The Andean highlands and the Amazon Rainforest: two of Ecuador’s distinct ecosystems you get to explore on this tour from Active Adventures.
By land mass and even population, Ecuador is a small country but packs a powerful cultural punch, with its Old Town in the capital of Quito being among the first sites given UNESCO World Heritage status back in 1978. Tucked tightly along the Pacific Coast and sandwiched, some might say, between the two powerhouses of Colombia and Peru, you’d never know it is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet, with more varied species of flora and fauna than almost any another place.
And that’s matched only by its geographic uniqueness: though it’s only 283,560 sq. km, it plays host to four distinct ecological entities: the tropical Amazon Rainforest, the arid Andes highlands and Mountains, the temperate Pacific Coastal lands, and the Galapagos Islands.
This trip will see you explore two of those — the Andes Mountains and highlands, and the Amazon Rainforest, beginning in the historic city of Quito, which lies in an Andean valley surrounded by spectacular peaks. Road tripping, even a little, down Ecuador’s legendary Avenue of the Volcanoes is one of the highlights of any trip to this country. Two amazingly different ecology systems mean two amazingly different travel experiences, that translate into lots of learning opportunities. Here’s an overview from Active Adventures of this Ecuadorian tour:
(This photo and above) Hiking around the Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) waterfall in Baños, Ecuador. (Credit: Kalypso World Photography/iStock)
Day 1 | Arrive in Quito, Ecuador’s historic capital city hosts a stunning Old Town with architectural gems, from its hilltop Basilica to the Church of the Society of Jesus (the Gold Cathedral). Then, from Quito, you head to Puembo (a small town on the city’s outskirts), where you hop on a bike and cycle to Cumbaya, for about 20 km, along a path with an elevation gain of 200 metres, or 656 feet. You stop for lunch at a classic hacienda.
Day 2 | Horse riding Rumiñahui Heights. Yes, horseback riding in the Andean highlands, surrounded by Andean peaks! Overnight in Baños.
Day 3 | Pailon de Diablo Waterfall hike, and a free afternoon in Baños. According to Active Adventures, there are “lots of optional activities here, including canyoning, biking, rafting, horse riding, and even salsa dancing lessons!” Overnight again in Baños, which sits at the base of an Andean volcano.
Day 4 | The Amazon Rainforest. Today, you head out of Baños, down the Rio Pastaza Valley, into the high cloudforest that eventually descends into Ecuador’s Amazon lowlands, where you’ll enjoy a guided hike along streams and waterfalls. Take a dugout canoe ride on the Napo River (a tributary of the great Amazon) to your eco-lodge for the night.
Day 5 | Rainforest trek and exploring. Visiting an Indigenous local family, you have a fantastic opportunity to learn firsthand what it means to live in the rainforest, and about how important it is to the functioning of the planet. Then head to the village of Misahualli, before heading back up to the highlands via the cloudforest, where you overnight in Papallacta.
Days 6-7 | Head to a nearby lodge, where you spend the day exploring the area — including a natural hummingbird sanctuary and hiking in the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve, the habitat of the spectacled bear. Then you return to Quito for a last dinner with your group, before the trip ends the next morning.
Ecuador Volcano and Jungle Adventure | ACTIVE ADVENTURES
Length/Departs: 7 days; ask about current depart dates.
Accommodations: hotels, eco-lodges, haciendas.
Price: contact operator directly for current pricing.
Difficulty: Ask operator, as there is physical activity with this tour, and Quito is a high-altitude Andean city, which can have an affect on physical stamina.
Please note: Active Adventures is now requiring “all guests over the age of 12 (13 years and above) travelling on trips departing from December 1, 2021, to be fully vaccinated, no matter the destination.” Proof of COVID vaccination is also required.
Active Adventures also has the SafeTravels Stamp from the WTTC. Feel free to ask about what this entails for this trip from the operator.
A few guidelines on trip descriptions: All descriptions/itineraries are sourced from trip/tour operator, and Outpost assumes no liability. Prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise indicated, are often “starting from” the one listed, and don’t necessarily reflect final/total cost (that is, taxes, in-country or extra fees might be added). And, prices indicated here do NOT include airfare, unless it says so. Date changes are always possible and sometimes even inescapable. So, always get in touch with an operator directly; sometimes they’ll let you know about a special offer not listed here so a price may actually be less than listed here.