- Soak in the natural hot springs of Papallacta
- Enjoy city tours of Quito and Guayaquil
- Kayak in the calm waters of a bright blue crater lake
- Hike around volcanoes in Cotopaxi National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Hot Springs of Papallacta||Quito|
|Day 2||Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Visit Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Lagoon||Otavalo|
|Day 4||Enjoy a Day at Hacienda Zuleta||Otavalo|
|Day 5||Explore Cotopaxi National Park||Cotopaxi|
|Day 6||See Quilotoa Lagoon, Transfer to Riobamba||Riobamba|
|Day 7||Hike Around Chimborazo Volcano, Transfer to Guayaquil||Guayaquil|
|Day 8||Go On a City Tour of Guayaquil||Guayaquil|
|Day 9||Visit Isla de Los Pajaros & Cocoa Plantation, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Hot Springs of Papallacta
Welcome to Quito! You'll arrive at the airport and meet your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. After taking some time to get settled in, explore the historic center today on a guided city tour. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) and welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas between mountain peaks.
Later, spend a couple of hours relaxing in the thermal hot springs of Papallacta. Relax in the pools, enjoy the beautiful Andean scenery, or treat yourself to a massage before returning to Quito for dinner and free time.
Day 2: Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel this morning and take you on a walking tour of the city. Stroll through its narrow streets and visit some of the city's most important churches, such as the Baroque La Compañía, with its incredible gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica.
In the afternoon, you'll visit the equatorial monument known as Mitad del Mundo. It's located just 16 miles (26 km) north of the capital city in the spot where French scientists determined the position of the central line many years ago. You'll have the chance to stand on the line of the equator and strike a pose with one foot in each hemisphere! Visit the adjacent museum, featuring a planetarium, cocoa and chocolate exhibits, and a small-scale model of Quito.
Day 3: Visit Otavalo Market & Cuicocha Lagoon
After breakfast, visit Otavalo, home of a famous marketplace. You'll arrive just in time to bargain for beautiful tapestries, local paintings, hand-knitted wool sweaters, socks and gloves, wood carvings, silver jewelry, embroidered blouses, and straw hats, to name only a few of the items on offer.
In the afternoon, you will visit the beautiful Cuicocha Lagoon at the foot of the Cotacachi volcano. It was formed by a massive eruption approximately 3,000 years ago and contains two forested islands in the middle of the lake—a stunning photo spot! Follow the trail on the crater rim that leads to various viewpoints. If you're up for it, you can hike around the lake. You'll spend the night in Otavalo.
Day 4: Enjoy a Day at Hacienda Zuleta
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Explore Cotopaxi National ParkAfter a hearty breakfast, begin the trip to one of the most famous parks in Ecuador, Cotopaxi National Park. You can enjoy the views of the world's highest active volcano and a one-hour trek to José Rivas Refuge. If you're feeling adventurous, you can go for a horseback ride. Keep your eyes open for various birds and possibly even wild horses. Spend the night at a hacienda in Cotopaxi.
Day 6: See Quilotoa Lagoon, Transfer to Riobamba
The day begins with a scenic drive through the heart of the Andes along the Avenue of Volcanoes. This excursion takes you to the stunning turquoise crater lake of Quilotoa, the pinnacle of the ecological reserve of Ilinizas. You can hike down into the crater (approximately 45-60 minutes). At the bottom, go kayaking into the middle of the lake and enjoy jaw-dropping 360-degree views.
Next, walk back up the trail to the edge of the crater. Have lunch at the top, then check out the nearby market for crafts and paintings. Alternatively, if you don't want to walk down into the crater, you can walk along the rim and stop at different viewpoints. Finally, continue the journey until you reach Riobamba, where you will spend the night.
Day 7: Hike Around Chimborazo Volcano, Transfer to GuayaquilTake in views of Ecuador's highest volcano, Chimborazo. Due to its location close to the equator, its summit is the furthermost point from the earth's center. Drive through the unique volcanic landscapes and hike up to the refuge for more stunning views. With some luck, you can spot vicuñas, small wild relatives of the llama. In the afternoon, transfer to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city.
Day 8: Go On a City Tour of Guayaquil
Take time to explore Guayaquil today. At the Parque Histórico, discover native species, such as sloths, monkeys, and parrots, in a park recreating the natural mangrove habitat. The next stop could be the Cementerio General, an early 20th-century cemetery where artistic tombs are reminders of the prospering cocoa trade of that time. Finally, stroll along the historic cobblestone streets of Puerto Santa Ana and the busy boardwalk Malecón 2000 along the Guayas River. Spend the night in a hotel in the city center.
Day 9: Visit Isla de Los Pajaros & Cocoa Plantation, Depart
Start today with a visit to Puerto el Morro, a fishing village outside the city. At this particular place, there is a confluence of salt water and fresh water, which allows the growth of mangroves and creates a perfect habitat for a great variety of marine species. Board a boat tour to La Isla de Los Pájaros, a little island that's home to magnificent frigate birds, Peruvian boobies, and many other mangrove birds. During the trip, delta dolphins (bottlenose dolphins) can be spotted following the boat.
After the boat tour, visit a cocoa plantation, El Castillo, to learn about the techniques and processes that have made Ecuadorian cocoa one of the highest quality cocoas in the world. Finally, you'll head to the Guayaquil airport to catch your flight home. Safe travels!