Cover two of Ecuador's most scenic and biodiverse regions on this 10-day tour suited for outdoor adventurers who like a touch of luxury. Stay in 5-star hotels in Quito as you explore the capital's Spanish colonial center before hitting the road through the highlands, stopping to hike around volcanoes and waterfalls. Then, travel deep into the Amazon, where, along with naturalist guides, you'll go on nature hikes to spot the rainforest's most famous residents, including parrots, monkeys, and jaguars.


  • Discover Indigenous history and meet with local tribes in the Amazon
  • Go road-tripping around Andean highland volcanoes, waterfalls, and lagoons
  • Embark on nature hikes and canoe rides to spy exotic animals in the Amazon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Visit Pre-Columbian Museum Quito
Day 2 Quito City Tour, Visit Mitad del Mundo Quito
Day 3 Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, Visit Lake Limpiopungo, Guided Hike Cotopaxi
Day 4 Transfer to Baños de Agua Santa, Hike Quilotoa Lagoon Baños
Day 5 Canyoning Adventure Near Baños Baños
Day 6 Waterfall Scenic Drive & Nature Hike, Fly to Quito Quito
Day 7 Fly to Yasuni National Park, Transfer to Napo Wildlife Center Yasuni National Park
Day 8 Day Trip to Parrot Clay Lick, Lunch with Kichwa Community Yasuni National Park
Day 9 Yasuni Nature Hikes & Canoe Ride Yasuni National Park
Day 10 Fly to Quito, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Visit Pre-Columbian Museum

Stay in the epicenter of Quito's colonial history (photo courtesy of Hotel Plaza Grande)

Welcome to Ecuador! The adventure begins the moment you arrive at the international airport in Quito. Ecuador's sprawling capital is a great introduction to the country, as it's nestled high in the Andes and steeped in ancient Indigenous heritage, as well as Spanish-colonial history dating to the 16th century. Many landmarks from this era remain remarkably well-preserved in Quito's famous Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll immerse yourself in this rich history right upon arrival when, after transferring from the airport, you'll arrive at Hotel Plaza Grande.

Located right in the center of Old Town, this 5-star hotel is located in a beautifully restored colonial mansion dating to the 16th century. Inside, it's all first-class modernity, offering a mere 15 suites, each outfitted with plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and marble bathrooms with Jacuzzis. There's also a must-try gourmet restaurant fusing Ecuadorian and international flavors complemented by an extensive wine cellar. If you like, after checking in, you can make a beeline to the hotel spa and relax with a massage or facial to take the edge of the flight.

Once you've settled into the hotel, your driver will pick you up for the ride to the southern end of Quito and a privately guided visit to the Museo Casa del Alabado. This museum of pre-Columbian art features a collection of over 5,000 artifacts spanning more than 5,000 years, dating back long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. The exhibits are organized thematically, covering various aspects of pre-Columbian life, religion, art, and technology. One highlight is a collection of ceramic and stone figurines and sculptures representing ancient Andean cultures.

Day 2: Quito City Tour, Visit Mitad del Mundo

Exclusive Colonial Quito City Tour & Visit to the Middle of the World
Mitad del Mundo marks the exact spot where the equator divides the Earth's hemispheres

Rise and shine for a private walking tour of Quito's famous colonial center. Admire the intricate stone carvings of Iglesia La Compañía 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, you'll continue just north of Quito to Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), a park dominated by the 98-foot-tall (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 Planetarium, which houses a small-scale model of Quito, and various exhibitions. Afterward, you'll return to Quito.

Day 3: Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, Visit Lake Limpiopungo, Guided Hike

Spend the day in the scenic foothills of Cotopaxi volcano
Say goodbye to Quito (for now) as you meet your driver this morning for the 1.5-hour ride south to the province of Cotopaxi. On the way, you'll stop for a traditional meal and meet some locals. Eventually, you'll arrive at Cotopaxi National Park, a pristine nature reserve covering 129 square miles (334 sq km) in the Andean highlands. Here, you'll visit Lago Limpiopungo for a day hike to enjoy the panoramic mountain views. During the outing, keep an eye out for wildlife—the lake is home to several species of birds and a few wild horses.
Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

After the hike, transfer to the nearby Hacienda San Agustín de Callo. Situated in the foothills of Cotopaxi volcano, this rustic yet comfortable hacienda is built on the site of an Inca palace and later a colonial estate. It offers a variety of rooms and suites, each uniquely decorated with a blend of colonial and Indigenous styles. The rooms feature antique furnishings, luxurious linens, and modern comforts such as private bathrooms and heating. Of course, the real star is the property itself, which is surrounded by lush gardens, Andes mountains, and the rugged landscapes of the national park. 

Day 4: Transfer to Baños de Agua Santa, Hike Quilotoa Lagoon

Hike around a turquoise crater lagoon on your way to the next exotic locale

It's time to move on to the next adventure today as you take a two-hour scenic transfer west from Cotopaxi to Laguna Quilotoa. This 2-mile (3 km) wide crater lake sparkles with mineral-rich emerald waters. Upon arrival, you'll stretch your legs on a brisk three-hour hike around the lagoon. It covers a distance of about 2.5 miles (4 km), and much of it's uphill, so a decent level of physical fitness is required. That said, there's the option to hire a mule to ease some of the burden.

