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Ecuador HighLights 10 days

Price per Person
1875 USD
Service Level
Comfort / 4 stars Htl.
Travel Style
Classic Journeys
Activity Level
Level 2 Otavalo
Group Size
max. 15, avg. 12
Minimum Age
6 years
Start / Finish
Quito, Ecuador / Quito, Ecuador
Year Round
Wildlife Hiking Cultural
Discover the magic of Ecuador by traveling by train and trekking through the Avenue of Volcanoes, high in the Andes mountains, cruising the tropical Amazon rivers and exploring the cultural towns of indigenous Otavalo, Quito, Baños and Cuenca. On your journey learn all about the different local tribes and their cultures. The Ecuador Highlights trip is the perfect combination of cultural experiences, wildlife spotting, adventure activities and natural wonders that make Ecuador one of the most highly diverse countries on the planet.


"Unique Experiences:"

  • Visit a native local family in the middle of the Amazon jungle and look for the smallest monkey in the world (Pygmy Marmoset                                                                 
  • Breathtaking zig-zag train ride through the rocky slopes of the Andes and the switchbacks of the Devil's Nose


Day 1: Quito

Day 1: Quito
Day 1: Quito
Welcome to Quito! The largest, best-preserved colonial city of America - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and is located on the equator in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano.
Depending on arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area. ADVENTURE JOURNEYS can help you to organize a day trip (please request in advance). In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel’s lobby for a welcome briefing at 18:00 hours. At this time we will discuss the details and questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an acclimation and information day.

Accommodation:  Swissôtel Quito.
Meals : In-flight

Day 2: Otavalo Market

Day 2: Otavalo Market
Day 2: Otavalo Market
We take an early departure from Quito and drive north through the majestic Andes. On our way we will stop at a viewpoint to admire Imbabura Volcano and Lake San Pablo.Once in Otavalo, you will have plenty of time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, filled with the Otavalo Indigenous people wearing the traditional blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair. Learn all about their daily activities, typical food and native language. Explore their famous handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, alpaca throws and rugs, knitted clothing native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices.
In the afternoon, we will drive to Cotacachi to have lunch and witness the impressive leather goods of the town and enjoy the beauty of this small village. There will be some free time for you to explore the shops or simply relax while sipping on one of the best coffees in Ecuador in the main plaza.Finally we will go to Peguche, a small village known for its waterfalls and wind instruments production
Accommodation: Hacienda Pinsaquí or similar.
Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Papallacta - Hot Springs

Day 3: Papallacta - Hot Springs
Day 3: Papallacta - Hot Springs
We’ll drive through a unique landscape up to an elevation of 4000 m(13123 ft) through the eastern range of the Andes. This road is situated between two national reserves, Antisana and Cayambe Coca, both located in the high mountain Paramo ecosystem, known for its short vegetation and for being home to some incredible animals such as the spectacled bear, deer, puma, Andean condor, cara-cara and more. After our 2 hour drive through the beautiful landscape, we will arrive at Papallacta Hot Springs Resort, where you can soak in the volcanic water pools surrounded by mountains and colorful flowers and birds.

Accommodation: Papallacta Spa Resort.
Meals : Breakfast

Day 4: Hummingbirds Sanctuary

Day 4: Hummingbirds Sanctuary
Day 4: Hummingbirds Sanctuary
Early in the morning, we will drive down along a curvy panoramic road towards the Amazon Rain forest; as we descend from an altitude of 3000 m to 500 m (9843 ft to 1640 ft), you will observe how the landscape and vegetation change drastically between climates. Our first stop will be the Guango reserve, where we will have the unique opportunity to see many different species of hummingbirds in the wild. These small creatures are famous for their incredible ability to flap their wings rapidly, as well as for their bright colors.
Later, we also stop at the "Guacamayos-Macaw Lookout," located between Antisana and Sumaco National Reserves (low elevation cloud forest), to observe the magic blanket of clouds that covers the Amazon rain forest, until we finally arrive at the Arajuno River, where a motor canoe will take us 20 minutes up the river to the Itamandi Eco-Lodge.

