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Ecuador – From the Andes to the Amazon

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To book this holiday please contact our Travel Experts directly on



An epic voyage of trekking up the fossilised slopes of soaring volcanoes, discovering ancient Incan cities, and soaking in the steamy thermal waters of the Andean foothills.

Quito, Ecuador’s lofty capital, set high within the Andes Mountain Range and built on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, serves as the starting point for this expedition. There will be ample time to survey its UNESCO-listed old town and engage with all female-run community project before venturing to the sprawling wilderness of Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and sailing across Cuicocha Crater Lake near Baños. Otavalo craft market will be experienced in all its vibrant textile glory, as will Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and Sangay National Park, with its thundering waterfalls and mist-fronted cloud forests.

The adventure will then continue into the depths of the Amazon Rainforest, where motor canoes traverse the caiman-teeming river, indigenous people invite you into their homes, and a rescue centre rehabilitates rare endemic wildlife. Guided hikes highlight the rarest species of this famed tropical reservoir and bathing in steamy thermal pools provides reprieve, enhanced further by a backdrop of snow-capped peaks.

What does this price include?

  • Nine nights’ accommodation in a series of hotels, guesthouses and lodges in Quito (one night), Otavalo (two nights), Baños (two nights), the Amazon rainforest (three nights), Papallacta (one night) and two nights of air travel
  • Nine breakfasts, four lunches, and three dinners
  • A city tour of Quito
  • A visit to a community project in Pijal
  • An excursion to Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and a boat ride across Cuicocha Crater Lake
  • A visit to Otavalo Market
  • A visit to Cotopaxi National Park and Cotopaxi Volcano
  • A visit to Sangay National Park and waterfalls, and cable car ride across the Pastaza River Canyon
  • A guided hike through the Amazon Rainforest
  • A visit to Anaconda Island, meet with a local family and see an animal rescue centre
  • A visit to the thermal pools of Papallacta
  • Return flights from the UK to Quito
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager

Your Itinerary

View a full breakdown of your holiday to help you plan your trip

  • Fly from the UK overnight to Ecuador

  • Today, you’ll touch down in Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best-preserved colonial city in America. Your friendly tour manager will welcome you to this cultural capital on the equator before you’re transferred to the hotel.

    Depending on the time of your arrival, you can get settled at the hotel, with a view of the Pichincha Volcano, and then head out to the old town of Quito and the surrounding area.

  • After breakfast, you’ll explore Quito, built into the base of the Andean foothills, on a guided tour. As you wander the winding streets of the old town, you’ll pass by the striking architecture of European, Moorish and indigenous styles and colonial monuments for which its famous.

    Points of interest that you’ll encounter include the cobbled Plaza de San Francisco, with the soaring San Francisco church towers, La Plaza Grande, and the Church of La Compañía, sporting gold and green domes.

    The tour will then call at a workshop owned by a well-known artisan family, which produces the local candy, colación. This popular Ecuadorian sweet consists of small colourful balls made with different fillings and covered in sugar or corn starch.

    Following this visit and a tasting, you’ll continue to see the expansive Quitsato Sundial and then travel to Pijal, a small village in the heart of the Andes. Here, a sustainable project is run by a group of local women who make and sell scarfs to support their families. You’ll get to engage with these women, learning about their weaving skills, as well as observing how they prepare aji, a local spicy salsa recipe, which has been passed down through generations. A traditional lunch will then be served by the woman who have used fresh products to create the dishes from the surrounding fields.

    Later in the day, you’ll travel to the market town of Otavalo to check into your next hotel, set in a colonial manor house. Once you’ve unpacked, you can choose to have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant or nearby on your own account.

  • Enjoy a healthy breakfast before making the short drive to the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, a sprawling wildlife sanctuary that extends from the Sierra Mountains. At the centre, the deep Cuicocha Crater Lake, which was formed by an eruption over 3100 years ago, can be found.

    In the centre of the lake, there are two lava dome islands, and the lake draws its name from the shape of the larger one – Cuicocha means ‘lake of guinea pigs’ in the local Quechua language. Your guide will lead you around this active volcano, pointing out the flowers that line the trail and then you’ll board a boat to travel across the lake, observing the bubbles rising to the surface.

    You’ll then head towards Cotacachi, an artisan city known for the production of leather goods and handicrafts, to walk around. The last stop of the day will be the Otavalo market, Plaza de Ponchos, one of the largest indigenous markets in Latin America. This craft market is where traditionally dressed townspeople gather to sell colourful weaving textiles, like tapestries, blankets and ponchos, as well as handicrafts. There will be time to browse the assortment of offerings at bargain prices.

  • You’ll have breakfast, check out of the hotel and travel south to Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and enclosed by a national park, peppered with Incan ruins. The tour will begin at the entrance, where you’ll visit the natural history museum to learn more about the volcano and area and then you’ll take a gentle walk along the slope towards the Jose F. Rivas refuge to take in the spectacular views.

