Ranch-style living doesn't mean roughing it, as you'll see on this two-week Ecuador itinerary that combines scenic natural wonders and luxurious haciendas. You'll stroll the historic streets of Quito, learn to make flaky empanadas, and ride horse-drawn carriages in the highlands. More thrilling adventures are in store as you head toward the coast for horseback riding on the slopes of towering volcanoes and bird-watching in Ecuador's cloud forests


  • Stand between hemispheres and visit the equator with a trip to Mitad del Mundo
  • Dive into Ecuador's culture with cooking, embroidery, and chocolate workshops
  • Ride horses at snowcapped volcanoes, hike to waterfalls, and visit local markets
  • See Ecuador's highlights, from Quito and the highlands to the coast and Guayaquil

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Dinner at El Ventanal Quito
Day 2 Quito City Tour, Visit Mitad del Mundo Quito
Day 3 Transfer to Otavalo, Visit Cotacachi & Cuicocha Lagoon Otavalo
Day 4 Traditional Ecuadorian Embroidery Workshop & Carriage Tour Otavalo
Day 5 Morning Hacienda Hike, Transfer to Quito Quito
Day 6 Day Trip to Pichincha Volcano, Ecuadorian Cooking Masterclass Quito
Day 7 Pasochoa Volcano Hike, Transfer to Cotopaxi Cotopaxi
Day 8 Cotopaxi Hiking & Horseback Riding, Transfer to Patate Patate
Day 9 Day Trip to Baños, Outdoor Adventures Patate
Day 10 Day Trip to Chimborazo Volcano, Transfer to Riobamba Riobamba
Day 11 Scenic Transfer to Guayaquil, Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop Guayaquil
Day 12 Day Trip to La Esperanza Cloud Forest, Horseback Riding Guayaquil
Day 13 Day Trip to Churute Mangroves, Pampering Spa Session Guayaquil
Day 14 Guayaquil City Tour, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Dinner at El Ventanal

Ranch-style living begins right away in Quito (photo courtesy of Hacienda Rumiloma)

Welcome to Ecuador! Sitting on the Earth's equator, at the western end of South America, this nation is a dream for adventure travelers. Its diverse ecosystems include páramo (high Andes) landscapes, tropical jungles, a long coastline, and famous islands. With all these wild frontiers, it's no surprise that Ecuador is home to historic haciendas (ranches) that have opened up to tourism. Your first of many hacienda experiences begins right away with your arrival in Quito, Ecuador's capital.

At the airport terminal, your driver will pick you up for the ride to the city's western outskirts and Hacienda Rumiloma. Located on the slopes of Pichincha volcano and offering sweeping views of the Quito skyline, this mountain retreat combines rustic charm with luxury. Each of the hacienda's six suites is furnished with antiques and local crafts, some of which also feature fireplaces and private balconies. There's a popular restaurant on site serving gourmet cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Feel free to take your meal al fresco on the terrace, enjoying city views as you eat.

For now, save your appetite, as this evening, you'll head over to El Ventanal, one of Quito's premier restaurants. Its elevated position and expansive views of the city below are the perfect backdrop to enjoy the restaurant's creative take on traditional Ecuadorian classics. Tuck into favorites like tangy ceviche, quinoa risotto, and lomo a la piedra (tenderloin steak cooked on volcanic stones). And don't skip dessert—you can choose between traditional Ecuadorian sweets with a modern twist, such as chocolate fondant made with Ecuadorian cocoa and exotic fruit sorbets.

Day 2: Quito City Tour, Visit Mitad del Mundo

Take a stroll between the Earth's hemispheres at Mitad del Mundo

Rise and shine for a private tour of Quito's famous colonial center. Admire the intricate stone carvings of the Baroque La Compañía church and wander the 16th-century Iglesia San Francisco cloisters. Wrap up the historical center leg of your tour with a walk down La Ronda, once a pre-Columbian walking trail, now a romantic pedestrian street full of cafés, live music venues, and eclectic shops.

Later on, continue just north of Quito to Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), a park dominated by the 98-foot (30 m) Monument to the Equator. It marks the precise location of the equator, the invisible line that divides the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. You can straddle the yellow line here, which means you'll have one foot in each hemisphere.

