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Hiking, mountain biking and canoeing in the Amazon – this is sporty Ecuador
“You will go mountain biking at the foot of the world’s highest active volcano and canyoning underneath refreshing waterfalls.”
This journey takes you to adventurous and sporty Ecuador. You will visit colonial Quito, stay in a charming lodge in the rainforest, go mountain biking at the foot of the world’s highest active volcano and canyoning underneath refreshing waterfalls.
The chosen accommodations are basic, but well cared for and all in an excellent location. Extend this journey to a 3-week holiday by adding a 5-day expedition cruise in the Galápagos Archipelago. Related to style and comfort, this visit to Ecuador fits perfectly with a cruise expedition on one of the Tourist Superior vessels.
For a day to day overview, click here to see the itinerary.
At Quito airport you will be welcomed by our English-speaking guide / driver who will accompany you to your hotel in Quito, the Hump Day Hostel, where you will stay 2 nights. You can spend the afternoon and evening at leisure.
The Hump Day Hostel is a basic but very well cared for hostel in a beautiful colonial building. The location of this hostel is perfect in the old historic centre of Quito.
After a delicious breakfast in your hostel you will be picked up to go and discover the beautiful old centre of Quito and its surroundings.
The city is located at an altitude of 2,850 meters. Despite the earthquake in 1917, Quito has the best-preserved historic centre of Latin America and is therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We go to the historic centre to visit the Basilica del Voto Nacional, where we make a short stop and then reach the Plaza de la Independencia. We walk along the Cathedral of Quito, the Government Palace and the Palace of the Archbishop. In addition, visit the fantastic La Compañia Church, recognised for its grandiose decorations and golden altars. Your tour continues to the church and convent of San Francisco, built in the seventeenth century. Afterwards you will go to the Mirador del Panecillo. From this hill you have a beautiful view of colonial and modern Quito.
In the afternoon you drive to Mitad del Mundo – the middle of the world. Quito is located 20 km south of the equator. The monument “Mitad del Mundo” was built on a historic location: in 1736, a French explorer calculated that the equatorial line would stretch along this exact spot. We now know that the actual line is 240 meters further north, but this place still remains very nice to visit. In the museum located at this magical site you can do some experiments related to gravity and magnetic fields. For once in your life, stand with one foot in the northern and your other in the southern hemisphere.
A day at leisure in Quito. Wander through the beautiful old centre, visit a local market or go in search of modern Quito in the Mariscal Sucre or La Floresta neighbourhoods. We are happy to give you local tips.
In the evening you will be picked up and taken to the station where you will take the night bus to Lago Agrio. This bus is safe and comfortable and is only used by tourists for long-distance travel. The bus will leave Quito at 11 p.m.
You will arrive in Lago Agrio early in the morning, where you will be picked up by a representative from Jamu Lodge, a beautiful lodge from which you will explore the Amazon rainforest for the next three days.
Jamu Lodge is just a stone’s throw away from the magnificent Laguna Grande on the banks of the Cuyabeno River. This lodge takes the concept of Eco-tourism to a higher level. Electricity is generated by solar panels and candles illuminate the hotel, creating an intimate, natural ambiance. Prepare for a true adventure! Nestled in the Cuyabeno Reserve, Jamu has access to some of the most interesting and exciting activities in the Amazon, such as spotting some of the hundreds of birds that call this reserve their home, walking along the winding paths of the lodge and wander through primary forests and unique swamp areas. Jamu Lodge consists of 9 cottages with several rooms. They are built in traditional Amazon style, with thatched roofs and comfortable spaces, connected to the common areas via an elevated walkway. All rooms have a private bathroom and offer easy access to the lounge with hammocks and the dining area, located at the centre of the lodge. The chefs at Jamu only use the freshest locally sourced ingredients, such as cassava and pisangs; the delicious menu offers variation in national and international gastronomy. Savour the delicious desserts and great alcoholic drinks at the bar.
