Ecuador, one of the jewels of South America, is home to incredible cultural and biological diversity in an area the size of Colorado. Crossed north to south by the Andes mountains, the country is divided into three main regions: the Amazon basin, the high Andes, and the coastal Pacific lowlands, each with unique geography, cultures, and fauna. Glacier-capped volcanic peaks over 20,500-feet high are surrounded by treeless moorlands, subtropical valleys, deserts, lowland rainforests, orchid-laden cloud forests growing in steep slopes of both cordilleras, coastal savannas, and mangroves. All of this creates a mosaic of microclimates resulting in a biodiversity we normally encounter in entire continents. Ecuador is a must for anyone who loves nature and active travelling.
Experience the three main ecosystems of South America in one small but incredibly diverse country
Enjoy a private farm-to-table cooking lesson from one of Ecuador's top chefs using market-fresh ingredients
Soak in natural hot springs at the base of one of Ecuador's most impressive volcanoes
Welcome to the historic city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. An MT Sobek representative will meet you outside customs at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Due to late arrivals flights, our welcome dinner is on night two.
Explore Quito's Historic Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the best-preserved historic centers in South America. Head to the eastern Andes along the route that led to the official discovery of the Amazon River by the Europeans. Drive over the Papallacta Pass (13,000') and descend into the cloud forests through spectacular snow-capped volcanos, mountains, and pastoral valleys. Spend the night at 10,800' at the Papallacta Hotsprings enjoying the magnificent views of Antisana, and a festive welcome dinner.
Begin the day with a 2- to 3-hour hike into the Cayambe National Park through High Andes grasslands and moorlands. Head into the Amazon rainforest, descending to stop for lunch at the Guango Reserve and enjoy the beautiful hanging orchids and hummingbirds visiting the feeders. Continue into the Amazon plains, arriving at Hamadryade Lodge with time to relax.
Begin the day experiencing the most diverse ecosystem in the world. Take a nature walk in the jungle and enjoy the pristine rain forest and its many species of birds and flowers. Learn about the medicinal use of local plants with a native guide. Visit an Indian community and learn about their cultures, cuisine, crops and the challenges they face. Enjoy a night walk in search of nocturnal creatures.
After breakfast, take a nature walk in the forest to observe the wildlife. Later, depart from Hamadryade and travel south to the city of Puyo as we make our way back to the Andes along the deep Pastaza Valley. Here we begin today's hike to the Pailon del Diablo (Devil's cauldron), one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the valley. Our hike takes us through evergreen cloud forests to get to the place where the Rio Verde falls into a deep narrow gorge, producing a deafening sound and a permanent mist. Along the way, look for toucans, tanagers, hummingbirds and other tropical birds, and views of the nearby Tungurahua Volcano.
After lunch, continue to Riobamba, a peaceful city surrounded my majestic volcanos, including Chimborazo (20,550'), the highest peak in Ecuador and The Altar (17,500'), arguably the most beautiful mountain in the country.
Experience one of the most extreme and wonderful train rides in the world, built a century ago through the Andes to link Guayaquil and Quito. Zigzag along the 7-mile route, rapidly gaining altitude to roughly 3.000-feet. Continue on a drive south to Ingapirca, the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador and largest north of Peru, featuring the elliptical Temple of the Sun. Head on to Cuenca, one of Ecuador's most charming and scenic towns.
Discover Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the best-preserved historic centers in South America. Explore its iconic monuments and churches, walk its narrow cobblestone streets and visit small local markets. Participate in cooking lessons and pick ingredients before preparing a delicious market-to-table meal alongside one of Cuenca's best chefs.
Enjoy a 3- to 4-hour hike in Cajas National Park, home to beautiful trails and dramatic landscapes, dotted with hundreds of glacial lakes and the tundra-like scenery reminiscent of Scottish moorlands. Be on the lookout for Andean hummingbird species, condors, and even pumas.
Drive to the coastal lowlands, to Hacienda la Danesa, as the landscape transforms from cold barren grasslands to banana plantations and rice fields.
Begin the day birdwatching, on the lookout for some of the hundreds of species that make the property's forests their home. Choose from a wide variety of activities, including biking the paths inside the hacienda, hiking its extensive trail system, horseback riding, or massage. Learn about the process of making chocolate and create your own chocolate bars with the guidance of an expert chocolatier.
Head to lively and cosmopolitan Guayaquil, the economic center of Ecuador, principal port and largest city. Visit the city center's most iconic parks, the Malecon by the Guayas river, and the barrio Las Peñas, a traditional riverside neighborhood and the oldest section of the city.
After breakfast, transfer to the international airport for flights home.
MT Sobek Regional Specialist
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MT Sobek has been exploring Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands since 1970 - we are the experts!
Our expert naturalist guides hold advanced degrees, and will maximize the amount of bird and wildlife encounters.
Our mainland Ecuador trip is one of a kind, designed specifically for the active and curious MT Sobek traveler.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Hikes and nature walks, with optional activities that include horseback riding or bicycling. Many birdwatching and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Nightly stays in luxury spa and boutique hotels, eco-lodges, and authentic haciendas.
The coastal lowlands of western Ecuador are typically warm with temperatures around 77°F. Quito has a subtropical highland climate with average temperatures around 70°F. There are two seasons in Ecuador: dry and wet. The dry season (winter) runs from June to September, and the wet season (summer) is from October to May.
Arrive in Quito, Ecuador on Day-1. An MT Sobek representative will meet you outside customs at the airport and escort you to your hotel.
Depart out of Guayaquil on Day-11.
Hikes along the tour are considered by most to be easy, but can become more challenging with rain and slippery conditions. Terrain may be varied and uneven so good balance is necessary.
The cuisine of Ecuador is varied and delicious. Enjoy warm, hearty dishes of the highlands such a locro, and stew with potatoes, cheese, corn and avocado. Closer to the sea, dine on seafood such as ceviche and encocados, and traditional dish of fish served over coconut sauce.
There is no bad time to visit Ecuador. As Ecuador is located on the Equator, there is very little variation between seasons.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"Great experience every time with some of the most knowledgeable guides in their fields. We always come home with wonderful memories of the people we meet and things we see."
MT Sobek Guest
"We have traveled throughout the world, but never experienced a level of service and attention to detail as we did with MT Sobek."
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