Outdoorsy types with a penchant for rock climbing will love this 11-day loop in Ecuador. The trip starts in Quito, the UNESCO-listed capital, where you'll tour the colonial sights and sample local cuisine, chocolate, and beer in one of the world's highest cities. Then head out into the great wilderness as you hike, boulder, rock climb, and paddle across a varied terrain peppered with volcanoes. Finish with two nights at an ecolodge in the rainforest to complete the adventure.


  • Hike to three summits on Pasochoa Volcano, surrounded by a humid cloud forest 
  • Go bouldering and horseback riding in and around Cotopaxi National Park
  • Choose between 75 rock climbing routes followed by a soak in hot springs 
  • Spend a full day river rafting on an excursion led by internationally-certified guides 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Explore Quito
Day 2 Quito City Tour & Cooking Class Quito
Day 3 Rock Climbing at Rucu Pichincha Quito
Day 4 Hiking at Pasochoa Volcano, Transfer to Cotopaxi Cotopaxi
Day 5 Bouldering at La Perrera Cotopaxi
Day 6 Explore Cotopaxi National Park, Transfer to Baños Baños
Day 7 Rock Climbing in Baños Baños
Day 8 Visit the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Archidona, Rainforest Tour Archidona
Day 9 River Rafting, Cultural Night with Cooking & Chocolate Making Archidona
Day 10 Rock Climbing in Cuyuja, Relaxing in the Papallacta Hot Springs Quito
Day 11 Depart Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore

Quito's UNESCO-listed Old Town is especially pretty after sunset

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival in the country's scenic capital, Quito, a private driver will greet you for your transfer to the city center. Get settled at your hotel, and then take the rest of the day to explore at your own pace.

You can also participate in a chocolate tasting to learn how Ecuador cultivates cocoa and turns it into a quality finished product. During this one-hour experience, you'll sample different types of chocolate and learn about the history of cocoa in Ecuador. Another opportunity is to sample a variety of award-winning beers made in Ecuador. This refreshing (and delicious) tour lets you dive into Quito's craft beer culture, expanding your knowledge of the hoppy drink and the city's history.

Day 2: Quito City Tour & Cooking Class

Explore Quito's historic Old Town with a local guide
Learn about Quito's best historical monuments with a local guide

This morning you'll meet a local guide who'll show you why Quito was the first UNESCO-listed city in the world in 1978. The city boasts geographical beauty and well-preserved 17th-century colonial architecture and is one of the world's highest metropolises at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level. Start by visiting the Spanish Baroque La Compañía, a church with a gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica. You'll also take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, and finish at Panecillo Hill for skyline views.

Following the tour, it's time to begin a fun cooking class with a local chef. This is your chance to learn about—and taste—Ecuador's traditional dishes, such as locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). You and the chef will take a trip to a market to buy the ingredients needed for each dish. Then learn about the recipes and follow the steps to create a meal to share.

Day 3: Rock Climbing at Rucu Pichincha

Head to one of two climbing sites near Quito at Rucu Pichincha
Head to one of two climbing sites near Quito at Rucu Pichincha

After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, it's time to visit Rucu Pichincha, a volcano close to Quito that offers hikes and viewpoints, as well as two rock climbing sites. Due to its proximity to Quito, this is an ideal day trip to escape the urban sprawl and get into Ecuador's stunning natural environment.

To get to the location, you'll ride a teleférico (cable car) upwards of about 13,123 feet (4,000 m), followed by a short walk to the hiking trails and climbing routes. Enjoy spectacular city views while you get a good workout—and if it's a clear day, look out for the area's surrounding volcanoes.

Day 4: Hiking at Pasochoa Volcano, Transfer to Cotopaxi

Hike to various summits while looking for rare birds
Hike to various summits while looking for the largest flying bird on earth: the Andean condor

It's time to depart Quito! This morning you'll set off for a day of hiking on a volcano about two hours south of the city. The Pasochoa Volcano is a beautiful 13,770-foot (4,199 m) high peak, surrounded by a humid cloud forest 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 and elusive Andean condor, and the climb to the top offers beautiful views of other surrounding volcanoes. It takes approximately a few hours to ascend, and you can hike up to all three summits along a beautiful trail that connects them. After descending back to the car, you'll travel southwards and spend the night near the entrance to Cotopaxi National Park.

Day 5: Bouldering at La Perrera

Bouldering at La Perrera
La Perrera is known for its bouldering opportunities

Today's destination is the so-called La Perrera, a bouldering spot on the north side of Cotopaxi National Park. If the weather is clear on your way there, you'll likely catch stunning views of Cotopaxi and its perfectly-shaped cone.

