• Overview
  • Photos & Video
  • Pricing
  • Dates
  • Hotels
  • Trip Reviews
  • FAQ
During this Ecuador tour, you visit two national parks, observe wildlife at close range and take in breathtaking scenery from extraordinary viewpoints from the Andes to the Ecuador Amazon in just five days. Stay in small hotels, unique lodges and historic haciendas along the route. Expert guides see to your comfort and add to your understanding of this incredible country. This action packed itinerary of mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and whitewater rafting is the ultimate Ecuador adventure tour.
Itinerary
DAY 1: QUITO - HIKE AND MOUNTAIN BIKE AT COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK
In the morning, we depart from Quito by car, heading south through the famed Avenue of the Volcanoes. If the skies are clear, we can see the peaks of several volcanoes from the road. Upon arrival, we warm up with a short hike around the Limpiopungo Glacier Lake at the base of Volcan Ruminahi, which is home to a wealth of highland water fowl, local gulls, ducks and falcons. This area offers a great opportunity to learn about the park’s highland paramo ecosystem. After our hike, we begin our amazing mountain bike ride through the park from this same glacier lake. We travel across the high plains and around the south side of Cotopaxi. The ride is mostly downhill  with some flat stretches and a few short, easy climbs. As we ride across the paramo, we will keep an eye out for native wildlife and take in amazing views of Cotopaxi’s massive, glaciated cone looming above us.  We end the ride at the Pucara Inca ruins near the park’s south entrance. Here we learn more about the western hemisphere’s most powerful ancient civilization and their history in Ecuador. We sit down to a delicious picnic lunch next to the volcano before continuing to the hacienda where we spend the night.  (B,L, D)

DAY 2: HORSEBACK RIDING AT HACIENDA TILIPULO & BIKING IN THE LEITO VALLEY
After breakfast, we drive to the ancient farmlands of Hacienda Tilipulo, located in an inter-Andean valley surrounded by native vegetation and astounding views of the nearby volcanoes.  The horseback riding adventure begins with a departure towards the western cordillera bound to the highlands of Atapulo where we will be able to observe small farmlands called chacras, adobe houses, llamas, sheep and other livestock. The indigenous way of life, the occasional view of volcanoes Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Illiniza, Chimborazo and Altar will accompany you throughout this journey along spectacular trails and country roads.  After the horseback ride, drive through the Avenue of the Volcanoes to the Leito Valley with beautiful views of the Tungurahua Volcano. In the afternoon, we hop on bikes for a scenic ride through the beautiful landscapes and charming small towns of the Patate River Gorge. In the afternoon we reach a cozy Andean Hacienda and if time allows we will hike to a beautiful waterfall. Return to the hacienda to relax and dine. (B, L, D)

DAY 3: BIKING TO THE AMAZON & WATERFALL ROUTE
This morning's drive takes you to the edge of Llanganates National Park, an area that extends from the high Andes down into the Amazon Basin. Gaining altitude, you come upon one of the best views of the often fuming Tungurahua Volcano for the start of today's scenic mountain bike descent. Beginning as highland paramo, the picturesque route of wild orchids, waterfalls, high rock walls and deep canyons transitions into mountain cloud forest before becoming lowland rainforest. Ride through a dry basalt gorge, a hot spot for wild orchids, and the canyon widens and deepens as you reach the Pastaza River Gorge which forms spectacular waterfalls. Stop to visit two of these waterfalls, Pailón del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil). Then continue the drive down into the Amazon Basin to reach Puyo, an Amazon frontier town where we learn about balsa, bamboo and ceramic products. Continue through the Amazon highway until you reach your Amazon Lodge.  If time allows, we will visit a Kichwa indigenous community to learn about their way of life, culture, traditions, and customs of the Amazon. Enjoy dinner at your jungle lodge and a peaceful evening surrounded by rainforest sounds. (B,L,D)

DAY 4: AMAZON WHITE WATER RAFTING – PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS
After breakfast at the lodge, you'll drive into a part of Llanganates National Park that has been declared a Biosphere Zone by UNESCO. The water that collects here forms the Jatunyacu River, famed for its Class III and III+ rapids, big waves, fun holes and high volume of water, and considered the best one-day Ecuador whitewater rafting run. Before today's adventure begins, we walk to some naturally-formed swimming pools in the rain forest and have a safety briefing. Your rafting route of breathtaking landscapes, abundant birdlife and crystal clear water passes indigenous riverbank communities. In the afternoon, we travel back into the Andes to reach the Papallacta Hotsprings Resort and Spa, nestled in a cloud forest. Spend the evening relaxing in the therapeutic alkaline-rich natural thermal waters of Papallacta followed by a restful night in your comfortable accommodations. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: QUITSATO EQUATORIAL MONUMENT – OTAVALO MARKET - PEGUCHE - QUITO
In the morning we drive to the Quisato equatorial monument shaped like star of eight points, representing pre-colonial and Incan indigenous beliefs that 0º latitude was the center of time and measurement. Learn about Ecuador’s geographic position and how its location on the equator influences its many cultures, climates, and biological diversity. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the towns of Otavalo and Peguche, where Ecuador’s indigenous culture and heritage is visible in their famous markets full of colorful textiles, traditional handicrafts, and more. We spend time one-on-one with local weavers who share the secrets of their craft that have been passed down for generations, and visit the Andean Music Museum to hear the traditional instrumental and vocal sounds of the Andes. Return to Quito in the late afternoon. (B, L)

Weather

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.
 

QUITO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN50-664.5
FEB50-665.1
MAR50-666.0
APR51-666.9
MAY51-664.9
JUN49-670.8
JUL49-671.0
AUG49-671.0
SEP49-683.1
OCT49-675.0
NOV49-674.3
DEC50-664.1

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN70-841.0
FEB74-861.0
MAR73-882.0
APR72-861.5
MAY72-820.8
JUN66-780.3
JUL67-760.5
AUG64-750.3
SEP62-750.5
OCT64-770.3
NOV66-780.5
DEC68-800.5

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

Specials >> Ecuador

Enjoy these Fall travel promotions in Ecuador and the Galapagos during September, October and the...
Enjoy a complimentary upgrade to the brand new Illa Experience Hotel in Quito when you book a...

Mountains & Jungles of Ecuador

Pricing
Per Person
$2,095
Included in tour cost
  • All land and sea transportation during the itinerary
  • Mountain biking gear
  • Rafting equipment
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • 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

Mountains & Jungles of Ecuador

Trip Dates
This tour operates year round. Custom options available.
Sunday, January 1, 2017 to Sunday, December 31, 2017
Available
Monday, January 1, 2018 to Monday, December 31, 2018
Available
Tuesday, January 1, 2019 to Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Available
Baños
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Cotopaxi
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Papallacta
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Tena
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
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 ...it 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.