Ecuador Hiking Adventure

Ecuador is filled with areas that make for fabulous hiking. This scenic journey includes daily hikes in a variety of ecosystems, all with spectacular views, interesting wildlife and picturesque spots for picnicking along the way. Among the abundant wildlife here are some of Ecuador’s rarest species, including the Andean condor, macaws and the spectacled bear. This is volcano country, and you will see plenty of them in the three national parks and three nature reserves you explore during th... READ MORE >>
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On arrival in Quito you will be met by a Southern Explorations guide who transfers you to your hotel in the city. If you get in before the start of your Ecuador tours, we can arrange optional activities to fill your time.


Our adventure starts heading north out of Quito. After a quick stop at the equatorial monument, we continue north until we reach Volcan Pululahua, a volcano surrounded by a geobotanical reserve. Pululahua’s caldera is directly crossed by Latitude 0°. As we hike into the reserve and toward the crater, we pass through a series of unique ecosystems, including montane cloud forest, myrtle forest, and dry acacia forest. This reserve is also home to a huge number of bird species, including hummingbirds, mountain tanagers, eagles, and hawks. During our hike we´ll visit one of the most preserve Andean dry forest patches we continue on toward around a ridge of this volcano where we can see the cloud forest entrance. After enjoy this otherworldly landscape we finish our hike and we drive to your picturesque country accommodations for a delicious dinner and a restful night. (B,L,D)
Hike Details: Your guide will select today’s hiking route based on your fitness level. | Altitude: from 7,545 ft to 9,720 ft.


This morning, you are driven to Cuicocha, a crater lake formed in a secondary caldera of the extinct Cotacachi Volcano. Cuicocha means “Lake of the Guinea Pigs,” named for the shape of its two central islets. The lake and surrounding slopes are protected as a nature reserve. At an elevation of 9,800 feet, Cuicocha’s rare ecosystem is a combination of paramo and Andean forest, filled with unique plant species. The path skirts the crater rim, offering stunning views of the lake and three volcanoes, Cotacachi, Mojanda and Imbabura. Here you will likely encounter wildlife and might even catch a glimpse of the rare Andean condor. After lunch, you stop to visit Cotacachi’s leather market and Otavalo’s famed indigenous handicraft market. In the late afternoon, you return to your lodgings for another gourmet dinner and relaxing evening. (B,L,D)

Hike Details: Approx – 5.4 miles | Altitude: from 10,300 ft to 11,555 ft.


Today you drive through the inter-Andean valley, gaining elevation as you climb into the heights of Ecuador’s eastern Andes, reaching the Continental Divide (13,450 feet), a high pass that separates the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. The setting for today’s hike through the Cayambe-Coca nature reserve is some of the country’s best highland paramo scenery. This is a humid area that is part of the largest hydrological system in the world, and features one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the Andes. The unique paramo ecosystem provides habitat to a host of endemic wildlife, including three deer species, the elusive spectacled bear and the even more elusive Andean condor. The hike is mostly downhill in the direction of the Ecuador Amazon lowlands and ends at the Termas de Papallacta Spa & Resort, your lodgings for tonight. Enjoy the mineral-rich, curative waters of the local natural hot springs before a most relaxing overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Hike Details: Approx – 6.4 miles | Altitude: from 12,165 ft to 14,400 ft.


After breakfast at Termas de Papallacta, we drive along a scenic road that descends further into the Amazon basin until we reach Sumaco National Park. The local ecosystem is highest part of the tropical forest, where many species from the jungle and the cloud forest coexist, in addition to some endemic mammals, birds and insects. We will see tanagers, toucans, parrots, and more. As we descend along a remote trail through dense vegetation, we can observe the beautiful landscape and waterfalls in the rainforest. After our hike we go back to the car then we drive reaching a good spot for a healthy local lunch. In the afternoon, we continue by vehicle to Archidona to visit an indigenous community, where we learn about the Kichwa culture and jungle life. After our visit, we head into our jungle lodge. After a delightful dinner, we prepare our flashlights for a jungle night walk in the nature reserve next to our lodge. (B,L,D)
Hike Details: Approx – Your guide will select today’s hiking route based on local conditions. | Altitude: from 4,440 ft to 7,535 ft.