Upon arrival at the lodge you will receive a lunch box. After some explanation about what you can expect in the coming days, your adventure starts right away: you take a two-hour canoe trip on the Cuyabeno River. During the canoe trip you get a first impression of the rainforest and you can already see different kinds of birds such as the Cacique, the Oropendola and the prehistoric Hoatzin. You can also see different monkeys and other Amazon animals, depending on the weather conditions. You will arrive at Jamu Lodge around 4:30 pm. At that moment you will be brought to your room where you can freshen up and relax a bit. Then you leave the lodge to go swimming in the lagoon and enjoy a beautiful sunset. A delicious dinner awaits upon your return to the camp. Relaxing in a hammock or enjoying a drink at the bar you can reflect upon the impressions of the day.
You wake up to the sounds of the rainforest. After breakfast there is a walk of approximately 3 to 4 hours in the primary forest, where the guide will explain everything about the tropical forest and its medicinal plants. You return to your home base for lunch and a short break.
In the afternoon you go to see the beautiful butterflies and swim in the lagoon. If you are lucky you may see the rare pink river dolphins and you will once again enjoy an impressive sunset. The day is not over after dinner. When the sun has set and the rainforest welcomes the dark night you will go out looking for alligators on the banks of the river!
This day is dedicated to the indigenous population of the Amazon. After breakfast you start a canoe trip downstream on a journey of about an hour to the Tarapuy community. You will learn how to prepare “Casabe”, a delicious traditional bread made from cassava. You will see how the locals use the materials of the rainforest in daily life.
In the afternoon the lodge offers relaxing activities. The day ends with a nice walk, this time focused on observing nocturnal insects such as spiders, lizards or scorpions and to listen to the sounds of the night.
Early in the morning before breakfast you can optionally take an excursion to go bird watching. When you return to the lodge you will receive a last delicious breakfast in this beautiful area and you will be taken to the airport of Lago Agrio to take the bus back to Quito. The bus trip to Quito is long, but the bus will stop in town so that you can buy drinks and snacks along the way.
You arrive in Quito late in the evening where you will take a taxi to your hotel (Hump Day Hostel).
Today you rise early. You leave Quito at 7 a.m. and after an hour and a half on the Pan-American highway heading south you will reach the entrance to the Cotopaxi National Park. We drive through pine forest and quickly reach the park’s visitor centre. After a visit to the centre, we drive further up in our 4×4 into the mountains until we reach the highest point of the tour (4,500 meters). The view from this point is breathtakingly beautiful and on a clear day you can even see 8 volcanoes.
Then we put on our helmets, slip on our gloves and protective pads and our cycling adventure begins on the world’s highest active volcano. The first 8 km takes us 700 meters down over unpaved roads through volcanic ash and tundra landscape. At 3,800 meters you have to climb a little while we descend further over a length of 8 km between volcanic rocks and wild horses to our lunch spot at an Inca ruin at 3,700 meters. With a bit of luck we might see a condor or a caracara.
At the end of the beautiful bike ride we put the bikes back on the jeep and head to the beautiful lake of Limpiopungo. On a clear day, the Cotopaxi volcano reflects in the lake.
After this, the rest of the group will return to Quito, but you will enjoy staying in this area at Chuquiragua Lodge.
The owner of Chuquiragua Lodge & Spa designed the hotel himself. The lodge is located in the town of Machachi near the many volcanoes that lie in this area. The hotel was built in colonial style. It features a large beautiful garden and barbecue facilities. There is also a restaurant and a bar. The rooms are nicely furnished and equipped with a well-kept en-suite bathroom. The lodge serves an extensive breakfast; Wi-Fi is available in the common areas.
After breakfast you will be picked up to make a wonderful trip through the Andes Mountains towards the Quilotoa Lagoon. This lagoon is in fact the crater of an inactive volcano, filled with beautiful blue water. On a windy day you can even smell the sulphur in the water. You have time to take a beautiful walk along the crater rim, after which you will drive by car to Baños. You will spend the next 4 nights in a charming hotel: Isla de Baños.
Isla de Baños is a nice hotel with a beautiful garden just outside the centre of Baños. You spend the night in a double room with your own bathroom. Wi-Fi is available at the hotel and free of charge. In addition to the beautiful garden, the hotel has a small library, a wellness centre and a cosy restaurant.
