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Ecuador

Ecuador Fly and Drive

12 days | 11 nights
Private tour
From 1199USD per person
Sorry, there are no prices defined for this date. Please contact us by clicking on "Customize your trip"

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It is fair to wonder whether self-driving is a good and safe option to visit Ecuador. Luckily it is and this independent 12-day tour is a great way to discover this beautiful country at your own pace. Over the past 5 years, the Ecuadorian Government has tripled its investment on road development and improvement and it strongly reinforced driving laws in 2017. With new roads and clear signage, driving through a country half the size of Texas feels like a breeze. Imagine winding your windows down while cruising through the spectacular 'Avenue of Volcanoes' surrounded by 8 of Ecuador's highest peaks, including the famous Chimborazo and Cotopaxi volcanoes. On the 'Route of the Waterfalls' pull over in the lush town of Baños, the gateway to adventure sports in the region. Park your car and walk the colonial streets of Quito and Cuenca, two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Drive to Alausi and hop on the zigzagging Devil's Nose train. Make your way to three National Parks in the area, the Cotopaxi National Park, the El Cajas National Park and the Machalilla National Park. Your trip will end with a relaxing beach stay at the coastal village of Puerto Lopez boasting the nicest beaches in Ecuador. Believe us: you will love discovering Ecuador from the comfort of your car! 

Destinations

Ecuador

Trip at a glance

Visits

Quito, Otavalo Market, Peguche, Cuicocha Crater Lake, Cotacachi, Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, Pailon Del Diablo, Route Of The Waterfalls, Baños, Chimborazo Volcano, Riobamba Religious Art Museum, Guamote Village, Devil's Nose Train, Ingapirca Archeological Site, Cuenca, El Cajas National Park, Guayaquil, Puerto Lopez, Machalilla National Park, Los Frailes Beach

Accomodation

11 nights in 3* or 4* premium hotels

Transportation

Nariz del Diablo Round-Trip

Rental car from day 3 in Quito at 8am till day 12 in Guayaquil at 6pm. 3* CATEGORY: cat O SUV 4x2: Suzuki Grand Vitara SZ or similar, Automatic Transmission, 5 pax, 3 bags / 4* CATEGORY: cat F SUV 4x2: Jeep Compass or similar, Automatic Transmission, 5 pax, 4 bags / GPS, unlimited mileage, PDW (Partial Damage Waiver) up to 5,000 USD

Dates and Prices

Arrival date

Trip details

Itinerary

Day 1 ARRIVAL IN QUITO

Afternoon

Arrival at Mariscal Sucre, Quito international airport. 

Meet and greet with your English-speaking private guide. 

Transfer to our Latin Discoveries office in downtown Quito (50 min) to receive your Fly & Drive Travel Kit with key information and instructions. 

Transfer and check in at your hotel. 

Evening

Free evening in Quito. 

Overnight at your hotel in Quito. 

Day 2 QUITO: HALF-DAY CITY TOUR, FREE AFTERNOON

Morning

Discover with your guide the least-altered and best-preserved Latin American capital. 

Take a walk to visit the colonial churches and monasteries of this urban jewel, the first city in history to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting at the Independence Square, flanked by the Presidential Palace your visit will include the Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito, the Archbishop's Palace and the City Hall. 

Ramble through the city's old streets on your way to El Sagrario church and its exquisitely carved stone façade and step inside the awe-inspiring church of the Society of Jesus. 

Walk on to the Convent and Church of San Francisco, one of the greatest religious buildings on the South American continent. 

Drive up to the top of the Panecillo hill for breathtaking panoramic views of Quito. 

Afternoon

Free afternoon to enjoy Quito at your own pace. 

Evening

Free evening in Quito. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 3 DRIVE TO OTAVALO MARKET, PEGUCHE, CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE, COTACACHI - 2-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

Together with your guide, transfer to the north of the city to pick up your rental car.

Drive north to Otavalo (approx. 2 hours). 

Spend your morning at the Otavalo market, one of the largest and most colorful in South America that comes alive every day of the week.