Later, visit the nearby Intiñan Museum, an interactive science and cultural center. Highlights include hands-on experiments demonstrating equatorial phenomena (such as water draining in different directions on either side of the line), ancient astronomical calendars, and ethnographic exhibits of Ecuador's diverse Indigenous cultures.

Day 3: Transfer to Otavalo, Visit Cotacachi & Cuicocha Lagoon

Step into luxury, where rooms feature private fireplaces and antique furniture (photo courtesy of Hacienda Zuleta)

Rise and shine! Your driver and guide will pick you up this morning for the two-hour ride north out of Quito to the mountain town of Otavalo. During the drive, you'll pass dazzling highland scenery, plus make a couple of stops to enjoy the surroundings. The first stop is in the charming town of Cotacachi, where you can browse its famous artisan leather shops.

Next, stretch your legs at the volcanic crater lake of Cuicocha. Long ago, this volcano's caldera was filled with water after an eruption to form a lake featuring two iconic islands. Stroll along the shore to admire its midnight blue water and beautiful flowers as you listen to the flutter of hummingbirds. Later, continue to the small town of Peguche, where you can snap photos of its famous waterfall and pick up some handicrafts. Afterward, you'll arrive at Otavalo, famous for its massive local market, selling everything from textiles and handicrafts to jewelry and traditional sweets.

You'll be staying in the countryside at Hacienda Zuleta, a colonial-era farm dating back to the 17th century that has been in the same family for over 100 years. It offers beautifully appointed rooms, each uniquely decorated with antique furniture, hand-embroidered linens, and local artwork—many also feature private fireplaces. The hacienda's restaurant serves delicious meals made with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from its own farm and garden, and there are plenty of exciting activities on offer, which you'll discover tomorrow.

Day 4: Traditional Ecuadorian Embroidery Workshop & Carriage Tour

Learn how locals have been producing beautiful handmade garments for centuries
Today, you'll experience authentic country living in the Ecuadorian highlands. The hacienda will arrange today's cultural activities according to your interests. One popular option is an embroidery lesson during which you'll learn traditional methods of producing Ecuador's famous textiles under the guidance of local experts. Later, you'll be treated to more showstopping Andean scenery with a ride in an authentic horse-drawn carriage around the province—don't forget your camera!

Day 5: Morning Hacienda Hike, Transfer to Quito

On today's hike, you might spot the Andean condor soaring overhead
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Spend the morning exploring the unspoiled highland scenery that surrounds Hacienda Zuleta. After an early breakfast, you'll set off on a morning hike down one of the nearby nature trails. These routes vary from 2 miles (3.2 km) to 5.4 miles (8.7 km) and offer plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. Birds you may spot during the hike include tanagers, hummingbirds, and (occasionally) the Andean condor, while you might also glimpse animals like Andean foxes and white-tailed deer. After the hike, you'll meet your driver for the return trip to Quito and check back into Hacienda Rumiloma.

Day 6: Day Trip to Pichincha Volcano, Ecuadorian Cooking Masterclass

Marvel at the best views of Quito from the top of Pichincha volcano

Quito is surrounded by soaring peaks, including many volcanoes. Today's privately-guided adventure will take you up to the top of Pichincha volcano on the capital's eastern outskirts. Getting there involves a scenic teleférico (cable car) ride to the top, where you can admire the views and snap pictures of the city and surrounding peaks. Then, if you want, take a brisk walk on one of the short hiking trails around the hill's páramo ecosystem.

Later, during a one-on-one cooking workshop, you'll discover Ecuadorian cuisine and prepare some of its most famous dishes. These include locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). It begins when you meet a local Quito chef for a trip to a market to buy the ingredients needed for each dish. Then, you'll head over to the kitchen and prepare the dishes under their guidance. Afterward, everyone will sit down and enjoy the meal together. 

