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Getting Out Of Quito, Ecuador: Day, Weekend And Weeklong Excursions


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Carlee Schoenfeld



Ecuador, located on the equator in South America, is a country rich in natural and cultural wonders. While the capital city of Quito is a vibrant and fascinating destination in itself, exploring the surrounding areas can offer even more adventure and excitement. Whether you have a single day, a weekend, or a week to spare, there are plenty of options for memorable excursions outside of Quito.


From lush cloud forests and picturesque crater lakes to vibrant indigenous markets and breathtaking volcanic landscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy. These day, weekend, and weeklong excursions will transport you from the bustling city to breathtaking natural beauty, charming towns, and unique cultural experiences.


With this guide, you’ll discover the best places to visit and the activities to enjoy on each excursion, ensuring you make the most of your time outside of Quito. So, get ready to pack your bags and embark on unforgettable adventures as we explore the diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Ecuador.


Day Excursions

If you have a day to spare, there are several incredible destinations near Quito that make for perfect day trips. These excursions allow you to experience the beauty and diversity of Ecuador’s natural landscapes while still returning to the comfort of your hotel in the evening.

1. Mindo Cloud Forest

Located just a couple of hours from Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest is a paradise for nature lovers. This lush and biodiverse area offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and even zip-lining through the canopy. Immerse yourself in the sounds of the forest as you explore beautiful waterfalls, spot colorful hummingbirds, and discover unique plant species.

2. Otavalo Market

Known as one of the largest indigenous markets in South America, the Otavalo Market is a vibrant and colorful experience. Here you can browse through a wide variety of handmade crafts, textiles, and traditional artwork. Don’t forget to haggle with the friendly vendors to get the best deals. After exploring the market, take a scenic boat ride on nearby Cuicocha Lake or hike up the Imbabura Volcano for stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

3. Quilotoa Crater Lake

A true natural wonder, the Quilotoa Crater Lake is a must-visit destination. The emerald-green lake is nestled inside a volcanic crater, creating a breathtaking sight. Take a leisurely walk along the rim of the crater, or venture down to the water’s edge for an even closer look. The views from the top are simply awe-inspiring and offer ample opportunities for stunning photographs.

4. Cotopaxi National Park

For those seeking adventure and breathtaking landscapes, a visit to Cotopaxi National Park is a must. This park is home to the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Explore the park’s hiking trails, go horseback riding, or challenge yourself to climb to the snow-capped summit. The surreal beauty of the volcanic landscape is sure to leave you in awe.

5. Middle of the World Monument

A visit to Ecuador wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Middle of the World Monument, located just 30 minutes from Quito. Here you can straddle the equator, one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere. Explore the interactive museum and learn about the fascinating scientific experiments conducted at this unique location. Don’t forget to capture the perfect equator-straddling photo!


Mindo Cloud Forest

The Mindo Cloud Forest, located just a couple of hours from Quito, is a true paradise for nature enthusiasts. This biodiverse region is famous for its lush forests, stunning waterfalls, and incredible array of wildlife. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, an adventurous hiker, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, Mindo is a destination that should not be missed.


One of the main highlights of the Mindo Cloud Forest is its impressive bird population. With over 500 species of birds, including colorful toucans and hummingbirds, it is a hotspot for birdwatching. You can embark on guided birdwatching tours or visit the numerous hummingbird feeders located throughout the area to get up close and personal with these tiny and vibrant creatures.


Hiking enthusiasts will also find plenty to explore in Mindo. There are several well-marked trails that lead you through the heart of the forest, allowing you to discover hidden waterfalls, observe unique plant species, and maybe even catch a glimpse of elusive wildlife such as frogs and monkeys. The Nambillo Waterfall Trail and the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve are popular choices for hikers of all levels.


If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, don’t miss the opportunity to go zip-lining through the canopy of the cloud forest. Fly high above the treetops and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the forest from a different perspective. It’s an exhilarating experience that will make your trip to Mindo even more memorable.


After a thrilling day of exploring, take some time to relax and unwind at the Butterfly Farm or one of the natural spas in the area. The butterfly farm allows you to witness the life cycle of these delicate creatures up close, while the spas offer rejuvenating treatments utilizing natural resources such as volcanic mud and healing spring waters.


For those interested in the local culture, a visit to a chocolate factory should be on your list. Mindo is famous for its high-quality chocolate production, and many chocolate factories offer tours and tastings where you can learn about the chocolate-making process and sample the delicious end products.


Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a chocolate enthusiast, Mindo Cloud Forest has something for everyone. It’s a destination that will leave you in awe of Ecuador’s incredible biodiversity and provide you with unforgettable experiences in the heart of nature.


Otavalo Market

The Otavalo Market, located in the town of Otavalo, is one of the most vibrant and renowned indigenous markets in South America. Visiting this market is not only an opportunity to purchase unique handmade crafts and textiles but also a chance to immerse yourself in the rich indigenous culture of Ecuador.