There you can find all types of handicrafts: woven rugs, alpaca sweaters, shirts, wall hangings, bags, paintings, clay figurines, silver jewelry and many other local souvenirs. 

On Saturdays only, locals come to trade livestock and other agricultural goods. The market is also very busy on Sundays and Wednesdays. Many stall owners belong to the Otavalo community and can be recognized by their traditional clothes. The many sights of women dressed in long skirts and embroidered blouses while men proudly wear hats to cover their long hair make this market a great opportunity for beautiful pictures.

You can then drive to the town of Peguche (10 min), home to a stunning sacred waterfall. The village inhabitants have worked for centuries on traditional back strap weaving techniques, musical instrument-making and wool felt hats. 

Afternoon

Head to the mysterious Cuicocha Lake (40 min) whose beautifully-still waters stretch over the caldera of an ancient volcano that collapsed over itself millions of years ago. 

On the way back to Otavalo (20 min), enjoy a short stopover in Cotacachi, a little town whose activity is dedicated to making fine leather products: crafted leather belts, purses, bags, jackets, backpacks and more. 

Evening

Free evening and overnight in Otavalo. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 4 DRIVE TO COTOPAXI VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK - 3-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

Drive south along the famous 'Avenue of Volcanoes', a name given by Alexander Von Humboldt, a German scientist who, while studying the volcanoes of Ecuador, was amazed by the concentration of volcanic activity in the area (approx. 3 hours). 

Arrival at Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, the second largest national park in Ecuador and second most visited after the Galapagos National Park. 

From there you will get the best views of the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano, the second highest mountain in the country (19,347 ft - 5897 m) and also one of the highest volcanoes in activity in the world, having erupted more than 50 times since 1738. 

Afternoon

Surrounded by stunning panoramas you will discover that the ecosystem in Cotopaxi is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, a unique combination of pine vegetation where wolves, pumas, bears, rabbits, condors, wild horses, and foxes coexist. 

If time and weather allows it, take time to set foot among the rich environment of this spectacular Andean region on one of the many short trails available. 

From the parking lot, you can hike to José Rivas shelter (15,953 ft - 4862 m) in under 2 hours, passing several beautiful lagoons. 

Drive to your hotel located in a nearby town (20 min). 

Evening

Free evening at your hotel. 

Overnight near Cotopaxi Volcano National Park. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 5 DRIVE TO BAÑOS: PAILON DEL DIABLO, ROUTE OF THE WATERFALLS - 2-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

Drive south of the Cotopaxi region to the town of Baños (2 hours). 

Your journey will take you through the 'Route of the Waterfalls' and along the Pastaza River to the small village of Rio Verde. 

Stop for a visit of el Pailón del Diablo, the 'Devil's Cauldron', a spectacular waterfall with an impressive 260-foot drop (80 m) splitting over rocks. Weather permitting, you might also be able to see the 'Manto de la Novia', a ravishing twin waterfall near Baños.

Afternoon

In the afternoon drive back to the town of Baños whose name reflect the local thermal springs.

Take time to visit Baños and enjoy its splendid views of Tungurahua, the active volcano nearby. The town is popular with visitors who come for its famous hot springs, its lush scenery and for being the gateway to the jungle. 

A 20-minute drive from Baños, pull over at la Casa del Arbol ( the Tree House). Originally used to monitor the activity of mount Tungurahua the views of Baños and its surrounding mountains are spectacular. 

Launch yourself into the air on the 'Swing at the End of the World', hanging from the tree over the edge of the mountain. A fun experience with the active Tungurahua volcano in the background. 

Drive back down to Baños (20 min) where you will spend the night. 

Let us know in advance (at least 3 days) if you are interested in any optional activity: horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting, canyoning… 

Evening

Free evening. 

Overnight at your hotel in Baños. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 6 DRIVE TO ALAUSI: CHIMBORAZO VOLCANO, RIOBAMBA RELIGIOUS ART MUSEUM, GUAMOTE VILLAGE - 4-AND-1/2-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

In the morning, drive towards Riobamba through the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes', passing by the foot of Ecuador's highest mountain. Due to its location on the equator, the Chimborazo volcano (20,549 ft - 6263 m) was long thought to be the highest mountain in the world. This strato-volcano is currently inactive. 