Accommodation: Itamandi Amazon Eco-Lodge
Meals : Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Amazon Hike and Kichwa Community

Day 5: Amazon Hike and Kichwa Community
Day 5: Amazon Hike and Kichwa Community
In the morning, we will hike to explore the Tropical Rain Forest and have an interpretation from our guide and learn about medicinal plants and we will search for wildlife. Later, we will enjoy a cultural activity where an Amazonian Kichwa community will receive us and we learn about their way of life and the interaction they have with the forest. Appreciate the skills of the indigenous women manufacturing handmade pottery (ceramics). This little business helps to support the indigenous people in their daily life. Today we will also have the chance to learn how to make our own chocolate from the raw fruit.
Accommodation: Itamandi Amazon Eco-Lodge
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Parrots Clay Lick and the Road of Waterfalls

Day 6: Parrots Clay Lick and the Road of Waterfalls
Day 6: Parrots Clay Lick and the Road of Waterfalls
This morning explore the “Saladero” parrots clay lick. Come back for breakfast and continue our journey driving farther south to Puyo, where we will have a quick look at the balsa carving shop. From here continue onto Rio Verde, located in the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sangay National Park. Here, we will hike down to the second highest waterfall in Ecuador, the Pailon Del Diablo, where pounding water cascades on the rocks and mesmerizes you as you watch from a suspension bridge. You may also take an optional hike behind the falls. After another quick drive, we will arrive at another incredible waterfall called El Manto de la Novia, where we will ride in a cable car traversing the canyon of the Pastaza River.
In the late afternoon we will arrive to Baños, located right on the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, which has been active since 1999. It has some eruptions every few months which delights visitors with lava and steam displays that can be viewed from a number of safe view points in the region. Here in Baños you can also visit a spa or another place to enjoy the hot springs of the area.

Accommodation: La Floresta or similar
Meals : Breakfast

Day 7: Chimborazo Volcano

Day 7: Chimborazo Volcano
Day 7: Chimborazo Volcano
Early in the morning, we will drive through valleys and farming villages to reach the Chimborazo Volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador with an elevation of 6310 m(20702 ft) above sea level; whose summit is also the furthest point from the center of the earth on the entire planet. On a clear day, the majestic peak of Chimborazo dominates the view for many kilometers. There will be a short hike for 0.9 km (0.57 mi) to reach the elevation of 5000 m(16404 ft) where the glacier begins. On the hike, we will spot a few of the animals that inhabit this volcanic wonderland such as the Andean condor, cara-cara, hummingbirds, and the timid vicuñas. Once extinct in Ecuador, they have been reintroduced and are now protected; this beautiful animal is related to the alpacas and llamas.

Accommodation: Hotel Andaluza or similar.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Devil's Nose Train - Inca Ruins - Cuenca

Day 8: Devil's Nose Train - Inca Ruins - Cuenca
Day 8: Devil's Nose Train - Inca Ruins - Cuenca
After an early breakfast, we will take a scenic drive to the small town of Alausí. Here, we will board the train to the Devil’s Nose, where the tracks wind through the countryside in a zigzag formation, creating a travel experience like no other. After the train ride, we will continue our visit towards Ingapirca, the most impressive Inca ruins of Ecuador. We will spend the afternoon learning about this archaeological site, notable for its unique fusion of Inca and native Cañari architecture, as well as for its religious meaning. Later, we will head up to Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its colonial architecture.

Accommodation:  Hotel Carvallo 
Meals : Breakfast

Day 9: Cuenca UNESCO City

Day 9: Cuenca UNESCO City
Day 9: Cuenca UNESCO City
Starting in the morning enjoy a fantastic city tour, visiting the most important buildings and notable places in Cuenca, such as Calderon Square, the New Cathedral, El Barranco and El Turi lookout point. In the afternoon   visit a famous Panama hat factory where we will understand the whole process of making this traditional Ecuadorian hat. In the early evening we will take a short 45 minute domestic flight back to Quito, where we will  transfer you to the hotel and go out to enjoy a farewell dinner with the group.

