Exotic Ecuador

Quito, Otavalo, Papallacta, Amazon, Baños, Patate & Cotopaxi

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our new Exotic Ecuador tour.

Vendor at the Otavala market
Vendor at the Otavalo market
Discover the wonders of Ecuador, a remarkable collection of landscapes, people, cultures, animals, plants, and more. Our Exotic Ecuador tour covers the highlights of this incredibly diverse country. You'll visit the capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Center of Quito, the colorful and bustling Otavalo market, the natural springs in Baños, the volcanic peaks of Cotopaxi National Park, and one of the world's most biologically diverse rainforests—the Amazon. Our package includes roundtrip flights from Miami, great hotels, most meals and a comprehensive, fully-guided touring program, all for unbeatable prices. With prices like this, our Exotic Ecuador adventure is sure to sell out quickly, so be sure to reserve your space soon!

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: USA/Quito. Your exciting tour to Ecuador begins today as you depart for Quito, Ecuador's capital city. Your guide will meet you upon arrival and escort you to your hotel. Sheraton Quito Hotel

Otavalo market vendor Day 2: Otavalo. Today you'll experience Otavalo, whose beauty lies in its people, the Otavaleño Indians, and their market, undoubtedly one of the best in all of Latin America. Unlike other indigenous people who have given up their traditional dress for jeans and t-shirts, Otavaleños are still easily identified by their distinctive dress: women wear intricately embroidered blouses and a wealth of beaded necklaces, while men have long, braided hair and wear calf-length white trousers, ponchos and sandals.

Otavalo marketplace The market takes place in the main Plaza, but don't hesitate to wander into the side streets, where the goods on display start to diversify and the prices get lower. Enjoy the cacophony of sounds as Spanish, Andean pipe music, and Quichua, the native language of the area, mix together and the explosion of color from the many fabric, fruit and other stalls that line the plaza and side streets. Later this afternoon, visit Cotacachi, another small town famous for its leatherwork; Peguche, known for its weavings; and San Antonio de Ibarra, where you'll find wonderful carved figures from wood. Break for lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue to the placid waters of the emerald-green San Pablo Lake, which sits peacefully underneath the imposing Imbabura Volcano. Puerto Lago or similar (Passengers on the 12/3 departure will stay at the Hosteria Pueblo Viejo) Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Toucan, Ecuadorian Amazon Day 3: Papallacta & the Amazon. The Amazonian segment of your tour begins today as you travel along the Andes Mountain range and then slowly descend to the basin of one of the biggest rivers of the world—the Amazon River.

Friendly Planet travelers in the Ecuadorian rainforest
Friendly Planet travelers
The first stop is Papallacta, a small town tucked away in a high Andean valley at the entrance to the Amazon jungle. Enjoy lunch at the Termas Papallacta Restaurant, and then continue your journey along a scenic stretch of road that overlooks lush green valleys and sparkling waterfalls as you descend into the Amazon region.

View from the Casa del Suizo Arrive at Punta Ahuano, a tiny port town on the north bank of the Napo River, where canoes await you for a short ride downstream to your lodge. After check-in, sip a refreshing welcome cocktail as you watch the sunset. Casa del Suizo Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Squirrel monkeys Day 4: Amazon. Enjoy a full day exploring the wonders of the Amazon. Your tour guide will offer a variety of excursions to help you maximize your stay. Wildlife aficionados will delight in the tour to Amazoonico, a rescue center for wounded and displaced tropical rainforest animals. You'll be able to observe coatis, tapirs, and several species of monkey, snakes, and a variety of birds, many of which wander around freely!

Friendly Planet travelers on homemade rafts in Ecuador
Friendly Planet travelers on homemade rafts
Adventure lovers can enjoy the ultimate rafting experience on the Napo River. Not only will you have the chance to enjoy a refreshing ride down this Amazonian tributary, you'll actually learn how to make your own raft by tying balsa logs together.

Quichua face painting Another option offers a unique opportunity to visit a local Quichua family who will explain various aspects of their traditional culture, including a special lesson on making chicha, a beverage typical of the region. Or, if you are in the mood for a more laid-back afternoon, we recommend a stroll through the artisan village of Ahuano, where you can watch traditional Quichua ceramics being created. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided. (Note: Excursions are provided on a group basis only).