Every Saturday, the Plaza de los Ponchos comes alive with a myriad of colorful stalls, filled with textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and other traditional handicrafts. As you stroll through the market, you’ll be captivated by the intricate designs and vibrant colors of the products on display. From intricately woven tapestries and scarves to handmade ceramics and woven baskets, there is something for everyone to appreciate and take home as a memento of your visit.


One of the highlights of the Otavalo Market is the textiles. Indigenous artisans from the surrounding villages bring their creations to sell, including beautifully woven ponchos, shawls, and blankets. The textiles are made using traditional methods, passed down through generations, and often feature intricate patterns and symbols that hold cultural significance.


While shopping is a central activity at the market, the experience goes beyond just buying crafts. You can interact with the friendly vendors, who are often wearing traditional clothing, and learn about the cultural significance of the products they sell. The market offers a unique opportunity to engage with the local community and gain insight into their traditions and way of life.


After exploring the market, take some time to explore the town of Otavalo itself. Visit the famous Iglesia de San Francisco, a beautiful colonial church that dates back to the 16th century. You can also enjoy a traditional meal at one of the local restaurants, savoring dishes such as cuy (roasted guinea pig) or llapingachos (potato patties).


For those seeking outdoor adventures, there are also nearby attractions to explore. Just a short distance from Otavalo is Cuicocha Lake, a stunning crater lake surrounded by lush hills. Enjoy a boat ride on the lake while admiring the breathtaking views or hike along the rim for panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape.


Whether you’re a lover of crafts, a cultural enthusiast, or simply enjoy exploring local markets, a visit to the Otavalo Market is a must-do experience in Ecuador. It’s an opportunity to support local artisans, learn about indigenous culture, and bring home unique souvenirs that showcase the country’s rich artistic heritage.


Quilotoa Crater Lake

Nestled in the Andes Mountains, the Quilotoa Crater Lake is one of Ecuador’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Formed by the collapse of a volcano, this emerald-green lake offers a mesmerizing sight that will leave you in awe of the Earth’s geological wonders.


Visiting Quilotoa is an adventure in itself. The journey to the crater lake takes you through picturesque Andean landscapes, tiny indigenous villages, and rolling hills. Once you arrive, the view of the stunning lake nestled inside the crater is simply unforgettable.


One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Quilotoa is by taking a walk along the rim of the crater. The trail offers panoramic views of the lake and its ever-changing colors, ranging from vibrant green to deep blue depending on the light and time of day. The hike can be relatively easy or more challenging, depending on your preferences and fitness level.


If you’re feeling adventurous, you can descend down to the lake itself. The trail is steep and can be challenging, but the reward is worth it. Once at the water’s edge, you can dip your feet in the cool, pristine waters or take a kayak ride to explore the lake further. It’s a truly unique opportunity to get up close and personal with this natural wonder.


For those looking for a more leisurely experience, there are horseback riding tours available that allow you to explore the surrounding landscapes at a relaxed pace. You can enjoy the fresh mountain air and stunning vistas while letting the gentle rhythm of the horse carry you along.


Quilotoa is not only a place of extraordinary natural beauty but also a destination that offers insight into the indigenous culture of the Andean communities. During your visit, you can interact with the local villagers who reside along the rim of the crater. They maintain their traditional way of life and are known for their handicrafts, including beautiful woven textiles and ceramics. You can support their livelihoods by purchasing these unique handmade products.


Whether you choose to hike along the rim, descend to the lake, or simply take in the mesmerizing views, a visit to Quilotoa Crater Lake is an unforgettable experience. It’s a place where nature’s power and beauty come together, leaving you with a deep sense of awe and appreciation for the wonders of our planet.


Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park, located just a short drive from Quito, is a haven for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Home to the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, this national park offers a unique combination of stunning landscapes, thrilling outdoor activities, and fascinating wildlife.


The centerpiece of Cotopaxi National Park is the Cotopaxi Volcano, which stands at an impressive 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. The perfectly conical shape of the volcano is a sight to behold, and many visitors are awestruck by its sheer size and beauty. Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer looking to summit the volcano or prefer taking in the views from the base, the Cotopaxi experience is sure to leave a lasting impression.


The park offers a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. You can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, which include paramo (high-altitude grasslands), Andean forests, and glacial valleys. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the unique wildlife that calls the park home, including Andean condors, llamas, and wild horses.


If you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities, Cotopaxi National Park has you covered. Experience the thrill of mountain biking down the slopes of the volcano, traversing rugged terrains and enjoying the stunning vistas as you descend. You can also try your hand at horseback riding, galloping through the park’s open plains and taking in the fresh mountain air.


For those interested in exploring the park’s rich cultural heritage, a visit to the Limpiopungo Lake Interpretation Center is a must. Here, you can learn about the fascinating history and geology of Cotopaxi, as well as the local indigenous communities that have lived in the region for centuries. The center provides educational exhibits and interactive displays that offer a deeper understanding of the park’s significance.


For a truly unique experience, consider staying overnight at one of the park’s lodges or campsites. Wake up to the awe-inspiring sight of the Cotopaxi Volcano against the backdrop of the golden sunrise, and enjoy the tranquility of the park as the day begins. Camping in the park allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty and connect with the rugged wilderness around you.


Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply appreciate the beauty of towering volcanoes, Cotopaxi National Park offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a place where you can witness the raw power of nature, embark on thrilling adventures, and create lifelong memories in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes.


Middle of the World Monument

No visit to Ecuador is complete without a trip to the Middle of the World Monument, located just a short distance from Quito. This iconic monument marks the spot where the equator line passes through the country, providing a unique opportunity to stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere.


At the Middle of the World Monument, you can explore the interactive museum that showcases the cultural and scientific significance of the equator. Learn about the experiments conducted in the 18th century to determine the precise location of the equator, as well as its impact on weather patterns and gravitational forces. Make sure to try the various demonstrations that showcase the equator’s peculiarities, such as balancing an egg on a nail or watching water drain in opposite directions on each side of the line.


A visit to the Middle of the World is not just limited to the monument itself. The surrounding complex offers plenty of attractions to explore. Visit the Ethnographic Museum, which displays exhibits and artifacts related to the indigenous cultures of Ecuador. Gain insight into the traditional practices and customs of various ethnic groups, including the Kichwa people. You can also watch cultural performances that highlight the diverse music, dance, and clothing of Ecuador’s indigenous communities.


While at the complex, be sure to try some traditional Ecuadorian cuisine at one of the many restaurants and food stalls. Sample dishes such as ceviche, hornado (roast pork), and empanadas, indulging in the rich and flavorful flavors of Ecuadorian cuisine.


For a more adventurous experience, take a short hike to the nearby Inti Ñan Museum, which claims to be located precisely on the equator. Here, you can participate in experiments that showcase the gravitational pull and other phenomena unique to the equatorial region. Stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere, and capture the perfect photo to commemorate your visit to this geographical landmark.


Visiting the Middle of the World Monument is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the scientific and cultural significance of the equator while experiencing the thrill of straddling two hemispheres. It’s a fun and educational excursion that will leave you with a deeper understanding of Ecuador’s geographic location and its connection to the world.


Weekend Getaways

If you have a bit more time to spare, a weekend getaway from Quito is the perfect way to explore even more of Ecuador’s diverse landscapes and immerse yourself in new experiences. From picturesque mountain towns to relaxing hot springs, these destinations offer a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

6. Baños de Agua Santa

Tucked away in the Andean mountains, Baños de Agua Santa is a charming town known for its natural beauty and adventure activities. Surrounded by lush greenery and waterfalls, Baños is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Go mountain biking along the scenic routes, take a thrilling canopy zip-lining tour, or relax in the town’s famous hot springs. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the impressive Pailón del Diablo waterfall, where you can witness the power and beauty of cascading water.

7. Papallacta Hot Springs

If you’re looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway, Papallacta is the ideal destination. Located high in the Andes, this tranquil town is famous for its natural hot springs. Immerse yourself in the healing thermal waters, surrounded by stunning mountain landscapes. The hot springs offer a variety of pools and facilities catering to different temperatures and preferences. Indulge in a spa treatment and enjoy the serene atmosphere of this scenic escape.

8. Mindo Cloud Forest (overnight stay)

While Mindo is a popular day trip destination, it’s worth considering an overnight stay to fully immerse yourself in the enchanting cloud forest. Spend the weekend exploring the area’s diverse flora and fauna, take leisurely hikes to hidden waterfalls, and enjoy the peacefulness of being surrounded by nature. Take a night walk to observe nocturnal creatures or indulge in birdwatching tours to catch sight of the vibrant avian residents. With charming lodges and eco-friendly accommodations available, you can fully relax and rejuvenate in the midst of this natural oasis.

9. Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve

Escape to the stunning landscapes of the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, known for its lush cloud forests and mist-shrouded mountains. Hike through the reserve’s trails and discover hidden waterfalls, diverse ecosystems, and unique plant and animal species. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the forest or visit the town of Cotacachi, famous for its leather craftsmanship. Explore the artisan markets and indulge in delicious local cuisine, including traditional Andean dishes.

10. Riobamba and Chimborazo Volcano

Head south to the city of Riobamba to embark on an unforgettable adventure to the Chimborazo Volcano. This dormant volcano, standing at over 6,300 meters (20,700 feet) above sea level, offers a challenging yet rewarding climb for experienced mountaineers. Alternatively, take a train ride through the stunning Andean landscapes towards the base of the volcano and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Riobamba itself is a charming city with a rich indigenous heritage, making it an ideal destination to learn about the local culture and history.


These weekend getaways from Quito offer a diverse range of experiences, from adventure and relaxation to cultural immersion and natural beauty. Pack your bags, escape the city, and create unforgettable memories in these fascinating destinations just a short journey away.


Baños de Agua Santa

Baños de Agua Santa, located in the Andean mountains of Ecuador, is a picturesque town known for its stunning natural beauty and thrilling adventure activities. This weekend getaway destination is perfect for those seeking an adrenaline rush or simply wanting to relax and soak in the breathtaking surroundings.


Surrounded by lush greenery and cascading waterfalls, Baños is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Mountain biking is a popular activity in the area, offering thrilling rides along scenic routes that take you through stunning landscapes and offer panoramic views. You can rent a bike and embark on your own adventure or join a guided tour that takes you to the best trails and viewpoints.


