Ecuador is famous for its snow-capped volcanoes and UNESCO historic sites, and you'll get to visit both on this 7-day itinerary. In Quito, visit colonial churches, stand on both hemispheres at the Middle of the World, and hike the nearby  Ruco Pichincha Volcano. You'll also hike the Pasochoa Volcano, admire the scenery in Cotopaxi, and browse for gifts at mountain markets. 

Highlights

  • Hike on Rucu Pichincha Volcano
  • Stroll through Quito's city center, a UNESCO site
  • Taste Ecuadorian specialties, like bizcocho pastries
  • Visit Cotopaxi National Park & see the famed volcano
  • Spot rare wildlife, like the Andead

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito & City Tour Quito
Day 2 Quito to Otavalo, Market Visit & Cuicocha Hike Otavalo
Day 3 Fuya Fuya Volcano Hike & Transfer to Quito Quito
Day 4 Hiking on Ruco Pichincha Volcano Quito
Day 5 Pasochoa Volcano Trek & Machachi Machachi
Day 6 Hike in Cotopaxi National Park Quito
Day 7 Depart from Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Quito & City Tour

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.

In the afternoon, go on a guided walking city tour of Quito's colonial center. Start in the old town and meander down romantic narrow streets to see the colonial Churches of San Fransisco, La Compañia, and other historical landmarks.

Day 2: Quito to Otavalo, Market Visit & Cuicocha Hike

Hiking near the lagoon
Hiking near the lagoon

Depart from Quito in the morning and drive north to the city of Cayambe. Stop for some delicious bizcocho pastries before continuing to the town of Otavalo. The city is the home of the well-known indigenous market where artisans come to sell colorful textiles and other traditional goods. Snack on fruits and other snacks while you browse the stalls for paintings, carvings, handpainted bowls, and much more. 

Enjoy street food for lunch (try the salted mango or fritada con mote—fried pork with cooked corn, then continue to the nearby town of Cotacachi for some free time and more shopping (the town is famous for its leather products). Stretch your legs with a hike around the crater lagoon of Cuicocha. On the trail, your guide will explain to you the high altitude flora and fauna and the history of the once active volcano. Alternatively, enjoy a short walk and take some photos, or ride in a boat around the two islands. 

Return to Otavalo for the night.

Day 3: Fuya Fuya Volcano Hike & Transfer to Quito

Views from the trek
Views from the trek

In the morning after breakfast, hit the trail for the hike to Fuya Fuya. It's actually part of the larger Mojanda massif, a range of peaks that formed from the extinction and collapse of two adjacent volcanos. Mojanda forms the third of the peaks that rise here, the other two being Cotacachi and Imbabura. Each of the local volcanoes is also known by its Quechua name, as well as the more-recently given Spanish names. 

The volcano of Fuya Fuya, whose collapsed crater left behind twin summits joined by a narrow ridge, is a popular 3-4 hour hike. Enjoy a box lunch while taking in the views, then return to the base of the hike and head back to Quito for the night.

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Day 4: 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 5: Pasochoa Volcano Trek & Machachi

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, head to the town of Machachi and spend the evening relaxing.

Day 6: Hike in Cotopaxi National Park

Limpiopungo Lagoon and Cotopaxi Volcano
Limpiopungo Lagoon and Cotopaxi Volcano

After breakfast, head south to Cotopaxi National Park. Stop at Limpiopungo Lagoon for a short hike to take in the panoramic mountain views. You'll also see the El Salitre Inca Ruins, located in the park highlands. Keep an eye out for wildlife—Lake Limpiopungo is home to a variety of birds and occasionally even wild horses. 

If time permits, hike up to the refuge above Limpiopungo to enjoy the view from above as well. In the afternoon, return to Quito.

Day 7: 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 Hiking in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador - 7 Days
Map of Hiking in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador - 7 Days