If you want to experience the best that Ecuador has to offer but don't have time to wander far, this 5-day trip is full of adventures. Explore Quito—the site of the equatorial line, historic downtown, and ethnographic museums—then head out of the city to stretch your legs on the hiking trails. You'll hike on two nearby volcanoes, look for rare wildlife, and breathe in the fresh Andes mountain air. 

Highlights

  • Take a tour of the historic colonial city center
  • Hike on the Rucu Pichincha volcano
  • Spot the famed Andean condor
  • Visit the Equator Monument

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito Quito
Day 2 Quito Historic Center, Panecillo Hill, & Middle of the World Tour Quito
Day 3 Hiking on Ruco Pichincha Volcano Quito
Day 4 Pasochoa Volcano Trek from Quito Quito
Day 5 Depart from Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Quito

View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano
View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano

Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador! Arrive at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), where your driver will meet you to transfer to your accommodation in the city center, a one-hour trip. Along the way, you'll get a short introduction into Quito´s history and a quick briefing on the next day's activities.

The entire city of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, standing at an altitude of 9,350ft (2,850m). It welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas situated between mountain peaks. The city has an abundance of market stands, shamanistic healers, and fourth-generation hat makers, as well as a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene.

Day 2: Quito Historic Center, Panecillo Hill, & Middle of the World Tour

Quito: Governmental Palace
Quito: Governmental Palace

The human occupation of Quito dates back thousands of years. Prior to the arrival of Spanish conquistadores, the main cultures in the area were the Quitus, as well as the Inca, whose empire spread across vast stretches of South America. The city was colonized by the Spanish and recognized as a city in the mid-16th century. In 1978, together with Kraków in Poland, the entire city became the first UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the old town and meander down romantic narrow streets to see the colonial  Churches of San Fransisco, La Compañia, and other historical landmarks. 

This visit is followed by a short stop at the top of El Panecillo Hill where the impressive statue of the Virgin Mary is located. It's a great place for photos of panoramic city views. 

In the afternoon, visit the Equator Monument, which highlights the exact location of the equatorial line according to the Franco-Spanish mission that determined its approximate location. It's also the location of the Ethnographical Museum that showcases the indigenous culture and ethnography of Ecuador.

After a full day, return to your hotel.

Day 3: Hiking on Ruco Pichincha Volcano

On the trail
On the trail

In the morning, take the teleferico (cable car) to start your hike on Ruco Pichincha Volcano. The hike can take up to five hours, depending on the weather and your fitness levels. You'll be accompanied by your guide, who knows the area well and can point out different geological features and spot wildlife. 

Around lunchtime, pause to eat a boxed lunch while enjoying the views. After completing the hike and returning to the base, spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Day 4: Pasochoa Volcano Trek from Quito

Trekking on Pasochoa
Trekking on Pasochoa

Spend the day hiking on a volcano near Quito. The Pasochoa Volcano is a beautiful 13,770 ft (4,199 m) high volcano, surrounded by a humid cloud forest. The highlight of the trek is the forest, which is home to over one hundred species of birds and fifty species of endemic plants. 

This hike is also one of the best places to see the famous Andean Condor, and the climb up to the top offers wonderful views of the mighty Cotopaxi and the other surrounding volcanoes.

The hike to the top takes approximately 3-5 hours. After returning to the bottom, return to Quito and spend the evening relaxing.

Day 5: Depart from Quito

Cathedral La Basílica
Cathedral La Basílica

Today you are free to explore Quito on your own and shop for souvenirs before your flight home. At the designated time, meet your driver at the hotel for the transfer to the airport.

Map

Map of Explore Quito: History, Culture, & Volcanoes - 5 Days
Map of Explore Quito: History, Culture, & Volcanoes - 5 Days