Day 7: Pasochoa Volcano Hike, Transfer to Cotopaxi

Check into your cozy abode after a day's hiking the Pichincha volcano (photo courtesy of Hacienda el Porvenir)

After a hearty hacienda breakfast, you'll strap on your hiking boots once again for today's mountaineering adventure. Once you've eaten, meet your driver and transfer to a station in the city center. There, you'll hop on a cable car up 12,900 feet (4,000 m) to the slopes of Pasochoa volcano. This extinct volcano on Quito's west side offers excellent hiking trails and rock-climbing sites. 

It's a short walk from the cable car station to the trailhead, and from there, it's three hours up to the top. Much of this hike traverses beautiful alpine landscapes, culminating with a steep scramble to the summit at 15,387 feet (4,690 m). Once at the top, you'll be treated to vast panoramic views of Quito and its surrounding peaks. After breaking for snacks and enjoying the vista, you'll hike down to the station and board the teleférico back to Quito. Then, meet a driver for the 1.5-hour ride south to Cotopaxi National Park, a nature reserve covering 129 square miles (334 sq km) in the highlands.

You'll be staying near the park at Hacienda El Porvenir. Nestled on the slopes of Rumiñahui volcano, this remote hideaway offers total comfort in a working ranch. There are only a couple dozen rooms here, which creates an intimate experience. And you won't be roughing it, as each suite offers comfy beds and working WiFi. There's also a spa with Jacuzzis and a restaurant that sources its hearty fare, like grilled beef tenderloin, from the ranch's pastures. 

Day 8: Cotopaxi Hiking & Horseback Riding, Transfer to Patate

Explore the iconic Cotopaxi volcano on foot and horseback

After breakfast, meet your guide and horse for this morning's adventure. First up is a hike around Laguna de Limpiopungo to enjoy the panoramic mountain views. During the outing, keep an eye out for wildlife—Limpiopungo is home to a variety of birds, like the Andean condor, and a few wild horses. Later, you'll hop in the saddle and explore this wild frontier on a two-hour horseback ride. Gallop across windswept plains and through native forests, all with the snowcapped peak of Cotopaxi volcano looming overhead. 

Later, you'll transfer a short way south to the neighboring protected area of Llanganates National Park. Your destination is Patate, a small town nestled in the foothills. You'll be staying at Hacienda Leito, an estate that dates back to the colonial era, sitting on expansive grounds with lush gardens. From your private balcony, you can relax amid jaw-dropping views of the surrounding landscapes. If it's chilly out, warm up by your fireplace or enjoy a rejuvenating dip in the indoor pool. There's also a spa/wellness center where you can enjoy a rejuvenating massage or facial.

Day 9: Day Trip to Baños, Outdoor Adventures

Don't miss the opportunity to swing over the mountain's edge at Casa del Arbol 

Leave this morning on a 45-minute transfer south of Patate to Baños de Agua Santa, a charming town famous for its nearby natural wonders and hot springs. See one of the most famous when you travel the scenic Ruta de las Cascadas (Waterfall Route) toward the village of Río Verde. When you arrive in town, take a one-hour hike to one of the area's famous waterfalls, El Pailón del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron). Here, the water cascades 265 feet (81 m) down through the cloud forest.

Later, back in Baños, you can spend the rest of the day enjoying optional activities. If you like, relax in the natural hot springs. Or, for something more adventurous, you can go whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, hiking, abseiling (rappelling), or mountain biking. Also, don't miss Casa del Arbol, a site just outside town where you can soar on a swing at the edge of a mountain. At the end of the day, you'll return to Hacienda Leito.

Day 10: Day Trip to Chimborazo Volcano, Transfer to Riobamba

More epic Andean views are on the itinerary, with a visit to Chimborazo

Depart Patate early on a 2.5-hour ride west to Chimborazo. This dormant stratovolcano is Ecuador's tallest peak, at an impressive 20,548 feet (6,263 m) above sea level. While you won't hike all the way to the top, you'll go on a guided hike up to Carrel Refuge, a mountain hut sitting at 15,748 feet (4,800 m) in altitude. Needless to say, the views of the surrounding valleys and mountains are spectacular. In the afternoon, continue on the road to Riobamba, the capital of Chimborazo province.

