the evening, you'll head to a cooking class inside a colonial house in the historic center. Learn to prepare various traditional Ecuadorian dishes, then enjoy the meal.
Day 2: Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel this morning and take you on a walking tour of the city. Stroll through its narrow streets and visit some of the city's most important churches, such as the Baroque La Compañía, with its incredible gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica.
In the afternoon, you'll visit the equatorial monument known as Mitad del Mundo ("Middle of the World"). It's located just 16 miles (26 km) north of the capital city in the spot where French scientists determined the position of the central line many years ago. You'll have the chance to stand on the line of the equator and strike a pose with one foot in each hemisphere! Visit the adjacent museum, featuring a planetarium, cocoa, and chocolate exhibits, and a small-scale model of Quito.
Day 3: Go Horseback Riding in Cotopaxi National Park
After an early breakfast, your guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you by car to Cotopaxi National Park. Stop at Limpiopungo Lagoon for a short hike and enjoy panoramic mountain views. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including birds and wild horses.
Arrive at a traditional hacienda where you'll spend the rest of the afternoon and night. You'll explore the national park on a three-hour horseback ride, taking in views of the Cotopaxi volcano and the surrounding glacier. Have dinner and relax back at the hacienda.
Day 4: Transfer to Baños via Quilotoa LagoonToday's drive takes you into the western Ecuadorian Andes, where you'll visit the picturesque Quilotoa Lagoon. This spectacular crater lake was formed centuries ago by a massive volcanic eruption. Walk along the crater's rim to enjoy splendid views, or hike down a path to the edge of the turquoise waters. If you're looking for a less adventurous trek, mules are available to rent for the return uphill hike. Afterward, get back on the road and continue to Baños, where you'll get settled into your accommodations for the night.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Day Trip to Pailón del Diablo Waterfall
Drive south from Baños along the Avenue of Waterfalls, following the Río Pastaza on a scenic valley route. You'll pass by several waterfalls and reach the small village of Río Verde, where you will stop to see the famous El Pailón del Diablo ("Devil's Cauldron") waterfall. In the afternoon, visit the relaxing thermal pools of Baños, or opt for a rafting or ziplining adventure.
Day 6: See Chimborazo Volcano & Travel to GuamoteToday you will leave Baños after breakfast and make your way to the impressive Chimborazo volcano. You will be able to spot the volcano several times during the journey. If the altitude does not affect you, take a short hike with your guide while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. Afterward, continue your journey toward Guamote, a small Andean town where you will spend the night.
Day 7: Explore Dunes & Ruins on the Way to Cuenca
This morning, continue the trip south to Cuenca, passing through the dunes of Palmira. You'll also stop at the Baños del Inca, which features pre-Columbian ruins and a fantastic hot spring. Follow your journey south to explore Gualaceo, nicknamed the "Garden of Ecuador" because of its beautiful orchids.
Arrive in Cuenca, where you will spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Make the most of your time in this Andean city by walking around Parque Calderón and visiting its blue-domed Catedral Nueva. Other noteworthy landmarks include the Catedral Vieja and the Río Tomebamba waterfront promenade, where you can buy various handicrafts.
Day 8: See Cajas National Park & Transfer to Guayaquil
Your first stop today is the beautiful Cajas National Park, featuring more than 200 interconnected high-altitude lagoons. The region is the source of many rivers and connects to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. You'll have some time to enjoy the view from the lookout or to take a short walk to one of the lagoons.
Afterward, continue your journey westward and stop at a hacienda, where you learn about chocolate making and enjoy a delicious lunch. In the afternoon, you will drive through lush vegetation until you reach Ecuador's biggest city, Guayaquil, where you will spend the night.
Day 9: Tour Guayaquil, Depart
Take time to explore Guayaquil today. At the Parque Histórico, discover native species, such as sloths, monkeys, and parrots, in a park recreating the natural mangrove habitat. The next stop could be the Cementerio General, an early 20th-century cemetery where artistic tombs are reminders of the prospering cocoa trade of that time. Finally, stroll along the historic cobblestone streets of Puerto Santa Ana and the busy boardwalk Malecón 2000 along the Río Guayas. When the time comes, a transfer will take you to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!