Considering Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, it packs a punch when it comes to fascinating cities to visit and jaw dropping natural beauty to admire. From hiking the mysterious landscapes of the Andes to exploring the historic capital city of Quito, a tour of Ecuador offers a plethora of exciting experiences.
To make the most of your time in Ecuador, we’ve compiled a vibrant itinerary featuring the best of the country.
On our Best of Ecuador tour, you’ll explore some of Ecuador’s most atmospheric cities, starting with a trip to the capital city of Quito. Discover elegant and ornate buildings and take up the unique opportunity to straddle the Equatorial Line Monument. This is where you can be in two places at once – both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
You’ll also visit Cuenca, which is known to be the most attractive city in the country. Amble narrow cobblestone streets and soak up the pretty white washed buildings. You’ll soon experience the distinctly special atmosphere that the city offers as you explore.
When it comes to natural beauty, you’re in for a treat. Hike in the sublime Cotopaxi National Park, passing by the dazzling blue waters of the Laguna de Limpiopungo Lake, which sits at an altitude of 4,000 metres. From there, gawk at the postcard perfect views of the snow laden Chimborazo mountain, the tallest in Ecuador.
And for a train journey like no other, embark on the Devil’s Nose Ride which winds through the captivating terrains of the Andes, past rocky slopes and across sprawling mountain ridges.
- Explore the rich and historic culture of the capital city of Quito
- Hike the fascinating Cotopaxi National Park and admire its stunning natural beauty
- Experience the famous Devil’s Nose Ride train journey through the Andes
- Discover the archaic and white washed buildings of the beautiful city of Cuenca
Start your Journey
You’ll begin your adventure at Ecuador’s international airport of Quito. From there, you’ll be transferred to your hotel to check in and spend the rest of the day or evening at your leisure.
Today is when the action starts. Explore all that the city of Quito has to offer with a sightseeing tour, taking you through the historic centre to discover the rich past and culture of the capital.
Highlights include a visit to the famous church of La Compañia, which features an intricate and elaborate façade and a dazzling interior. You’ll also pass the Independence Square, which is home to the looming Government Palace and the charming San Francisco Church.
Afterwards, straddle the Equatorial Line Monument, otherwise known as the ‘Middle of the World’ where you can stand in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at once.
Before returning to the hotel, take a trip to the monument and ethnographical museum, where you’ll discover the rich history of the Indian cultures and traditions of Ecuador.
On day three you’ll have the option to embark on a day trip to the Indian market of Otavalo in the morning.
A flurry of sights and sounds, you can browse through local handicrafts and textiles including a huge variety of belts, tapestries, ponchos and many other articles of clothing. Browse and soak up the special atmosphere of the market, and perhaps you’ll find some colourful souvenirs to take home as gifts for loved ones – or something for yourself.
QUITO TO COTOPAXI
Following breakfast, from Quito, you’ll travel to Cotopaxi National Park. Protected since 1975, this highland zone is home to one of the most beautiful ecological reserves in Ecuador.
You’ll hike near the shallow and picturesque Laguna de Limpiopungo Lake at an altitude of up to 4,000 metres. From there, you can absorb the stunning views of the active and snow capped Cotopaxi stratovolcano that towers in the distance.
You’ll also stop by a local flower plantation where the knowledgeable staff will show you their range of colourful and vibrant flowers. They’ll also explain how the plantation works.
COTOPAXI TO RIOBAMBA
Following breakfast, you’ll explore another busy and authentic Indian market. Then, travel onto Quilotoa. This is a renowned volcanic lake featuring aquamarine blue waters, and it makes for a fantastic photograph or two.
In the late afternoon, you’ll continue onwards to Riobamba. This is the capital of the province of Chimborazo, where many indigenous communities thrive.
Spend the night close to the magnificent Chimborazo, the tallest mountain in the country, in one of the region’s cosy Hosterías.
RIOBAMBA TO CUENCA
Following breakfast, you’ll travel to Alausí to catch the train and experience the renowned Devil’s Nose Ride, travelling across the exquisite terrains of the Andes for a train journey like no other.
Then, you’ll drive for two hours to the city of Cuenca. En route, you’ll stop off at Ingapirca, a picturesque Inca ruin site. You’ll roam past the former spot where the Incas held their sacred ceremonies and lived, learning about their special beliefs and rituals.
In Cuenca, check in to your hotel and spend the evening at leisure.
Following breakfast, it’s time to discover the historic city of Cuenca, the third largest in the country.
Founded in 1557 on an Inca settlement, you’ll explore this fascinating hub which is famous for its production of arts, ceramics, Panama hats, and silver and gold products. Renowned as the most beautiful city in the country, as you amble the narrow cobblestone streets you can soak up the special atmosphere and take in the stunning early 19th century architecture that fills the city.
During your tour, you’ll pass the ornate historical buildings that sit among the Tomebamba River, the archaic Todos Los Santos ruins, pretty flower markets and the central square that’s home to both the old and new Cathedral.
You can also visit an authentic Panama hat factory before spending the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
CUENCA TO GUAYAQUIL
From Cuenca, you’ll travel to Ecuador’s biggest city of Guayaquil. This is the industrial and commercial hub of the country, and the city sits on the Western banks of the Río Guayas river.
Embark on a guided tour through local cacao plantations and discover everything about the cacao fruit; from how it’s harvested to how the cacao beans are treated.
In Guayaquil, you’ll also take a short but sweet sightseeing tour of the city.
Today you’ll leave Ecuador with memories to treasure for a lifetime. Transfer to the airport for your flight home, or perhaps you’ll fly onwards to your next holiday destination such as the nearby Galapagos Islands.
- Cost of accommodation for a total of 8 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
- Board basis is breakfast
- Private/small group (air-conditioned) transport / transfers
- Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels
- English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
- International flights and airfare taxes
- Visa arrangements and fees
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
- Video and professional still camera fees during excursions
- Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and hotel staff
- Meals (unless specified)
- Optional attractions and excursions (unless specified)
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