Ultimate Ecuador Trip: Quito, Highlands & Amazon Foothills

Ultimate Ecuador Trip:
Quito, Highlands & Amazon Foothills


Visit the Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of the highest active volcanoes on earth

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Hike through lush green forest and watch out for monkeys and colorful birds


Learn how to prepare chocolate

Day 1Arrival in Quito, Quito City TourQuito
Day 2Urban Bike Tour in Quito, Quito Cooking ClassQuito
Day 3Quito – Cotopaxi National Park – BañosQuito to Baños
Day 4Exploring BañosBaños
Day 5Explore the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Archidona, Rainforest Hike in ArchidonaBaños to Archidona
Day 6Rafting, Night walk & CampfireArchidona
Day 7Ushpayacu Waterfalls, Cultural Night with Cooking & Chocolate MakingArchidona
Day 8Archidona – Papallacta Hot Springs – QuitoArchidona to Quito
Day 9Ride the Cable Car to Pichincha Volcano, Departure

Transfer from Quito Airport to the City

Private transfer · 45 minutes

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival at Quito’s airport, a private driver will meet you for the ride to your hotel in the city center.

Quito City Tour Private group

Small group · 2 hours

Today you’ll explore Quito with a guided tour and see why it was the first city to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Not only does it have geographical beauty, 17th-century colonial architecture, and distinct culture, but it’s also one of the highest cities in the world at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level. During the tour, you’ll visit Baroque La Compañía, a church with a gold-covered interior, and the neoGothic La Basílica. You’ll also take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, and then head to Panecillo Hill for skyline views. Feel free to ask your guide for local recommendations along the way, including restaurants, that you can explore after the tour is complete

Urban Bike Tour in Quito

Small group · 4 hours · Breakfast Included

Today you’ll take a half-day bike tour in Quito! At the appointed time, meet your guide in the northern part of the city where you’ll set off on a four-hour bike tour through the neighborhoods of La Floresta, Carolina Park, and Iñaquito. La Floresta is the place where you can see how urban art in the city is flourishing with its street murals, designers, and boutiques. Then, cycle through Carolina Park, which is spread over 165 acres (66 ha). Finish the tour in Iñaquito and visit the Mercado to sample street food followed by a look around the green space and murals of Isla Tortuga Park.

Quito Cooking Class

Private group · 2.5 hours

Today is your chance to learn about—and taste—Ecuador’s traditional cooking with dishes such as locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). Meet a local Quito chef for a trip to a market to buy the ingredients needed for each dish. Learn about the recipes and then follow steps to create a meal to share with your group

Quito - Cotopaxi National Park - Baños

Private group · 8 hours

In Cotopaxi National Park see its eponymous active volcano which has a more than 19,347 foot (5,897 m) symmetrical snow-capped peak—the second-highest summit in Ecuador. Be sure to bring plenty of layers to prepare for a change in weather and altitude as you explore the park and see birds, wild horses, a mix of Andean plants and wildlife amidst rugged scenery—and perhaps even a condor. At Limpiopungo Lagoon, your guide will point out some of the species native to the area. Afterward, trek to the 15,748-foot (4,800 m) refuge Jose Rivas, for Cotopaxi views. In the afternoon, travel to Baños de Agua Santa

Horseback Riding at Cotopaxi National Park

Small group · 2 hours

During your trip to Cotopaxi National Park, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the wide landscapes of theAndean highlands on the back of a horse! After getting acquainted with your horse and the riding technique, you will set out for a 2-hour ride on dirt roads and wild páramo.

Exploring Baños

Self guided · 8 hours

Baños de Agua Santa is named for its healing hot springs, and today is yours to relax, walk around town, or head into the mountains and jungle for an adventure. Pick from rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping, hiking,or mountain biking excursions, depending on your level of thrill-seeking, and be sure to dress for all weather conditions. 

At Rio Blanco waterfall, gear up with a wetsuit, shoes, helmet, and harness, for an adrenaline boost as you go canyoning with a local guide. Or, ask the tourist office for trail information for hikes, such as to Pondoa, or on a loop trail to Mirador Virgen (Virgin Mary viewpoint) and even return to La Casa del Arbol, before going back into town. At the end of the day return to your Baños de Agua Santa hotel.

Explore the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Archidona

Private group · 4 hours · Breakfast Included

This morning, you will leave the town of Baños and head deeper into the Amazon basin. But first, you’ll visit the famous Pailón del Diablo, or “Devil’s Cauldron” waterfall. This powerful cascade forms a small gorge, and you can admire its majesty next to it and above, thanks to an overhanging bridge. From the parking lot, it’s a 15-minute walk downhill, while the return trip will be a bit longer.

Afterward, you will continue your journey toward the colonial town of Archidona.

Rainforest Hike in Archidona

Private group · 3 hours · Lunch, Dinner Included

Once you arrive at the rainforest eco-lodge for your overnight in Archidona, you may enjoy a traditional lunch made from a fusion of fresh local ingredients. After a break, you can explore the area with your guide, visiting the Guitarracocha trail and Kuyana Island.

History suggests that the Guitarracocha trail received its name from the fact that, at night, you can hear the sound of guitars in this small lagoon-like formation. On this guided route, which lasts about three hours, you can also explore Kuyana Island and take a refreshing swim on the banks of the Hollin River. Watch out for colorful birds and insects, and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the rainforest.

