Discover the heart and soul of Ecuador on this exciting tour

Get an insight into the wonderful South American country of Ecuador on this week-long journey. Discover the culture and charisma of the famed Otavalo Markets, explore the incredible Amazon while guests of a local family, relax in the laidback town of Banos and soak in the charm of Quito, one of South America's most beguiling capitals.


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Country
Ecuador
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
GGRU
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Quito's World Heritage-listed Old Town is best explored on foot. Wander through its streets and plazas to discover old churches, colonial architecture and vendors selling local delicacies

  • A walk through the Amazon Jungle with an expert guide reveals valuable extraordinary wildlife and insights into the area's importance to the local community

  • Staying within a remote rainforest community in the Amazon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is truly off the beaten track

  • Enjoy plenty of free time in the chilled out town of Banos, which is set into the foot of an active volcano. Hike to nearby waterfalls, get active with a range of optional adventure activities or soak up the mineral goodness of the town's thermal springs

  • Spend a full day browsing the hand-woven textiles and fresh produce of the colourful Otavalo Markets

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.

  • During your stay at the community lodge in the Amazon Jungle, accommodation is multi-share and quite basic (bed and linen are provided). You’ll possibly be sharing your living quarters with mixed genders and the bathroom facilities are also shared.

  • Temperatures in the Amazon can fluctuate. It can get really hot, humid and sticky during the day and cold at night. Light cotton clothing is the best way to tackle the heat during the day, and base layers are ideal for keeping warm at night.

  • Insects, especially mosquitoes, abound in the Amazon. Bring tropical strength insect repellant and wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin.

  • There will be a moderate hike during the trip, which usually takes between 4-5 hours. Although it’s not too strenuous, the terrain can be unpredictable and good quality hiking boots are recommended. There will also be a couple of stops on your journey for water and food breaks.

  • The itinerary isn’t packed full activities so there’s quite a bit of free time in certain places. This is a great chance to take part in optional activities. Please note that any optional activities that you decide to do will be at your own expense.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

After this important meeting, join your leader on a walking tour of the historic centre of Quito. Stroll through Plaza Grande (main square) and by the Archbishop's Palace. From here, walk about 800 metres uphill to reach the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Time permitting, you may wish to spend more time exploring this church and its views from the top towers. Finally, walk to La Ronda Street and pass by La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus) and San Francisco churches. At the end of the walk, your leader will recommend a local restaurant on La Ronda Street for an optional group dinner.

Quito is located 2,800 metres above sea level, where it’s common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender or fitness. Please refer to the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes for important information about altitude sickness before and during your trip.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Included Activities
  • Leader led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Quito Market Discovery Urban Adventure - USD99
  • Quito Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo Urban Adventure - USD156
  • Old Town & Gastronomic Urban Adventure - USD99
  • Basilica del Voto Nacional - USD2
  • Compania de Jesus - USD4
  • La Ronda - Free
  • Equator Monument Entrance fee - USD3
  • Cotopaxi National Park - Hiking Tour - USD95
  • Ballet Folklorico Ecuatoriano de Jacchigua - USD40
  • Antisana Trek Full day from Quito - USD120
  • Quito City Tour by Night (Optional) - USD35
  • The Equator Line - USD55
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today will be an early start, as the group will be on the move by 7 am. Catch a local bus from Quito Central Station to Tena, which will take around five hours. There’s no toilet on-board, but the bus will stop for one toilet break during the journey. From Tena, travel by private vehicle to Misahualli and then by boat to your lodge for the next two nights - arriving by 1.30 pm. Lunch isn’t included today and, depending on travel times, you may pick up some snacks, have lunch at a local restaurant in Misahualli or hold on for fresh fish at the lodge.

In the afternoon, your local hosts will introduce you to the local community and take you on a walk around the farm. Use this opportunity to try some fresh fruit and, if you’re feeling brave, tree worms. Finish the afternoon making chocolate dessert from scratch. With the help of the host, you’ll roast, grind and conch chocolate beans into your own chocolate sauce.

Notes: Accommodation at the lodge is basic and it consists of a bed and linen. Bathroom facilities are shared and showers are refreshingly cold.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
In the morning after breakfast, travel by canoe for 45 minutes to the starting point of today's hike. The trek is relatively easy and, depending on the group’s pace, should take around three to four hours. During the hike, visit a protected private reserve with flourishing sections of secondary and primary forest. This is also a great opportunity to spot an array of insects and birds that inhabit this precious ecosystem. Throughout the walk, you’ll come to understand the importance of the jungle to the local community as your guide provides in-depth knowledge and history.
Included Activities
  • Amazon Jungle - Activities
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Breakfast will be served at around 7 am today in the lodge. Afterwards, travel back to Tena the same way you arrived and then catch a local bus to Banos (approximately three hours). You should arrive into the city of Banos around midday, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs, perhaps use your free time soaking in the city's natural baths or go for a hike to the powerful falls of Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron).
Optional Activities
  • Baños bike rental per day - USD6
  • Steam Baths - USD8
  • Entrance fee Pailon del Diablo waterfall - USD2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, you'll have a full day to explore Banos and take advantage of some of the optional activities. Perhaps rise early to watch the sunrise over the mountains near to the hot springs. After breakfast, venture to Nuestra Senora del Agua Santa (Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water) and see the intricate murals that depict numerous stories about the virgin. If you have time, stroll around the local artisan markets to pick up a memento of the city. If your trip falls on the weekend or during the holidays, be prepared for carnival-like festivities that take place all over Banos.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Use your last morning in Banos to see anything you think you may have missed. In the afternoon venture back to Quito by local bus, which usually takes around five hours. You should expect to arrive at the hotel around 6 pm, with your evening then free. Freshen up and possibly head out for dinner in the city. Ceviche is the speciality in most seafood restaurants or you could even try the Ecuadorian street food star of roasted guinea pig.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Early this morning, head north out of Quito by local bus to the famous Otavalo Market (approximately 2-3 hours). This day trip will give you ample amounts of time to peruse Ecuador’s most important Indian markets. Villagers from the surrounding countryside descend on the town once a week to sell everything from handmade goods to livestock, fruit and vegetables. Pick up some souvenirs, practice your bargaining skills (halve the price then work your way up) and take plenty of colourful photos (ask for permission when necessary). Head back to Quito in the late afternoon for one last night in town. Perhaps venture out for a final dinner with the group and share your stories of the trip.
Included Activities
  • Otavalo Market day trip
  • Village Tour Otavalo
Optional Activities
  • Quito Market Discovery Urban Adventure - USD99
  • Quito Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo Urban Adventure - USD156
  • Old Town & Gastronomic Urban Adventure - USD99
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your 'Ecuador on a shoestring' adventure finishes this morning. Flights can be booked out of Quito at anytime today, as there are no more activities planned.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

Public Bus, Private Vehicle, Taxi, Canoe

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights), Lodge (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Leader led walking tour
  • Amazon Jungle - Activities
  • Otavalo Market day trip
  • Village Tour Otavalo

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip however excludes nights 2 & 3 (Amazon) where you will be in shared accommodation.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Ecuador on a shoestring trips score an average of 4.84 out of 5 based on 92 reviews in the last year.

Ecuador on a shoestring, November 2016

Hayley Onions

Ecuador on a shoestring, November 2016

Jacqueline Brennan