For a truly adrenaline-pumping experience, try canopy zip-lining. Soar through the forest canopy, suspended on a series of zip lines, and witness the beauty of the cloud forest from a unique perspective. It’s an exhilarating activity that will make you feel like you’re flying through the treetops.


After an action-packed day, unwind and relax in the town’s famous hot springs. The thermal waters of Baños are known for their healing properties and provide the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate. Choose from a variety of pools and facilities that cater to different temperatures and preferences. Soak in the mineral-rich waters as you take in the stunning mountain views, allowing your worries to melt away.


Don’t miss the chance to visit the Pailón del Diablo waterfall, a true natural wonder. Located just outside of Baños, this waterfall is a sight to behold, with water crashing down in multiple cascades. Experience its power up close as you navigate the narrow path that takes you to its base. The views and the feeling of being immersed in the beauty of nature are simply awe-inspiring.


In addition to adventure and relaxation, Baños offers a vibrant dining scene. Be sure to indulge in the local cuisine, which includes traditional Ecuadorian dishes with a twist. From guinea pig (cuy) to plantain-based meals and delicious street food, you’ll find a diverse range of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.


Whether you’re seeking thrills or simply want to unwind in a serene environment, Baños de Agua Santa has something for everyone. The combination of stunning natural landscapes, adventure activities, and rejuvenating hot springs make it a must-visit destination on your Ecuadorian getaway.


Papallacta Hot Springs

If you’re in search of a relaxing and rejuvenating weekend getaway, look no further than the tranquil town of Papallacta. Nestled in the Andean mountains of Ecuador, Papallacta is renowned for its natural hot springs, which offer a blissful escape from the stresses of everyday life.


At Papallacta, you’ll find a range of thermal pools and spas that take advantage of the region’s geothermal activity. The hot springs are rich in minerals, known for their therapeutic properties and ability to soothe muscle tension and promote relaxation. Immerse yourself in the warm waters and feel your worries melt away as you take in the breathtaking mountain scenery surrounding you.


Each pool at Papallacta is maintained at a different temperature, allowing you to find the perfect balance of warmth and comfort. Some pools are cooler, ideal for refreshing dips, while others are hotter, perfect for indulging in long soaks. You can also enjoy additional amenities such as sauna rooms and jacuzzis, further enhancing your spa-like experience.


In addition to the hot springs, Papallacta offers a range of wellness services aimed at revitalizing the body and mind. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage or indulge in aromatherapy treatments using local herbs and essential oils. These therapies, combined with the natural surroundings, create an atmosphere of tranquility and renewal.


For nature lovers, Papallacta provides an opportunity to explore the surrounding landscapes. Take a leisurely hike through the nearby nature reserve and immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of the Andean cloud forest. Absorb the fresh mountain air and enjoy the peacefulness that comes with being surrounded by nature’s serenity.


While the main attraction in Papallacta is the hot springs, the town itself is also worth exploring. Enjoy a stroll through its charming streets and discover local restaurants serving traditional Ecuadorian cuisine with a focus on sustainable and organic ingredients. Sample delicacies such as trout, hearty stews, and Andean potatoes that showcase the flavors of the region.


Papallacta is the perfect getaway if you’re in need of relaxation and rejuvenation. Whether you spend your time soaking in the hot springs, indulging in spa treatments, or exploring the natural surroundings, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and revitalized, ready to take on the world once again.


Mindo Cloud Forest (overnight stay)

If you’re captivated by the enchanting beauty of the Mindo Cloud Forest, consider extending your visit with an overnight stay. Spending the night in this biodiverse paradise allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the area and experience all that it has to offer.


With charming lodges and eco-friendly accommodations available, you can relax and rejuvenate in the heart of the cloud forest. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of nature and wake up surrounded by lush greenery. Many accommodations offer stunning views of the forest, allowing you to feel truly connected to the natural world.


One of the benefits of staying overnight is the chance to witness the transformation of the cloud forest. In the early morning, experience the ethereal mist as it blankets the canopy, creating a mystical ambiance. Venture out on a guided hike to fully appreciate the awakening of the forest and spot unique wildlife like colorful birds and playful monkeys.


During your extended stay, take the time to explore the region’s natural treasures at a relaxed pace. Embark on longer hikes that lead to hidden waterfalls and picturesque viewpoints. Enjoy the tranquil beauty of cascading water as you take a refreshing dip in natural pools filled with clean, crystal-clear water.


For bird enthusiasts, an overnight stay is the perfect opportunity to further indulge in the world of avian wonders. Rise early to witness the remarkable display of hummingbirds as they flit between feeders, displaying their vibrant plumage. Many lodges have their own hummingbird gardens, allowing you to observe these delicate creatures up close.


As night falls, the cloud forest unveils another side of its charm. Take a night walk guided by knowledgeable experts who will help you spot unique nocturnal animals. Listen to the symphony of frogs and insects, and keep an eye out for glowing mushrooms and bioluminescent creatures that make the forest come alive with their magical presence.


