In the central highlands south of Quito, Cotopaxi province boasts some of Ecuador’s most popular attractions. As well as the eponymous volcano, there are charming market towns, shimmering lakes, evocative festivals, nature reserves and much more to explore.
Best of Cotopaxi
Scenic trails crisscross Cotopaxi National Park. Highlights of a day’s hike include a visit to Lake Limpiopungo, for a look at the massive rocks that were expelled during Cotopaxi's last eruption. You can get a glimpse back in time at the pre-Incan ruins of Salitre, or make the challenging ascent to the Jose Ribas Refuge, set at an elevation of 15,748 feet (4800m). For a different perspective, see the mountainous landscape on a two-hour horseback riding excursion or go mountain biking along the base of the volcano.
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This sweeping two-week adventure showcases the diversity of Ecuador. From busy marketplaces in the city to thermal baths in the highlands, from peaceful bays in the Galapagos to the lush landscapes of the cloud forest, this itinerary has something for everyone. Highlights include hiking in Cotopaxi National Park, shopping in Otavalo Market, sightseeing in the bustling city of Quito, and snorkeling and swimming around the gorgeous islands of the Galapagos archipelago.
Seven to eight days is the most popular trip length for Ecuador travelers interested in visiting both Quito and Cotopaxi, especially when also including Baños or Archidona. If you're not interested in Baños, five to seven days is enough for your Quito and Cotopaxi trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as four days. For the best itineraries, including Quito and Cotopaxi, keep reading below.
There's no need to choose between cultural exploration and outdoor thrills on a trip to Ecuador—this six-day itinerary offers both! Base yourself in Quito as you get to know the capital city, day-tripping to Papallacta to soak in thermal waters. Then ride a cable car high into the mountains to hike Rucu Pichincha Volcano. Finish the trip with a trek to the summit of a volcanic mountain and a brief exploration of Cotopaxi National Park.
Seven to eight days is the most popular trip length for Ecuador travelers interested in visiting Quito, Otavalo, and Cotopaxi, especially when also including time in another region. If you're not interested in extending your itinerary, six to seven days is enough for your Quito, Otavalo, and Cotopaxi trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as four or five days. Read on for the best itineraries, including Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, and beyond.
Get to know the Ecuadorian highlands on this nine-day horseback riding adventure. Start in the verdant Machachi Valley and acclimate to the elevation before taking on longer rides up the Corazón volcano in Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve. Learn about "chagras," Ecuadorian cowboys, and follow the same paths used by the Inca and countless hikers as you approach Quilotoa Lagoon via the Quilotoa Loop.
Active families can experience the best of Ecuador's great outdoors on this 10-day itinerary that takes you from the Andes to the Amazon. Start in Quito with a walking tour and family cooking class, then set off into Cotopaxi National Park, where the kids will channel their inner adventurer with horseback riding and high ropes courses at a local hacienda. See dramatic waterfalls and the world's most famous treehouse in Baños, venture deep into the Amazon for two nights at an incredible ecolodge, and wrap things up with a dip in the natural hot springs of Papallacta.
Traverse the very best of the Ecuadorian highlands on this 7-day itinerary. Starting and finishing in the capital, Quito, you will encounter bustling markets, awe-inspiring volcanoes, centuries-old colonial towns and Inca ruins. There's great hiking along the way in terrain ranging from glaciers and high-level plateau through to forests and waterfalls.
This action-packed seven-day tour of Ecuador is perfect for travelers searching for adventure, culture and spectacular scenery all within a few hours' drive from the capital Quito. The trip begins with a thrilling bike ride down an active volcano and continues with hikes in the cloud forest, a climb up a waterfall and visits to an indigenous community. There will be plenty of opportunities to unwind too, with stops at hot springs and a quiet, mountainside hacienda.
Adventure awaits on this exhilarating 10-day journey through Ecuador. Starting in the country's rugged Andean highlands, you'll hike and horseback ride through a landscape of towering volcanoes, crater lakes, and dramatic waterfalls before hopping over to the Galápagos to discover some of the most remarkable biodiversity on earth. Explore uninhabited islands, snorkel with sharks, and get your adrenaline pumping as you rappel deep into a dormant volcano.
Offering a mix of culture, nature, and adventure, this six-day journey around Ecuador takes you from the busy streets of Quito to the snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi National Park. Stand on the line of the equator and learn to cook Ecuadorian dishes, then venture into the Mindo Cloud Forest for an unforgettable hike. Spend the last full day of the trip on a horseback excursion around the volcanoes and lagoons of Cotopaxi.
