Ecuador 7 Days Itinerary
Ecuador 7 Days-Covered by dense tropical forests, Ecuador is a small country that packs a big punch when it comes to biodiversity. High in the Andes, discover volcanic craters, fertile valleys, and sparkling lakes via foot, bike, and horseback. Then descend into the Chocó rain forest to encounter a breathtaking array of flora and fauna on guided nature walks through some of the country’s most pristine jungle.
- Observe all manner of wildlife from your glass-walled room at Mashpe Lodge nestled in a misty cloud forest canopy.
- Ride an aerial bike through the treetops of the Chocó rain forest, and let bioluminescent flora guide you on a jungle night walk.
- Delve into the colorful markets of Otavalo and meet weavers at a textile workshop.
- Take a private tour of Quito’s well-preserved colonial old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 1 — Arrive Quito/Imbabura Province
Arrive in Quito, Ecuador where a driver awaits your arrival at the airport. Head north to a traditional hacienda nestled within an Andean valley—your base in Imbabura Province. Weather permitting, you can enjoy stunning views of the Imbabura volcano from the property. Sample Ecuadorian cuisine at dinner at the hacienda tonight.
Hacienda Zuleta (D)
Day 2 — Imbabura Province
Spend the day exploring the peaks and valleys of Imbabura Province, beginning with a visit to the town of Otavalo, whose vast and vibrant open-air market provides a fascinating glimpse into the local culture. The town’s indigenous population is particularly known for its weaving, an ancient tradition that has continued despite occupation by the Inca and by Spanish conquistadors. Visit a textile workshop to watch weavers in action, and peruse the market’s colorful displays of handicrafts. In the afternoon, hike the rim of the Laguna de Cuicocha, an immense crater lake of sapphire-blue water.
Hacienda Zuleta (B, D)
Day 3 — Imbabura Province
This morning, pay a visit to Condor Huasi, a rehabilitation center for the Andean condor, to learn about these majestic birds and efforts to release them back into the wild. Lunch at the lodge, and then visit Peguche, a weaving village that sources textiles sold at Otavalo. Meet with local artisans and learn about everyday life in the Andean highlands before visiting the stunning Peguche waterfall. Alternatively, opt to bike, hike, or ride on horseback across a landscape of rolling hills framed by snowcapped volcanic peaks.
Hacienda Zuleta (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Imbabura Province/Quito
Drive to the Pululahua crater, a collapsed volcano that is now a patchwork of plots farmed by locals taking advantage of the rich, volcanic soil. Enjoy lunch with a view of the crater, and then journey to the equatorial monument Mitad del Mundo. Straddle the divide between the hemispheres at the “middle of the world” and visit the monument’s ethnological exhibition. Return to Quito, the first world capital to earn distinction as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On a guided tour, wander the labyrinth of streets that make up the historic old town, discovering grand colonial buildings and plazas. Step through the doors of Quito’s most beautiful churches: The Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús is known for its dazzling gilded nave and the Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco for being Quito’s oldest church.
Casa Gangotena (B, L)
Day 5 — Quito/Mashpi Reserve
Travel to the archaeological site of Tulipe, which was once home to the Yumbos, a pre-Inca civilization. Your next destination is Mashpi Lodge set in a cloud forest reserve—and your home for the remainder of your trip. Settle into your glass-walled room, and enjoy a lunch of gourmet Ecuadorian fare. This evening, take a guided night walk through the surrounding jungle, treading amid bioluminescent fungi and keeping your eyes and ears open for the forest’s nocturnal residents, including frogs, owls, and kinkajous.
Mashpi Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 6 — Mashpi Reserve
Rise early to witness the early-morning activity in the cloud forest. Enjoy a steaming cup of coffee on the hotel terrace as you watch birds and other species flit among nearby trees. Take a guided walk to the Life Centre, the lodge’s research station and home to myriad butterfly species. Look for howler monkeys and a variety of brightly colored birds along the way and enjoy a picnic breakfast on the center’s deck overlooking a garden of medicinal plants. As a National Geographic guest, you’ll have the opportunity to join a resident biologist for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Life Centre and a nature walk that highlights ongoing research projects. Survey the canopy from the observation tower and ride an aerial bicycle through the treetops.
Mashpi Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Mashpi Reserve/Quito/Depart
Bring your binoculars for a bird-watching walk, where your guide will help you spot some of the more than 400 species that make their home in the forest. Or hike past moss-covered trees, orchids, and coiling vines to the 150-feet-high Copal Waterfall. Lunch at the hotel before transferring to the airport in Quito and catching an overnight flight home.