Visit Ecuador's capital and its scenic coastline on this eight-day trip. Begin in Quito and soak in the local culture with a city tour, a cooking class, and a visit to the equator. Take a day trip for a lakeside hike and some shopping at traditional markets, then bathe in the hot springs at Papallacta. Next, fly to Manta and enjoy a boat tour of the bay, transferring a few hours south to Puerto López to spot wildlife on a sailing excursion and night dive, and finish the trip with a kite surfing lesson.


  • Learn about Ecuadorian cuisine at a Quito cooking class
  • Visit the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) equator monument
  • Soak in hot springs in scenic Papallacta
  • Enjoy sailing and night diving in Puerto López

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Enjoy a Cooking Class Experience Quito
Day 2 Colonial Quito City Tour & Visit the Mitad del Mundo Quito
Day 3 Explore Local Culture at Otavalo Market & Hike by Cuicocha Lagoon Quito
Day 4 Day Trip to Papallacta Hot Springs Quito
Day 5 Fly to Manta, Manta Bay Tour Manta
Day 6 Transfer to Puerto López, Visit Los Frailes Beach Puerto López
Day 7 Sailing Excursion to Isla de la Plata, Night Diving in Puerto López Puerto López
Day 8 Full-Day Basic Kite Surfing Course, Transfer to Guayaquil & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Enjoy a Cooking Class Experience

Views over Quito and Cotopaxi
Views over Quito and Cotopaxi

Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador! Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), your driver will meet you for the one-hour transfer to your accommodation in the city center. Situated between mountain peaks, the city of Quito stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) and welcomes visitors with its vibrant nightlife and culinary scene, picturesque plazas, shamanic healers, craftspeople, and market stands.

For the rest of the day, get ready to enjoy some incredible tastes, smells, and sensations! With the help of a local chef, you'll experience life as a true Quiteño (Quito resident) and learn how to make three traditional dishes with a gourmet twist. Accompanied by your guide, head to a cooking class venue inside a colonial house at the heart of Quito's historic center. Prepare a meal under the instructor's directions, then enjoy a wonderful authentic lunch with vegetarian and vegan options available. 

Day 2: Colonial Quito City Tour & Visit the Mitad del Mundo

Colonial Quito City Tour & Visit the Mitad del Mundo
Hop between hemispheres at the Mitad del Mundo monument

Today, your English-speaking guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you on a city walking tour. Quito's colonial center is home to many historic squares and buildings, and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. You'll visit the Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches of La Compañía de Jesús and La Basílica del Voto, then walk down La Ronda, the oldest street in Quito that was once used as an Inca trail.

Later, see a monument known as the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), which marks the location of the equator. It is located just 16 miles (26 km) north of Quito, where French scientists determined the position of the central line many years ago. Here, you'll have the chance to stand on the equator, pose with one foot in each hemisphere, and visit the nearby attractions. Around the monument, you'll find a miniature "city," home to a planetarium, a small-scale model of Quito, several museums, an old train station, and a small chapel.  

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Day 3: Explore Local Culture at Otavalo Market & Hike by Cuicocha Lagoon

Cuicocha Lagoon
Take a boat ride to the twin islands of Cuicocha Lagoon

Spend today enjoying a day trip out of Quito. Your first stop will be Otavalo. This city is home to a well-known Indigenous market, where artisans come to sell traditional goods and colorful textiles. Munch on fruit and other snacks as you shop for hand-painted bowls, carvings, paintings, and other crafts. Try some of the city's famous street foods, such as fritada con mote (fried pork with corn) and salted mango. Afterward, head to Cotacachi, a nearby town famous for its leather products. Here, you can enjoy some free time and do some more shopping. 

In the afternoon, walk along the shores of the Cuicocha Lagoon, a volcanic crater lake. Your guide will tell you about the local plant and animal life while explaining the area's history. You can even take a boat ride around the lake's two islands. In the evening, return to Quito, where you'll spend the night.

Day 4: Day Trip to Papallacta Hot Springs

Day Trip to Papallacta
Take a day trip to the natural hot springs at Papallacta

Take a short drive out of Quito today to spend the day enjoying the soothing waters of Papallacta. Situated at a 10,827-foot (3,300 m) elevation amid an evergreen páramo (alpine tundra) landscape, this village is famous for its hot springs, and at the Termas de Papallacta resort and spa, you can take some time to relax and enjoy these naturally-heated pools. If the weather is clear, you may see the Antisana volcano, the fourth-highest volcano in Ecuador, looming above you. After soaking in the spa, return to Quito in the afternoon. 

Day 5: Fly to Manta, Manta Bay Tour

Manta Bay Tour
Enjoy the beach and a colorful sunset at Manta Bay
Catch a flight from Quito to the port city of Manta for the next leg of your journey. When you arrive, a driver will pick you up and take you to Murciélago Beach. Here, you'll meet your guide for the day, who will take you on a boat ride on the ocean. You'll have time to go snorkeling and bird-watching, and if you're lucky enough to be there between June and September, you can also enjoy searching for humpback whales. At the end of the boat trip, return to the beach, where your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in Manta.

Day 6: Transfer to Puerto López, Visit Los Frailes Beach

Transfer to Puerto Lopez and Visit Los Frailes Beach
Spend a beach day on the sands of Los Frailes 

This morning, you'll be picked up by a driver and taken about two hours south to the laid-back fishing town of Puerto López. Check in at your hotel and relax before visiting nearby Los Frailes Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in mainland Ecuador. Los Frailes and its surroundings are part of Machalilla National Park, which protects the diverse ecosystems of the country's Pacific coast. Keep in mind that the area is a nature reserve, meaning there are no stores here—so bring some snacks and water with you. Take some time to swim, snorkel, and relax before returning to Puerto López for dinner.

Day 7: Sailing Excursion to Isla de la Plata, Night Diving in Puerto López

Sailing Excursion from Puerto Lopez to Isla de la Plata
Swing alongside sea turtles in the waters off Isla de la Plata

Board a small family-friendly yacht this morning for an excursion to Isla de la Plata (Silver Island) in the Pacific Ocean. The island's name derives from the local legend that Sir Francis Drake buried treasure here, and it's also said to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." Sea lions and blue-footed boobies abound here, and you may also spot frigatebirds, red-footed and masked boobies, waved albatross, and tropicbirds. After a walk around the island's guided trail, you'll have plenty of time to go snorkeling and explore beneath the ocean.

In the afternoon, return to Puerto López. From mid-June to mid-October, humpback whales can often be sighted on the journey to and from the island. Later in the evening, embark on a night dive. Enjoy the colors of the ocean, and spot many different species of fish as well as turtles. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may also see mola fish and have the chance to dive with giant manta rays. 

Day 8: Full-Day Basic Kite Surfing Course, Transfer to Guayaquil & Depart

Kite surfing
Go kite surfing on your last day in Ecuador

Today is your last day in Ecuador! If you have time before your flight, say goodbye to the country with an exciting kite surfing course. Private transportation will pick you up from your hotel and take you toward the beaches near Manabí. Upon arrival, you'll be provided with all the necessary gear and will have a full day of activities. Learn kite surfing safety rules, tips, and techniques, then try your hand at it yourself.

Once the activity is finished, head back to Puerto López. After one last stroll through town, you'll be taken to Guayaquil and dropped off at the airport. Have a safe and comfortable journey home or to your next destination!

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Map of Nature & Culture in Ecuador: Quito, Manta & Puerto López - 8 Days
Map of Nature & Culture in Ecuador: Quito, Manta & Puerto López - 8 Days