Today you enjoy the most relaxed hike of your Ecuador tours. The easy pace allows plenty of time to observe jungle wildlife and to recover at a lower altitude. The forest displays a great variety of trees such as balsa, cedar, rubber and cinnamon. During the hike, your guide identifies countless species of orchids, vines, ferns, insects and reptiles, describing the traditional ways that indigenous tribes use many of these plants. After lunch, you are driven south to begin the ascent into the Andes through the Pastaza River Gorge. This scenic route, bordered by the rocky cliffs of a deep cloud forest canyon, is known for its many waterfalls. You stop at some of the largest, including Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil). You pass through Baños, an attractive subtropical town set on the slopes of the very active Volcan Tungurahua, for some spectacular views before arriving at an Andean hacienda to spend the night. (B,L,D)

Hike Details: Approx – 2.10 miles | Altitude: from 5,095 ft to 5,260 ft.


The Llanganates mountain range has a long history of mystical events and legends, and remains one of the world’s largely unexplored and uncharted places. Local residents recount the area’s many stories, of failing compasses and disappearances, and the most famous, about Inca general Rumiñahui who supposedly hid a vast fortune of gold in one of the area’s lakes. The Llanganates is protected as a vast 543,632-acre national park, reaching into four provinces, with an altitude that varies between 3,900 and 14,750 feet. The day’s hike starts at about 11,480 feet and travels through cloud forest, Andean forest and paramo ecosystems. This remote, picturesque trail offers great views of the surrounding volcanoes and places to spot an abundance of hummingbirds, mountain tanagers and deer. On your hike to Laguna San Borja, you will be looking for prints and traces of the elusive spectacled bear, in hopes of catch a glimpse of one. In the afternoon, the journey continues through the Avenue of the Volcanoes to the Cotopaxi area for dinner and overnight at an Andean hacienda. (B,L,D)

Hike Details: Approx – 2.3 miles | Altitude: from 9,975 ft to 12,530 ft.


Cotopaxi Volcano, with its symmetrical, glaciated cone and imposing presence, is one of Ecuador’s most enduring images. The wild paramo that surrounds this 19,350-ft giant is designated as Cotopaxi National Park and is a spectacular place to hike, with highland wildlife galore and panoramic volcanic scenery. You begin today’s adventure on the slopes of Volcan Rumiñahui, where stunning Cotopaxi may be seen rising over 5,660 feet above the high plain. From the trail you will be able to spot hares, foxes, falcons, deer, and with luck, Andean condors flying overhead. You descend the slopes of Rumiñahui all the way to Limpiopungo Glacier Lake, home to scores of aquatic birds. It is common to see gulls, ducks, teals, lapwings and shore birds, plus an occasional high-altitude flamingo on the shore. After stopping for lunch at a hacienda, you are returned to Quito for a final night on your own. (B,L)

Hike Details: Approx – 2.14 miles | Altitude: from 12,465 ft to 13,125 ft.


From your hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for your international flight home or connecting flight to your next destination, ending this travel to Ecuador with Southern Explorations. (B)


When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

Due to fairly stable seasonal weather conditions in Ecuador, travelers can enjoy year-round travel to the country. Some areas have better weather at certain times of the year, but it is always a good time to travel to Ecuador. Ecuador has a surprising variety of climates. The weather can be very localized and tends to change quickly because of the country’s unique geography. Located on the Equator, Ecuador is divided into four main regions: the Andes, the Amazon, the Coast, and the Galapagos Islands. Within these four regions of this small country, roughly the size of Colorado, elements of all four seasons can occur in a single day.

The Andes (Highlands)
Visitors can experience the Andean Highlands year-round, though June to September and late November to mid-January tend to be the drier months. February to May and October to mid-November are considered the rainier season. During the rainier months, one will find warm sunny weather in the morning followed by almost daily showers in the afternoon. Temperatures show little variance throughout the year with averages in the 60s during the day and 50s at night, though sunny days may get into the 70s and cooler nights may drop into the 40s. Despite these averages, it is common to have rainy streaks in the dry season and nice sunny weather in the wet season. It is best to come prepared for both rain and sun, as visitors will likely run into both during any month of the year. Warm days and cool nights are normal so packing layers is essential.

The Amazon
The Amazon basin is what you would expect of a tropical rainforest: wet, hot and humid. January marks the beginning of the less rainy period, which extends through March. Calling this the dry season would be a misnomer as it still rains quite frequently. March through July tends to be rainier than the first two months of the year, with July tending to be the rainiest. August through December is known as the fluctuation season. During this time, it is nearly impossible to predict weather patterns. One minute could be hot and sunny with clear blue skies and then the next minute a heavy downpour could begin. Temperatures year-round range in the 80s (27-33°C) and rain, sometimes even cool rainstorms, can be expected most days in the afternoon, as the Amazon basin is truly a rainforest. Any time of year is great to visit the Ecuadorian Amazon despite the level of rain. Contrary to what one may think, the months with higher averages of rainfall are great times to visit. Higher levels of rain increase fruit production, which results in more activity from monkeys and other fruit eating species. The Amazon is an unpredictable environment from both a weather and wildlife standpoint. The best approach for visitors to have an excellent Amazonian experience is to come prepared for the unexpected and to have an open mind!

