This 16-day program covers the absolute highlights of Ecuador! In a little more than two weeks time you will discover stunning colonial city centers, breathtaking Andean landscapes, meet indigenous communities and enjoy the Ecuadorian beach. We included the must-do activities for you that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on and are leaving it up to you to choose the activities that you feel like doing on your free days. The convenience of using private transportation throughout the whole trip makes that you can really focus on enjoying your holiday without having to worry on how to get to the next destination. Plus, with the help of our personally put together welcome package you will always know where to go for lunch and dinner and what to do and see at every destination. Let the Best of Ecuador amaze you!
Travel safe and comfortable with our professional drivers
We included the must-see destinations for you
Choose the activities that you like on your free days
Make use of our 24/7 Travel Assistance via phone and Whatsapp
USD $1495,- p.p. (accommodation in double room)
Day 1: Quito airport - Otavalo
Upon your arrival at the airport in Quito, you will be welcomed by your Spanish speaking driver. You will start your journey by discovering the Imbabura region landscapes during a 2 hours drive. You will spend the night in a beautiful traditional hacienda close to the indigenous city of Otavalo. In your welcome package you will find all detailed information about your trip, tours and background information on the places that you will visit. Because of the elevation (2500m), we recommend to take it slow today.
Day 2: Otavalo (B)
After your breakfast you will have the whole day to get to know Otavalo and its surroundings on your own account. Otavalo’s market is known to be the biggest Andean artisan market of the continent. Every day, the main square Plaza de Ponchos is filled with stands selling all kinds of handicrafts, wool clothing, jewelry, souvenirs and food. Wednesdays and Saturdays are especially recommended as more vendors are present in the town and all streets around the plaza become part of the market too. You can also decide to visit the nearby village Peguche and its waterfall, the town Cotacachi, which is famous for its leather products or the Cuicocha crater lake. You will spend a second night in Otavalo.
Day 3: Otavalo – Mindo (B)
Today you will leave Otavalo and head towards Mindo, a quiet village surrounded by a beautiful cloud forest. In this area two of the most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world meet: the Chocoan lowlands and the tropical Andes. It is the perfect place for bird watching (especially hummingbirds), adventure activities and hikes. You will spend the night in Mindo.
Day 4: Mindo (B)
Today you will have a free day in Mindo. Although Mindo is a rather small village, it offers a great range of activities. You can go canopying over treetops, tube down the river, visit the butterfly garden, do a chocolate tour or hike to the nearby waterfalls. You will spend a second night in Mindo.
Day 5: Mindo – Mitad del Mundo – Quito (B)
After breakfast you will leave for Quito. On the way, you will make a stop at the Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo), located just at the north tip of Quito. Here you can visit either the equator monument (and its ethnographic museum) or the Inti Ñan museum. Both offer interesting experiments with the purpose to explain the scientific differences between the two hemispheres. Afterwards, you will be brought to Quito where you will spend the night.
Day 6: Quito (B)
Today you will have free time to explore Quito on your own. Located in the Andean mountains, Quito is the world´s highest capital city with an altitude of 2850m. Its well-preserved historical center was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Besides wandering around the old town you can also visit one of the many city parks, or take up cable car to the Pichincha volcano for a unique view over the city. You will spend a second night in Quito.
Day 7: Quito - Quilotoa – Baños (B)
Today you will leave Quito early in the morning for a three hour drive to the breathtaking Quilotoa lake. This emerald color lagoon is located inside a volcano crater at 3800m. It’s the minerals in the water that make the lagoon a spectacle of different tones: green, turquoise and blue. You can walk down to the shore of the lake where you can go kayaking or just enjoy the landscape. The ascent you can do walking or you can rent mules. After lunch in Quilotoa your journey continues to the town of Baños de Agua Santa where you will spend the night.
Day 8: Baños (B)
During your free day in Baños you have a lot of activities to choose from. Located in a valley, this small town in the Andes is the perfect spot for both adrenaline junkies and those who are seeking relaxation. You can go white water rafting, canopying and canyoning or you can rent a mountain bike to ride down the waterfall route towards the impressive Pailon del Diablo waterfall in Rio Verde. Relive your childhood by going on the so-called ‘swing to the end of the world’ or have a relaxing day at the city’s volcanic hot springs, where the town’s name derives from. You will spend a second night in Baños.
Day 9: Baños – Chimborazo National Park – Guamote (B)
After breakfast you will leave for the Chimborazo National Park. The Chimborazo volcano is Ecuador’s highest volcano with 6263m. Inside the park you will have a short but intensive guided hike of about an hour that will take you to the refuge hut at 5041m. Once returned, your journey continues to Guamote, a small indigenous town high up the mountains where time seems to have stood still. The Guamoteños live a simple life and mainly maintain themselves with the income of agriculture and their cattle. You will stay the night in a guesthouse that is closely involved with local communities through their educational and social projects.
