7-Day Tour of Mainland Ecuador

  • Overland trip going from Quito in highlands to Guayaquil on the coast.

  • Includes indigenous towns & markets, snow-capped volcanoes, national parks … and more.

  • Ideal to combine with a Galapagos Islands tour or cruise, flying from Guayaquil.


Llama with saddle on train tracks.

Llama with saddle on train tracks.

A chance to sample Ecuador’s rich cultural and natural diversity. The cities are a mix of modern, Colonial and indigenous; while the geography ranges from the high peaks of the Andes Mountains to the tropical warmth of the Pacific coast.


  • Otavalo: world-famous Indigenous Market

  • Quitsato (Solar Clock): Straddle the Northern & Southern hemispheres.

  • Quilotoa: A spectacular crater lake surrounded by indigenous villages.

  • Devil’s Nose Train: One of the most exciting train rides in the world.

  • Cuenca: One of the best-preserved Colonial centres in Latin America.

  • Guayaquil: A warm, coastal metropolis with modern attractions.


Below prices are per person, based on double occupancy, on set departure date.

ItineraryLengthPrices From
7 Days£1,380 / $1,780
- 1st Class
7 Days£1,415 / $1,825


  • Private bus for transportation

  • English-speaking guide

  • Tours & transfers specified in the program

  • Entrance fees to National Parks, indigenous communities & museums listed in the itinerary.

  • Nights at hotels mentioned (subject to availability)

  • All meals stated in itinerary:

    • B: Breakfast

    • L: Lunch

    • BL: Box Lunch

    • D: Dinner


  • Personal expenses & tips.

  • Alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Meals & tours not mentioned in itinerary.

  • Flights.

  • Travel Insurance.


Ecuador Highlights 7-Day Itinerary:

Day 1: Quito – Otavalo - Quito: Sinamune Concert & Quitsato (Solar Clock) (B/BL/L)

In the morning, we depart Quito to drive to Otavalo.

Our first stop along the way is at the Sinamune Foundation, a charitable organisation that provides musical education, training, therapy, and participation in an orchestra for children and young adults with special needs. Our visit will include a small, interactive concert from the orchestra, followed by a tour of the foundation and its work.


We then continue to Otavalo, a town renowned for its Indigenous Market. Here you will have time to wander the stalls, observing - and perhaps, buying - the myriad of locally-made handicrafts.

Afterwards, we head to beautiful San Pablo Lake, for lunch and a brief tour of this awe-inspiring lake.

On the way back to Quito, we stop at Quitsato Sundial, which measures 52 m ( ft) in diameter. As well as showing the time, there are various lines indicating solstices and equinoxes. It sits exactly on the Equator, and so we can have a photo taken while standing in the Northern and Southern hemispheres at the same time!

We continue back to our Quito hotel.

Overnight at Hotel Anahí, or similar.

Day 2: Quito – Quilotoa (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we leave Quito and drive south along the Avenue of Volcanoes, through colourful indigenous villages, to Quilotoa, located at 3,900 m (12,795 ft) above sea level.

We stop at the village of Tigua, to visit a workshop where traditional painting is ongoing.

Viewpoint over Quilotoa Lake.

Viewpoint over Quilotoa Lake.

Quilotoa Lake is a water-filled caldera, 3 kms (2 miles) in diameter, that formed after a massive volcanic eruption some 600 years ago. We take a gentle hike around some of the lake’s rim, which affords great views of the picturesque turquoise waters below … as well as the surrounding Andean scenery.

After lunch, we visit Insinlivi, a picturesque Andean town, before continuing to our cosy accommodation in Quilotoa.

Dinner and overnight in Quilotoa at Hotel Shalala, or similar.

Day 3: Quilotoa - Riobamba (B/BL)

After breakfast, we continue driving along the Avenue of The Volcanoes, enjoying the spectacular scenery, until we reach the jewel of the region, Chimborazo Volcano (6,263 m / 20,549 ft), Ecuador’s highest mountain … and also the closest point to the Sun on Earth.

We enjoy a picnic lunch in Chimborazo National Park, in the company of llamas, before visiting a local indigenous community.

We then continue to the Riobamba, where we have a panoramic tour of the city, before checking in to our hotel.

Overnight at Mansion Santa Isabela, or similar.