Your accommodation for the evening is just north of the city: Hacienda La Andaluza. Situated in the highlands and featuring prime views of the volcano and surrounding valleys, La Andaluza also boasts much historical significance. It was founded in the 16th century and, over the years, has hosted notable figures, such as Simón Bolívar, the Liberator of South America. Upon arrival, you can relax with a cocktail in the comfy bar lounge, followed by dinner at the restaurant, serving a delightful combination of Ecuadorian and international cuisine.

Day 11: Scenic Transfer to Guayaquil, Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop

Welcome to your home for the next couple of nights (photo courtesy of Hacienda La Danesa)

It's another early start as you leave the Riobamba area on a four-hour drive toward the coast. Take a break for lunch and continue the scenic journey that takes you up to one of the highest points in the Ecuadorian highlands before descending toward the coast. Rice plantations dot the landscape as you near the port city of Guayaquil.

In the countryside outside the city is Hacienda La Danesa, where you'll spend the night. The historic building dates to the 19th century and features luxury rooms and suites with handcrafted furniture, private terraces, and modern conveniences. However, the real star here is the ranch's estate. The hacienda is set on a 1,235-acre (500 ha) working dairy farm and cacao (cocoa) plantation, offering a glimpse into the rural heritage that has defined this region for centuries.

Speaking of which, after settling in, you'll participate in a workshop to discover the history of Ecuadorian chocolate. During this 2.5-hour experience, your private guide will lead you on a walk around the hacienda's cacao plantation to learn about this fruit and its prized beans. Then, at the farmhouse, you'll receive an overview of the entire production process from bean to bar. Not only will there be chocolate tastings, but the workshop ends with you making your own decadent hot chocolate drink.

Day 12: Day Trip to La Esperanza Cloud Forest, Horseback Riding

Get ready to saddle up for a two-hour horseback ride in La Esperanza nature reserve
The day begins with a drive north toward the coast on a day trip to Reserva Natural La Esperanza. This reserve protects around 5.6 square miles (14.5 sq km) of pristine cloud forests. This ecosystem is home to an array of exotic flora and fauna, including orchids, bromeliads, hummingbirds, trogons, coatis, spectacled bears, and many more. Upon arrival, you'll set off from a trailhead for a hike through this natural wonderland. Afterward, meet a local vaquero (cowboy) and saddle up for a two-hour horseback ride near La Esperanza. At the end of the day, you'll return to Hacienda La Danesa.

Day 13: Day Trip to Churute Mangroves, Pampering Spa Session

The perfect finale to your trip: a pampering in-room spa treatment 

Leave the hacienda this morning on an hour's drive to the Churute Mangrove Reserve. Located an hour south of Guayaquil, this 86,589-acre (35,041 ha) protected area is home to Ecuador's largest red and black mangrove reserve. Hop in a canoe upon arrival and set off with your private guide through the area's many mangrove swamps and lakes. Expect to see various animals and aquatic birds, like tortoises, anteaters, howler monkeys, herons, and woodpeckers.

Upon returning to the hacienda, spend your final evening in Ecuador relaxing after a day of adventure. Enjoy a pampering spa treatment, stroll the manicured gardens, and dine on first-class fare washed down with a glass or two of excellent local wine or beer.

Day 14: Guayaquil City Tour, Depart 

Rio Guayas and the boardwalk Malecón 2000
Soak up Guayaquil's laid-back atmosphere with a stroll down the Malecón boardwalk

There's time for one last adventure in Ecuador. In the morning, embark on a private half-day Guayaquil city tour starting at Seminario Park, where you can spot iguanas scurrying about and relaxing in the sun. After visiting the park's neo-Gothic Metropolitan Cathedral, you'll stroll down the famous Malecón 2000, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) boardwalk along the river.

Then, continue north to Las Peñas, a colorful neighborhood dating to the 16th century, famous for its cobbled streets and pastel-colored hilltop homes. At the tour's end, you'll say goodbye to your new iguana friends as you hop in a car for the transfer to the airport, where your flight home awaits. Safe travels!

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Map of Luxury Hacienda Hopping in Ecuador - 14 Days
Map of Luxury Hacienda Hopping in Ecuador - 14 Days