Day 10: Guamote (B)
Today you will take part in a guided tour through Guamote and its surrounding communities. You will visit the kindergarten and educational center of the guesthouse, where they teach sewing, computer and English classes. Afterwards you will take off for a beautiful ride by car through the mountains while learning more about the history of this region, the indigenous culture and traditions. You will make a stop at a primary school where children will tell you about the daily school life. Next you will go to the house of a traditional weaver who will show you how they make their typical ponchos from sheep and alpaca wool. At last you will visit an Indigenous family and see their authentic housing (choza) to get an idea about how people live in the mountains. On Thursdays, the tour is combined with a visit to Guamote’s animal market, where people from all surrounding towns come to buy and sell their livestock. With very few tourists around you will get a very authentic glimpse of this weekly spectacle. After the community tour, there will be time left to walk around the general market where mainly food and clothes are being sold (Thursdays only). You will spend a second night in the guesthouse in Guamote.
Day 11: Guamote – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca (B)
After an early breakfast you will leave for Alausi where the Devil’s Nose train (Nariz del Diablo) will await you. During 2,5 hours you will enjoy beautiful Andean landscapes and learn more about the Puruhua community and the construction of the Ecuadorian railroad system. Afterwards, the journey continues with a visit to the Ingapirca archeological site, which contains the most and best-preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador. Here you will learn about the Cañari and Inca culture that both lived here. After this guide visit, you will continue your trip until Cuenca where you will spend the night.
Day 12: Cuenca (B)
Today you will have free time to explore Cuenca on your own. Cuenca is the third largest city of the country and according many by far the most beautiful. Enjoy the day wandering around the churches, museums and markets in the charismatic city center that, just like Quito, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it’s well preserved colonial buildings that are in abundance. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Panama hat fabric to observe the complete manufacturing proces of the iconic Panama hat that has it origins in Ecuador. You will spend a second night in Cuenca.
Days 13: Cuenca - El Cajas National Park – Puerto Lopez (B)
After breakfast you will leave for the El Cajas National Park, where you will have a moderate guided hike through the paramo of approximately 2 hours. El Cajas is formed by wetland from glacial origins with more than 200 lakes and lagoons that make for beautiful views. The area is home to a large variety of animals, some of which are endemic or highly endangered such as the South American condor. After the hike your drive continues to Puerto Lopez, while you can witness a great change of scenery. You will pass from the Andean mountain landscapes to the banana fields, cocoa fields and shrimp ponds of the coastal region. You will spend the night in the beach town Puerto Lopez.
Days 14: Isla de la Plata (B, L)
Today you will go on an excursion to Isla de la Plata. This nearby island is also known as Poor Men’s Galapagos, due to its comparable ecosystem and fauna. Here the blue footed boobies, masked boobies and frigate birds can be spotted. During whale season, which starts in June and ends in September, you can spot humpback whales on your way to island. These big mammals are found in Ecuadorian waters during their migration. After the hike on the island there will be some time to snorkel and explore the underwater world, to observe tropical fish and hopefully encounter some sea turtles. You will spend a second night in Puerto Lopez.
Day 15: Puerto Lopez (B)
Today you will have a free day to enjoy the beach. You can also decide to pay a visit to the pristine beaches of Los Frailes inside the Machalilla National Park near Puerto Lopez. To get here you can either rent a bike or travel by public bus and tuc tuc. Taking surf lessons or simply rent a surf board in town is also possible. You will spend a third and last night in Puerto Lopez.
Day 16: Puerto Lopez – Guayaquil airport (B)
Today your holiday will come to an end. After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport in Guayaquil for your international flight back home. Depending your flight, you might still be able to enjoy a free afternoon to visit the city’s main attractions on your own account before heading to the airport.
Note: This is a sample round trip itinerary. We can design a 100% customized program for you that suits all your wishes regarding your trip. Inquire your tailor made proposal here! Upon request, a 4 or 5 day Cuyabeno Jungle Tour can be added to this program. It is also possible to extend this program with a Galapagos Island Hopping Tour or a Galapagos Cruise.
USD $1495 p.p. (based on accommodation in double room)
About Anouk & Margot
While living, traveling and working in tourism in Ecuador for many years now, we have gotten a great insight in the most authentic experiences and the most beautiful places to visit.
- Accommodation in Standard and Comfort hotels, based on double room with private bathroom
- Meals as described in the itinerary (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Private transport with Spanish speaking driver
- Visit Mitad del Mundo with English speaking guide
- Visit Quilotoa with Spanish speaking driver
- Permit Ilinizas Ecological Reserve
- Visit Chimborazo volcano with English speaking guide
- Permit Chimborazo Wildlife Production Reserve
- Community tour in Guamote with English speaking guide
- Devil’s Nose train excursion with English speaking guide
- Visit Ingapirca ruins with English speaking guide
- Visit El Cajas with English speaking guide
- Permit El Cajas National Park
- Isla de la Plata tour with English speaking guide
- Welcome package with tips, tour descriptions and background information
- 24/7 Travel Assistance by phone and Whatsapp (English/Dutch/Spanish)
- Activities on own account on free days
- Meals not specified in the itinerary (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Personal expenses
What to bring
- Travel insurance that covers medical costs during your stay in Ecuador
- Sunscreen & sun glasses
- Cap or lightweight scarf
- Rain poncho or waterproof jacket
- Warm & layered clothing
- Swimwear & beach towel
- Insect repellent
- Hiking boots
- Travel adapter (110-120 V)
Are you interested in this round trip? Please fill out our contact form and we will be back to you shortly. We strive to respond to your message as soon as possible, within 24 hours at the latest.