- Whip up a family feast during a cooking class in Quito
- Drive along the Avenue of Waterfalls and hike down to the Devil's Cauldron
- Meet adorable Amazonian critters at the AmaZOOnico wildlife refuge
- Splash around in the thermal waters of Termas de Papallacta
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito||Quito|
|Day 2||City Tour, Family Cooking Class & Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Transfer to Baños via Cotopaxi National Park||Baños|
|Day 4||Avenue of Waterfalls, Journey Upriver to Itamandi EcoLodge||Tena|
|Day 5||Anaconda Island & AmaZOOnico||Tena|
|Day 6||Return to Quito, Free Afternoon||Quito|
|Day 7||Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs, Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival at the airport in Tababela, your driver will meet you and take you to Quito, about a 45-minute drive away. After taking some time to settle into your hotel, venture out into the city for some leisurely family sightseeing. Sitting at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), Quito is one of the highest cities in the world, and its breathtaking views are sure to impress everyone in the family. Make sure to take it easy after arrival, though, so everyone has a chance to adjust to the altitude.
Take a stroll through Plaza Foch, a bustling hub for shopping, dining, and people-watching, and head over to Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua, one of the largest urban parks in the Americas. Depending on the time and how your kids are feeling after the trip, take a cable car to the top of Cruz Loma to admire Quito's skyline at sunset.
Day 2: City Tour, Family Cooking Class & Mitad del Mundo
After a good night's rest, get to know the city better today with a family-friendly city tour and a cooking class. Start with a guided walk through Quito's UNESCO-listed historic center. Learn about local history and culture while visiting Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches of La Compañía de Jesús and La Basílica del Voto, then take a stroll down the oldest street in Quito, La Ronda. This narrow, cobbled street is lined with shops and cafés and follows the same route as an ancient pre-Columbian walking trail.
After working up an appetite with all that walking, it's time to head to your cooking class to learn more about Ecuadorian food. Working together as a family, you'll cook delicious, traditional Ecuadorian dishes under the guidance of a professional chef. Make the most of seasonal vegetables and fruit so everything you make is fresh and nutritious. Your instructor will guide you step-by-step and give the kids age-appropriate tasks using child-safe utensils. Follow the class by eating your starter and main course together.
After lunch, head to the north of the city to see a monument marking the point where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet and divide, the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument. Sneak in a geography lesson as the little ones hop between hemispheres for a photo op, then visit the many appealing attractions nearby, which include a planetarium, a fun scale model of Quito, several museums, an old train station, and a small chapel.
Day 3: Transfer to Baños via Cotopaxi National Park
After breakfast today, your driver will take you two hours south of Quito to Cotopaxi National Park, where you and the kids can experience the wild beauty of Ecuador on a grand scale. Admire the sweeping landscapes of the Andean highlands, crowned by the snowcapped peak of the Cotopaxi volcano. Spot wild horses and fuzzy alpacas, stop for a hike around the beautiful Laguna de Limpiopungo, and explore the ruins of an ancient Inca military fortress at El Salitre.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Avenue of Waterfalls, Journey Upriver to Itamandi EcoLodge
Your driver will take you on a spectacularly scenic drive today along the Ruta de Cascadas (Waterfall Route). Journey toward the village of Río Verde, spotting the route's namesake cascades as you travel. When you arrive, you'll take a short hike to one of the best-known waterfalls in the area, the Pailón del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron). Here, dramatic cascades drop steeply 265 feet (81 m) through the lush cloud forest. Cross a suspension bridge and descend many steps to get to the falls, which are definitely worth the effort.
After, continue the drive toward Itamandi EcoLodge. You'll be driven to a port on the Río Arajuno, where you'll meet your naturalist guide for the 20-minute journey upstream in a motorized canoe. Kids can keep an eye out for wildlife on the banks, and your guide will explain how the river winds through the jungle like a giant snake and is considered to be the main system of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). Upon arrival at the lodge, get settled into your comfortable accommodations and grab some rest.
If the kids are itching to explore their surroundings, they can join a night walk before dinner. A flashlight and camera are the most important tools in this nocturnal excursion, which allows you and the little ones to see and hear fishing bats, owls, some insects, tarantulas, toads, and frogs as darkness falls and the jungle comes alive with nocturnal animals.
Day 5: Anaconda Island & AmaZOOnico
There's more Amazonian adventure in store today as you hop in a canoe for the 40-minute ride downriver to Anaconda Island. On this stretch of land where the Río Napo and Río Arajuno meet, keen-eyed youngsters can spot the flamboyant hoatzin bird and playful woolly and squirrel monkeys. Next, you'll go ashore to visit a family in one of the local Indigenous communities and learn about their farming habits, medicinal plants, and traditional way of hunting using blowguns (cerbatana) and forest traps.
After a packed lunch, continue to AmaZOOnico, sure to be a hit with the kids. This wildlife sanctuary rehabilitates Amazonian creatures that were victims of illegal trafficking, with the aim of reintroducing them back into their natural habitats. Animal lovers will be delighted by the up-close encounters with critters such as monkeys, macaws, ocelots, capybaras, toucans, and parrots. Later, return to the lodge to enjoy its facilities—if you haven't tried out its outdoor pool yet, now's your chance!
Day 6: Return to Quito, Free Afternoon
Enjoy the sounds of the rainforest one last time before leaving the lodge and heading back along the Río Arajuno by canoe. From there, a transfer will take you back to Quito, where you'll arrive in the afternoon. You're free to spend the rest of the day relaxing at your hotel or head out and enjoy your final evening in the city.
If the little ones need a runaround after the journey, head to Carolina Park—a vast urban space in the city's center. It has different sections, such as an artificial lake, a running track, and even designated biking and skate areas. You can also stroll through Plaza Foch, a bustling hub for shopping, dining, and people-watching, where you can pick up some last-minute souvenirs and sit down to a celebratory dinner of Ecuadorian classics.
Day 7: Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs, Depart Quito
Today is your last day in Ecuador, so start early and make the most of it with a visit to the hot springs and spa of Termas de Papallacta, about an hour's drive east of the city. Made up of eight natural geothermal pools in a forest setting complete with a view of the Antisana volcano, this luxurious complex is the perfect treat to end your trip. With a shallower pool for kids, hot pools, steam baths, Jacuzzis, mud baths, and massages, there's an option to suit each member of the family.
After a morning of splashing around, your driver will collect you and transfer you to the airport in plenty of time for your departing flight. Safe travels!