Kick off the 11-day hiking adventure with two days in sophisticated Quito, a UNESCO-listed city high in the mountains. Then set off to visit a range of trails toward stunning volcanoes, lakes, and national parks—plus a memorable waterfall—while staying in unique villages and towns along the way. Return to Quito to enjoy one more night in Ecuador's capital before departing.


  • Bike through Quito's parks and artsy neighborhoods, followed by a cooking class
  • Hike to one of the highest active volcanoes on earth and look for Andean condors
  • Get close to Pailón del Diablo, a raging waterfall tucked between canyon walls 
  • Spend a day walking around an Indigenous community in Sangay National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, City Tour Quito
Day 2 Quito Bike Tour, Cooking Class Quito
Day 3 Explore Cotopaxi National Park, Transfer to Isinliví Isinliví
Day 4 Free Day in Isinliví Isinliví
Day 5 Visit Quilotoa Lagoon, Transfer to Baños Baños
Day 6 Visit the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Explore Baños Baños
Day 7 Visit the Chimborazo Volcano, Transfer to Guamote Guamote
Day 8 Explore the Ozogoche Lagoons Guamote
Day 9 Explore Guamote, Transfer to Ambato, Kayaking on Laguna de Yambo Ambato
Day 10 Pasochoa Volcano Trek, Transfer to Quito Quito
Day 11 Ride the Cable Car to Pichincha Volcano, Depart Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, City Tour

The UNESCO-listed city of Quito offers an appealing Old Town with preserved colonial architecture

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival in Quito, a private driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the city center.

Once settled at your hotel, you'll get an introduction to Quito on a guided tour and see why it was the first city designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Not only does it have geographical beauty, 17th-century colonial architecture, and distinct culture, but it's also one of the highest cities in the world at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level. During the tour, you'll visit 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 then head to Panecillo Hill for skyline views.

Your guide will provide some local recommendations, including restaurants, to explore after the tour is complete.

Day 2: Urban Bike Tour in Quito, Cooking Class in Quito

Street art in Quito
Cycle around Quito's creative neighborhoods and check out colorful street art

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll take a half-day bike tour in Quito! Starting in the northern part of the city, you'll meet a local guide and get situated on your bikes. Then they'll lead the way through the neighborhoods of La Floresta, Carolina Park, and Iñaquito. La Floresta is where you can see how urban art in the city is flourishing with its street murals, designers, and boutiques. Then cycle through Carolina Park, a lovely urban space and botanical gardens spread over 165 acres. Finish the tour in Iñaquito and visit the Mercado to sample street food, followed by a look around the green space and murals of Isla Tortuga Park.

In the afternoon, you'll have a chance to learn about—and taste—Ecuador's traditional cooking with dishes such as locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). A Quito chef will lead the way to a local market where you'll buy the ingredients needed for each dish. The chef will explain the recipes, and then you'll follow the steps to create the meal together, which you'll enjoy afterward! 

Day 3: Explore Cotopaxi National Park, Transfer to Isinliví

This perfectly-shaped volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes on the planet

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up for the drive to Cotopaxi National Park, located about 90 minutes outside Quito. Cotopaxi is home to one of the highest active volcanoes on earth, and the views of its perfectly-shaped cone and the surrounding peaks and volcanoes are incredible. The park is also home to wild horses and the elusive Andean condor—the largest flying bird in the world—so keep your eyes peeled.

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 the base of the glacier. Alternatively, you could take a less strenuous two-hour horseback riding experience through the national park. In the afternoon, continue the journey toward Quilotoa Lake, where you'll spend the night in a cozy mountain lodge near the village of Isinliví.

Day 4: Free Day in Isinliví

Horseback riding around Isinliví
Explore the trails around Isinliví on horseback or foot

Today you'll have a free day to explore the village of Isinliví at your own pace! Choose from countless activities in this picturesque small town and its high-altitude Andean surroundings.

There are dozens of exciting hikes of varying lengths, including a section of the Quilotoa Loop, one of South America's best multiday trekking routes. You can also visit a market, tour a local cheese factory, go horseback riding, or hang out in a hammock—it's up to you! 

Day 5: Visit Quilotoa Lagoon, Transfer to Baños

Quilotoa Crater Rim
Follow a trail down the Quilotoa crater—and potentially go kayaking

Today begins with a short, scenic drive through the heart of the Andes, where you'll visit the stunning turquoise crater lake of Quilotoa. You can hike down into the crater on a trail that takes just under an hour. At the bottom is the opportunity to rent a kayak and paddle around the lake to see stunning 360-degree views.

Alternatively, if you don't want to walk all the way down to the lake and back, you can follow the path along the crater rim to reach various viewpoints without too much exertion. Either way, you'll sit and have lunch at the top before visiting a nearby market for crafts and paintings. In the afternoon, you'll continue traveling through the Andes to reach Baños, one of Ecuador's thriving tourist towns with hot springs, dramatic scenery, and international restaurants. 