Drive to Riobamba, nicknamed as the 'Sultana of the Andes' because of its proximity with many volcanoes. 

Riobamba is part of the Chimborazo province, home of the largest concentration of indigenous population in the country (60% of the national total). 

During your visit, take time to go to the Religious Art Museum. Located in a former convent, this museum displays some jewels of Latin-American baroque art. You can stop for lunch at Riobamba, or keep driving to the village of Guamote (1 hour). 

Afternoon

Guamote is an interesting village where the inhabitants have preserved their ancestral customs, their way of life and their traditional attire. 

You are now only 45 minutes away from Alausi village, the final stop for the day. 

Evening

Free evening in Alausi. 

Overnight at your hotel in Alausi. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 7 DRIVE TO CUENCA: DEVIL'S NOSE TRAIN, INGAPIRCA ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE - 3-AND-1/2-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

Walk to Alausí's train station to board the uniquely famous 'Devil's Nose' train to Sibambe.

The tracks go through an area known as the Devil's Nose because of its vertiginous drop (2 hours).

Ride the train back to Alausí to pick up your car and drive south to the ruins of Ingapirca (2 hours). 

Afternoon

Visit the archeological site of Ingapirca, Ecuador's most important Inca site (1 hour 30 min). 

This place stands as a testimony of Incan domination in the country and shows the extent of the empire. 

Revel in the site's sober architecture with its straight lines and trapezoidal doors. Built around 1500, it was once an important religious and ceremonial site dedicated to the main deity of the Incas: the sun. 

Visit the Temple of the Sun, an oval-shaped ceremonial building constructed around a large rock with mind-boggling stonework and trapezoidal doorway typical of Inca construction techniques. 

This Temple was also used for astronomical observations and heped in determining with accuracy the dates of equinoxes and solstices. 

Head further south to the charming colonial city of Cuenca (1 hour 30 min). 

Evening

Free evening in Cuenca. 

Overnight at your hotel in Cuenca. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 8 CUENCA AT YOUR OWN PACE

Discover Cuenca, a jewel of Spanish colonial architecture, built on the ruins of Tomebamba, an ancient Inca city. 

Walk through its narrow streets lined with magnificent houses ornated with colonial balconies. 

Visit the flower market, the Calderon plaza, the new and the old cathedral, the San Francisco Plaza and its handicraft market. 

Drive up to Turi hill to enjoy a splendid panoramic view of Cuenca, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

We recommend visiting the local straw-hat factory to learn more about the Toquilla straw hat, famously mislabelled in the rest of the world as the 'Panama hat'.

Another great visit is the Juan Cordero Iñiguez's private museum, with its great display of ceramics, jewels and everyday objects of pre-Columbian civilizations. This historian and professor dedicated his whole life to collecting Pre-Columbian artefacts. 

Evening

Free evening.

Overnight at your hotel in Cuenca. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 9 ROAD TO GUAYAQUIL: EL CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, GUAYAQUIL CITY-TOUR - 4 HOUR DRIVE

Morning

Departure to Guayaquil (approx. 4 hours). 

45 minutes into your drive, you will reach El Cajas National Park, known for its trails crossing evergreen cloud forests and its 230 pools and lakes, such as Laguna Toreadora. 

This National Park is the main source of drinking water for the City of Cuenca. 

Enjoy one of the half-day hikes (3-4 hours) inside El Cajas National Park. 

Note that the ideal season to trek inside the Park is between August and January. 

Afternoon

Another 3 hours on the road and you will get to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and the country's busiest port. 

Stroll along the Malecon 2000 (the city's strand) and the Seminario Park with its numerous resident iguanas. 

Discover Guayaquil's Cathedral, the City Hall and La Rotonda monument. 

Walk up the tiny streets of Las Peñas, a colorful and traditional neighborhood. 

Evening

Free evening in Guayaquil. 