Finally, an overnight stay in Mindo offers you the opportunity to connect with the local community. Visit organic farms and learn about sustainable farming practices. Engage with the friendly locals and discover their customs and traditions, gaining insight into their way of life in harmony with the surrounding cloud forest.


Whether you’re seeking a deeper connection with nature, more time to explore the diverse ecosystems, or simply a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life, an overnight stay in the Mindo Cloud Forest will leave you with lasting memories and a profound appreciation for Ecuador’s incredible biodiversity.


Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve

If you’re seeking a weekend getaway immersed in the beauty of Ecuador’s natural landscapes, look no further than the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve. Located in the northwestern part of the country, this stunning reserve is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


Spanning over 200,000 hectares, the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve is home to an incredible range of biodiversity. As you explore the reserve’s trails, you’ll encounter diverse ecosystems, including cloud forests, Andean paramo, and tropical rainforests. The pristine landscapes provide a habitat for numerous plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the region.


Embark on guided hikes through the reserve and discover hidden waterfalls, crystalline rivers, and stunning mountain vistas. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the forest, surrounded by towering trees and the sounds of chirping birds and humming insects. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings, as the reserve is home to iconic species such as the elusive spectacled bear and the endangered Andean condor.


For a unique cultural experience, visit the indigenous communities that have inhabited the area for centuries. Learn about their traditions, customs, and sustainable practices, gaining a deeper understanding of their harmonious relationship with nature. Observe artisans at work as they create intricate textiles and handicrafts, showcasing their skills passed down through generations.


Cotacachi, a town near the reserve, is renowned for its craftsmanship in leather goods. Take the opportunity to explore the town’s markets and shops, browsing through high-quality leather products such as bags, belts, and jackets. This is the perfect chance to support local artisans and take home a unique souvenir of your visit.


When it comes to cuisine, enjoy traditional Andean dishes that highlight local ingredients and flavors. Delight in the wholesome goodness of hearty soups, grilled meats, and flavorful stews, all prepared with care and using regional produce. Don’t forget to try the famous Ecuadorian chocolate, known for its rich and smooth taste.


Whether you’re looking for scenic hikes, wildlife encounters, cultural immersion, or a retreat into nature’s serenity, the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve offers it all. It’s a true getaway that will leave you in awe of Ecuador’s natural wonders and with a deeper appreciation for the importance of conservation and sustainable living.


Riobamba and Chimborazo Volcano

For an exhilarating weekend getaway in Ecuador, head to Riobamba and discover the awe-inspiring Chimborazo Volcano. Located in the central part of the country, Riobamba is a charming city with a rich indigenous heritage, offering a gateway to incredible adventures in the Ecuadorian Andes.


The highlight of the area is the mighty Chimborazo Volcano, standing at over 6,300 meters (20,700 feet) above sea level. This dormant volcano presents a challenging yet rewarding climb for experienced mountaineers. Embark on an unforgettable expedition to reach the snow-capped summit and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.


If you prefer a more leisurely experience, take a train ride from Riobamba to the base of the volcano. This picturesque journey winds through the stunning Andean countryside, passing by colorful indigenous markets and rural villages. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery as the train approaches the foothills of Chimborazo.


At the base of the volcano, you can explore the surrounding area on foot or by horseback. Wander through the high-altitude grasslands known as paramo, and marvel at the unique flora and fauna that have adapted to this challenging environment. Keep an eye out for vicuñas, a relative of the llama, as they graze peacefully on the expansive plains.


Back in Riobamba, take some time to explore the city’s rich indigenous culture. Visit the colorful Indigenous Market, where locals sell traditional handicrafts, clothing, and fresh produce. It’s a vibrant and bustling place that showcases the diversity and beauty of Ecuadorian craftsmanship.


Another must-visit in Riobamba is the fascinating Museum of Indigenous Art, which houses a collection of intricate pottery, textiles, and religious artifacts from various indigenous communities. Gain a deeper understanding of their cultural heritage and appreciate the skill and artistry that goes into their craft.


For food enthusiasts, Riobamba has its own culinary specialties that should not be missed. Indulge in dishes such as llapingachos (potato patties), fritada (fried pork), and delicately flavored Andean soups. It’s a chance to savor the traditional flavors of the region and experience the culinary traditions that have been passed down through generations.


Whether you’re looking to scale the heights of Chimborazo, immerse yourself in indigenous culture, or simply enjoy the scenic beauty of the Andean landscapes, a weekend in Riobamba promises an unforgettable experience. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature, explore rich cultural heritage, and create lasting memories in the heart of Ecuador.


Weeklong Escapes

If you have a week to spare, you can embark on incredible adventures and dive deeper into the beauty and diversity of Ecuador with these weeklong escapes. From the iconic Galapagos Islands to the pristine Amazon Rainforest, these destinations offer immersive experiences and unforgettable encounters with nature and culture.

