Andes to the Amazon: The Essence of Ecuador

8 days from £1,559


Hike through spectacular volcanic landscapes and go white-water rafting in the jungle on this eight-day loop round Ecuador. Starting in colonial Quito, you’ll head south to the Cotopaxi National Park, passing through the Avenue of Volcanoes – home to the most geothermally active peaks in Ecuador. After visiting the emerald-green Quilotoa crater lake, continue to Baños, where you can ride the Swing at the End of the World and marvel at majestic waterfalls. Get a feel for life in the Amazon rainforest before wrapping up your adventure in the mountain village of Papallacta, known for its hot springs.

Why you’ll love this trip

  • Explore Cotopaxi National Park on horseback
  • Hike around the ethereal Quilotoa crater lake
  • Visit a traditional Tigua art studio
  • Cycle the Baños Waterfall Route
  • Go white-water rafting in the Amazon rainforest
  • Whip up a feast at an Ecuadorian cooking masterclass
  • Sample fine chocolate in Quito
  • Ultimate Covid booking guarantee
  • Maximum group size of 18

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito
Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, you’ll be whisked off to your hotel in the Old Town district of Quito (the second-highest capital city in the world, at 2,850m/9,350ft above sea level) and meet our Local Insider at 6pm, who will accompany the group throughout the trip. In the evening, get to know your fellow travelers over a welcome dinner, washed down with a cold Pilsener – Ecuador’s favorite beer. Be sure to get a good night’s rest ahead of an action-packed day exploring the city tomorrow.
Accommodation: Hotel Patio Andaluz

Activities Included: Welcome dinner

Day 2: Explore Quito and attend an Ecuadorian cooking masterclass
Kick-start the trip with an optional morning visit to the Equator – head to the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo and Intiñan Museum, where you can stand with one foot in each hemisphere. Regroup in Quito’s historic center (a Unesco World Heritage site) for a walking tour of the Plaza Grande, Presidential Palace and La Compañía church. After admiring the impressive array of colonial architecture and wandering down lively La Ronda street, you’ll embark on a gastronomic journey at Altamira restaurant. Learn how to prepare a variety of traditional Ecuadorian dishes in a cooking masterclass, capped off with a chocolate-tasting session.
Accommodation: Hotel Patio Andaluz

Activities Included: Quito walking tour, Ecuadorian cooking masterclass and market visit & Chocolate-tasting session

Optional Activities: Ciudad Mitad del Mundo and Intiñan Museum visit

Day 3: Go horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park
Today, you’ll journey south towards Cotopaxi National Park, dominated by the 5,897m (19,347ft) high Cotopaxi stratovolcano – the second-highest peak in Ecuador. If the conditions are clear, you’ll spot the snow-capped summit as you hike around the Limpiopungo glacial lagoon. Learn all about the flora, fauna and eruption history of the park at the Interpretation Center. Next, set out on a scenic horseback ride, where you’ll be introduced to the chagra cowboy culture of the Ecuadorian highlanders. Following a picnic lunch in Salitre, continue on to your mountain hacienda for the night.

Accommodation: Chilcabamba Lodge

Activities Included: Limpiopungo Lagoon hike, Cotopaxi Interpretation Center visit & Horseback riding

Day4: Hike round Quilotoa Lake and visit a Tigua art studio
Prepare yourself for another unforgettable hike as you venture to Quilotoa – a volcano on the westernmost edge of the Ecuadorian Andes, off the usual tourist trail that’s known for its emerald-green crater lake. After a short walk round the rim, stop by a Tiguan studio owned by Julio Toaquiza – an artist who pioneered a vibrant painting style, depicting life in the high Andes. In the afternoon, you can shop for handcrafted souvenirs at Salcedo Market – it’s a great place to get under the skin of Andean culture. Next stop, Baños – widely considered the adventure capital of Ecuador.
Accommodation: La Floresta Hotel

Activities included: Quilotoa Lake hike, Tigua art studio visit & Salcedo Market visit

Day 5: Cycle the magnificent Baños Waterfall Route
Start your day by visiting the Swing at the End of the World. Attached to a mountaintop treehouse, it offers jaw-dropping views of the Tungurahua volcano and the valley below. Feeling brave? Why not give it a go? From here, you’ll embark on an adventurous bike ride to three waterfalls on the road from Baños to Puyo: Agoyán, Manto de la Novia and the 80m (262ft) high Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron). The water from these falls eventually runs into the Amazon River. Enjoy lunch with the Yaku Runa indigenous community before moving on to Tena – the gateway to the Amazon rainforest.

Accommodation: Kuyana Amazon Lodge

Activities included: Swing at the End of the World visit, Baños Waterfall Route bike ride & Yaku Runa project visit

Day 6: Go white-water rafting on the Jatunyacu River
Ready for an adrenaline rush? Today, you’ll go white-water rafting through the jungle on the Jatunyacu River – one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. Meaning ‘big water’ in the native Quechua language, the Jatunyacu features a combination of wild rapids and flat, scenic stretches, allowing you to appreciate the rainforest scenery around you. Spend the afternoon relaxing at the lodge. Come nightfall, take a guided forest trek and listen out for birds, monkeys and reptiles.

Accommodation: Kuyana Amazon Lodge

Activities: White-water rafting & Jungle night hike

Day 7: Follow the Natural Oils Trail at Kuyana Amazon Lodge

After breakfast, you’ll go on a guided hike to learn how natural essential oils are extracted from Amazonian plants for medicine and aromatherapy. Cool off with a refreshing dip in the waterfalls before making your way back to the lodge for lunch. It’s then time to leave the jungle behind and head up towards the Andes. You’ll eventually arrive in the village of Papallacta, where you can relax in hot springs or book yourself in for a soothing spa treatment at the hotel. Cap off your trip with a farewell group dinner.


Accommodation: Termas de Papallacta

Activities included: Natural Oils Trail guided hike, Waterfall swim & Farewell dinner

Day 8: Depart from Papallacta
The time has come to pack your bags as your Ecuadorian experience comes to an end at 9am. After one final breakfast, you’ll be driven back to Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito. Bid farewell to your fellow travellers and catch your flight home – or extend your stay by joining TRIPS by Culture Trip Galápagos Islands trip.

Included activities: Airport transfer


  • Two nights premium hotel accommodation
  • Two nights jungle lodge accommodation
  • One night mountain resort accommodation
  • One night historic hotel accommodation
  • One night spa hotel accommodation
  • Private and local transport
  • Seven breakfasts, six lunches, four dinners
  • Local Insider
  • Arrival airport transfer
  • Quito walking tour
  • Ecuadorian cooking masterclass (including market visit)
  • Chocolate-tasting session
  • Limpiopungo Lagoon hike
  • Cotopaxi Interpretation Center visit
  • Horseback riding
  • Quilotoa Lake hike
  • Tigua art studio visit
  • Salcedo Market visit
  • Swing at the End of the World visit
  • Baños Waterfall Route bike ride
  • Yaku Runa project visit
  • White-water rafting
  • Jungle night hike
  • Natural Oils Trail guided hike
  • Waterfall swim

Further info

This incredible 8 day small group journey departs on the 20th August 2022, prices start at £1,559 per person and is curated, and operated by one of our specialist travel partners.

Further dates are available for 2022 – 9th October, 20th November and 10th December. 2023 – 4th March. 8th April, 29th April, 8th July and 12th August.

To be contacted by one of our partner’s destination experts about this tour and similar ones they have carefully curated, please enquire below.

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