This far-reaching 15-day trip will take you to some of Ecuador's most scenic spots. Begin with a city tour of Quito, then head to Cotopaxi for mountain biking and climb to the crater lake of Quilotoa. Visit Pailón del Diablo waterfall and go canyoning in Baños, then transfer back to Quito and board your flight to the Galápagos. Take in the amazing biodiversity of these islands as you enjoy a variety of adventure sports, including hiking, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and more.
Outdoorsy types with a penchant for rock climbing will love this 11-day loop in Ecuador. The trip starts in Quito, the UNESCO-listed capital, where you'll tour the colonial sights and sample local cuisine, chocolate, and beer in one of the world's highest cities. Then head out into the great wilderness as you hike, boulder, rock climb, and paddle across a varied terrain peppered with volcanoes. Finish with two nights at an ecolodge in the rainforest to complete the adventure.
Experience 11 days of adrenaline sports and adventure against the backdrop of Ecuador's most stunning natural highlights. Check off the key sites in Quito, and explore Cotopaxi National Park on foot and horseback. Trek to the turquoise waters of Quilotoa Lagoon, rappel down waterfalls in the canyons of Baños, and summit the crater volcano of Fuya Fuya, then celebrate your achievements and soothe your tired muscles with a soak in the hot springs of Papallacta.
This weeklong itinerary is perfect for travelers who are interested in seeing the astoundingly beautiful landscapes of Ecuador. Travel along the Andean highlands to see ancient volcanoes, sacred waterfalls, and lagoons before ending your trip in the lush coastal lowlands. At the end of each adventurous day, you will be able to relax at beautifully restored haciendas that will allow you to step back in time.
Use Ecuador's capital as your base for this adventure-packed, weeklong trip. Explore Quito's colonial past and visit the equator line, head to the lush Mindo Cloud Forest to see its incredible diversity of wildlife, and browse local markets for handmade art and handicrafts. No trip to Ecuador would be complete without a visit to one of the country's volcanos, and you'll get to hike two: Quilotoa and Cotopaxi.
Most people visiting Quito, Baños, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Cotopaxi, and Guamote spend about 15 days in Ecuador, which usually includes time for more stops as well. For travelers wanting to visit Quito, Baños, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Cotopaxi, and Guamote exclusively, plan eight to 10 days for a well-paced trip. Read on for the best itineraries.
The small South American country of Ecuador is rich in wildlife, biodiversity, and natural beauty. Active kids, whatever their ages, will love this two-week tour of the country, which takes you from the high-altitude capital of Quito to the Andean plains, the jungles of the Amazon, and the cloud forests of Mindo. Horseback ride across the highlands, take night and daytime tours of the rainforest, admire dramatic waterfalls, zipline through a cloud forest, and much more.
Experience Ecuador's natural wonders beyond the lively capital city Quito on this eight-day discovery tour. Before heading into the wilderness, you'll base yourself mostly in Quito, exploring its museums, architecture, and cuisine. Take a day trip to the sapphire waters of Cuicocha Lagoon, shop for handicrafts in Otavalo Market, and hike amid the cloud forests of Mindo. Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, sleep in a traditional hacienda, and have fun in Baños—Ecuador's adventure capital.
Staying in a hacienda has become a must for any trip to the Ecuadorian Andes. On this eight-day adventure, you'll discover historic farmhouses dating back to the 16th century, lovingly restored into first-class hotels. Start in Quito and uncover its colonial past, then hike along Cucicocha Lagoon before pampering your body at Papallacta Spa. Explore Cotopaxi National Park and take a horseback ride at sunset. Finally, it's water galore as you enjoy hot springs, thermal baths, and waterfalls in Baños.
Discover Ecuador's breathtaking landscapes and colorful cultural traditions on this thrilling nine-day trip. Start with a tour of Quito, step on the equator at Mitad del Mundo, and dip in the thermal waters of Papallacta before continuing to Otavalo to shop for handicrafts and spend a day at a traditional hacienda. Explore Cotopaxi National Park and the Avenue of Volcanoes, then finish the adventure in the coastal city of Guayaquil.
Experience the best of Ecuador's mainland on this exciting nine-day itinerary. You'll kick off the trip in Quito with a city tour and a cooking class, then go horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park. Base yourself in beautiful Baños, day-tripping to lagoons and waterfalls, before continuing to Chimborazo volcano and Cajas National Park. Finish the adventure with a guided exploration of coastal Guayaquil.
This active adventure covers some of Ecuador's most famous peaks and staggering volcanoes, rising to 20,702 feet (6,310 m). Starting in Quito, one of the world's highest cities, you'll drive south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes to hike in national parks, visit archaeology ruins, and explore charming towns and cities dating to the 16th century. Head west to the Pacific Ocean and take a sunset stroll along Guayaquil's boardwalk to finish the adventure.