Day 6: Visit the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Explore Baños

Get up close to the Pailón del Diablo waterfall
Visit a ledge that gets close to the Pailón del Diablo waterfall

After breakfast in Baños, you'll drive along the Avenue of Waterfalls to visit the Pailón del Diablo, a raging cascade tucked between dramatic canyon walls. From the parking lot, you can walk 15 minutes downhill to get to the platform, while the return trip will take a bit longer as you walk uphill. If you don't want to take the car, you can ride a bike from your lodging in Baños to the waterfall.

When you return to Baños, you'll have the rest of the day to choose from a variety of activities and adventure sports. Relax in the area's hot springs, visit the Casa del Árbol treehouse and zipline above the clouds, or sample a range of hiking trails in the surrounding area.

Day 7: Visit the Chimborazo Volcano, Transfer to Guamote

Look for wild llamas near the Chimborazo Volcano
Look for wild llamas and vicuñas near the Chimborazo Volcano

It's time to leave Baños today and head farther south along the Avenue of Volcanoes. On the way, you'll visit the Chimborazo Reserve, home to Ecuador's highest volcano. Keep an eye out for wild vicuñas (llamas) in the foothills of the peak, where you'll have time to explore and take photos. If the high altitude doesn't affect you, approximately 15,750 (4,800 m), you can hike up to the refuge and enjoy the views.

In the late afternoon, you'll reach Guamote, a small Andean city where you'll have the rest of the day to relax and get to know your surroundings. 

Day 8: Explore the Ozogoche Lagoons

Spend the day in a small village near Sangay National Park

Today you'll drive 89 miles (55 km) from Guamote to reach the authentic Indigenous community of Ozogoche. The community is located at the edge of Sangay National Park, a UNESCO-listed site with more than 300 lakes! During this day trip, you'll visit two of the lakes and get an impression of the daily life of the people in the mountains.

Accompanied by a local guide, you'll first walk through the incredible surroundings as they inform you about the area's local traditions, legends, and mysteries. The walk encounters adventurous trails that pass huge rivers and rocks, and there will be an opportunity to swim (if you wish!) You'll also pay a visit to the community of Ozogoche, where children of the local school are always happy to see visitors. After the tour, there will be a traditional lunch with trout caught from the surrounding lakes—as fresh as it gets!

In the afternoon, you'll drive back to Guamote, through the mountains, while enjoying more of the beautiful scenery.

Day 9: Explore Guamote, Transfer to Ambato, Kayaking on Laguna de Yambo

Guamote is a bustling place on Thursdays during the weekly market
If you visit Guamote on a Thursday, make sure to visit the bustling weekly market

Today you'll have free time to explore Guamote. If the timing works out, you can experience authentic Andean life by visiting the weekly Thursday market, often considered the most authentic Indigenous market in Latin America! On other days, you can learn about the educational center Inti Sisa, which opened its doors in 1999 to support underprivileged locals in the area, especially young girls and women. The foundation offers workshops, such as computer classes, sewing courses, musical classes, and English classes in both Guamote and the surrounding communities.

Another opportunity is to visit a smaller mountain community and learn more about Indigenous culture and daily life. During the tour, you'll meet a weaving family, walk through a traditional Andean house, and visit a local school. Alternatively, you can go and see a shaman and learn more about this ancient form of medicine, followed by a spiritual cleansing.

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
In the afternoon, you'll be transferred from Guamote to the small city of Ambato. Once settled, you can experience the stunning highland scenery from another vantage point with a kayaking excursion on Laguna de Yambo. This secluded and peaceful spot is a real off-the-beaten-path gem, with emerald waters that reflect the surrounding hills and sky.

Day 10: Pasochoa Volcano Trek, Transfer to Quito

Hike to various summits while looking for rare birds
Hike to various summits on this volcano while looking for rare bird species

Today you'll spend the day hiking on a volcano near Quito. 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 Andean condor, and the climb up to the top offers beautiful views of the mighty Cotopaxi and the other surrounding volcanoes. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to ascend, and you can hike to each summit on a beautiful trail that connects all three—or just head to the most prominent one.

After descending the volcano, travel northward to return to Ecuador's capital Quito where you'll have another night to explore this vibrant city.

Day 11: Ride the Cable Car to Pichincha Volcano, Depart Quito

The cable car to Pichincha Volcano
Finish the trip with a scenic cable car to Pichincha Volcano

This morning, you'll have an opportunity to ride a cable car up to Pichincha Volcano on the eastern side of Quito. Once you've reached the top, take photos of the city and Pichincha's highest peaks: Wawa Pichincha and Ruku Pichincha. You can also go for a walk through the high-altitude ecosystem. Simply follow a path that leads to the Ruku Pichincha summit as far as you'd like, and then return to the cable car station for a ride back down to Quito.

Then it's time to say goodbye to Ecuador! You'll be picked up for your transfer to Quito Airport for your departure flight at the appointed time. Safe travels!

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Map of Hiking in the Ecuadorian Andes - 11 Days
Map of Hiking in the Ecuadorian Andes - 11 Days