Rafting, Night walk & Campfire

Small group · 8 hours · Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Included

Today will be one of the most adventurous day of your trip! You will spend the day rafting on a beautiful Class III river in the surroundings. A delicious lunchbox is served at the edge of the river. Paddle through lush green rainforest, watch out for wildlife, and take in the stunning scenery. Our professional and internationally certified guides will make you laugh and enjoy every part of the day while you feel safe and at ease. 

In the afternoon, you return to the lodge where you have some time to rest. To top off this day, head out and go on a short night walk to discover nocturnal animals such as frogs and a variety of insects. Let this adventurous day come to an end with a campfire at the river.

Ushpayacu Waterfalls

Small group · 4 hours · Breakfast, Lunch Included

Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the lodge before starting your excursion in the rainforest: a guided walk to Ushpayacu waterfalls. The Usphayacu estuary is made up of natural springs in the area. The estuary crosses the Lodge, and its great attraction makes this walk the ideal place to immerse yourselves in the jungle and enjoy its maximum splendor. On this trail, you will observe the waterfalls formed throughout the
walk and take a bath in pristine natural pools.

Cultural Night with Cooking & Chocolate Making

Small group · 2 hours · Dinner Included

Back at the lodge, you will participate in a guided cultural night. This fun activity includes helping prepare your dinner, which consists of local dishes such as maito (local river fish that is wrapped and cooked in a rainforest leaf), and side dishes. Of course, after dinner comes dessert in the form of organic chocolate! You’ll participate in the chocolate-making process, from roasting the cocoa beans to eating the finished
product with fresh fruits.

Archidona - Papallacta Hot Springs - Quito

Private group · Breakfast Included

After a last walk through the lodge’s beautiful gardens, your driver will pick you up, and you will head back into the highlands. On the way, you will stop at the hot springs of Papallacta, where you can enjoy a relaxing bath in the thermal waters (or, optionally, a massage at an additional cost). In the late afternoon, you will arrive back in Quito.

Ride the Cable Car to Pichincha Volcano

Private group · 2.5 hours · Breakfast Included

Today you’ll have an opportunity to ride a cable car up to Pichincha Volcano on the eastern side of Quito. Once you’ve reached the top, spend some time taking photos of the city as well as Pichincha’s highest peaks: Wawa Pichincha and Ruku Pichincha. You can also go for a walk through the páramo high-altitude ecosystem. Simply follow a path that leads to the Ruku Pichincha summit as far as you’d like, and then return to the cable car station for a ride back down to Quito

Transfer to Quito Airport, Depart

Private transfer · 1 hour

It’s time to say goodbye to Ecuador! Enjoy a leisurely morning in Quito before your driver transfers you to Quito Airport for your ongoing departure. Safe travels


Day 1: Quito City Tour (private group)

Day 2: Urban Bike Tour in Quito (small group), Quito Cooking Class (private group)

Day 3: Quito – Cotopaxi National Park – Baños (private group)

Day 5: Explore the Pailón del Diablo Waterfall, Transfer to Archidona (private group), Rainforest Hike in
Archidona (private group)

Day 6: Rafting, Night walk & Campfire (small group)

Day 7: Ushpayacu Waterfalls (small group), Cultural Night with Cooking & Chocolate Making (small group)

Day 8: Archidona – Papallacta Hot Springs – Quito (private group)

Day 9: Ride the Cable Car to Pichincha Volcano (private group)


Day 1: Transfer from Quito Airport to the City

Day 9: Transfer to Quito Airport, Depart


Your specialist has not yet selected any hotels for you. Please ask your specialist to select hotels with availability for your travel dates.

  • International flights
  • The meals not mentioned in the trip plan
  • Personal expenses
    Travel insurance, and repatriation insurance
  • Optional excursions, activities, and optional tours
  • Reservations marked as “reserved by traveler” are reservations that the traveler is responsible for directly.
  • These items are not reserved or supported by authenticecuador and are included in the trip plan just for completeness


5 nights

Ecuador’s most culturally rich city, Quito is packed with attractions, from impressive archeological museums to hilltop viewpoints high above the metropolis. Not to be missed is Quito’s old center, a Unesco World Heritage site dotted with colonial mansions and gilded churches, some of which date back to the 16th century. High-quality
lodging options and some of the country’s best restaurants make Quito an excellent base before or after visiting other parts of the country.

City tours take you to key landmarks in Quito, like La Compañia, a gold-filled Jesuit church that took over 160 years to complete. Just north of the city, the Inti Ñan museum, which lies near the equator line, has interactive exhibits and demonstrations on water and energy. You can also learn about Andean culinary techniques during a private cooking class.

Suggested things to do:

  • Take a day trip to the Termas de Papallacta, a hot springs complex with over a dozen steaming pools amid mountain views.
  • Ride the TelefériQo, an aerial gondola, to the top of Cruz Loma for lofty views from an elevation of 12,900 feet (3932m).
  • Have a craft beer inside one of a growing number of microbreweries around the city. Cherusker Cervecería Alemana, located in the lively Mariscal district, has some excellent drafts.