Itinerary in brief:
- 2 nights Quito
- 1 night Lasso (near Cotopaxi)
- 1 night Baños
- 1 night Riobamba
- 2 nights Cuenca
- 1 night Guayaquil
Day 1: Arrive Quito
Today you will arrive in Quito, where you will be met and taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2: Quito city tour
After breakfast, you will be collected by your guide for a city tour of Quito. Quito’s historical centre is a beautifully preserved testimony of the city’s colonial past. During the trip, you’ll visit a handful of its famous churches, all different in their colours and architecture. You will also stop at the monument that marks the exact location of the equator – the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo. After the tour, you will be dropped back at your hotel and the afternoon will be at leisure.
Day 3: Cotopaxi
This morning after breakfast your private guide, who will accompany you as you explore the Avenue of the Volcanoes, will pick you up for the drive to Cotopaxi National Park. Here, you will discover the diverse flora and fauna thriving in this lush, green area and walk along the shore of the Limpiopungo Lagoon, sitting at an altitude of 3,800 metres. You will spend a few hours walking through the park and taking in the gorgeous Andean scenery, with Cotopaxi Volcano dominating the backdrop. Afterwards, you will be driven to a typical local hacienda where you will spend the night.
Day 4: Quilotoa and Baños
After breakfast, you will continue your journey along the twisting roads that pass through beautiful landscapes to reach picturesque Crater Lake Quilotoa. From the edge of the crater’s rim, you can walk down to the turquoise lake. It’s a bit of a hike, but it’s 100% worth the effort! If you run out of energy, you can hire a horse or mule to help you with the climb back up.
In the afternoon you will drive to Baños and will have the afternoon free to enjoy as you wish. You can visit the thermal baths, walk around the charming town or hop between the many restaurants and bars that ring the plazas.
Day 5: Baños
After breakfast, we recommend making a quick visit to the beautiful cathedral before starting the day’s adventure. Today your guide will drive you through the Route of the Waterfalls, which runs along the beautiful Pastaza River Gorge. This highlight is located in Rio Verde, where you will take a hike through the cloud forest to reach the thundering waterfall known as Pailón Del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron).
In the afternoon, your tour will continue to the highest volcano in Ecuador. Chimborazo stands at a staggering altitude of over 6,000 metres. The surrounding landscape is desert-like, with herds of shy vicuñas and far-reaching views. If you wish, you can take a walk to the Edward Whymper shelter. At an altitude of 5,000 metres, it offers excellent views of Chimborazo and the surrounding area. You will spend the night in the nearby town of Riobamba.
Day 6: Devil’s Nose Train, Ingapirca and Cuenca
You will depart early this morning to reach Alausi train station where you will hop aboard one of the most famous trains in the world. The Devil’s Nose is a thrilling and unforgettable train ride down an almost sheer rock face. The train makes switchbacks all the way down the cliff and then back up again. You will be given a packed lunch for the trip.
Afterwards, you will carry on to the Ingapirca Inca ruins, the largest site in Ecuador. You will explore the beautiful temples and fortifications until late in the afternoon when you will continue to Cuenca, where you’ll spend the next two nights.
Day 7: Cuenca
After breakfast, you will take a morning tour of this beautiful colonial city. The promenade along the Rio Tomebamba, the imposing new cathedral and the daily flower market are just a few of the highlights of the tour. The afternoon you will have free time to explore the city as you wish.
Day 8: El Cajas National Park and Guayaquil
This morning, you will head west to cross El Cajas National Park. Although mostly above the tree line, the reserve has an astounding variety of plant and animal life. In addition to rugged ridges and deeply incised, box-shaped valleys, there are nearly 240 lagoons, all of different shapes and sizes. You will reach an altitude of almost 4,200 metres and stop at several viewpoints to take in the beautiful landscape.
Afterwards, the Avenue of the Volcanoes will start descending towards the coast, through extensive cocoa, bananas, rice and sugar cane plantations. Eventually, you’ll reach Guayaquil, the largest city in the country, where you will check in to your hotel for one night. The rest of the day will be free. We suggest taking a walk along the malecón and exploring the bohemian neighbourhood of Las Peñas.
Day 9: Depart Guayaquil
You will enjoy breakfast at your hotel and, at a suitable time, you will be picked up and driven to the airport for your onward flight.