All the Highlights of this Beautiful Country
20-day Ecuador holidays for £3195pp
We can offer all kinds of Ecuador holidays, big or small, but we know that some of you will want to see as much as you possibly can. This holiday is designed to show you all the highlights that Ecuador has to offer - culture, history and the natural world - so that you can return home satisfied that you really have seen the Full Monty!
You'll arrive in Quito and have some time here to enjoy the lovely colonial architecture, before we head out into the Andes to visit the enormous Otavalo market - the best place in South America for traditional textiles and other items. Then we will take you into the Amazon jungle for a stay at the superb La Selva Lodge, before coming back into the Andes to visit the Cotopaxi National Park on our way to the lovely town of Cuenca. Having seen the jungle and the mountains, that just leaves Ecuador's beautiful coast, and so from Cuenca we will head down to the sea for you to enjoy a few days relaxation at an exclusive beachfront hotel to finish off this amazing Ecuador holiday...
- Day One: Arrival in Quito
- Day Two: City tour of Quito
- Day Three: Cuicocha and Cotacachi
- Day Four: Otavalo Market
- Day Five: Free day in Quito
- Day Six: Into the Jungle
- Day Seven: Yasuni Lodge
- Day Eight: Yasuni National Park
- Day Nine: Back to Quito
- Day Ten: Cotopaxi National Park
- Day Eleven: Lake Quilotoa
- Day Twelve: The Devil's Nose
- Day Thirteen: Tour of Cuenca
- Day Fourteen: Free time in Cuenca
- Day Fifteen: Tour of Ingapirca
- Day Sixteen: On to the Beach
- Days Seventeen to Nineteen: Relaxing in Playa Canela
- Day Twenty: Overnight Flight to the UK
Day One – Begin your Ecuador Holidays
You will arrive in Quito today as your Ecuador holidays begin. We’ll be there to pick you up and take you to your hotel, which is in the heart of the capital. You will probably want some time to rest and get used to the altitude so we have left the rest of the day free for you to relax. Your hotel is close to dozens of restaurants and cafes, as well as all the other facilities you'd expect from a capital city, so if you're feeling up to it then why not head on out and explore one of South America’s most beautiful capitals.
Day Two - City Tour in Quito
This morning we’ve left you some free time to relax after your journey, then after lunch we will pick you up after lunch and take you for a tour of Quito. We’ll focus on the beautiful colonial Old Town, with its winding cobbled streets and grand plazas. The area is a designated World Heritage Site, and it’s home to some of South America’s finest colonial architecture, including the stunning Cathedral and several other churches, all overlooked from the nearby Panecillo hill by the winged statue of the Virgin of Quito. (Breakfast included)
Day Three - Cuicocha and the Middle of the World
This morning you will head north from Quito as we travel into the high Andes to the north of the city. We will have a stop along the way for a visit to the “Middle of the World” monument located on the line of the Equator at the town of Cayambe, so you can stand astride the hemispheres! From here we will travel further into the mountains before we stop for lunch at the panoramic viewpoint at the Laguna San Pablo lake. After lunch we will visit the beautiful Cuicocha crater lake and the lovely village of Cotacachi. This is famous for its leather goods and is located in one of Ecuador’s most idyllic valleys. We will arrive in the town of Otavalo in the early evening so you have plenty of time to enjoy an evening meal and get to bed in good time for an early start tomorrow... (B/L/D)
Day Four - Otavalo Market
An early start today, but you will be able to beat most people to the bargains as Otavalo awakes and the largest market in Ecuador opens for business! You can check out the beautiful local textiles, haggle over some excellent leather goods, or just sit back with an Ecuadorean coffee and take it all in! After a full morning here, we will return to Quito in the afternoon by way of the lovely Peguche waterfall and the small town of San Antonio de Ibarra. (B/L/D)
Day Five – Free Day in Quito
We have left today free for you to relax and enjoy the lovely city of Quito. There’s loads to see and do here, from great museums to top shopping, and one of the best ways to get a birds-eye view of it all is to take the ‘Teleferiqo’ cable-car up to the top of the Pichincha mountain! Of course, if you’d prefer something a little more active, then we could arrange something like a downhill mountain biking trip or some whitewater rafting...? (B)
- If you'd prefer something more adventurous on your Ecuador holidays, how about a day's downhill mountain-biking or rafting trip?