After the hike, you'll get back in the car and continue about three hours south to the charming town of Baños de Agua Santa. During the drive, you'll leave the highlands and arrive at the edge of the Amazon basin, a region known for its hot springs and waterfalls. Upon arrival, you'll check into Luna Volcán Adventure Spa.

Get ready for more hacienda-style living, as this idyllic property sits on a hill with prime views of Baños and the surrounding Andes. It offers an array of themed rooms and suites tailored to couples, families, friend groups, and solo adventurers. They're all equipped with plush beds, and some have garden and Andes views from private terraces. Expect even better views when you head up to the pool area, where you can take a dip or soak in the Jacuzzi.

Day 5: Canyoning Adventure Near Baños

Strap in for a thrilling canyoning adventure down a waterfall

Prepare for some adrenaline-pumping action as you transfer just outside Baños this morning to a river canyon. Here, your private guides will instruct you in abseiling (canyoning). Once you're familiar with the equipment, you'll strap into a harness, and after a fun zipline ride across the canyon, you'll start rappelling down waterfalls. Continue sliding down natural chutes until you reach the freshwater pools below, where you can enjoy a victory swim. After an action-packed morning, you'll sit down for a lunch of fresh grilled river trout before returning to your hotel in Baños.

Day 6: Waterfall Scenic Drive & Nature Hike, Fly to Quito

Try not to get vertigo as you hike around El Pailón del Diablo

You've hiked and cycled around highland volcanoes; now it's time to experience natural wonders a bit lower in altitude. This morning, your driver will take you for a ride along 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.

After marveling at the falls, you'll head back to Baños. On the way, stop just outside of town at Casa del Arbol, where you can soar on a swing placed at the edge of a mountain. If you like, afterward, you can stop for a soak at nearby hot springs. Then, you'll transfer by vehicle three hours north back to Quito, where you'll check into EB by Eurobuilding, a 5-star hotel on the city's outskirts near the airport. If you like, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing by the pool.

Day 7: Fly to Yasuni National Park, Transfer to Napo Wildlife Center

Your next destination is a rustic gem deep in the Amazon (photo courtesy of Napo Wildlife Center)

The adventure continues to the Amazon! Rise early and transfer back to the airport for the 35-minute flight to Coca. Located in the northeastern Amazon region, on the Río Napo, this small city is a transport hub for excursions deep into the jungle. That's exactly what you'll do when, upon arrival, transfer to the dock and hop on a private, motorized canoe for the two-hour ride downriver. During the leisurely trip, keep an eye on the riverbanks, where you might spot some monkeys, toucans, and macaws in the trees.

In the late afternoon, you'll arrive at Napo Wildlife Center, which will be your home for the next couple of nights. This ecolodge is nestled on a small ridge at the edge of Añangu Lagoon and blends seamlessly into the surrounding rainforest. It was designed specifically for nature lovers who want to experience the Amazon's disparate ecosystems and observe its biodiverse wildlife.

Even better, it lies deep within Yasuni National Park. The equator, Andes, and Amazon biomes meet within this 3,792-square-mile (9,820 sq km) protected area, home to thousands of species of mammals, plants, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. A stay at Napo means you'll be fully immersed in the region's natural beauty and far off the tourist trail. Upon arrival, you'll have some free time in the afternoon before sitting down to a welcome dinner at the lodge.

Day 8: Day Trip to Parrot Clay Lick, Lunch with Kichwa Community

Enjoy a warm welcome and traditional lunch with the local Kichwa Indigenous community 

Today starts with a 30-minute hike along a nearby trail to reach one of the highlights of Yasuní National Park—the parrot clay licks. Hundreds of birds flock to these small cliffs on the banks of the Napo River to feed the mineral-rich soil, creating one of the most captivating displays in the birding world. Make sure to bring your binoculars to view the 11 species of parrots and parakeets that frequent the cliffside, and keep an eye out for the other animals like howler monkeys, tapirs, and peccaries that come here to drink.

Later, travel to an Indigenous cultural center in this part of the Amazon. Here, you'll sit down with members of a local Kichwa-speaking Indigenous community for a traditional lunch. After eating and making some new friends, you'll transfer back to Napo Wildlife Center. 

Day 9: Yasuni Nature Hikes & Canoe Ride

Keep your camera close at hand to capture toucans, spider monkeys, and more on today's hike

After an early breakfast, leave the lodge with your private guide on a 30-minute hike to a tower that rises 118 feet (36 m) around a giant kapok tree. From the observation deck, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding jungle canopy. Keep your camera handy as you'll spot flocks of colorful birds flitting around, like tanagers, macaws, and toucans. You'll also probably see playful spider monkeys leaping between tree branches in search of fruit.

Lunch will be served back at the lodge. Later in the afternoon, embark on another guided nature hike to discover more flora and fauna. Within this natural menagerie, you'll spy all manner of exotic creatures, including monkeys, sloths, tree frogs, toucans, and (if you're lucky) the elusive jaguar. After the hike, explore the nearby lake and creeks by dugout canoe. There's a high chance you may run into a giant otter family on the way.

Day 10: Fly to Quito, Depart 

Farewell Yasuni National Park- Private Transfer to Coca for your Flight Back to Quito
Farewell, Ecuador
All good things must end. Your last leg of this epic journey involves a canoe transfer back to Coca, where you'll board a plane to Quito. There, you'll catch your connecting flight home. Until next time!

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