11. Galapagos Islands

A week in the Galapagos Islands is a dream come true for nature enthusiasts. Explore this unique archipelago and witness its astonishing biodiversity, including unique wildlife species found nowhere else on Earth. Swim alongside sea lions, dive with marine iguanas, and marvel at the famed giant tortoises. Take guided hikes on different islands and experience the evolutionary wonders that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

12. Amazon Rainforest

Venture deep into the Amazon Rainforest for an immersive exploration of one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Spend a week living among the lush foliage, discovering extraordinary flora and fauna, and interacting with indigenous communities. Take part in guided wildlife tours, birdwatching expeditions, and exhilarating canoe rides along winding rivers. Learn about the medicinal properties of Amazonian plants and immerse yourself in local traditions and customs.

13. Cuenca and the Southern Highlands

Travel to the colonial city of Cuenca and explore the picturesque landscapes of the Southern Highlands. Wander through cobbled streets lined with beautiful architecture, visit historic churches, and lose yourself in the vibrant markets. Venture outside the city to explore natural wonders such as Cajas National Park, known for its stunning alpine lakes and hiking trails. Discover ancient Inca ruins, indigenous communities, and experience the unique traditions of the Andean highlands.

14. Montañita and the Ruta del Sol

Head to the coastal town of Montañita and embark on a journey along the Ruta del Sol (Route of the Sun). This picturesque route takes you through charming beach towns, offering opportunities for surfing, swimming, and relaxation on pristine beaches. Explore vibrant markets, sample fresh seafood, and immerse yourself in the laid-back coastal lifestyle. Take part in yoga retreats, dance to the rhythm of local music, and enjoy breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

15. El Oriente: Tena and Puyo

Discover the wonders of the Ecuadorian Amazon in the towns of Tena and Puyo. Experience thrilling activities such as river rafting, jungle hikes, and visits to indigenous communities. Get a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Amazonian tribes and their deep connection with the rainforest. Explore hidden waterfalls, spot vibrant bird species, and learn about the diverse ecosystems that make the Amazon such a remarkable and important part of our planet.


With a week for exploration, these destinations offer a range of experiences, from observing unique wildlife and immersing in local culture to enjoying the beauty of Ecuador’s diverse landscapes. Choose a weeklong escape that resonates with your interests and passion, and get ready for an extraordinary journey through the wonders of Ecuador.


Galapagos Islands

A trip to the Galapagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that showcases the incredible biodiversity and evolutionary wonders of this unique archipelago. With a week to spare, you can fully immerse yourself in the captivating beauty and natural marvels of the Galapagos Islands.


Set foot on this volcanic archipelago and witness its extraordinary wildlife up close. Blue-footed boobies perform their iconic mating dance, marine iguanas bask in the sun, and giant tortoises roam freely in their natural habitat. Dive into the crystal-clear waters to swim alongside playful sea lions, graceful sea turtles, and vibrant schools of tropical fish.


Exploring the Galapagos Islands is all about guided expeditions. Embark on daily excursions to different islands, each with its unique landscapes and wildlife. Walk on volcanic terrain, hike through pristine forests, and visit pristine beaches. Your knowledgeable guides will share valuable insights about the flora, fauna, geology, and history of the islands, enriching your understanding of this ecological wonderland.


During your weeklong stay, you can visit islands such as Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and Española. Each island offers its own distinct experiences, from visiting Charles Darwin Research Station to observing the famed Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat. Swim with penguins in Isabela, spot unique bird species like the Galapagos albatross on Española, and snorkel with hammerhead sharks around Wolf and Darwin Islands.


While the wildlife steals the show, the Galapagos Islands also provide opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and discovering hidden coves and secluded beaches. Explore lava tunnels, witness spectacular sunsets from breathtaking viewpoints, and capture awe-inspiring photographs of the striking landscapes.


Beyond the wildlife encounters, immerse yourself in the Galapagos’ rich natural and cultural heritage. Engage with local communities and learn about their efforts to conserve and preserve these pristine islands. Visit the small towns and engage with local artisans, supporting their unique crafts and artwork.


As you sail from island to island, enjoy comfortable accommodations aboard a cruise ship or opt for a land-based experience. Either way, your days will be filled with adventure, discovery, and the profound understanding that the Galapagos Islands are truly a living laboratory of evolution.


A week in the Galapagos Islands is an opportunity to create unforgettable memories, witness nature’s wonders firsthand, and gain a deep appreciation for the delicate balance of life on our planet. The Galapagos Islands will leave an indelible mark on your soul, forever reminding you of the importance of conservation and our collective responsibility to protect these remarkable ecosystems.


Amazon Rainforest

A week-long exploration of the Amazon Rainforest offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. This vast and pristine ecosystem, spanning across nine countries in South America, holds treasures waiting to be discovered. Journey deep into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest and embark on a transformative adventure.


Experience the magic of the Amazon as you navigate its winding rivers and meandering tributaries. Travel by boat or canoe through dense jungles, witnessing an endless array of vibrant wildlife. Spot playful river dolphins, stealthy jaguars, peculiar pink river dolphins, and colorful macaws. Listen to the symphony of birdsong and the gentle rustling of leaves as you meander through the labyrinthine waterways.


