- Ride the TelefériQo cable car to the top of Pichincha volcano
- Learn to prepare traditional Ecuadorian dishes in a cooking class
- Hike to the beautiful Pailón del Diablo waterfall
- Soar over mountain scenery on the "Swing at the End of the World"
|Arrive in Quito, Explore the City
|Spend the Day Discovering Quito
|Take a City Tour & Cooking Class, Visit Mitad del Mundo
|Drive to Otavalo, Otavalo Market & Hike Around Cuicocha Lake
|Drive to Cotopaxi, Explore Cotopaxi National Park
|Drive to Baños, See El Pailón del Diablo Waterfall
|Enjoy Leisure Time in Baños
|Drive to Riobamba & Chimborazo Volcano
|Drive to Cuenca via the Ingapirca Ruins
|Explore Cuenca at Your Own Pace
|Drive to Guayaquil & the Pacific Coast
|Tour the Port City of Guayaquil
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore the City
Welcome to Quito! You'll arrive at the airport, pick up your rental car, and then head to your hotel in the city center. After taking some time to get settled in, explore the historic center. 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.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. Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, then head to Panecillo Hill for incredible panoramic views. If you're up for it, drive to Papallacta for a soak in its geothermal pools, then return to Quito for the night.
Day 2: Spend the Day Discovering Quito
Today you'll have the entire day to explore Quito at your own pace. Visit the artsy La Floresta neighborhood and Parque La Carolina, the largest urban park in the city. It features an artificial lake, bike trails, and a skate park. For more arts and culture, check out La Casa de La Cultura, MINDALAE Museum, or the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Another excellent option is to ride the TelefériQo cable car to the top of Pichincha volcano for fabulous views of the city. At the summit, you can go on a short hike, take some amazing pictures, and even spot wildlife.
Day 3: Take a City Tour & Cooking Class, Visit Mitad del MundoYour guide will pick you up from your hotel this morning and take you on a walking tour of the city. Around midday, head to a traditional cooking class to learn about the incredible gastronomy of Ecuador and enjoy a delicious lunch.
Day 4: Drive to Otavalo, Otavalo Market & Hike Around Cuicocha Lake
In the morning, hit the road and drive north 55 miles (90 km) from Quito to Otavalo. Explore the famed local market, filled with colorful textiles, paintings, carvings, hand-painted bowls, and other traditional products. Snack on street food such as salted mango or fritada con mote (fried pork with cooked corn), then continue to nearby Cotacachi, known for its leather products.
In the afternoon, take a walk along the shores of the volcanic crater lake of Cuicocha. Spot its high-altitude flora and fauna, then enjoy a boat ride around the lake's islands. After your tour, drive to a traditional hacienda (farmhouse) in Otavalo, where you'll spend the night.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Drive to Cotopaxi, Explore Cotopaxi National ParkYour next destination is Cotopaxi National Park. You'll travel south approximately 43 miles (70 km) toward Volcán Cotopaxi, whose symmetrical snow-capped peak (9,347 ft/5,897 m) is the second-highest summit in Ecuador. Start at Lake Limpiopungo, where you'll see birds, wild horses, and a mix of Andean plants and wildlife amid the rugged scenery, then hike to the Padre Rivas Refuge for a spectacular view of the volcanic cone. In the late afternoon, head back to your hacienda for a restful evening.
Day 6: Drive to Baños, See El Pailón del Diablo Waterfall
Set out for Baños today, about 81 miles (131 km) south of Cotopaxi. Set your GPS to guide you through the Avenue of the Volcanoes along the way. You'll reach the small village of Río Verde, where you will stop to see the famous El Pailón del Diablo (The Devil's Cauldron) waterfall. In the afternoon, visit the relaxing thermal pools of Baños, or opt for a rafting or ziplining adventure among the rainforest canopy.
Day 7: Enjoy Leisure Time in BañosIn Baños, named for nearby hot springs with healing waters, you'll wake up to the sound of waterfalls. For a relaxing morning or afternoon, take a dip in these thermal waters. Or embark on a rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping, hiking, or mountain biking excursion. Finish the afternoon with a ride on the Swing at the End of the World at Casa del Árbol, a treehouse on a mountainside overlooking Baños.
Day 8: Drive to Riobamba & Chimborazo VolcanoAfter breakfast, the road trip continues to Chimborazo, traveling west about 73 miles (119 km). This ancient volcano's three peaks stretch eastward from a base of more than 12 miles (20 km) in diameter, although its last eruption was about 10,000 years ago. Explore the volcano's base and then hike to Refuge Carrell at 15,748 feet (4,800 m) for mountain and valley views. Back on the road, you'll continue southeast 30 miles (49 km) to Riobamba and rest at your hotel for the evening.
Day 9: Drive to Cuenca via the Ingapirca RuinsStart today with a drive to the pre-Inca ruins at Ingapirca, one of the largest archeological complexes in Ecuador. Located at 10,498 feet (3,200 m) above sea level, the site was a strategically-located settlement to manage an entire empire. Climb through the Cañari settlement ruins and look out for llamas roaming freely. At the end of your archaeological exploration, continue on to Cuenca, traveling the remaining 43 miles (70 km) south.
Day 10: Explore Cuenca at Your Own Pace
Go out and see more of the walled town of Cuenca today as you explore this historic city built on limestone cliffs above the Júcar and Huécar rivers. As you walk around, notice the casas colgadas (hanging houses) over the Huécar Gorge. Stroll the San Sebastián neighborhood to visit the Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) and its colorful gardens, or stop to admire Cuenca's famous pair of cathedrals.
For lunch, visit a local market to try street food like grilled corn and tamales, then stop in at the Museo del Sombrero de Paja Toquilla, otherwise known as the Panama Hat Museum, where the famous hats are made from toquilla straw. Take a walk along the verdant riverbanks of El Barranco, then catch the sunset at Mirador de Turi, an observation deck where you can enjoy stunning views of the city.