4 or 5-Day Tour of Southern Ecuador

  • Northern Peru to Southern Ecuador four or five-day itinerary in private service

  • Truly off-the-beaten-path route through remarkable & varied lower-altitude eco-systems. 

  • Ideal to combine with a Galapagos Islands tour, flying from Guayaquil, and/or a Chachapoyas tour.


The Andean region in the south of Ecuador has a very different face from the northern and central parts. Long appreciated by birders, it is now emerging as a highly worthwhile eco-tourism destination. The infrastructure is now beginning to match the natural wonders, but you will still be one of the few non-Ecuadorians to visit. 

The tour includes your own English-speaking driver-guide, whilst in Ecuador, along with all accommodation, entrance fees and the meals listed. As it is a private tour, the itinerary can be customized to suit timeframe and interests.


Below prices are per person, based on double occupancy.

ItineraryLengthPrices From
4 Days£1,532 / $1,950
5 Days£1,807 / $2,300


Day 1: Jaen - La Balsa Binational Bridge - Yacuri National Park - Zumba - Vilcabamba

Las Balsas - Frontier with Ecuador.jpg

This morning, we pick you up from your Jaen hotel in Peru, and then make the four-hour drive - along paved and unpaved road - to the border with Ecuador, at La Balsa (also spelt La Balza). 

Here your guide will assist with immigration formalities, and then you are ready to start your trip in the south of Ecuador. 

First we visit the Yacuri National Park. Located in the provinces of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe, bordering Peru, Yacuri is a key element in preserving the natural corridor between the two countries. The park protects unique moorland and cloud forest environments

During the excursion, we visit the two Black Lagoons and an area called Picachos.

We then head to Vilcabamba in the province of Loja, arriving at our hotel in the late afternoon.

Accommodation: Madre Tierra Hotel, or similar 

Meals included: Box Lunch

Day 2: Vilcabamba - Podocarpus - Loja

The Podocarpus National Park stretches over three provinces in southern Ecuador - Loja, Zamora and Morona Santiago - and two main ecosystems: the Andean highlands and the Amazon Basin.

The park can be clearly divided into five life zones, each rich in biodiversity and characterized by different flora and fauna. Unique flora includes Podocarpus, the only indigenous Andean conifer; and the famous Cinchona plant, from which quinine was obtained to combat malaria.

The fauna is equally exotic and plentiful: woolly mountain tapirs, spectacled bears, cock-of-the-rock, parrots and mountain toucans are common. Within Podocarpus is a beautiful collection of over one hundred glacial lakes and torrential waterfalls, which make up the lake complex. 

Due to the area's rich biodiversity, Podocarpus has become a hotspot for biological and ecological research, in addition to a popular trekking and bird watching destination. We stop here to explore, as we make the drive northwards to the town of Loja, where we spend the night. 

Accommodation in Hotel Grand Victoria, or similar. 

Meals included: Breakfast & Box Lunch

Day 3: Loja - Portovelo - Zaruma - Machala

Today we head to Zaruma, one of the prettiest small towns in Ecuador, built on the wealth of the area's large gold deposits, firstly by the Conquistadors for 200 years, from 1549; and then, in a second gold rush in the 1880s, when new seams were discovered. 

On the way we stop in Portovelo to visit the Magner Turner Mineralogical Museum, named after the owner, who has been collecting the mining history of the area - and other parts of the world - for decades. It is undoubtedly one of the best mining museums in South America, and includes a large bunker, 150 m (500 ft) of mine shafts, and various mineral and gem exhibits, including topaz, opal, ruby, emerald and of course, gold, are exhibited, along with the old carbide lamps and helmets used to enter into the mines. 

After this visit, we will continue to Zaruma, which has Ecuador’s finest collection of late-19th and early-20th Century listed buildings, made from native hardwoods and noted for their facades and balconies. As a result, it is a charming place to wander around; steep, narrow streets are lined with these brightly-painted houses, and a charming wooden church, built in 1912, overlooks the central square.

After visiting this beautiful city, we will continue to Machala, arriving at our hotel in the late afternoon.

Accommodation in Oro Verde Hotel, or similar. 

Meals included: Breakfast & Box Lunch.

Day 4: OPTIONAL: Machala – Petrified Forest of Puyango - Machala

Puyango Petrified Forest is located in a semi-desert area, and is renowned for its marine fossils and petrified wood. Much of the vegetation is adapted to the hot climate of the region, but the presence of many streams lends a wide variety.

After our visit, we return to Machala. 

Accommodation in Oro Verde Hotel, or similar. 

Meals included: Breakfast & Box Lunch. 

Day 5: Machala - Churute – Guayaquil

We depart early from our hotel to drive towards Guayaquil. 

On the way, we visit Churute Mangrove Reserve, one of the finest and most diverse protected areas in the tropical lowlands of Ecuador, definitely a must for nature lovers. 

We take a scenic boat ride through the best-preserved mangrove forests on the Ecuadorian Pacific Coast.  

During the trip, we will see a variety of bird species: egrets, herons, ibises, cormorants, pelicans, roseate spoonbills, kingfishers and many more. At low tide, you can watch the locals collecting red mangrove crabs

Afterwards we take a short hike through the tropical dry forest of the nature reserve, where there is a good chance to see howler monkeys.  

Arrival in Guayaquil, in the late afternoon.

Meals included: Breakfast & Box Lunch


NB. This itinerary can be done in reverse ie Guayaquil to Jaen, Peru.