EQ1 Essential Ecuador TOUR


Amazon, Otavalo & Avenue of the Volcanoes

Peruvian Amazon river

Guided Amazon adventure; Guided colonial Quito tour; Otavalo Valley-cultural centre; Famed 'Avenue of Volcanos'; Overnight at historic hacienda; Chimborazo Forest Reserve


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sun 11 Oct 2015Thu 22 Oct 2015 $2340
Sun 18 Oct 2015Thu 29 Oct 2015 $2340
Sun 10 Jan 2016Thu 21 Jan 2016 $2340
Sun 21 Feb 2016Thu 03 Mar 2016 $2340
Sun 10 Jul 2016Thu 21 Jul 2016 $2340
Sun 09 Oct 2016Thu 20 Oct 2016 $2340
Sun 16 Oct 2016Thu 27 Oct 2016 $2340

Optional Single Supplement: $600 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Our 12 days of adventure are well-spent on this thrill-ride of a tour, as we explore the rural and urban charms of one of South America's most rewarding destinations; Ecuador. From the frenetic pace and man-made aesthetic beauty of the capital city of Quito, we make headway for the tranquility and natural splendour of one of the world's few remaining untouched wilderness regions; the Amazon rainforest. We keep a vigilant eye for colourful flora and teeming fauna as we explore the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle and see things from a different perspective when we embark on a short canoe-trip to explore inaccessible areas. Along the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes', a striking passage that snugly rests between the major cordillera ranges, we admire the contrast between the equatorial lushness in the valley and the snow-crested peaks of the surrounding mountains and we get our fill of historic sites of interest when we visit the colonial "White City" of Ibarra and the UNESCO-designated urban centres of Quito. Our browsing in local marketplaces gives us valuable insight to the country's contemporary culture and the lifestyles of its people.

Regions visited: South America
Countries visited: Ecuador

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive in Quito
Arrive in Quito and transfer to our hotel. Quito (2788 m / 9,200 feet) is Ecuador's lovely capital city, nestled against Pichincha Volcano high in the Andes.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Quito - Amazon
This moring we fly to the Amazon region and transfer to our lodge.

Yasuni Kichwa Ecolodge* is located on the south bank of the Napo River, the largest river of the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Yasuni National Park. The trip starts from the town of Coca in comfortable ecological roof canoes, outboard motor-operated.

The canoe trip down the river takes about two hours; box lunch will be provided to passengers. During the navigation you will see birds such as herons, kingfishers, terns And other shore birds species and beautiful landscapes. Arriving at Yasuní Kichwa Ecolodge, visitors are warmly welcome with a traditional drink, lunch at the Ecolodge and immediately taken to their cabins amidst the teeming wilderness found on one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth.

In the afternoon, a short walk down to the banks of the Napo River to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beaches and islands. Return for dinner and rest.

* We may substitute a different lodge of similar quality and experience if Yasuni Kichwa is not available.

Overnight Amazon.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 3 Amazon
Breakfast and early departure on board the boat to visit an amazing parrot clay lick that with an easy access brings visitors face to face with approximately 11 species of parrots (including parrotlets and macaws) depending on the season, weather conditions and general good fortune (this activity is usually successful).

We end this morning with a visit to the Interpretation Center “Kuri Muyu,” handled by the women of the community here learn about the Kichwa culture, crafts, traditions and traditional use of natural resources directly to people in the community. We return for lunch and take a break at the lodge.

Walk of one hour to climb up the observation tower of 35 meters, likely to see a variety of birds, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, toucans, parrots and sloths. Return to the hotel in a motorized canoe; traditional typical dinner.

Overnight Amazon.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 4 Amazon
Breakfast visit around the community projects, talk about the Kichwa world view. Excellent opportunity to see more wildlife, ceiba trees, bamboo cane, vines and shrubs endemic from Yasuní. We return for lunch and rest at the lodge. Once at Añangu stream, you will board a small canoe and head down the river in a spectacular adventure through the forest with opportunities to see nightlife alligators and to listen to the sounds of nature at its purest. Return to hotel in motorized canoes, traditional typical dinner.

Overnight Amazon.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 5 Amazon - Quito
We get up at 4:30 am to share one of the ancient customs of the Kichwa culture -- making wayusa to energize the body, and listen to the Kichwa songs. We then return for breakfast before taking a motorized canoe back to the city of Coca. You can also practice water sports such as tubing or regatta on the Napo River or simply relax and unwind.

Fly back to Quito. Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Quito - Otavalo Valley - Ibarra
Today we journey north to the Otavalo Valley region.

In early years the Otavalo Valley was filled with farmers who raised crops in fertile lands where they lived. In the 14th century the Inca expansion reached north into the Otavalo area. The Caraquis who inhabited the area resisted the invaders. For 17 long years fierce fighting continued as the defiant Caraquis refused to be subjugated by the Incas. The Spanish arrived a few years after the Incas. They established a Hacienda system of workshops where Otavalenos were forced to work 15 hour days weaving fabrics. Today this weaving tradition forms the basis of a lucrative industry that has allowed the Otavaleno indigenous peoples to join the world economy while retaining their traditional values and skills. During our time in the valley we will have a chance to visit with the local Otavalenos and see them working their craft. We visit a traditional home with adobe walls and visit with the owners who raise guinea pigs, a local delicacy.

Our hosteria is located nearby the colonial town of Ibarra (2121 m / 7,000 feet), known as the "White City" since many of it houses are colonial style, red-tiled and whitewashed.