In the morning or afternoon you will make an unforgettable bike ride along beautiful waterfalls, the so-called Baños de Agua Santa route. Put on your helmet and start your journey on the way to El Puyo, where you can admire the Agoyán Hydroelectric Dam and cycle through an interesting tunnel.
Next you will cycle to the highest “tarabita” (cable car) in Ecuador: you cross the river in a metal car that slides over a cable from which you will enjoy the beautiful panorama around you. Admire the Agoyán Waterfall, the Manto de la Novia and the San Jorge Waterfall. At the end of your tour you walk to the Pailón del Diablo waterfall, before you return to your hotel in Baños.
Today it’s time for a good dose of adrenaline! You will descend into a canyon at the Chamana waterfalls. Chamana is only a 5-10 minute drive from Baños and is one of the easiest routes we can find in this area, perfect for beginners. However, the last waterfall is a challenge for many, the 50 meter drop of this waterfall will most likely take your breath away.
You meet your group at the office, 15 minutes before departure (09:00). Here your guide will hand out the necessary equipment that you take with you during your drive to your destination. Upon arrival, the equipment will be checked by your guide and he will give you a briefing on how to rappel: how to grasp the rope, walk backwards, jump, keep balance, in short, everything needed to easily carry out the canyoning so that you can optimally enjoy the experience.
After practicing we walk to the entrance of this Canyon. From this point your adventure begins, where you will explore 3 waterfalls from 12 to 50 meters high. In the first 2 you will scale down and in the last you will make an impressive free jump.
After this wonderful, active experience, return to the Baños office and then to your hotel.
Today you have a wonderful day at leisure in beautiful Baños. After all the adventures you will probably will enjoy a moment of relaxation in the thermal baths. Or maybe you want to add a new adventure on the spot. You can rent quads locally or take a beautiful horse ride.
In the very early morning you will be picked up at your hotel by a Spanish-speaking driver and you will drive to Alausi. Alausi is known for its most famous train ride in Ecuador: the Nariz del Diablo. The Nose of the Devil is named after the shape of the mountain on which the route for this train was built. At the beginning of 1900 a railroad was constructed to connect Guayaquil and Quito. The biggest challenge on this route was the Nariz del Diablo. This mountain has almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle, a zigzag railway was built; in less than 12.5 km, the train climbs 500 meters with steep climbs and descents during the ride. It remains an impressive engineering marvel to this day.
After this train journey you will continue to drive south with your driver to the Ingapirca ruins from the Inca era. These are the largest remains of an Inca City in Ecuador. Take the time to wander through the ruins and find out more about the indigenous cultures that are still present in today’s Ecuador.
You will end your day in Cuenca, where you will stay 3 nights at Hostal Posada del Angel.
This Hostal is set in a building that was built about 120 years ago by a priest in typical colonial-style. It was later sold to the Vázquez family and then to the Ramos Ugalde family, who distilled brandy in the backyard of the house. The residence was uninhabited for a long time and eventually fell into disrepair.
In 1997 the house was saved from destruction by the Hernández Bizzotto family. The family began a thorough renovation of the house in 2000, under the supervision of architect Alfredo Ríos, and one and a half years later the impressive restoration was completed. A great deal of effort has been made to preserve the original architecture and materials, combined with modern elements such as ceramic floors and varnished wood finishes. The rooms are built around the two courtyards.
Spend two beautiful days in Cuenca at leisure.
Cuenca is located on the Rio Tomebamba River and is considered (also by the Ecuadorians themselves) as the most beautiful city of Ecuador. Cuenca is built on the ruins of a mythical Inca City. The atmosphere in the city is wonderfully quiet and pleasant. Under the influence of eight universities, it is a city of poets, artisans, philosophers and artists. The city has a beautiful historic centre with colonial buildings, hundreds of churches, colourful cute houses, charming streets and busy markets. Since 1999 it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
You can undertake various activities during these two days. Spend a day exploring Cuenca or go further afield. In the surroundings of Cuenca there are many beautiful towns where traditional artisan crafts are still very much alive. In the area of Gualaceo you will find the so-called Ikat weaving. Chordeleg is known for the processing of silver, where you will find beautiful jewellery.