Accommodation:  Swissôtel Quito.
Meals : Breakfast

Day 10: Quito - Departure

Day 10: Quito - Departure
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. Take with you your memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a "buen viaje"!
Meals : Breakfast
  • Transportation: Airfare Cuenca-Quito one way, airport transfers (national flights), private and comfortable land transportation, train, motorized canoe
  • Accommodation based on double occupancy: First Class hotel in Quito, colonial hacienda in Otavalo, 5-star Spa Resort Papallacta, Itamandi Eco-lodge in the Amazon, 3 or 4 star hotel in Baños, 5-star Hacienda in Chimborazo, 3 or 4 star hotel in Cuenca
  • Activities: Indigenous Market, volcanic hot springs, encounter with indigenous people, road of the waterfalls, hiking up the glacier of Chimborazo, trekking, bird watching in the Amazon, canoeing and wildlife observation in the rainforest, chocolate making with indigenous people, train to Devil's Nose, cultural visit of Cuenca.
  • Meals: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Gear:  hiking sticks, life jackets
  • Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure Trip Leader and local guides 

  • My Own Room supplement $525
  • International flights
  • Airport transfer (international flights)
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Meals not described in the itinerary - estimated budget USD $180 USD
  • Tips for guides and drivers


  • Passport,
  • Travel insurance,
  • Airline tickets,
  • Credit or debit card (see personal spending money),
  • Pocket knife,
  • Fleece top,
  • 4 shirts/t-shirts,
  • 1 pair of short,
  • 2 pairs of long trousers,
  • 1 pair hiking pants/track pants,
  • Sport sandals,
  • Toiletries (biodegradable),
  • Watch or alarm clock,
  • Quick dry clothing,
  • Rain coat,
  • Rain pants,
  • Waterproof binoculars,
  • Bug spray,
  • Sun cream,
  • Flashlight,
  • Sun Hat,
  • Waterproof camera if possible,
  • Swimming suit,
  • Waterproof back pack,
  • Water bottle,
  • Tennis shoes,
  • Hiking shoes,
  • Money belt,
  • Sunglasses,
  • First-aid kit(should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
  • Dry bag for all your belongings
It is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described; however, due to our travel style, on occasions it may be necessary or desirable to make small changes. Weather conditions and unpredictable local circumstances may lead us to make alterations to the route and/or travel times. Hotels and flight schedules might change according to availability. Any mention to specific wildlife in the itinerary or trip details is not a guarantee that it will be seen during the trip.

From 2 to 3 hours driving average from place to place.

All-year (best from May to October)

Pichincha, Imbabura, Napo, Pastaza, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Cañar and Azuay.

All Inter-Andean Valleys and Andes ranges, Amazon Rainforest upper part, cloud forest and canyons.

From 500 to 5000m (1600 to 16500 ft).

Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF

Easy. This program will run from the high Andean Mountains to the tropical Amazonian rain forest, which involves the hiking in flat areas of the Amazon, a hike down the Pastaza canon to the Pailon Del Diablo waterfall for 1 km. Optional hike up to Chimborazo Volcano Base Camp 5000m.

Life jackets, hiking sticks.

Guides are certified as Wilderness First Aid Responders. We carry a complete first aid kit.

All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are traveling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same sex. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact AJ prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.

Traveling with Adventure Journeys you will have the possibility to experience and taste local food and snacks. Your guide will help you identify typical food and suggest the best places to enjoy it. Some meals are not included in order to give you some flexibility about where, what and with whom to eat. You have the option to share these meals with the group, however there is no obligation to do this. If you have any allergies or food restrictions, please inform AJ prior to your departure. Vegetarians, Vegans and Gluten Free people are very welcome in our trip, our guides are always ready to coordinate with chefs and restaurants for substitute meals for them, as Ecuador is very well known for its great diversity of gastronomy.

All AJ guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed from the Tourism University to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid respondents. They all have approved several extra training courses for kayaking, rafting, biking and horse riding, besides this they all are Ecuadorian and have a fantastic personality. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips.
In some locations and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service and make sure we practice sustainable tourism involving local indigenous people in our operation.

In the Galapagos Islands, minimum 4 participants for the AJ trip leader service are required.

Clients receive interpretation and education about the ecology and conservation of the Andes, Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands, and learn about the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation of both local people cultural identity and the environment. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage and we prefer to work with local suppliers. Your visit will encourage the local communities to support responsible eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative for their living.

Please inform AJ of any existing medical conditions (i.e. pregnancy, diabetes, etc). Yellow fever, Hepatitis B vaccination and Malaria Medication are recommended when traveling to the tropics. Please ask your doctor for advice. 

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