Overnight in Ibarra.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Ibarra - Otavalo Market - Avenue of Volcanoes - La Cienega
This morning we visit Otavalo to experience the market. This market is centered around 'Poncho Plaza'. All day long, the whir of cotton candy machines, Andean pipe music, and Quichua, the native tongue derived from the Incan tongue, drift across the square. A blinding maze of coloured textiles spills from the square across the town.

We depart Otavalo to follow in the footsteps of the German scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, and rediscover what in 1802 he called the "Avenue of Volcanoes," a 325 km (202 mi) long valley between the major cordillera ranges. Massive and standing alone, the volcanoes provide brooding, snow-covered contrast to the green equatorial lushness. We see snow-capped summits, mystical brooks and rivers, terraced farmlands, small villages and fascinating cultures.

The area is also home to a number of exceptional haciendas, some of which date back to the 16th century. La Cienega Hacienda is located near the village of Lasso near the foot of Cotopaxi and has been witness to centuries of important events in the history of Ecuador.

Overnight at Hosteria La Cienega.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 La Cienega - Banos
Today we continue our journey to Banos. This small town's elevation gives it an extremely agreeable climate and the surrounding mountainsides are brilliant green against the white summit of the Volcano Tungurahua. En route we have a short walk to view one of the most impressive waterfalls in South America, the Devil's Bowl.

The word Banos means "baths" and, as the name indicates, the highlight is the numerous hot spring baths in the area. Today we have opportunity to visit the hot springs as well as wander the streets and market of this picturesque town. You can also hike into the nearby hillsides, along farmers' donkey trails through fields of corn, passion-fruit, and various other local products. A must-see is the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of the Holy Water, credited with performing many miracles in the Banos area.

Overnight in Banos.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Banos - Riobamba
After lunch in Banos we travel through open farmland flowing over the high ridges of the Western Andes. On arrival in Riobamba we will have a walking tour including the cathedral and the restored 1920's era Post Office, with free time for independent wanderings.

Overnight in Riobamba.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Riobamba - Chimborazo Reserve - Quito
We depart Riobamba and head for Chimborazo Reserve for a scenic drive around the base of this almost perfectly-conical dormant volcano. Chimborazo (6310m / 20,833 ft), the highest summit in Ecuador, is the gem of the reserve along with the neighboring Carihuairazo Volcano. In the Indian language, Chimborazo means "mountain of snow". It is an enormous mass of overwhelming scale. Alexander Von Humboldt made an unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain in 1802, and believed it to be the highest mountain in the world. This distinction lasted until the discovery of Mt. Everest fifty years later. Chimborazo was finally climbed by Edward Whimper in 1880. The Reserve of Chimborazo was created in October of 1987 to protect the extensive moors, the flora and the fauna of the region.

We will make several photo stops on our drive, and enjoy this starkly beautiful volcanic landscape. We have a chance to see a vicuna, an endangered species. Vicuna are the smallest of the Camelid family standing at just 2ft 8"-3ft 7" at the shoulder. They are extremely refined and delicate to look at, cinnamon in colour with an apron of long white hair on their chest. The vicuna produces one of the finest fibres of any animal in the world. We also visit an interesting indigenous community at the foot of the mountain where they have been successful in creating a responsible travel and tourism industry.

We continue north to Quito.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Quito: City Tour
Today we tour old Spanish Colonial Quito, preserved by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As we enter the streets of Old Quito we step into the past, surrounded by centuries-old architecture. We stop at the commanding Legislative Palace, whose murals record Ecuador's history. We will see Quito's most beautiful religious buildings, including the cathedral, the Independence Plaza, San Francisco Church, and visit one of Quito's most impressive religious buildings, La Compania church, whose ornate facade and solid gold altars make it one of the most famous of South American churches. We visit the famous Panecillo Hill with its towering winged statue of the Virgin of the Apocalypse with views of north and south of Quito and the surrounding mountains.

This afternoon we travel 22 km (14 miles) north of Quito to the Equator line monument, known as the "middle of the world," where you can stand with one foot in the Northern and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. We also visit the excellent on-site ethnographic museum with exhibits pertaining to the many indigenous peoples of Ecuador.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to logistical reasons, this is a "floating day" that may occur at a different point of our programme.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Departure
Departure from Quito.


Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hosteria La Cienega

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Quito
Country: Ecuador

Hosteria La Cienega is a historic hacienda located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Situated just an hour and
... half from Quito, Ecuador on the outskirts of Volcano Cotopaxi and surrounded by the cordillera’s most beautiful snow-capped peaks, the manor has been receiving guests for the last twenty-five years. Rooms are cozy and full of character.

Read More.

Cuyabeno Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Cuyabeno National Park
Country: Ecuador

The lodge consists of detached cabins made of wood with thatched roofs scattered throughout the grounds, each sleeping two people.
... rooms have a balcony or terrace and private bathrooms with hot water showers. The lodge is powered by solar panels and, though it does not feature air-conditioning, days / nights tend to be quite comfortable.

Read More.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants); lunches in Amazon. All sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuity, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered throughout the year. The cool and dry season runs from May to October. Outside this time you will encounter warmer and perhaps rainy / misty conditions in the highlands but serious heat / humidity are only a consideration in the Amazon.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops of interest. Roads are in good condition though winding on some stretches. Numerous walking tours on uneven surfaces. Most people are not seriously affected by altitude (3000-3300 m / 8,500-9,500 ft)- check with your doctor. Flight to Amazon via scheduled local carrier.


Well-located, heated / air-conditioned (except Amazon), mid-range (3 star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout. The Amazon lodge is a little more rustic, but still very nicely appointed. Porter service is usually in Ecuador though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader and driver.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)