Overnight your hotel in Guayaquil. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 10 ROAD TO PUERTO LOPEZ: MACHALILLA NATIONAL PARK - 4-AND-1/2-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

Visit the Machalilla National Park, home to the Machalilla culture that flourished between 2250 and 1300 BC. The park boasts many archaeological remains as well as interesting flora and fauna, similar to that found in the Galapagos. 

It is Ecuador's largest protected coastal area and home to over 200 species of birds as well as deer, armadillos and two species of monkey. 

Machalilla National Park has three independent sites: Isla de la Plata, the Archaeological Site of Agua Blanca, and Los Frailes beach. Los Frailes beach is an ideal place to wind down and enjoy an ocean swim.

With clean white sand, tropical dry forest in the background, unique scenery and warm waters, this quiet beach is a real paradise, ideal for a relaxing stopover. 

Afternoon

If you are interested in learning more about Pre-Columbian history, the small museum of Agua Blanca is another short visit you should add to your list. 

On your way to the museum, look for the many species of birds and tree iguanas surrounding an  archeological site and a lookout area with an impressive view. 

Evening

Free evening and overnight in Puerto Lopez. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 11 PUERTO LOPEZ: FREE DAY TO RELAX

Free day to enjoy the quiet fishing village of Puerto Lopez. 

'Book a tour to Isla de la Plata ('Silver Island') referred to as the 'other' or the 'little' Galapagos, a great option for birdwatchers and nature-lovers alike as you can see blue-footed boobies birds in their habitat (not included).

Note that between June to September, it is also a great time to see whales and get on on a whale-watching boat trip (not included). 

Evening

Free evening and overnight in Puerto Lopez. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 12 ROAD TO GUAYAQUIL, DEPARTURE - 4-AND-1/2-HOUR DRIVE

Morning

For your last day in Ecuador and drive back to Guayaquil (approx. 4 hours and 30 min). 

Leave your rental car at the airport's rental car office. 

Check-in for your international flight. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Services

What's included

Accommodation

Nights
11 nights in 3* or 4* premium hotels

Meals

Bed & Breakfast plan
11 breakfasts

Transportation

Train
Nariz del Diablo Round-Trip
Car
Rental car from day 3 in Quito at 8am till day 12 in Guayaquil at 6pm. 3* CATEGORY: cat O SUV 4x2: Suzuki Grand Vitara SZ or similar, Automatic Transmission, 5 pax, 3 bags / 4* CATEGORY: cat F SUV 4x2: Jeep Compass or similar, Automatic Transmission, 5 pax, 4 bags / GPS, unlimited mileage, PDW (Partial Damage Waiver) up to 5,000 USD

Orientation

Guide
No guide is included except for Quito City Tour on day 2

Entrance Fees

Entrance fees not included except on day 2 for Quito City Tour

What's not included

  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Entrance fees (except on day 2)
  • Meals
  • Drinks
  • Parkings fees
  • LDW (Loss Damage Waiver): +35 USD/Day
  • ALI (Additional Liability Insurance): +5 USD/Day

Important notes

You must be at least 21 and have held an unrestricted driver's license for more than 2 years. 

The car rental company will ask you for credit card details to guarantee the booking. 

There are 4 different speed regulations in Ecuador. City: 50 km/h (30 mph) - Perimeter roads: 90 km/h (55 mph) -  Strait roads: 100 km/h (60 mph) - Curvy roads: 60 km/h (37 mph)

The car will be delivered with a full tank of gas. We recommend that you return it in the same conditions. Otherwise, you will be charged at the rates charged by the rental agency. 

You will be responsible for refueling the car during your trip. The gasoline measuring unit in Ecuador is the gallon (3.79 litres). The average price for 1 gallon of gasoline in Ecuador is US$2.30 (premium quality). 

The loss or theft of radio, keys or vehicle documents are not covered by insurance, being considered as mobile accessories. 

A rental day lasts 24 hours. If you rent a car for a whole day at 8:00 am, you will have to return it at 8:00 am the following day. Otherwise, an additional day will be charged. 

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