Unplug and de-stress on this nature-filled, nine-day escape to Ecuador. Start in the capital of Quito for city sightseeing, then venture into the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforests of Yasuní National Park, where you'll meet the forest's traditional guardians and spot its spectacular wildlife. It's on to Cotopaxi National Park to see sweeping Andean grasslands by horseback, then wind your way along the dramatic Route of Waterfalls in Baños before ending your trip with a soak in the Papallacta hot springs.
Combine sightseeing with high-adrenaline adventures on this nine-day tour of mainland Ecuador. You'll acclimatize while touring Ecuador's capital, Quito, before biking in Cotopaxi National Park. Then transfer to Baños for hiking, kayaking, and canyoning. In Archidona, get your thrills whitewater rafting on the Río Jatunyaku before ending your tour soaking any aches away in the hot springs of Papallacta.
From Quito's colonial center to the volcanoes of Cotopaxi National Park, explore the best of Ecuador's mainland on this packed 10-day itinerary. Hike along the rim of volcanic lagoons, barter for Ecuadorian handicrafts at markets, and visit small mountain villages. You'll see cascading waterfalls, lush orchid farms, high altitude plateaus, and much more as you traverse the countryside.
Experience the rugged beauty of the Ecuadorian Andes firsthand and hike through the country's most famous active and dormant volcanoes on this 11-day itinerary. Get your bearings in Quito, exploring the capital city's historic center, before taking on high-altitude hikes in Antisana National Park and Cotopaxi National Park, among other reserves. Visit crater lakes and frosty peaks before spending a day unwinding in Papallacta's hot springs.
Spend 11 days exploring the biodiverse landscapes of Ecuador, from the Andes to the Amazon. Travel from Quito deep into the rainforest of Yasuní National Park for a chance to see parrots, monkeys, and other wildlife. Then, hop on a horse to explore Cotopaxi National Park, where you can find volcanic lakes and stunning views of the active volcano. Finally, unwind in Baños and Papallacta, watching the views from bubbling hot springs.
Experience the wonder of volcanic landscapes and centuries-old architecture during this 11-day itinerary in Ecuador's highlands. Visit crater lakes, hot springs, and waterfalls in the páramo climate of the Ecuadorian Andes. Along the way, stop in metropolises like Quito and Cuenca to visit exceptionally well-preserved colonial buildings and the most extensive pre-Columbian ruins in the country.
Get ready for adventure as you drive through Ecuador from north to south, making your way from high-altitude Quito to coastal Guayaquil. With the freedom to go at your own pace, start where the world divides in Quito and explore the base of an active 19,347-foot (5,897 m) volcano at Cotopaxi National Park. Swing over the "End of the World" in Baños de Agua Santa, and walk through a city with four rivers in Cuenca, ending your trip in Guayaquil as you return to sea level.
With such a wide range of landscapes, wildlife, and metropolitan areas, it's nearly impossible to see all of Ecuador in one trip, but this 15-day itinerary comes close. Start off in Quito, the nation's capital, before exploring volcanoes, crater lakes, waterfalls, and Cañari and Inca ruins across the highlands. Then, fly offshore to the Galápagos Islands, where you'll spend several days sailing, snorkeling, and hiking among some of the most stunning natural places in the world.
Discover the secrets of the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest on this 12-day adventure in Ecuador. Combining organized tours with independent exploration, halfway through the trip, you'll join a small group on a three-night rainforest escape to Itamandi Ecolodge. After jungle hikes, canoe rides, and Indigenous community visits, you'll walk among active volcanoes in the Andes, looking out for condors, wild horses, and alpacas at high-altitude lakes.
See the highlights of Ecuador on this 13-day whirlwind tour. Start at Quito, the colonial capital, which will give you a glimpse of the local culture. Spend the next few days driving south, passing iconic destinations like Cotopaxi, Baños, and Cuenca while enjoying food and nature. Then, go to Guayaquil and take a flight to the Galápagos Islands, where you'll hike and snorkel to see fascinating endemic species.
Hit the road for this exciting self-drive adventure through Ecuador. The 13-day itinerary begins when you pick up your rental car at Quito's airport. Take side trips to Mitad del Mundo and Papallacta before continuing to the famous Otavalo Market to shop for handicrafts. Drive to Cotopaxi National Park and Baños for hikes and outdoor activities, then finish with sightseeing in Cuenca and coastal Guayaquil.
This 13-day tour of Ecuador will tap all of your senses, from seeing historical sights to tasting local chocolate and smelling fresh coffee. Start in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to see the Cathedral and Plaza de San Francisco and participate in a chocolate tour. Outside of the city, learn about the process of how coffee is made at a local farm. Take the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train ride to see the scenic countryside, and stay in the colonial-era city of Cuenca known for its nightlife and dining.