    After descending to the base, you’ll be driven towards beautiful Limpiopungo Lake, a paradise for photographers. A short, guided stroll around the lake will allow you to take in the birdlife, like the indigenous Andean gulls and mountain ducks, as well as the surrounding landscape.

    In the late afternoon, you’ll reach the city of Baños, a gateway to the Amazon basin, where you’ll check into your hotel and have dinner at your leisure.

  • Breakfast will be enjoyed and then you’ll travel to the town of Río Verde, positioned in the Sangay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park comprises a collection of lakes, high-Andean cloud forests, glaciers and three volcanoes (two of which are active). As a result of the unique and complex geology and ecology, a vast assortment of native and rare species live here, including the mountain tapir and spectacled bear. Over 400 bird species can also be found, and the park has been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.

    Your guide will escort you on a hike to the second highest waterfall in Ecuador, Cascada el Pailón del Diablo, which translates to ‘Devil’s Cauldron’. From a suspension bridge, you can gaze in awe as the roaring water gushes onto the rocks below, with a cloud forest as the backdrop. Those who are keen, may also join an optional hike behind the falls for a different view.

    Following a short drive, you’ll arrive at another incredible waterfall, El Manto de la Novia. A cable car ride will then allow you to traverse the canyon of the Pastaza River while absorbing the panorama vista of the remarkable landscape.

    Later in the day, you’ll return to your hotel in Baños, where you can perhaps have a dip in one of the pools.

  • Rise for breakfast, check out of the hotel, and then board the coach for a scenic journey along a meandering road to the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest tropical rainforest. As you descend in altitude, you’ll notice how the land and vegetation changes drastically with the climate.

    On the way, you’ll stop at ‘Guacamayos – Macaw Lookout’, which is positioned between Antisana and Sumaco National Reserves, to observe the clouds that conceal the sprawling boundless sweep of treetops.

    You’ll then arrive at the Arajuno River and a motor canoe will take you on a 20-minute ride to an eco-lodge on the banks, where you’ll stay for the next two nights.

  • Wake up to the sounds of the Amazon rainforest this morning, have breakfast and travel by canoe to Anaconda Island, fixed in-between the rivers of Napo and Arajuno. Swathed in banana, coffee, and cacao plantations, this island is home to a local Kichwa family who’ll welcome you into their home. The family will also show you how to prepare chicha, a fermented drink made from corn. During your visit, keep your eyes peeled for black caimans, crocodilian reptiles endemic to South America, swimming in the waters.

    In the afternoon, you’ll return to the lodge to relax and have some lunch before heading to Amazoonico, an animal rescue centre. A guide will take you around this non-profit centre, explaining how the wild animals who live here were victims of illegal trafficking, and are now being responsibly rehabilitated, so they can be reintroduced back into their natural habitats.

    Towards the end of the day, you’ll be taken back to the lodge for dinner at the on-site restaurant.

  • Fuel up on breakfast as you’ll be venturing on a guided three to four-hour hike into the depths of the Amazon rainforest and past the Amazon River. As you follow an exceptionally breathtaking trail, your guide will explain how this tropical reservoir is one of the last refuges on Earth for many species, some of which you might be lucky enough to spot, like pink river dolphins, jaguars, and harpy eagles.

    Several million species of plants, birds, insects and other forms of life reside here, and while you walk, you’ll also learn the importance of the rainforest in terms of stabilising the world’s climate, supporting the tribal people, and how the Amazon River Basin is the world’s largest drainage system.

    Lunch and dinner will be enjoyed back at the lodge, and after the hike you’ll have time to unwind, perhaps nursing a cold beverage at the river-facing bar.

  • This morning, you’ll leave the rainforest behind after breakfast and travel to the small town of Papallacta, famous for its hot springs. This area of natural beauty is particularly popular with wildlife enthusiasts and serves as an ideal escape away from the bustle.

    Your accommodation of cosy wooden cabins has its own private thermal pools of varying temperatures, which look out over the dramatic Andes Mountain range. You can embrace the free time today to soak in the salubrious pools, opt for a massage at the spa, and lounge on the outdoor terrace.

    In the evening, you can choose to have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, or in the town on your own account.

  • Have breakfast, check out and transfer to Quito airport for your flight back to the UK.

  • Arrive back on UK soil after your inspiring South American adventure.

Dates & Prices

To book this holiday please contact our Travel Experts directly on

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Ecuador – From the Andes to the Amazon Touring Hotels

You will be staying in a series of comfortable hotels that are conveniently located for your tour itinerary.

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Further Information

  • The transfer time is approximately 30 minutes.

  • If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

  • We sometimes need to combine transfers to and from your hotel. We always try to keep any wait to a minimum, but you may be asked to wait at the airport for up to an hour, while other incoming flights arrive, before the transfer to your hotel. Similarly, we may need to transfer you back to the airport up to three hours before your flight home departs.

  • The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

  • Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

  • Visit to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

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