Take guided hikes through the dense undergrowth, accompanied by experienced local guides who will help you uncover the secrets of the forest. Learn about the intricate relationships between plants, animals, and indigenous communities that coexist in this fragile ecosystem. Discover the incredible medicinal properties of Amazonian plants and witness fascinating traditional practices preserved by local tribes for centuries.


Immerse yourself in the daily life and customs of indigenous communities. Visit remote villages and learn about their sustainable way of living, deeply connected to the natural world. Engage in traditional activities like blowgun shooting, gather around a campfire for mesmerizing storytelling, or participate in a shamanic ceremony, gaining insight into their spiritual practices.


Explore the realm of towering trees, immense foliage, and hidden waterfalls. Trek deep into the rainforest, spotting monkeys swinging through the branches, while evocative birdcalls fill the air. Encounter unique wildlife such as elusive tapirs, fascinating tarantulas, and diverse amphibians. Let your senses awaken as you witness the mesmerizing beauty of the Amazon’s flora and fauna.


As night falls, embrace the nocturnal wonders of the jungle. Venture on night hikes, guided by expert naturalists, where you may encounter species that come alive in the shadows. Listen to the chorus of frogs and insects, marvel at the bioluminescent displays, and witness the Milky Way painted across the night sky, unobstructed by city lights.


Throughout your week in the Amazon, stay in eco-friendly lodges or immerse yourself in a more adventurous jungle camping experience. Each night, fall asleep to the sounds of the rainforest, knowing that you are writing your own chapter in the story of the Amazon.


An Amazon Rainforest adventure is a humbling and awe-inspiring journey that will deepen your appreciation for the delicate balance of nature. It is an invitation to connect with the Earth’s most diverse ecosystem, fostering a renewed commitment to the conservation and preservation of this precious wilderness.


Cuenca and the Southern Highlands

Escape to the charming city of Cuenca, located in the picturesque Southern Highlands of Ecuador, for a week filled with cultural immersion, stunning landscapes, and a journey into the country’s rich indigenous heritage.


Begin your exploration of Cuenca by wandering through the city’s cobblestone streets, admiring its well-preserved colonial architecture, and visiting historic churches and cathedrals. The city is known for its cultural richness, evident in its many museums, galleries, and artisan markets.


Delve into the city’s indigenous heritage by visiting the Museo de las Culturas Aborígenes (Museum of Aboriginal Cultures), which houses a vast collection of archaeological artifacts. Learn about the history and beliefs of various indigenous communities that have inhabited the region for centuries.


As you venture outside the city, discover the stunning landscapes of the Southern Highlands. Journey to the Cajas National Park, an enchanting paramo ecosystem characterized by its rolling hills, crystal-clear lakes, and unique alpine vegetation. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the park’s well-marked trails, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding Andean mountains and the chance to spot unique bird species.


Explore the nearby Ingapirca archaeological site, home to the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. Wander through the ancient stone structures, learning about the historical significance of this ceremonial center and marveling at the engineering prowess of the Inca civilization.


Immerse yourself in the traditional arts and crafts of the Southern Highlands by visiting the nearby town of Gualaceo, known for its vibrant market. Indulge in the sensory experience of vibrant textiles, intricate embroidery, and handcrafted pottery as you browse through the stalls. It’s the perfect opportunity to interact with local artisans and purchase unique souvenirs.


Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the diverse culinary delights of the region. Cuenca’s gastronomy takes inspiration from its indigenous roots, resulting in flavorful dishes such as hornado (roast pork), mote pillo (hominy with scrambled eggs), and yaguarlocro (a potato-based soup). Savor these traditional flavors and treat your taste buds to a journey through the Southern Highlands.


To fully appreciate the beauty of this region, take a day trip to El Cajas, a picturesque village surrounded by green hills and dotted with blooming flower fields. Enjoy a peaceful stroll through town, taking in the tranquility and charm of this rural gem.


A week in Cuenca and the Southern Highlands offers a blend of history, nature, and cultural immersion. It’s an opportunity to uncover the layers of Ecuador’s rich heritage, create connections with local communities, and savor the beauty of the Andean landscapes.


Montañita and the Ruta del Sol

For a week filled with sun, sand, and relaxation, head to the coastal town of Montañita and explore the renowned Ruta del Sol (Route of the Sun). Located on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, this vibrant destination offers the perfect blend of beachside bliss, thrilling water sports, and an energetic nightlife.


Montañita is known for its laid-back bohemian vibe and is a haven for surfers and beach lovers. Spend your days lounging on the sandy shore, perfecting your tan, and enjoying the rhythmic sound of crashing waves. With consistently good surf conditions, it’s the perfect opportunity to ride the waves or take surfing lessons from experienced instructors.


As the sun sets, Montañita comes alive with an electric energy. The town’s beachfront transforms into a bustling hub of street vendors, lively bars, and open-air clubs. Experience the nightlife as you dance to Latin beats, sip on tropical cocktails, and mingle with fellow travelers from around the world.


Explore the Ruta del Sol, a scenic coastal route that stretches along the Pacific coastline. Hop on a bus and venture to nearby beaches and coastal towns such as Olón, Puerto López, and Ayampe. Each destination along the route offers its own unique charm, from quaint fishing villages to unspoiled beaches.