This exciting 15-day itinerary introduces you to the highlights of mainland Ecuador, then whisks you off to the Galápagos Islands for an unforgettable adventure. Start with sightseeing in Quito, then ride a horse in Cotopaxi National Park and hike to waterfalls near Baños. Get to know Guayaquil before catching a flight to the Galápagos to explore several islands, see giant tortoises, and snorkel with sea turtles.
Compact but diverse, Ecuador is a perfect destination for an epic two-week family vacation. This fun-filled itinerary begins and ends in Quito, with adventures in the Andean highlands and the Amazon rainforest in between. Along the way, you'll keep the kids busy as you horseback ride at a hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park, brave suspension bridges over the waterfalls of Baños, spot monkeys and capybaras at your jungle ecolodge, and barter with the locals at the colorful markets of Otavalo.
If your family is having trouble deciding between a mountain or a beach-focused vacation, this two-week tour of Ecuador ticks both boxes. Starting in the high-altitude capital Quito, you'll embark on a kid-friendly adventure through the Andean highlands, skirting the edge of the Amazon rainforest in Baños before ending up on the Pacific coast for some beach time and wildlife-watching fun.
See Ecuador off the beaten path on this 15-day trip that takes you from the towering Andes to the edge of the Amazon. Visit the major sites of Quito as you discover its local cuisine, then hike and horseback ride through Cotopaxi National Park. Explore waterfalls near Baños before reaching Tena, where you'll float along the river through the Amazon rainforests. Discover the Andean hill towns of Cuenca, Gualaceo, and Chordeleg, and witness the ruins of Ingapirca and El Cajas National Park
Experience the best of Ecuador while getting to know its three main ecological regions: the Amazon rainforest, volcano highlands, and Galapagos Islands on this 14-day itinerary. Start the trip in Quito to see the UNESCO designated colonial city center, then head to the rainforest for three days at an ecolodge. Hike near volcanic lagoons and browse mountain markets, then catch a flight to Santa Cruz for three days of exploring uninhabited islands and spotting endemic wildlife.
Experience the best of Ecuador's mainland and Peru's highlights on this two-week trip. Start in Quito to tour the UNESCO-designated city center, then head to the Amazon for cultural experiences with the Kichwa indigenous community, wildlife viewing, and a peaceful rainforest atmosphere. Return to Quito by way of Cotopaxi National Park, home to the eponymous volcano. Then, catch a flight to Lima—the urban hub of Peru. End the trip with a visit to Cusco's pre-Inca ruins and a tour of the Sacred Valley and imperial Machu Picchu residence.
Spend two weeks exploring mountainous landscapes in a country that's equally famous for its volcanoes and rainforest. From Quito's colonial city center to the high-elevation hacienda refuge on Cotopaxi, you'll trek through historic sites and stunning nature. Spot rare Andean condors, haggle for goods at a mountain market, summit volcanoes, and more.
Ecuador is famous for its snow-capped volcanoes and UNESCO historic sites, and you'll get to visit both on this 7-day itinerary. In Quito, visit colonial churches, stand on both hemispheres at the Middle of the World, and hike the nearby Ruco Pichincha Volcano. You'll also hike the Pasochoa Volcano, admire the scenery in Cotopaxi, and browse for gifts at mountain markets.
The landscapes of Ecuador's mainland are as varied as the people who live there, and you'll get to experience both nature and culture on this 14-day itinerary. Meet the locals who call these regions home and learn about their history, way of life and relationship to Ecuador's landscapes. From the Otavaleños and Afro-Ecuadorians in the north and the Quichua and Shuar in the rainforest to the Kichwa in the central Andes, you'll dive deep into everyday life and explore Ecuador's nature.
This short but extensive itinerary brings you into the very heart of the Ecuadorian capital and its surroundings. You will tour Quito's beautifully preserved historic center to see fine examples of colonial architecture, learn about history and culture at the Ethnographic Museum, and enjoy the best panoramic view of the city. The adventure continues north of Quito in Otavalo and Cotacachi, renowned for their local crafts. Finally, take a day-trip to Cotopaxi National Park—its namesake volcano is one of Ecuador's most famous natural landmarks.
The incredible diversity of Ecuador is highlighted on this 10-day trip around the country. Tour the colonial center of Quito and hike to Cotopaxi Volcano in the Andes before venturing into the Amazon to explore the rainforest's wildlife and indigenous culture. Then it's off to the Galapagos for a few days of island exploration, including snorkeling, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Spotting penguins and giant tortoises in their natural habitats is an unforgettable way to finish this once-in-a-lifetime journey.