This 12-day itinerary is a thrilling introduction to Ecuador's magnificent landscapes. Begin with sightseeing and a cooking class in Quito, then continue to the natural wonders of Baños and Cotopaxi National Park. Base yourself in Archidona, exploring waterfalls in the rainforest, before heading to the Pacific coast. Tour Guayaquil, learn to catch a wave in Ayampe, and visit a cocoa plantation to finish the adventure.


  • Get up close with one of the highest active volcanoes on earth
  • Explore the incredible landscapes around Baños
  • Learn to make Ecuadorian dishes during a cooking class
  • Enjoy quiet days and beautiful sunsets on the Pacific coast

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito & Cooking Class Quito
Day 2 Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo  Quito
Day 3 Explore Cotopaxi National Park Baños
Day 4 Discover Baños Baños
Day 5 Visit Pailón del Diablo Waterfall & Rainforest Hike Archidona
Day 6 See Ushpayacu Waterfalls, Chocolate Making Archidona
Day 7 Soak in the Papallacta Hot Springs Quito
Day 8 Take a City Tour of Guayaquil Ayampe
Day 9 Enjoy a Free Day in Ayampe Ayampe
Day 10 Learn to Surf in Ayampe Ayampe
Day 11 Visit Isla de los Pajaros & Cocoa Plantation Guayaquil
Day 12 Free Morning in Guayaquil & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Cooking Class

Basilica of the National Vow, Quito
Basilica of the National Vow, Quito

Welcome to Quito! You'll arrive at the airport and meet your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. 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. Finally, drive up to the city's highest viewpoint, El Panecillo hill, 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 

Stroll thorugh Quito's historic streets on a guided city tour
Stroll through Quito's historic streets on a guided city tour

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. 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: Explore Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi Volcano
Cotopaxi volcano
The adventure takes you into the Cotopaxi National Park today. Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes on earth, and the views of its perfectly shaped cone and the surrounding volcanoes are incredible. The park is also home to wild horses, which you can sometimes spot. You may even see an Andean condor.
While walking around Limpiopungo Lagoon, your guide will point out high-altitude flora and fauna. Afterward, trek to the José Rivas Refuge. Enjoy the spectacular views before continuing your journey to Baños, one of Ecuador's outdoor hotspots.

Day 4: Discover Baños

Ziplining in Baños
Today you'll explore Baños and its surroundings. Visit the famous Casa del Árbol and the "swing at the end of the world," where you'll enjoy swinging high above the clouds. It's also possible to try ziplining or canyoning. Alternatively, take a stroll through town, try some typical Ecuadorian food, or do some short hikes in the landscapes around Baños. 
Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Visit Pailón del Diablo Waterfall & Rainforest Hike

The Pailón del Diablo waterfall
This morning, leave Baños and head deeper into the Amazon basin to visit the famous Pailón del Diablo ("Devil's Cauldron") waterfall. This powerful cascade forms a small gorge; you can admire its majesty alongside and from above, thanks to an overhanging bridge. From the parking lot, it's a 15-minute walk downhill, but the return will be a bit longer.
Next, continue the journey to Archidona. Once you arrive at the rainforest lodge, enjoy a traditional lunch made with fresh local ingredients. Then explore the area with your guide, visiting Guitarracocha and Kuyana Island. Take a refreshing swim on the banks of the Hollín River, keeping your eyes open for colorful birds and insects.

Day 6: See Ushpayacu Waterfalls, Chocolate Making

Ushpayacu Waterfalls
The jungle waterfalls of Ushpayacu 
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the lodge before starting a guided walk to the waterfalls of Ushpayacu. After a hike and a dip in natural pools, you'll return to the lodge to relax. You'll learn to prepare local dishes like maito (fish wrapped and cooked in a leaf) in the evening. Finish the day preparing organic chocolate. Participate in the process, from roasting the cocoa beans to eating homemade chocolate with fresh fruits.

Day 7: Soak in the Papallacta Hot Springs

Plant a tree
Plant a tree by the Hollín River 
Learn about the Hollín River Reforestation Project today and lend a hand by planting a tree. After a walk through the lodge's beautiful gardens, your driver will pick you up and transfer you back into the highlands. On the way, you will stop at the hot springs of Papallacta, where you can enjoy a relaxing bath in the thermal waters. In the late afternoon, you will arrive back in Quito.

Day 8: Take a City Tour of Guayaquil

Colorful houses in Guayaquil

Take a domestic flight from Quito to Guayaquil today. Take time to explore Ecuador's largest city. At the Parque Histórico, discover some 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, you could walk the historic cobblestone streets of Puerto Santa Ana and the busy boardwalk Malecón 2000 along the Guayas River. Your driver will take you to Ayampe in the evening.

Day 9: Enjoy a Free Day in Ayampe

Beautiful sunsets in Ayampe
Beautiful sunsets in Ayampe
Enjoy the tranquility of the small coastal town of Ayampe, one of Ecuador's health and wellness hot spots. Take a nap in a hammock, enjoy food and drink in various small cafés and restaurants, take a yoga class, or just go for a walk on one of the area's beautiful beaches.

Day 10: Learn to Surf in Ayampe

On the beach in Ayampe

After a relaxing morning at your hotel, it's time for a surfing lesson. Regardless of your experience level, you'll have a great time learning to catch a wave with an expert instructor. After some free time in the afternoon, enjoy a seafood dinner at one of Ayampe's restaurants.

Day 11: Visit Isla de los Pajaros & Cocoa Plantation

A magnificent frigatebird
Visit Puerto el Morro, a fishing village outside the city. At this particular place, there is a confluence of salt water and fresh water, which allows the growth of mangroves and creates a perfect habitat for a great variety of marine species. Board a boat tour to La Isla de Los Pájaros, a little island home to magnificent frigate birds, Peruvian boobies, and many other mangrove birds. You can spot delta dolphins (bottlenose dolphins) following the boat during the trip.

After the boat tour, visit a cocoa plantation, El Castillo, to learn about the techniques and processes that have made Ecuadorian cocoa one of the highest quality cocoas in the world.

Day 12: Free Morning in Guayaquil & Depart

A pedestrian street in Guayaquil
The trip comes to an end today. Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and escort you to the airport. Safe travels!

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Map of Exploring Ecuador: Andes, Rainforest & Pacific Coast - 12 Days
Map of Exploring Ecuador: Andes, Rainforest & Pacific Coast - 12 Days