Your best souvenir from Ecuador? A beautiful, handmade Panama hat. It will probably surprise you because of the name, but the real Panama hat is originally from Cuenca. Here the hat is called Toquillo. The hat was given its confusing name “Panama”, since it was first seen when workers used the hat to protect themselves from the bright sun during the construction of the Panama Canal.
Today you will drive from Cuenca to the coastal town of Guayaquil. During the ride you stop at Cajas National Park, which you will explore with a local guide.
Cajas is the Lake District of Ecuador, a protected natural area of 28,800 hectares that lies at an altitude of 3000 meters. The region shows relics from the ice age and is shaped by intense volcanic activity. Winds and drizzle can make it very cold in this area, but the landscape around the 230 lakes is well-worth exploring. Hike and observe the unique flora, fauna and birds.
The cold lakes of Cajas are full of trout and this specialty can be enjoyed in one of the restaurants in the area.
In the afternoon you will arrive in Guayaquil where you will spend the night at Hostal Villa 64.
Villa 64 is located in the centre of Guayaquil, just a 5-minute walk from Rodolfo Baquerizo Moreno Square and Malecón del Salado. It offers accommodation in a peaceful setting with free Wi-Fi. The functional and comfortable rooms have air conditioning and a full-furnished bathroom with shower. The accommodation has an open terrace where you can relax and enjoy a nice evening. There is also a common living room.
Today you have the freedom to spend in Guayaquil before your flight leaves in the early evening.
Guayaquil is located on the western bank of the Guayas, the river that flows 60 km further down into the gulf of Guayaquil. With a population of 2.3 million, Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador. Its port, Puerto Maritimo, is the largest seaport in Ecuador. About 80% of the goods that are imported into Ecuador arrive through this port.
On this day at leisure, you can take a walk along the river over the Malécon 2000. This is a 2.5 km long boulevard. Along this boulevard you will find museums, bars, restaurants, shopping centres and botanical gardens. Las Peñas is at the end of this boulevard. This old neighbourhood is built on a hill. Here you will find very colourful, authentic wooden houses. They are wonderful examples of seventeenth-century Spanish architecture. There are bars and restaurants in the area and on top of the hill you can visit the lighthouse and a small church. Guayaquil offers another nice surprise. In the Parque Bolivar, in the middle of the city, you will find large groups of iguanas.
And don’t forget to drink “chocolate caliente” in Guayaquil or to buy high-quality chocolate bars! Guayaquil was the first port in the world where cocoa was exported in the late 18th century. For 150 years the city was known as “ciudad de cacao”. 85% of cocoa production in Ecuador takes place in the province of Guayas, of which Guayaquil is the capital. One of the best cocoa varieties in the world, Arriba Nacional, is produced here.
In the late afternoon you will be picked up by your driver and taken to Guayaquil airport.
Your wonderful 17-day trip in Ecuador comes to an end, but perhaps not your holiday. Extend your stay in Ecuador to a 3-week holiday with a few beautiful days on the coast, for example with a visit to Isla de la Plata. Or fly onwards to the Galápagos Archipelago where you can take a wonderful 5-day expedition cruise. Contact us to discuss the endless possibilities.
This journey takes you to the soul of colourful Ecuador. You will visit colonial Quito, stay in a luxurious lodge in the most beautiful cloud forest of the country and you will go on an adventure at two grandiose haciendas in the Andes Mountains.
A journey in which you combine your passion for golf with your love for nature and culture. You play beautiful golf courses, explore tropical forests, enjoy historic haciendas in the Andes, active volcanoes and the most beautiful colonial cities in South America: Quito and Cuenca, both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You end your trip with a 4-day expedition cruise in the Galápagos Islands.
Aves Travels is your specialist for birding holidays to Ecuador. We offer both group tours as well as bespoke, individual programs, in which you can explore all the stunning natural areas of this country. This example tour is very suitable for novice birders on a first visit to Ecuador, but also interesting for the more experienced. In addition to trips aimed at spotting unique bird species, we also offer holidays where you combine bird watching with photography. Read about this in our blog “Exclusive birding and photography tours”. Learn more.
All aspects of Latin America unite in Ecuador. Choosing a journey here at the equator is equal to choosing colour in your life. Colour in cultures and landscapes....