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Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador

Ecuador North to South

Example 8 Day Tour
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Ecuador offers visitors some of the most stunning natural beauty and cultural diversity on the continent. Wander the cobblestone streets of colonial Cuenca, tasting new foods and bargaining with local vendors. Spend three nights discovering the cultural diversity of the highlands from Cotopaxi to Quilotoa, and the Inca ruins of Ingapirca. Conclude your trip with a night at Ecuador's main port city of Guayaquil. This is the perfect overview tour of Ecuador!

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in Quito
Day 2 : Colonial Quito and Middle of the World
Day 3 : Cotopaxi National Park
Day 4 : Quilotoa Lagoon | Riobamba
Day 5 : Devil's Nose Train and Ingapirca
Day 6 : Explore Cuenca
Day 7 : Cajas National Park and Manglares Churute
Day 8 : Depart Guayaquil


  • Hike on the earth's highest active volcano, Cotopaxi
  • Embark on a thrilling train ride over the Naríz del Diablo
  • Explore the unique ruins of Ingapirca and the colonial city of Cuenca
  • Visit the unique mangrove forest of Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Adventure Life Exclusive

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador Adventures in Quito! Lovely Laguna in Cajas National Park Train passing through Riobamba Ingapirca Ruins Main Plaza in Cuenca View of a small chapel and the city of Guayaquil

Day 1 Arrive in Quito

Arrive in the Colonial City of Quito on the flight of your choice today. Overnight.

Day 2 Colonial Quito and Middle of the World

Begin your journey with an exploration of the capital city of Quito. Drive north to visit "El mirador de Guápulo" (view point), from where you can admire its church and Quito's nearby valleys. Go south towards Quito's colonial center - one of the world's cultural heritage sites, where you can see many historical buildings including churches, museums, and monuments. From here continue to El Panecillo - the small, rounded hill which dominates the old town. From its summit you can see marvelous views of the whole city stretching out below, as well as magnificent views of the surrounding volcanoes.   

Travel towards "La Mitad del Mundo" (the middle of the world) in the village of San Antonio, about 22 Km. north of Quito. Here visit the trapezium stone monument, which is built on the Equator, and the excellent Museo Etnográfico and Inti-Ñan.

Day 3 Cotopaxi National Park

Head south from Quito, along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes", viewing the breathtaking high plains surrounding the magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi - the earth's highest active volcano (19347ft/5897m). This area provides excellent opportunities to spot the Andean condor.
After lunch in the Limpiopungo Valley (12540ft/3800m), ascend to El Parqueadero (15180ft/4600m). From this point hike for about an hour to El Refugio, the volcano's refuge lodge (15840ft/4800m). A short walk from here takes you to the nearest glacier.
Tonight overnight in one of Ecuador's most famous haciendas, the 400-year-old Hacienda La Cienega. This enchanting hacienda on the slopes of Cotopaxi has hosted many of Ecuador's former presidents as well as Alexander von Humboldt, founder of modern geography.

Day 4 Quilotoa Lagoon | Riobamba

After breakfast this morning head south to Latacunga along the magnificent Central Valley, which is sheltered by two parallel mountain ranges. Visit Quilotoa, a beautiful emerald lagoon surrounded by several snow-capped volcanoes. After lunch, meet the famous Tigua painters. Their sheepskin paintings of traditional Andean village life have been highly regarded since before Incan times. This evening continue on to the town of Riobamba.

Day 5 Devil's Nose Train and Ingapirca

After breakfast, enjoy an early morning drive to the Indian Village of Alausí, from where embark on a thrilling train ride over the Naríz del Diablo (Devil´s Nose) to Sibambe, back to Alausí then on to Guamote.
Next, head to Ecuador's most famous Inca ruin, Ingapirca. Take some time to explore the ancient citadel and the surrounding area of Cañar. 
Continue your journey south, following old dirt roads into the countryside. Pass a checkerboard of small farms growing corn, beans, potatoes, and other Andean staples as you make your way to Cuenca.  Considered the most colonial city in all the Americas, red clay rooftops stretch throughout the city and baroque churches seem to stand on every corner. Settle in to your hotel for the evening.

Day 6 Explore Cuenca

Enjoy a full day of exploring colonial Cuenca with your guide. Choose the areas that interest you most. You may choose to depart early this morning and head to the markets at 10 de Agosto and San Francisco. From there, continue on to San Sebastion, the historical center and visit the Museum of Modern Art. Stop by the Parque de las Flores and visit Parque Calderón the city’s largest plaza and home to both the new and old cathedral. Choose from great museum options or visit a Panama Hat factory. You may choose to visit the famous Barranco along Calle Largo. Stop by Mirador de Turi for a great view of the city and finish up by visiting the Gallery of Eduardo Vega, whose ceramics have achieved international fame.

Day 7 Cajas National Park and Manglares Churute

Your journey today takes you all the way to the coast. Along the way, stop to visit Cajas National Park. Over 200 gorgeous lakes are scattered amongst the jagged rocks and craggy valleys that make up the breathtaking landscape of this often wet and foggy park.
As you get closer to the coast, enjoy a visit of Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve. Nearly 50,000 hectares in size, this reserve is one of the most important reserves in Ecuador and in all of South America. Here find four related ecosystems: mangroves, estuary, dry tropical forest, and wet tropical forest.
Finally, arrive in the coastal city of Guayaquil and head to your hotel.

Day 8 Depart Guayaquil

  • 1 Breakfast
Head to the airport for your international flight home or extend your adventure with a trip to the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands!

Cuenca - Hotels

Guayaquil - Hotels

Hacienda Abraspungo

Hacienda La Cienega

Quito - Hotels

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  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • 5 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Cotapaxi Patante Fee


  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Entrance Fee
  • Park Entrance Fee: Cotopaxi National Park
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Erin Correia
Erin C

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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