- Or if you'd like some quality relaxation, a trip to one of the superb spa hotels with private hot springs just outside Quito
Day Six - Into the Jungle
This morning we will pick you up and take you to the airport for a flight across the Andes and down into the Amazon basin. We will land in the jungle town of Coca and we will head from the airport to the River Napo, where we will board our motorized covered canoes to begin our journey downriver. Along the way we will be able to see the ever-changing jungle landscape, as well as birds like kingfishers, herons, hawks, large- and yellow-billed terns, and hopefully even the famous “umbrella” bird. We will enjoy a packed lunch on the way, and will soon cross into the huge Yasuni National Park – one of the largest protected areas of Amazonian rainforest in the whole of South America – and a short while after that, we’ll arrive at the lovely Yasuni Kichwa Eco-Lodge. You will be taken to your comfortable cabin and offered a refreshing drink before we leave you with some free time to settle in, perhaps to explore the marked trails from the lodge, or to wander down to the riverbank to enjoy your first spectacular Amazon sunset... (B/L/D)
- The Yasuni Lodge is one of our favourites for a jungle holiday in Ecuador, but we work with many other lodges as well, so if you'd like to see some options then just ask.
- Or if you'd like a slightly different experience, why not ask about our Amazon river cruises instead?
Day Seven - Yasuni Lodge
After an early breakfast this morning we will board our canoes and head deeper into the National Park to visit a fantastic parrot clay lick. As many as eleven different species of parrots (but particularly Mealy, Orange-winged and blue-headed parrots) gather at this lick every morning to take in minerals from the clay to supplement their diet. It’s a riotous, squawky, brightly-coloured affair and from our special hide, you will have the chance to get some amazing views and brilliant photos. After this we will visit the Kuri Muyu centre, which is run by the women of the indigenous Kichwa community. Here you will have a chance to become familiar with their culture, crafts and traditions, and see how they live together with the forest as they always have. After returning to the lodge for lunch, we will take a walk through the surrounding rainforest to reach our special 35-metre-high observation tower. From this view high in the canopuy, we will hope to see howler and squirrel monkeys, toucans, parrots and sloths as well as a huge variety of other birds. (B/L/D)
Day Eight - Yasuni National Park
We will spend some time this morning with more members of the Kichwa community, giving us the chance to learn more about their worldview, and particularly about the different ways they use forest products for medicinal purposes. We will then take another walk through the primary rainforest to see more of the wildlife which thrives here in the unspoilt Yasuni Reserve. We will end the morning back at the lodge for lunch, and then after some time to relax, in the late afternoon we will walk down to the Añangu creek to see a different environment of wetlands and seasonally-flooded forest. Here we will hope to see giant river otters and sloths, as well as monkeys in the tree canopy above. As dusk falls, we will board a small canoe and head downriver to give us a chance to meet some of the nocturnal denizens of the Amazon, such as the 4m-long Black Caimans which live on the shores of Lake Añangu, and the chance to see the stars as they only appear here in the jungle. After this night-time excursion we will head back to the lodge for a late dinner. (B/L/D)
Day Nine - Back to Quito
After our final jungle breakfast this morning, we will pick you up and take you back downriver to Coca for the flight back up to Quito. On arrival, we’ll take you back to your hotel so you can get ready to head out and continue your holiday in Ecuador. (B)
Day Ten - Cotopaxi National Park
The snow-capped mountain of Cotopaxi is one of the enduring symbols of Ecuador, and no holiday in Ecuador is complete without a trip to see it. Today we will take you on a full-day tour through the beautiful Cotopaxi National Park, including the lovely Lake Limpiopungo and the mountain refuge on the slopes of Cotopaxi itself, giving you the chance for some breathtaking photos, as well as the chance to see some of the park’s fantastic wildlife, such as the giant Andean Condors. We will stay tonight in a traditional Andean hacienda, giving you the chance to enjoy some history along with the fantastic scenery. (B/L/D)
Day Eleven - Lake Quilotoa
Today we will head out of the Cotopaxi National Park to Lake Quilotoa. This giant crater lake is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and as you climb up to the lip of the (extinct!) volcano, you look down through the mists into a bluey-green lake that seems utterly surreal. You can then head down to the lake and take out a rowing-boat or canoe, before coming back up by horse to your waiting driver. In the evening, we'll head further south through Ecuador, to the town of Riobamba, where we will spend the night in another traditional hacienda and enjoy another traditional Andean meal. (B/L/D)
Day Twelve - The Devil's Nose
It’s an early start again today, as we pick you up and take you to the train station in Riobamba, for a ride down the Devil's Nose! This infamous switchback took decades of work to complete when it was constructed in the early twentieth century and today it forms part of a fully-restored rail line from Quito all the way to Guayaquil on the Pacific coast. Today you will travel on just a small section of it, but you will still have some spectacular views as you travel down the line. On arrival in the small town of Alausi, we will pick you up and take you on to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, where you will stay tonight. (B)
- Rather than with a private driver, the whole trip down through Cotopaxi from Cuenca can be done on a vintage steam locomotive...