When you arrive at La Perrera, take a 15-minute walking trail from the parking lot along the Pita River to the impressive boulder formations. Climb the area to your heart's content and take a break for a picnic lunch where you can sit back and enjoy the views. 

Day 6: Explore Cotopaxi National Park, Transfer to Baños

Cotopaxi National Park
Spend the day hiking and horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park 

This morning it's time to head inside Cotopaxi National Park on a guided tour. Your adventure begins with a walk around Limpiopungo Lagoon, where your guide will point out high-altitude flora and fauna. From here, you can trek up to the refuge called Jose Rivas at 15,748 feet (4,800 m)—and even farther to reach the base of the glacier. 

While in the park, you'll also have the opportunity to enjoy the vast landscapes of the Andean highlands on the back of a horse! After getting acquainted with your four-legged friend and riding techniques, you'll set out for a two-hour route along dirt roads and wild páramos (plateaus).

In the afternoon, continue the road trip to Baños, a lively mountain town catering to adventure enthusiasts such as yourself.

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Rock Climbing in Baños

Rock Climbing in Baños
Spend a day rock climbing in Baños at La Kntera
Today you wake up in Baños! In addition to white water rafting, canyoning, and other adrenaline-loaded activities, the area also offers excellent rock climbing opportunities. To take advantage of this, you'll head to the recently opened climbing zone, La Kntera, for a fantastic crag day! There'll be plenty of time to try as many routes as you want while meeting like-minded individuals. Take breaks to soak in the views and have a picnic lunch and snacks for nourishment.

Day 8: Visit the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Archidona, Rainforest Tour

Devil's Cauldron Waterfall
Climb a series of steps to get the best view of Pailón del Diablo waterfall

It's time to depart Baños and head deeper into the Amazon basin. But first, you'll spend an hour visiting the famous Pailón del Diablo waterfall. This powerful cascade, nicknamed the Devil's Cauldron, forms a small gorge from which you can admire its majesty thanks to various viewpoints and an overhanging bridge. Then continue your journey toward the colonial town of Archidona, where you'll stay for two nights in a rainforest ecolodge. Start your experience with a traditional lunch made from a fusion of fresh local ingredients.

After a break, you can explore the lodge's Guitarracocha Trail. History suggests the trail received its name because, at night, you can hear the sound of guitars from a small lagoon-like formation. On this guided route, you can also explore Kuyana Island and take a refreshing swim on the banks of the Hollin River. Watch out for colorful birds and insects, and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the rainforest.

Day 9: River Rafting Adventure, Cultural Night with Cooking & Chocolate Making

The excursion is led by professional guides
The full-day rafting excursion is led by fun professional guides

Today will be one of the most adventurous experiences of the trip as you embark on a full day of river rafting through Class III rapids. Along the way, the professional and internationally-certified guides will make you laugh and enjoy the adrenaline-filled experience while you feel safe and at ease. All you have to do is paddle through the lush, green rainforest, spot rare wildlife, and immerse yourself in the stunning scenery. When you're ready for a break, a tasty lunchbox will be served picnic-style at the river's edge.

Return to the ecolodge in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day relaxing and soaking up the beauty of your surroundings. In the evening, you can participate in a guided cultural night. This activity includes helping prepare your dinner, consisting of local dishes such as maito (a local river fish wrapped and cooked in a rainforest leaf), plantains, and organic chocolate. You'll even participate in the chocolate-making process, from roasting the cocoa beans to eating the finished product with fresh fruits.

Day 10: Rock Climbing in Cuyuja, Relaxing in the Papallacta Hot Springs

Papallacta Hot Springs
Kick back and relax at the Papallacta Hot Springs

On the driving route from the Amazon basin back to the highlands, you'll pass the popular climbing spot, Cuyuja. The area lies at 8,860 feet (2,700 m) and is surrounded by protected areas such as Cayambe-Coca National Park, Sumaco National Park, and Antisana Ecological Reserve. The characteristic surface is basalt rock, and you can find no fewer than 75 routes of all levels from easy to difficult. From the top, you can enjoy amazing views of the lush green surroundings.

After this adventure, your next stop is the thermal hot springs of Papallacta—the perfect activity to follow an active day of rock climbing. This is your chance to soak your muscles in the healing water and enjoy the beautiful Andean scenery, and—if you so choose—treat yourself to a professional massage.

In the evening, you'll return to Quito for your last night of the trip.

Day 11: Depart Quito

Until next time, Quito!
The day has come to say goodbye to Ecuador! At the appointed time, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to Quito airport for your onward departure. Safe travels!

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Map of Hike, Rock Climb & Sightsee in Ecuador: Quito, Cotopaxi, Baños & Archidona - 11 Days
Map of Hike, Rock Climb & Sightsee in Ecuador: Quito, Cotopaxi, Baños & Archidona - 11 Days