Self-drive Ecuador holiday

Tailor-made holidays
Duration (in days): 13

From: UK

To: UK



Inc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Ecuador offers so much more than the Galapagos, so don’t just fly over this rich country on the way to the islands. Instead, spend some time visiting the stunning cities, soaking up the breathtaking scenery and meeting the friendly people. This Ecuador holiday will show you the main highlights of the country and combine them into an unforgettable self-drive adventure. Witness the colonial splendour of Quito, explore charming Cuenca, drive to the Cotopaxi volcano and the Quilotoa Crater lagoon and visit Baños, Ecuador’s adrenaline capital. Taste the traditional hornado dish in Riobamba and walk through the colourful Las Peñas district in Guayaquil. During this trip, you can experience amazing Ecuador at your own pace, driving through cloud forests, stopping at volcanoes and exploring historical cities.

This Ecuador holiday can be tailored to suit your requirements, so please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.

This holiday includes

  • International flights
  • All transfers
  • All accommodation in Ecuador with daily breakfast       
  • Rental car
  • Meals and excursions as per itinerary   


  • Visit the beautiful Mindo cloud forest and learn about its biodiversity
  • See one of the world’s most iconic volcanoes and take a guided tour of the Cotopaxi National Park
  • Drive through beautiful Andean scenery to the charming Baños              
  • Eat the famous hornado in Riobamba, the best in the whole country!  
  • Explore the beautiful colonial centre of Cuenca              
  • Drive through the stunning Cajas National Park on your way to Guayaquil          



Itinerary in brief:

  • 1 night in Quito               
  • 1 night in Mindo              
  • 1 night in Otavalo
  • 1 night in Papallacta
  • 1 night in Mulalo
  • 1 night in Baños
  • 1 night in Riobamba
  • 2 nights in Cuenca
  • 1 night in Guayaquil      

Day 1: Depart UK

Depart the UK from your chosen airport.

Included: International flight

Day 2: Arrive in Quito

On arrival at Quito airport, you will be met and driven to your hotel by private transfer. The historic centre of Quito is very safe and easy to walk around, so stretch your legs with a stroll around the main sights. If you would like to add a guided tour of the Old Town, just ask!

Included: Arrival transfer, hotel

Day 3: Quito to Mindo

Today after breakfast you will be collected from your hotel and driven by private transfer to the rental car offices. Here, you’ll pick up your hire car and set off on the drive to Mindo Cloud Forest. The journey takes around 2 hours, and we recommend a stop at the Middle of the World monument on the way. When you arrive in Mindo, you’ll check into your accommodation for one night and enjoy your lodge’s privileged position amongst this vibrant ecosystem.

Included: Breakfast, transfer, rental car, hotel 

Day 4: Mindo to Otavalo

Today, you can spend the morning exploring the wonders of Mindo Cloud Forest before driving to Otavalo in the mid-afternoon. The journey takes around 3 hours. When you reach your destination, you’ll check into your hotel for one night.

Included:  Breakfast, rental car, dinner, hotel   

Day 5: Otavalo to Papallacta

Otavalo is famous for its artisanal markets, so be sure not to miss it! The market is open every day, although there’s a larger number of stalls on Saturdays and Wednesdays. In the afternoon, you’ll drive to Papallacta, around 2 hours away from Otavalo. Before you leave, we highly recommend a guided tour of the beautiful Cuicocha Crater lagoon. When you arrive in Papallacta, you’ll check into your hotel for one night. The town is famous for its thermal baths, so let us know if you wish to add the entrance ticket to your itinerary. 

Included: Breakfast, rental car, hotel    

Day 6: Papallacta to Cotopaxi

This morning we recommend making an early start to reach Cotopaxi National Park, giving you plenty of time to explore. We have included a tour with a local guide, to help you make the most of this incredible destination. We can also arrange guided hikes and horseback excursions, so let us know if you would like to add these extra activities. In the afternoon, you’ll drive to your hacienda where you will check in for one night.

Included: Breakfast, rental car, guided tour, hotel         

Day 7: Cotopaxi to Baños

After breakfast this morning, you’ll drive to the charming town of Baños, approximately 2 hours away from Cotopaxi. We recommend stopping to see the stunning Quilotoa Crater Lagoon on the way. The detour will add about 200 km to your journey, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Baños is the adventure sports capital of Ecuador, so it’s a great place to try zip-lining, canyoning, mountain biking and white water rafting. When you arrive in Baños, you’ll check into your hotel for a one night stay. 

Included: Breakfast, rental car, dinner, hotel    

Day 8: Baños to Riobamba

This morning is free for you to explore Baños and its surroundings. We recommend visiting the Pailon del Diablo waterfall or, even better, adding a guided tour to both the Avenue of Waterfalls and the Chimborazo volcano reserve. In the late afternoon, you’ll drive the 1.5 hour journey to Riobamba, where you’ll check into your hotel for one night.

Included: Breakfast, rental car, hotel

Day 9: Riobamba to Cuenca           

You’ll spend this morning exploring Riobamba. As one of the largest cities in the Sierra region of Ecuador, Riobamba is an important regional transport hub with a charming traditional centre. If you fancy a truly local experience, try the famous hornado at one of the city’s markets! In the afternoon, you’ll drive to Cuenca. This will be a journey of around 4.5 hours. When you arrive in the town, you’ll check into your hotel for a two-night stay.

Included: Breakfast, rental car, hotel    

Day 10: Cuenca

Cuenca is one of the most beautiful cities in South America, and today you’ll have a full day to explore at your own pace. We suggest visiting the Panama hat factory, producer of the original Panama hats. Let us know if you wish to add a guided tour of the city.

Included: Breakfast, rental car, hotel    

Day 11: Cuenca to Guayaquil         

Today, you’ll drive towards Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. The journey takes approximately 4 hours. During the first couple of hours, you will be climbing to an altitude of over 4,000 metres, through the stunning Cajas National Park. We suggest stopping here for a tour with a local guide. Afterwards, the route will begin its descent towards the coastal city of Guayaquil.

When you arrive, you’ll drop off the car rental and check into your hotel for your last night in Ecuador. We recommend visiting the Malecon and Las Peñas neighbourhood with its colourful houses.

Included: Breakfast, rental car, hotel    

Day 12: Depart Guayaquil  

You’ll be collected from your hotel at any time today and be taken to the airport by private transfer to connect with your flight home.

Included: Breakfast, departure transfer, international flight    

Day 13: Arrive UK    


While this itinerary can be enjoyed all year round, the best time is between May and October, when the skies are clearer and the days sunnier.

We've made a similar trip

If you'd like to get a feel for this Ecuador holiday, read our blog post 'Visit Ecuador: why you should extend your trip beyond the Galapagos', written by one of our consultants who has been there.

This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.        

What's included: 

  • International flights
  • Return airport transfers
  • 10 days car rental            
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary

Not included: 

  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Entrance fees to National Parks not mentioned in the itinerary               


10 nights in 4* standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • Patio Andaluz Quito

  • Sachatamia Lodge in Mindo

  • Hacienda Cusin in Otavalo

  • Hosteria Termas de Papallacta

  • Hacienda Hato Verde

  • Hotel and Spa Luna Runtun

  • Hacienda Abraspungo

  • Hotel Victoria

  • Hotel Oro Verde
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