Day Thirteen - Tour of Cuenca
After some free time this morning, after lunch we will take you on a tour of this lovely city - probably the prettiest in Ecuador. We will visit the two cathedrals, the colonial riverside district and two of Ecuador's best museums, among several other sights. We will finish off by heading to a hill just outside Cuenca, from where you have some gorgeous views over the city and the countryside beyond. (B)
Day Fourteen - Free time in Cuenca
We have left today free for you to just relax and enjoy a wander around Cuenca. With its pleasant, tree-lined streets and squares, gorgeous domed churches, and some of the best food and drink in the country, we're sure you'll find lovely plenty of places to sit and write those postcards - we can even recommend a few! (B)
Day Fifteen - Ingapirca
Today we will pick you up from your hotel in Cuenca and head north along Route 35 to what is the largest and most complete set of Inca remains in Ecuador. Constructed in the traditional Inca manner, fitting blocks of stone exactly together without mortar, the most impressive building is a large elliptical Temple of the Sun, built so that at mid-day on the summer solstice, sunlight falls exactly through the centre of the doorway into the building’s upper chamber. We will spend the rest of the day in guided exploration and at the site’s excellent museum, before returning to Cuenca. (B)
Day Sixteen - On to the Beach
This morning we'll take you to the airport to catch a flight down to the coastal city of Guayaquil. Here we'll pick you up and drive you further along the coast to the lovely Playa Canela beach, where we’ll check you in at your gorgeous ocean-side hotel and then you can hit the beach! (B)
- The different areas of Ecuador's Pacific coast all have different things to recommend them, from wild and deserted Manabi, to all-inclusive resorts in Salinas, so if you'd like to look at more options for a beach holiday in Ecuador, just let us know.
Days Seventeen to Nineteen - Relaxing in Playa Canela
These three days are all about you kicking back on the beach and enjoy all the facilities and activities your beach hotel has to offer. All together now: take a deep breath... and relax... (B)
Day Twenty – Last Day of your Ecuador Holidays
You’ll have a free morning to soak up those last few rays or enjoy a last swim, before sadly your Ecuador holidays are at an end and it's time for us to pick you up and drive you back to the airport in Guayaquil to catch your international flight home. (B)
The standard price for our Full Monty Ecuador holidays is £3195 per person, which is based on two sharing a double or twin room in our standard hotels and lodges.
That price includes all your accommodation, internal transport, transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees, plus all your meals in Otavalo, the Amazon, Cotopaxi National Park, and Salinas, plus breakfast every day.
We don't have any "local payments" or sneaky charges: everything you have read about on this itinerary is included in that price. And because everything we do is tailor-made, we don't have fixed departure dates or minimum numbers for our trips. Outside of national holidays or other special events, this price is valid for the whole of 2020.
So with the exception of a few meals, everything on your holiday is included. What we don't include as standard is your international flights, because with these you have a huge range of options depending on the date you want to travel, the route you want to fly, and your preferred departure airport in the UK.
We aren't tied to any particular airline, and we will be delighted to discuss all options with you, or you can even book the flights yourself if you prefer: it's totally up to you.
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