For nature lovers, a visit to Machalilla National Park is a must. This protected area is home to stunning beaches, mangrove forests, and the captivating Isla de la Plata, often referred to as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos.” Take a boat tour to the island, where you can spot blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and even humpback whales during their migration season.


Indulge in the flavors of the coast by savoring fresh seafood at local restaurants. Enjoy ceviche, a popular dish made with marinated raw fish or shrimp, or sample an array of grilled seafood accompanied by traditional coastal seasonings. Don’t forget to try the delicious local specialty, encocado, made with coconut milk and a variety of seafood.


For those seeking a more relaxing experience, take a yoga class to rejuvenate your mind and body. Several yoga studios and retreats can be found in Montañita, offering a tranquil atmosphere and experienced instructors to guide you through your practice.


Whether you’re seeking sun-soaked days on the beach, thrilling water sports adventures, or lively nights of music and dancing, Montañita and the Ruta del Sol provide the perfect coastal escape. It’s a chance to embrace the laid-back vibes of Ecuador’s coastline and create unforgettable memories along the scenic Pacific coast.


El Oriente: Tena and Puyo

Escape to the lush and captivating region of El Oriente, home to the enchanting towns of Tena and Puyo, for a week filled with adventure, cultural immersion, and exploration of the incredible Amazon Rainforest.


Located in the eastern part of Ecuador, El Oriente provides a gateway to the diverse ecosystems and indigenous communities of the Amazon Rainforest. Begin your journey in Tena, a town nestled along the banks of the Napo River.


Immerse yourself in the rich natural wonders of the area by embarking on thrilling adventures. Raft down the rapids of the rivers, witnessing breathtaking landscapes and getting a taste of adrenaline. Explore hidden waterfalls on guided hikes through the dense jungle, discovering unique flora and fauna along the way. Zip-line through the canopy, taking in panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest and feeling the rush of the wind.


Engage with local indigenous communities near Tena, such as the Kichwa and Waorani, and learn about their traditions, customs, and sustainable way of life. Participate in cultural exchanges, gaining insight into their spiritual practices, artistry, and deep connection with the natural world. Take part in traditional ceremonies, taste culinary specialties, and listen to captivating stories from community elders.


Continue your exploration by venturing to the town of Puyo, a gateway to further Amazonian adventures. Discover the fascinating flora and fauna of the rainforest by visiting animal rescue centers, where you can observe and learn about creatures native to the region, including monkeys, parrots, and sloths.


Experience the thrill of a night excursion to witness the vibrant nocturnal life of the Amazon Rainforest. Armed with flashlights and accompanied by knowledgeable guides, explore the jungle after dark and witness unique creatures come to life, like frogs, tarantulas, and fireflies.


Take a relaxing canoe trip down the majestic rivers, navigating through winding waterways and observing the diverse birdlife that calls the Amazon home. At the Centro de Arte Indigena AMUYA, discover traditional indigenous arts and crafts, including intricate pottery, handmade textiles, and sculptures that tell the stories of the local tribes.


As you explore El Oriente, savor the flavors of the region. Taste traditional dishes like maito, which consists of fish or meat wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over an open fire. Sample exotic fruits like copoazú and naranjilla, and experience the delightful fusion of Amazonian ingredients.


A week in El Oriente offers a remarkable opportunity to connect with nature, engage with indigenous cultures, and experience the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest. It’s a chance to heighten your senses, expand your understanding of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystem, and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Exploring the diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Ecuador beyond Quito opens up a world of adventure and discovery. From day excursions to weeklong escapes, this vibrant country offers something for every type of traveler.


Whether you venture to the lush cloud forests of Mindo, the bustling indigenous markets of Otavalo, or the breathtaking beauty of the Quilotoa Crater Lake, each destination provides a unique and extraordinary experience. Day trips allow you to sample the wonders of Ecuador, while weekend getaways provide more time for exploration and relaxation.


If you have a week to spare, consider immersing yourself in the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands, where you’ll witness the incredible biodiversity and endemic species that inspired Charles Darwin. Alternatively, embark on a journey deep into the Amazon Rainforest, where you’ll discover the remarkable flora, fauna, and indigenous cultures that call this region home.


Escape to the Southern Highlands and explore the colonial city of Cuenca, where you’ll be immersed in its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes. Or head to the coastal town of Montañita and follow the Ruta del Sol for a week of sun-soaked beaches, thrilling water sports, and vibrant nightlife.


Finally, journey to El Oriente and discover the wonders of Tena and Puyo, gateway towns to the mesmerizing Amazon Rainforest. Engage with indigenous communities, embark on thrilling adventures, and experience the mystical allure of the jungle.


As you reflect on your explorations outside of Quito, you’ll find that Ecuador’s diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and vibrant culture have left an indelible mark. Each destination offers its own unique charm, inviting you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty, engage with local communities, and create unforgettable memories along the way.


So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and set off on a journey to explore the wonders that lie just beyond Quito. Whether you have a day, a weekend, or a week to spare, the treasures of Ecuador await you.