To see and experience the numerous facettes of Ecuador at your own pace, can be a true gift. A journey through Ecuador with a rental car allows you to stop at small villages, stunning waterfalls, great view points and typical animals, that may cross your path. The journey leads you through the Andens, past vast landscapes, historical ruines, hot springs and the Amazon with stays in old towns, which are protected by UNESCO. Explore the diversity of Ecuador comfortably in a rental car!
Highlights: visiting wonderful colonial old towns and inca ruins, relaxing at hot springs, exploring the wonders of nature in the Amazon
Number of days: 14
Regions: Amazon, Andes
Interests: Cities, History, Family Tour, Hiking & Trekking, Indigenous Culture, Nature & Wildlife, Train
Total CO2 emission, in lb (per day for cruises): 767
Click on the icons to see details about each visited place.
Day 1 – Arrival in Quito, Transfer to hotel
You are going to get picked up at the airport and taken to the Hotel Plaza Sucre, which is located in the middle of Quitos Old Town, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. The hotel is near the presidential palace and the independence square (Plaza de la Independencia) and is surrounded by churches, museums and monuments. It is situated in a beautiful colonial building with a peaceful, roofed patio. The atmosphere is friendly and cosy.
Day 2 – Quito City Tour (half day)
To get a first overview of the history (the Inca time, the Spanish invasion, the Colonial time, and the Independence) and the present situation of Ecuador and Quito you have the possibility to take part in a guided City Tour. We also recommend to visit the hill “Panecillo” (the bread bun) with the monument “La Vigen de Legarda”, which is located between the northern and the southern parts of the city.
You can use the public transportation where one ride costs $0,25 (no matter where you go). We recommend to take the Trole, Metro and Ecovia only, because it is necessary to know the city a little bit better to get an overview of where the buses go. Certainly every site in the Old Town is within walking distance from your hotel.
Day 3 – Ride from Quito to Mindo
In the morning you will get picked up to get your rental car and you are going to have German speaking assistance. The first ride is towards Mindo, which is located in the cloud forest. The cloud forest is a special type of rain forest at an altitude of 900 to 2.500 meters with an enormously diverse flora and fauna. Observe many birds and plants on your walk through the forest, visit waterfalls and get enchanted by the hummingbirds you will find there. On the way to Mindo you have the possibility to visit the middle of the world. You will find a equator monument, different exhibitions and documentary centers at “Mitad del Mundo” (middle of the world). In the museum “Inti Ñan” you can learn about the effects of the equator first-hand with the help of scientific experiments.
Day 4 – Trip to Cuicocha Lagoon and Cotacachi
Today you can drive to the beautiful Cuicocha Lagoon (Guinea pig lagoon). It is possible to take a little walk along the crater lake, but especially in the beginning of the trip you will feel the altitude. The little town Cotacachi is really nice as well and famous for its leather products. It is also the town with the first indigenous mayor in Ecuador. The accommodation for the night will be in Otavalo.
Day 5 – Market in Otavalo, ride to Papallacta
The best day for the market is on Saturday, but there is also a small market on the Plaza de Ponchos on other days where you can find a big range of souvenirs. Today your ride will lead you to Papallacta near the natural reserve Cayambe-Coca. The climate there is known to be cold and it is famous for its hot springs. Within this well-situated place of the Ecuadorian paramo you can enjoy a refreshing bath in a harmonious and peaceful surrounding. The thermal water comes from volcanic origin and has a temperature of between 36°C and 40°C. Its curative character is certificated by the Ecuadorian medical association. Besides the hot springs Papallacta offers a lot of other options to enjoy the beautiful landscape. On the island path you can walk along the Loreto-Papallacta River. Within 1 hour you see the primary forest, different orchids, waterfalls and birds of the high paramos such as masked mountain tanagers, carunculated caracaras, peregrines, hummingbirds and sometimes even the majestic Andean condor.
Day 6 – Ride to the upper rain forest
The Suchipakari Lodge is next to the Pusuno Bajo River, 10 minutes away from the parking. At this stage of the journey, you only have to take care of your camera equipment. The other pieces of luggage will be transported by the Suchipakari staff. The manager is going to welcome you with a refreshing ice tea.
After lunch at 1-2 pm you will get a quick briefing with general information about your stay in Suchipakari. The Lodge organizes different treks to explore the forest, the riverside or the lakes. Those can be long, short, difficult or easy – depending on your interests and the level of difficulty. In the afternoon you will have time to relax in hammocks on a private beach and will return to the Ecolodge afterwards. The welcome dinner will be served by that time. Get comfortable while the waiter is serving you the courses. At the bar you will find snacks, tea, good coffee and cocktails or feel free to lie in one of the hammocks next to the swimming pool.
