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Ecuador

Adventure in Ecuador: Volcanoes, Waterfalls and National Parks

11 days | 10 nights
Private tour
From 1669USD per person
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Ecuador is a great destination if you love adventure sports and outdoor activities. Volcanoes, the Amazon rainforest, countless waterfalls and stunning national parks make Ecuador a thrill-seeker's heaven. On this 11-day extensive private tour, you will travel along the famous 'Avenue of Volcanoes' to  explore 4 of the highest peaks in the country (the Imbabura, the Pichincha, the Cotopaxi and the Chimborazo volcanoes) and discover the Cuicocha crater lake. Go horseback riding for half a day, get your adrenaline pumping while bungee jumping, canyoning, rafting or mountain biking in the waterfall province of Baños. Hike the country's greatest national parks and nature reserves in El Cajas, Churute and the Cotopaxi province. But Ecuador is also a land of traditions and culture that can be discovered walking the streets of the UNESCO-listed colonial city of Cuenca and the more modern Guayaquil. Learn about the Inca civilization while discovering the archaeological sites of Ingapirca and Cojitambo. So fasten your seat belt and get ready for your inland Ecuador adventure! 

Destinations

Ecuador

Trip at a glance

Visits

Otavalo Market, Cuicocha Crater Lake, One night with an Indigenous Community, Horseback Ride on Imbabura Volcano, Quitsato Sundial, Quito, Pichincha Volcano, Cotopaxi Volcano National Park and Limpiopungo Lagoon, Bungee Jumping, MTB, Rafting or Canyoning in Baños, half-day MTB descent in Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve, Devil's Nose Train, Ingapirca and Cojitambo Archeological Sites, Cuenca, El Cajas National Park, Churute Mangrove Natural Reserve, Cacao Plantations, Guayaquil

Accomodation

8 nights in 3 or 4* premium hotels or haciendas + 2 nights in local communities

Transportation

Nariz Del Diablo round-trip

All transfers with private car and driver

Dates and Prices

Arrival date

Trip details

Itinerary

Day 1 ARRIVAL IN QUITO, ROAD TO OTAVALO

Arrival at Mariscal Sucre, Quito international airport.

Meet and greet with your English-speaking private guide.

Drive to the Otavalo province (2 hours).

Settle at your hacienda.

Evening

Free evening near Otavalo. 

Overnight at the hacienda near Otavalo. 

Day 2 OTAVALO MARKET, CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE, EVENING & NIGHT WITH AN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY

Morning

Transfer to the Otavalo market, one of the largest and most colorful in South America.

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. 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 colorful pictures.

Transfer 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, the manufacturing of musical instrument and wool felt hats.

Afternoon

After lunch, 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.

Easy hike around the edges of the lagoon (4 to 5 hours) located at 10,650 feet (3246 m).

After a 1-hour drive you will get to an indigenous community in San Clemente for an unforgettable experience.

Meet your host family from the community.

Note that the homestay experience is self-guided and personal. It depends on everyone's efforts to communicate and interact with their host family.

Evening

Evening and overnight with your local family. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hacienda
  • Traditional dinner with your local family

Day 3 HORSEBACK RIDE ON IMBABURA VOLCANO, QUITSATO SUNDIAL

Morning

Leave the community with your local Spanish-speaking guide for a unique experience horseback riding on the edge of the long-extinct Imbabura volcano (2 hours).

Located above the scenic Laguna de San Pablo, this stratovolcano has not erupted for at least 14,000 years.

Afternoon

On the road to Quito stop near Cayambe, known for its flower plantations, it has given Ecuador its title of the Rose Growing Capital of the World (1 hour 30 min).

Before reaching Quito, stop to visit the site of Quitsato Sundial (45 min).

The Quitsato Sundial is a monument located at La Mitad Del Mundo (The Middle of the World). It is also an independent, not-for-profit project whose main goal is to share crucial aspects of the astronomical knowledge of the pre-Hispanic cultures of the region. This monument is the first and the only one located precisely at latitude 0'º00'´0” on the Equatorial line.

Drive to Quito (1 hour 30 min).

Transfer to your hotel, check-in.

Evening

Free evening in Quito. 

Overnight at your hotel in Quito. 

MEALS
  • Traditional breakfast with your local family

Day 4 QUITO: PICHINCHA VOLCANO, HALF-DAY CITY TOUR, ROAD TO LASSO

Morning

Transfer to Quito's gondola (15 min), the TeleferiQo. The second highest cable car in the world will take you to the slopes of the Pichincha volcano in 10 minutes.

Pichincha's summits lies another 700 feet higher. Its two highest peaks Wawa Pichincha and Ruku Pichincha are above 15,000 ft (4600 m).

Short hike to admire the breathtaking views of Quito and the volcano.

Ride the TeleferiQo back to Quito (10 min).

Transfer downtown (15 min).

Afternoon

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.

We then drive south to Lasso, right at the foot of the Cotopaxi volcano.

Evening

Free evening and overnight in Lasso. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 5 COTOPAXI VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK AND LIMPIOPUNGO LAGOON

Morning

Spend your morning in 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.

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.

Afternoon

In the afternoon drive 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 amount of volcanic activity (2 hours).

Arrival at the town of Baños whose name reflect the local thermal springs.

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.

Evening

Free evening. 

Overnight at your hotel in Baños. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 6 BAÑOS: BUNGEE JUMPING, MTB, RAFTING OR CANYONING

Morning

Morning dedicated to either bungee jumping, mountain biking on the 'Route of the Waterfalls', rafting or canyoning in the Baños province.