Day 4: Riobamba - Alausi - Devil’s Nose Railway - Ingapirca - Cuenca (B/BL)

This morning, we drive from Riobamba to the town of Alausi, stopping to visit the first Catholic Church built in Ecuador, in Balbanera; and at a viewpoint over the majestic Lake Colta.

Devil’s Nose Railway  engine at Alausi Station.

Devil’s Nose Railway engine at Alausi Station.

On arrival in Alausi, we board the Andean Train - commonly known as The Devil’s Nose Railway. The journey is scenic and exhilarating, as the train makes the steepest railway descent in the world: 500 m (1,640 ft) in 12.5 km (7.8 miles). This necessitates two switchbacks, whereby the train changes its direction of travel.

The destination is Sibambe Station, in the valley floor. Once here, we have time to visit the museum, which gives details of the remarkable engineering behind the railway, and take in the views. We then board the train again in order to ride back up to Alausi. NB. Train does not operate on Mondays.

Ingapirca Ruins.

Ingapirca Ruins.

From here we drive to the Inca-Cañari ruins of Ingapirca, which is the largest and most important archaeological site in Ecuador, located at 3,100 m (10,171 ft). Here we have our picnic lunch, followed by a guided tour.

After this visit, we continue to the beautiful Colonial city of Cuenca, where we spend the night.

Overnight at Hotel Los Balcones, or similar.

Day 5: Cuenca (B/L)

Cuenca Cathedral.

Cuenca Cathedral.

Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador, and arguably, the most picturesque.

In 1999, UNESCO declared Cuenca a World Heritage Site, in recognition of its many historical buildings.

So, today, we have a guided tour of the city, which includes lunch at Dos Sucres Restaurant, where you can try some typical, local cuisine; and visits to handicraft workshops, such as one making paja toquilla hats - the famous ‘Panama hats’, which are actually from Ecuador! - and one dedicated to the production of black, ceramic vases.

The tour ends back at the hotel.

Overnight at Hotel Los Balcones, or similar.

Day 6: Cuenca – Cajas National Park - Guayaquil City Tour (B/BL)

After breakfast, we begin our journey from the Andes to the Ecuadorian coast.

Before leaving the mountains, we visit the breathtaking Cajas National Park, a natural cloud forest reserve containing pristine lagoons and unique flora and fauna, amidst gorgeous landscapes.

Here we go on a short hike to Toreadora Lagoon, the largest lake in the Reserve, where we can enjoy our picnic lunch in a charming natural location.

As we descend to Guayaquil, we witness the marked change of vegetation, as the Andean flora gives way to banana plantations and coastal vegetation.

Guayaquil sits on the banks of the Guayas River.

Guayaquil sits on the banks of the Guayas River.

On arrival in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city and port, we drop off our luggage at the hotel, and then head out for a tour. Highlights include:

  • The modern centre

  • Parque de las Iguanas (Iguana Park)

  • Malecon 2000: a promenade overlooking the Guayas River.

  • Rotonda Monument

  • Las Peñas neighbourhood.

Overnight at Hotel Palace, or similar.

Day 7: Guayaquil: Transfer Out or Tour Extension to Galapagos (B)

After breakfast, we transfer you to Guayaquil airport.

Many people choose to extend their Ecuador adventure, by going to the Galapagos Islands.

Please note that the ‘First Class’ version of the Ecuador Highlights 7D itinerary uses the following hotels (or similar):

  • Quito: Dann Carlton Hotel

  • Quilotoa, Cotopaxi: Hotel Shalala

  • Riobamba: Hacienda La Andaluza

  • Cuenca: Hotel Zahir 360

  • Guayaquil: Hotel Unipark


Ecuador Highlights Guaranteed Group Departures 2019:

  • 26 Feb – 04 Mar

  • 26 Mar – 01 Apr

  • 23 Abr – 29 Apr

  • 07 May – 13 May

  • 04 Jun – 10 Jun

  • 02 Jul – 08 Jul

  • 30 Jul – 05 Aug

  • 10 Sep - 16 Sep

  • 24 Sep – 30 Sep

  • 08 Oct – 14 Oct

  • 5 Nov – 11 Nov

Please note that we can arrange this itinerary in a Private Service on any date.