Day 7 – Trips to the rain forest starting at the Lodge
There is the possibility to hike through the rain forest, visit waterfalls and local communities or to practice shooting with the blowpipe.
Day 8 – Ride to Baños
After another fantastic breakfast you will learn how to harvest cacao and to create one of the most premium chocolates of the world in the kitchen of the Quichua. You are going to dive into the world of chocolate – from the bean to a chocolate tasting. After that it is time to pack and to check out. Then you will head from the rainforest to Baños. On the way you can stop multiple times to take photos. Since you drive through the Pastaza canyon, you will come along the biggest waterfall on this road, the “Pailón del Diablo”. It can get adventurous if you decide to take the cable car to cross the canyon.
Day 9 – Baños
Baños is a small and beautiful town, which is famous for its hot springs and its special sweet (melcocha), which is a kind of sugar mixture that is formed with theatrical gestures and thrown over a hook on the door repeatedly. The atmosphere is calm, the climate’s ideal and the tropical rainforest in the east of Ecuador is only a couple of hours away! It is the perfect starting point for hikes and also to see the active volcano Tungurahua.
Day 10 – Visit of the natural reserve Chimborazo
Today you are going to visit the natural reserve Chimborazo. The volcano Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador with an altitude of 6.310 m. It has been called “The top of the world” for a while, because the highest peak is further away from the earth’s center than the 8.848 m high Mount Everest due to the bulge of the globe in the equator zone. 1802 Alexander von Humboldt established an altitude record for Chimborazo, because until then and even 84 years later nobody climbed higher than to an altitude of 5.900 m. On his last portrait at 90 years old, Chimborazo had to be in the background. Afterwards you drive further to Alausi.
Day 11 – Ride to Cuenca, visit of the Inca ruins Ingapirca
At 8 am you have the opportunity to climb up the famous route “Devil’s Nose” on a train. While the ride on the roof has been a special (but also really risky) adventure in the past, historical diesel locomotives are used today for the ride on the adventurous zickzack route up to Sibambe (travel time is around 2,5 hours, round trip). From Alausi you will travel further to the significant Inca ruins of Ingapirca with the sun temple as its most important building.
Archaeologists couldn’t find out the exact purpose of this site yet. It is only known that there has been a similar complex of the indigenous Cañaris at the same position in the pre-Inca times. The journey leads from the pre-Hispanic ruins to Cuenca, where colonial architecture, culture and art meet. The Old Town of Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
Day 12 – Cuenca
Today you will have plenty of time to explore Cuenca which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. There are also prime addresses for artisan craftwork and panama hats (which originally come from Ecuador) in Cuenca.
Day 13 – Ride to Guayaquil
The ride to Guayaquil takes a little bit longer today. You can make a stop at the Cajas National Park on your way. It is located in the Paramo on an altitude of between 3000 and 4500 meters and is famous for its 230 lakes, that raised mostly though volcanic activities and glaciation. Afterwards you will travel further to Guayaquil, where you are going to spend one night. The Malecon 2000 in Guayaquil is a spacious promenade with monuments, museums, gardens, fountains, shopping malls, restaurants, bars and viewpoints. An outstandingly beautiful part of Guayaquil is “Las Peñas” – the first residential neighborhood of the old town, which is situated romantically on a hill from which you have a fantastic view.
Day 14 – Guayaquil departure or optional extension
Depending on your flight time, drive to the airport and hand off the rental car. This is where the roundtrip ends. You also have the opportunity to extent the journey to the Galapagos Islands or to the coast of Ecuador.
Price per person: US$ 1,385
(based on 2 people traveling)
- English speaking transfers in Quito with assistence for the car rental
- private half day city tour in Quito
- Accommodation 11 nights with breakfast included
- Accommodation 2 nights with full board in the rain forest
- rental car 12 days compact car (e.g. Chevrolet Sail), free kilometers
- train ticket for the Tren de Diablo in Alausi
- meals not specified
- personal expenses
- Entrance fees for museums etc.
- optional excursions and activities
- personal travel insurance
- international and national flights
- entrance to the National Park Galapagos ($100 per person)
- migration card Galapagos ($20 per person)
- GPS car ($11,20 per day)
- insurence rental car (LDW: $31,11 per day or PDW: $16,12 per day)
- additional driver
Below you will find our hotel suggestions for comfortable nights on your roadtrip:
Quito: Hotel Plaza Sucre
Mindo: Mariposas de Mindo
Otavalo: Hosteria Tambo Inti
Papallacta: Sachayacu Termas
Tena: Suchipakari Lodge
Baños: Hotel Floresta
Chimborazo: Hotel La Quinta
Cuenca: Casa San Rafael
Guayaquil: Hotel Continental