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.

Afternoon

Head to 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.

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

Evening

Free evening. 

Overnight at your hotel in Riobamba. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 7 HALF-DAY MTB DESCENT IN CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE - 24 MILES / 3 TO 4 HOURS

Morning

After breakfast, transfer to Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve (2 hours 30 min), home of Ecuador's highest mountain, the Chimborazo volcano (20,549 ft - 6263 m).

Chimborazo may not be the highest volcano in the world but its location on the equator makes its peak the furthest point away from the center of the earth.

Ride a 4-wheel drive to the Carrel Brothers Refuge also known as Edward Whymper refuge (15,928 ft - 4855 m).

As you approach the widest face of the mountain, the views of the Chimborazo are the most impressive.

On the drive down, you might spot 3 of the 4 South American camelids introduced to the reseve: llamas and alpacas, domesticated during the Inca empire, and the wilder yet elegant vicuña. The native species of Peru and Chile have well-adapted to this environment.

The surrounding grounds are covered in the local vegetation known as 'páramo' a mix of valerian, gentian and lycopodium.

Through the impressive Chorrera canyon, many alternative backroads will take you to amazing views of the Colta lake and the Riobamba valley.

Afternoon

Drive south to the village of Guamote (1 hour), an interesting place where the inhabitants have preserved their ancestral customs, their way of life and their traditional attire. 

Evening

Free evening in Guamote. 

Overnight in a comfortable community hotel. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the community hotel

Day 8 DEVIL'S NOSE TRAIN, INGAPIRCA AND COJITAMBO ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES, ROAD TO CUENCA

Morning

On your way south, stop at the Balbanera church, the first Catholic building in the history of the country.

After driving 1 hour and 30 minutes through beautiful scenery, you will get to the village of Alausí where you will hop on the train to Sibambe. The famous 'Devil's Nose' train route will take you through breathtaking scenery (2 hours).

Afternoon

After lunch head south to the ruins of Ingapirca driving through more wonderful landscapes (2 hours).

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 helped in determining with accuracy the dates of equinoxes and solstices.

Another 1 hour down the road you will explore the Cojitambo archeological site, where you will learn more about the Inca civilization.

Head further south to the charming colonial city of Cuenca (40 min).

Evening

Free evening in Cuenca.

Overnight at the hotel in Cuenca

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 9 HALF-DAY CITY TOUR OF CUENCA, FREE AFTERNOON

Morning

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.

At a straw-hat factory you will learn more about the famous 'Panama hat' and where it really comes from.

Afternoon

Visit 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.

Afternoon at leisure to discover the city at your own pace or relax in the nearby thermal baths.

Evening

Free evening. 

Overnight at your hotel in Cuenca. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 10 ROAD TO GUAYAQUIL: EL CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, CHURUTE MANGROVE NATURAL RESERVE, CACAO PLANTATIONS

Morning

Departure to Guayaquil (3 hour 30 min).

Drive through El Cajas National Park and Lake La Toreadora.

Stop in Churute where you will cross the mangrove on a small boat.

Churute Reserve is home to many species of mammals, reptiles and birds. 86,590 acres (35,042 hectares) of abundant aquatic vegetation, swamps and bushes create a unique habitat where mangroves thrive diving their roots underwater along other salt-tolerant bushes.

Afternoon

Walk through cacao plants where you will learn everything about coffee from harvest to transformation and how it gets exported all the way to your cup.

After a short demonstration on how unsweetened chocolate is made you will be invited to taste some of the freshly-made product.

In the afternoon, you will get to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and the country's busiest port.

Evening

Free evening. 

Overnight at your hotel in Guayaquil. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Day 11 GUAYAQUIL CITY TOUR, DEPARTURE

Morning

In the morning, enjoy a private city tour.

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.

At the indicated time, transfer to Guayaquil airport (15 min).

Check-in and assistance.

MEALS
  • Breakfast at the hotel

Services

What's included

Accommodation

Nights
8 nights in 3 or 4* premium hotels or haciendas + 2 nights in local communities

Meals

Bed & Breakfast plan
10 breakfasts + 1 dinner
Full board plan
10 breakfasts + 10 lunches + 10 dinners

Transportation

Train
Nariz Del Diablo round-trip
Car
All transfers with private car and driver

Orientation

Guide
Private English speaking guide for all visits, shared English speaking guide for sport activities

Entrance Fees

All entrance fees to mentioned visits and activities

What's not included

  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Extra Meals
  • Drinks
  • Tips

Important notes

As this tour includes demanding physical activities, it is recommended to do a full medical check-up before booking. 

This tour is not suitable for people with heart conditions. 

To avoid altitude sickness (common with altitudes over 10,000 ft - 3000m), we strongly advise against any strong physical effort or any alcohol consumption the first 3 days. 

It is imperative to get your yellow fever vaccine at least ten days prior to departure. 

Weather conditions in the Amazon rainforest vary greatly depending on the two seasons: the wet season from December to May and the dry season from June until November. Regardless of the season, you have to be prepared for rain throughout the year, although it rains a lot less during the dry season. Both seasons provide amazing experiences with plenty of birds, wildlife and flora to see. 

We recommend avoiding travel to the Amazon from December to February. 

Amazon rainforest packing list: binoculars, waterproof hiking shoes, hat, quick-dry clothing, long-sleeves shirt and pants, strong insect repellent, strong sunblock, bathing-suit, case or protection for your camera and phone, personal medication. 

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