Friendly Planet travelers travelling by piragua (canoe), Ecuador
Friendly Planet travelers in a canoe
Day 5: Baños/Patate. After breakfast this morning, set out in piraguas (canoes) to return to La Punta. Continue by coach to Puyo, the most important city in Ecuador's Oriente region. En route, view the spectacular Rio Verde falls, better known as El Pailón del Diablo (The Devil's Cauldron). Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Waterfall near Banos
Waterfall near Baños
Then head to nearby Baños, a small town famous for the hot springs that give it its name (baths). Its mild climate, verdant landscape, and mineral-rich natural springs make Baños an oasis of tranquility and relaxation. Sparkling waterfalls, rolling hills, and scenic bridges complete this picturesque setting. Before leaving, be sure to sample some of the town's trademark taffy, called melcocha. Hacienda Leito Los Llanganates (Passengers on the October–December departures will stay at the Hotel Ambato.)Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Cotopaxi volcano Day 6: Cotopaxi/Quito.. Today's excursion takes you to another one of Ecuador's treasures-Cotopaxi National Park, home to the highest active volcano in the world (19,500 feet above sea level). Spanning an impressive 84,000 acres, this natural reserve protects a diverse array of flora and fauna, including llamas, deer, wild horses, as well as many rare species endemic to the region. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready for a lucky sighting of the mythical Andean condor. After lunch at a local restaurant, begin the return journey to Quito. Sheraton Quito Hotel Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 7: Quito. After breakfast this morning, begin a panoramic tour of Quito. Arguably among the loveliest of South American cities, Quito enjoys a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still-active Mt. Pichincha.

Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, Ecuador
The Presidential Palace, Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, Ecuador
In the modern city, visit the Legislative palace and Alameda Park with the oldest observatory in South America. The real beauty of Quito, however, is in its wonderful, colonial Old Town, where you'll find blocks of colonial architecture, some of it dating from the mid-1500s when the Spanish founded the city - before the Spanish arrived, Quito was an important Inca settlement, and before the Inca, other tribes lived at the site. Vintage facades line the streets and large open plazas are surrounded by cathedrals and stately public buildings.

Equatorial monument
Equatorial monument "Mitad del Mundo"
Even more breathtaking than the exteriors are the interiors of some of the buildings, particularly the churches, many of which gleam with real gold leaf. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco, Quito's oldest church. Built in the 16th century, the monastery is an exact replica of the Escorial Palace of Madrid. Conclude your tour with a stop at the Equatorial Monument, commemorating the exact place where Charles Marie de la Condamine established the Equator. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner with your travel companions. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 8: Depart Quito/Arrive USA. After breakfast this morning, bid adiós to Ecuador as you transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the USA, arriving later today. Breakfast provided.

Destination FAQs

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Ecuador, click here.

This trip was great. We had so much fun and adventure. Food and hotels were great. People should take this trip just to stay in the two hotels that had live fireplaces. Patricio, our guide, and Jaime, our driver, were outstanding. Jaime did a great job driving the mountain roads and keep the bus very clean. Ecuador is a "Hidden Treasure". Viva South America!

Lois and Warren Martinek, New Gretna, New Jersey

Literally just arrived home from our trip to Ecuador and could not wait to share what my friends and I have nominated as the Best Tour Trip Ever. Patricio was fabulous and made us feel like friends/family. The driver, Daniel, took wonderful care of us as well. Each hotel we arrived at made us want to pinch ourselves. The food was delicious and we all want recipes. Wonderful vacation! Wonderful price!

Helene Mako, St. Petersburg, FL

Fabulous trip because of Patricio and his driver Pablo. I was refered by a good friend to partake in this trip and it was well worth it. Patricio made the trip appear as a family trip with all participants members of his family. He tried to please all of us as best as he could. This included food changes, trips to replace a broken hat, etc. The rain was a minor setback as was the Labor Day in Quixto. However, we all had fun and looking forward to our next FP trip.

Dr. Bruce Thaler, Philadelphia, PA

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