The Coast
On coast, the dry season runs from about June to December with a temperature drop to the high 70s. The garua, a damp mist, has a tendency to cast itself over the coastline and the sun. The sun can disappear for three months at a time. Then in January to June, temperatures go up and despite the occasional heavy rain, the days will be bright and sunny.

The Galapagos
The great weather of the Galapagos Islands makes them a fantastic destination for travel year-round. Every month of the year is a good time to enjoy a tour of the region. The Galapagos Islands have a subtropical climate that is almost completely determined by sea currents. Although most believe the Galapagos to be a very hot destination, the cool water currents in the area keep the climate fairly temperate year-round. The mild variations in weather from month to month result in an overall climate of warm days, cool nights and low humidity. Anytime is a great time to travel to the Galapagos; while visiting one can expect to see plenty of sunshine, blue skies and a possible chance of light rain.


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall


*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall


*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Ecuador Hiking Adventure

2 Travelers

Single Supplement: $520
Single Supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.



Included in tour cost
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear

Ecuador Hiking Adventure

Trip Dates
This tour is available year round. Southern Explorations can arrange a group or private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019 to Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Wednesday, January 1, 2020 to Thursday, December 31, 2020
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.

One Day


ecuador travelThank you so much for arranging such a wonderful trip.  Terry and I definatly had a wonderful time in Ecuador!!. Tomas and Arturo were amazing and really made the adventure terrific.  Tomas' knowledge and expertise is valuable.  He was such a great guide!! - Maria and Terry Slayman (Custom Ecuador Hiking Adventure)

ecuador travelSouthern Explorations created a trip for us that allowed us to truly enjoy the wonders of mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos with none of the usual logistical hassles of navigating an unknown country. The guides greatly enriched our experience, especially Tomas Espinosa & his sidekick Arturo, as they transported us through the Andes, into the Amazon Basin, and up to Otavalo. – Michele Maynard (Custom Ecuador & Beagle)

ecuador waterfall travelI have traveled many places in the world but the trip put together by Southern Explorations may well be the best. The amazing biology we saw on the Galapagos and in the Amazon, wonderful guides both on the Eclipse and at Sacha lodge, excellent food, and great coordination of the different parts of the trip made for an incredible journey. - Marilyn Parsons, USA (Amazon & Galapagos Island Cruise)

ecuador travelAll of our guides [on our Ecuador tours] were exceptional. Their English was good, they brought excitement and enthusiasm to their jobs and they were all very knowledgeable. We are hoping to go to Peru next year and I will definitely contact Southern Explorations for that trip. - Heidi Otton, Connecticut (Ecuador & Galapagos Island Cruise)

ecuador travelOur trip was rather complex with three different sections (Amazon, Galapagos, and Machu Picchu (Peru)).  There were a number of internal flights as well as trains, boats, and more.  We also had coordination of people joining us part way through, special guides, and special activities for some people.  I was very impressed that all of the transfers, activities, and connections occurred without a hitch.  There were ample opportunities for things to go wrong, but the whole trip went exceptionally smoothly.  All of the guides were outstanding - knowledgeable, personable, with good communication skills, and a good sense of humor.  I appreciated the very small groups, which afforded just the right balance.  We were able to see more than expected.   It couldn’t have been better. - Linda Tredupp, Wisconsin (Amazon, Galapagos Island Cruise & Machu Picchu)

ecuador travelFabricio is a great guide. He really keeps it fun yet he is on top of all arrangements. We were very lucky to have a private trip with him. At the Napo Wildlife Center, the guides were also great, very knowledgeable and personable. They helped us out a lot by setting up a personal itinerary for my wife and me since we wanted to hike more than the rest of the group. On both tours, we got individualized attention. We wanted to hike more than the normal program and in both locations we were accommodated. We really appreciate the extra hiking that was planned; we got to complete a 15 mile day hike through the rainforest that I will not soon forget. - Dan and Mary Greenblatt, Wyoming (Amazon & Galapagos Island Land Tour)

ecuador travelJust want to thank Jon was the best vacation ever! - Neet Shah (Ecuador & Galapagos Island Cruise)

