Itinerary in brief:
- 3 nights in Quito
- 1 night near Cotopaxi
- 1 night Baños
- 1 night Quito
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
You will arrive in Quito, where your English-speaking driver will greet and drive you to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2: Morning hike to Rucu Pichincha volcano and afternoon city tour
This morning, after breakfast, you will be picked up by your trekking guide and driven to Quito’s TeleferiQo. Here, you’ll hop on the cable car and ascend to the starting point of the hike up to volcano Rucu Pichincha, an active stratovolcano that towers over Quito.
The hike is around 10km and should take 3 to 4 hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of Quito and the neighbouring Cotopaxi. At lunchtime, you’ll stop to enjoy a packed lunch, and early in the afternoon, you will head back to Quito for a tour of the historical city centre. The evening will be at leisure for you to relax.
Day 3: Cuicocha crater lagoon hike
After breakfast, your trekking guide will pick you up at your hotel in Quito and drive you north to Cuicocha crater lagoon. Less well-known than the famous Quilotoa, Cuicocha is equally stunning, making it one of Ecuador’s best-kept secrets. It lies at the base of an extinct volcano and provides fantastic views over the mountainous region surrounding Otavalo.
The trail will last around 4 to 5 hours and take you on a stunning circuit around the rim of the crater. You will stop to enjoy a packed lunch and explore the National Park with the help of a local guide. You will arrive back in Quito in the afternoon, where you will have free time to spend as you wish.
Day 4: Cotopaxi
After breakfast, you will be picked up and driven south towards Cotopaxi. Meaning the neck of the moon in an ancient indigenous language, this is of the world’s highest active volcanoes, a superb and classic conical stratovolcano which soars above the surrounding landscape. Cotopaxi is a truly special volcano: its snow-capped peak is visible for miles, making it one of the most iconic volcanoes in the world.
Your local guide will take you on a visit to this stunning National Park. You will follow some of the hiking trails around Cotopaxi and even try mountain-biking at the base of the volcano. After an active morning, you’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Then, in the afternoon, you will be driven to your hotel, a historic hacienda in the small village of Lasso.
Day 5: Quilotoa and Baños
After breakfast, you will start the drive towards Quilotoa Lagoon, one of Ecuador’s true natural wonders. The glossy emerald green lake was formed when, after several violent eruptions, the volcanic crater filled with water. The rim of the caldera stands at around 3,800 metres above sea-level with dozens of canyons radiating from it. The rugged area is characterised by a maze of valleys and gullies carved into the soft volcanic rock.
Today you will trek the fascinating 5-hour circuit around the rim of this extraordinary caldera. You will make a scenic stop en route to enjoy a packed lunch. Afterwards, you will drive on towards your next stop, Ecuador’s adrenaline capital, Baños! Dinner is also included tonight.
Day 6: Baños
Baños is the adventure capital of Ecuador, and there are plenty of ways to get your pulse racing! Today, we’ve included a thrilling mountain bike ride through the famous Ruta de las cascades (Route of the Waterfalls). However, if you’re feeling ultra-intrepid, you can add on other activities, such as waterfall canyoning, white water rafting and bungee jumping. In the afternoon you will drive north on the Panamericana back to Quito, where you will spend your last night.
Days 7: Quito departure
After breakfast, you will be driven to the airport for your onward flight.