When planning our trip to South America we could find few companies providing tours of Ecuador. I came across Southern Explorations on the internet and, knowing nothing about them, took a chance. This turned out to be the best decision we made for the entire trip. This was by far the best experience of our six weeks in South America – due entirely to the organization and our superb guide. From the moment we were picked up we were made to feel that everything was being done to meet our needs and wants. From time spent at markets, roadside stops, food, to photo-stops and ice-cream treats – everything was about what we wanted rather than following a restrictive timetable. Our guide was so good at predicting our needs, picking up on our interests and facilitating these wherever possible. Half-way through our tour we were asking our guide about other Southern Exploration tours. We live a long way away, but I don’t think this will be our only Southern Explorations adventure. Thank you all, we had a fantastic time.  - James McCallum, Australia (Ecuador)

Thumbs up to Southern Explorations! We went to the Galapagos and Ecuador and everything was perfectly planned from A to Z. The choices of the boat, the restaurants and the hotel were perfect. The guides were excellent. And out trip coordinator did a fantastic job when planning the trip with us. We absolutely recommend Southern Explorations and hope to travel with them again.   -The Tamers family, Miami (Galapagos Island Cruise & Ecuador)

I have traveled with many travel companies to over 45 countries and all 7 continents. I don't usually travel with the same company more than once because I am very picky about my itinerary and I also want a good value for my money without the hassle of traveling with a group. Southern Explorations provided the flexibility to develop my own itinerary, even if it required modifying the excursions that they had available. Once the itinerary was developed to my specifications, I still didn't know how it would turn out until it was done. Now that I'm home, I can say that my trip to Ecuador was executed flawlessly. Everything was exactly as described and planned. The guides were knowledgeable, efficient, prompt, and showed a definite interest in and enthusiasm about their country. Each of the places I visited was exceptional. I got a wonderful trip for a reasonable rate and I would definitely travel with Southern Explorations again. - Anne Marie Lewis, USA (Ecuador & Galapagos Island Cruise)

My trip coordinator, was Fabulous!! She was always available to answer questions and followed up with us many times to ensure everything was in order with a very energentic personality, very friendly and was a great help to coordinate our trip on short notice. I'd definitely work with her again if we book with Southern Exploration. - Jan Filipiak, USA (Ecuador)

Thank-you for the trip of a life time and I have already recommended you to everyone who asks!   -Wendy Williams, Canada (Galapagos Island Cruise, Amazon & Machu Picchu)

The Ecuador Highlights was a trip of a life-time! I have traveled the world but this trip ranks as one of my best ever. So, come on fellow ‘Boomers,’ depart the States (and the grandkids!) and see what is see is happening in such an exciting part of South America…Ecuador. - Linda Owens, Oregon (Ecuador)

Southern Explorations provided my family with an adventure of a lifetime...we have traveled to Asia,Africa and South America with other companies and S.E. surpassed all of them in regards to activities, lodgings and personnel that they have aligned themselves with. We truly felt we saw Ecuador as it is meant to be experienced, we loved the people, the food, and the scenery, an amazing country that I hope everyone gets to enjoy at some time in their life. This trip was unbelievable! Thank you.  - Mary Jane Mumford and family (Andes, Amazon & Galapagos Island Land Tour)

We had a great trip - very impressed with Southern Explorations. Jorge, your representative in Quito was super. He was always on time, friendly and informative as well as a great ambassador for his country. All the connections were on time and well planned- would consider another trip with Southern Explorations.   Roger & Priscilla Beaver, Indiana (Galapagos Island Cruise & Amazon)

Southern Explorations planned our trip without a lot of advanced notice and did an excellent job in meeting our needs and budget. We were very impressed with their responsiveness and willingness to customize. - Susan Lebowitz (Custom Ecuador)

We had a wonderful experience in Quito and the Galapagos Islands. Southern Exploration’s people in the United States and in Quito did their utmost to make our travel experience memorable and comfortable.   - Ben Freiberger (Ecuador & Galapagos Island Cruise)

We had a wonderful trip. During the planning stage, Jonathan was easy to deal with and extremely helpful. During the trip itself, Felipe was a treasure. And the call afterwards from Justin was icing on the cake. We feel like we're part of the Southern Explorations family now. Add to that the wonder that is the Galapagos, perfect weather and pleasant trip-mates, and the whole thing was beautifully memorable. Thank you so much for a trip of a lifetime.  - Gwen Ruta and Paul Buchanan-Barrow (Ecuador)

We just got back from our trip and we wanted to thank you, the tour was excellent and exceeded all of our expectations. Juan was outstanding, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable and really helped us while hiking. We really enjoyed the cruise onboard the Legend. The room was great, with fantastic views of the islands, and the food was superb. We travel extensively and visiting Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was the ideal trip. Thanks again for your expert advice and great support. We will be traveling again with you soon! - Jerry Smith, Minnesota (Ecuador & Galapagos Island Cruise)

Everything was excellent. We were both thoroughly happy with our trip and our tour guide. We learned a lot about the culture as well as were busy doing fun activities. We will recommend Southern Explorations and our guide to others. Thank you. - Sheila and Reena Krishnan, Missouri (Ecuador)

This was my first time traveling to South America and although it was very last minute, Southern Explorations made everything a breeze. Kapawi was truly a special place and I'll always remember this trip. - Rushita Jampani (Kapawi Amazon Ecolodge)

Thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the trip. Southern Explorations agent was excellent in helping with trip. Thanks so much for everything. - Jean Audet, USA (Ecuador)

We took this trip to celebrate my boyfriends 50th birthday and we had the time of our lives! The guides were really seemed to care about us and ensured we having a great time! Thank you! - Tammy Rogers (Andes, Amazon & Galapagos Multisport)

Ecuador - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer both active and cultural tours that visit different regions including the Andes, Amazon and the Ecuadorian coast. These tours vary in length and level of accommodation. Our Adventure Travel Coordinators would be happy to chat with you to help you find the itinerary that best meets your needs and interests.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to put together a custom Ecuador itinerary for you if our existing itineraries are not exactly what you are looking for. You can also check out our extensions in mainland Ecuador to make additions to our existing trips. Contact a trip specialist for recommendations.
Q: When is the best time to go to Ecuador?
A: Peak tourism season in Ecuador corresponds with North American and European vacation periods over the summer and the winter holidays, rather than the weather, which is fairly consistent with warm and sunny days throughout the year. All of our trips run year-round, but a few trekking or wildlife-specific itineraries are better during some months than others. Please check with your Adventure Travel Coordinator for more details.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: The weather in Ecuador is pleasant year-round. There is a wet season and a dry season, but this varies depending on which region of the country you are in. Even in the wet season, you will experience plenty of clear, sunny days. The Andean Highlands are a great place to visit year-round with temperatures in the 60s during the day. Occasional light showers can happen anytime, but heavy afternoon rains are common here from January to May. You have the best odds for clear views of Ecuador’s many volcanoes in the months of June, July, August and September, but you will often have views in the morning throughout the year. The Amazon region is hot, humid and wet throughout the year, with the wettest months being from April to June. Please consult the weather tab on your trip itinerary for more details.
Q: What is a typical day like on an Ecuador trip? 
A: A typical day in Ecuador will vary from tour to tour, but generally, you can expect to start your excursions right after breakfast with a full day of scheduled activities or sightseeing. A lunch break is included and you’ll retire to your hotel in the late afternoon with evenings free.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Ecuador? 
A: Our Ecuador trips vary in level of activity, so the requirements differ based on itinerary. Please check our physical ratings for each itinerary to see what may be required of you when assessing your ability to enjoy a trip. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator. We have personal experience with these activities and can help you decide whether a trip is right for you.
Q: How much time do I need to visit Ecuador?
A: Most of our mainland Ecuador itineraries are at least nine days in length, but we do offer some lodge-based trips and cruises that can be done in a week or less.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: For the best guide availability and selection in hotels, we recommend booking three to six months in advance. Spring and summer holidays book up more quickly, so more advance planning is ideal. For the holiday season, we recommend booking a year in advance.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: Our guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We only hire guides who are native to the destination and are licensed or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or other related field. All guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: In major cities we offer a variety of hotels including several boutique, Ecuadorian-style properties. Throughout the rest of mainland Ecuador we work with a combination of historic haciendas, small Ecuadorian-style hotels and remote lodges. The majority of the properties are family-run or locally owned. All of our accommodations are clean and comfortable, with private bathrooms and hot water. We offer basic or luxury options in many locations, depending on taste and budget.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: Travelers are responsible for their own international airfare. Internal flights are quoted separately from our base trip costs. We will include any necessary internal flight pricing in your quote.
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: Most of our Ecuador tours are private, with a guide and vehicle just for your family or group. Visits to haciendas or lodges may include tours with small groups, but do not exceed eight people.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary.  This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.