Raft, Hike & Bike in Ecuador

Work up a sweat getting an insight into the wonderful South American country of Ecuador on this active, ten-day journey. Hike from the glistening crater lake of Quilotoa to the tiny Andean village of Chugchilan, go mountain biking down the world’s highest active volcano in Cotopaxi National Park and hit the rapids on a main tributary of the Amazon River, the Jatunyacu (Big Water) River. You’ll also go on a guided walking tour of Amazonian jungle, enjoy plenty of free time in chilled out Banos and discover the World Heritage-listed charms of Quito.


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Country
Ecuador
Style
Original
Code
GGOE
Physical rating
Ages
Min 16
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Quito's World Heritage-listed Old Town is best explored on foot. Wander its architecture-rich streets past dozens of gilded churches, through stately plazas and among vendors hawking local delicacies.

  • A guided walk through the Amazonian jungle reveals an array of wildlife and fascinating insights into the jungle’s critical role in the lives of locals.

  • Experience white water rafting on a main tributary of the Amazon River, the Jatunyacu (Big Water) River.

  • Hike from the emerald-coloured crater lake of Quilotoa to the tiny Andean village of Chugchilan, taking in glorious panoramas along the way.

  • Go mountain biking down the world’s highest active volcano in Cotopaxi National Park.

  • Enjoy plenty of free time in chilled out Banos, which sits in the shadow of the active Tungurahua Volcano. From hiking beside waterfalls to soaking in the mineral goodness of the town’s thermal springs, Banos will satisfy your spirit.

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 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 repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin.

  • There will be a moderate hike during the trip, which usually takes around 6 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.

  • Includes White Water rafting in grade 3 rapids

  • Includes Mountain bike riding on dirt and paved roads

Itinerary

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).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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 approximately 1.30 pm just in time for lunch.

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
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Amazon Jungle: The main focus of this Amazon stay is to learn about the local indigenous people and their way of living.While you'll may be able to see a number of small animals (butterflies, spiders and some monkeys), it's unlikely you will see an array of wildlife.
After breakfast, travel by canoe 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 in the secondary rainforest, where you will be shown how to spot the 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. After a packed lunch on the banks of the Arajuno River, you’ll have the option of going tubing down the river. Please note: The river's currents are not particularly strong, but it's Intrepid's policy for all passengers to wear life jackets. You'll then canoe back to the lodge, where you'll shower before sitting down to dinner. Afterwards, you'll head back out into a pitch-black forest filled the sounds of millions of insects and countless frogs for a night walk. 



Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
A bucket list day as you go white water rafting on a main tributary of the Amazon River. The adventure begins after breakfast when you’ll be picked up by rafting experts for the 40-minute drive to the village of Cando in Llanganates National Park and the class III (medium waves, but not much considerable danger) Jatunyacu River. No previous experience is needed to raft this river, which originates from a glacier and springs fed by the Cotopaxi Volcano. It's a perfect combination of exciting rapids, calm pools and vibrant jungle scenery. At a halfway point near a Kichwa community you’ll enjoy a well-earned, homemade lunch and a chance to exchange experiences with locals. The rafting adventure ends in Puerto Napo, where your private vehicle will be waiting with your bags. After a quick shower and a change into fresh, warm clothes you’ll board a local bus for the three-hour drive to Banos. Arrive late afternoon.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tena - White water rafting
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
After an orientation walk of Baños take a private vehicle to Pondoa, a small village in the shadow of the Tungurahua Volcano, for a hands-on lesson on Ecuadorian farm life. Plan on milking cows, harvesting whatever needs to be picked – corn, tamarillo, babaco – before sitting down to a lunch prepared with your harvest. In the afternoon you’ll visit a viewpoint and seismic monitoring station named La Casa del Arbol (The Treehouse). On a clear day you’ll have spectacular views of Banos and the Tungurahua Volcano, but no matter the weather you’ll be free to try the Swing at the End of the World, a must for adrenalin junkies. With hearts pounding you’ll head to Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron), an 80-metre (262-foot) waterfall. A walk down narrow stairs will provide extraordinary photo opportunities of the waterfall upon a platform, but be advised: Be sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho and waterproof case or water-tight snap-lock bag to keep your camera and any valuables dry. Afterwards drive back to Banos for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Banos - Casa del Arbol visit
  • Banos - Devil's Cauldron visit
  • Banos - Pondoa Community Project visit & Lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a free day in Banos, a city that offers a variety of adventurous and relaxing experiences (please see safety note below). There are several options for soaking in natural hot springs, or perhaps a massage, even salsa dancing. Your leader can help you choose from many outdoor activities, including waterfall canyoning, or you can engage in more spiritual pursuits with a visit to the Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water, a magnificent basilica and pilgrimage destination.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Banos has traditionally been known as the outdoor centre of Ecuador with a number of popular high risk activities being offered to foreign and national tourists alike. The safety of our travellers and staff is our first priority. As such, we at Intrepid have gone through our due processes and assessed local suppliers and their safety standards in Banos. Unfortunately, to date none of the local operators in the area have been able to pass Intrepid minimum safety standards. As a consequence, we have instructed local leaders to share with you our safety concerns, discourage travellers from taking these type of activities at this destination and strictly forbid them from helping travellers arrange these activities at this location. Fortunately, Banos has plenty more to offer than high risk activities and we are confident that you will have a great time exploring the area under the guidance of our knowledgeable local leaders
Depart Banos early for Quilotoa, an emerald-coloured volcano crater lake, in a private vehicle that you will use for the remainder of your trip. Along the way you’ll stop at the small Indian village of Zumbahua, perched in the foothills of the Andes. Among locals the village is famous for its Saturday market, where llamas and riding horses are traded and local artisans sell woodcarvings and other handcrafts. After taking in the sights and sounds of this very real mountain market you’ll continue to Quilotoa lagoon, located at 3900 metres (12,800 feet) above sea level. The 250 metre (820 feet) deep crater lake’s distinctive colour comes from dissolved minerals and was created after an eruption roughly 800 years ago. A two-kilometre (1.25 mile), sandy trail leads to the lagoon – it’s about a 45-minute walk down, and 1-1.5 hour walk back up. Spend the night in Quilotoa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
After an early breakfast you’ll begin a day dedicated to hiking 14 breathtaking kilometres (8.7 miles) to the tiny Andean village of Chugchilan. As you hike down the picturesque valley you’ll pass through villages like the tiny Moya, where after three or four hours of hiking you’ll rendezvous with your private vehicle to rehydrate. The rest of the hike is a combination of road and trail that passes through some communities and begins to ascend as you near Chugchilan. All told, the hike can take between five and six hours (depending on the group’s fitness level) but after lunch in Chugchilan you’ll be driven to Cotopaxi, where you will stay the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Quilotoa - Quilotoa to Chugchilan hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Another be in a 4WD vehicle to Cotopaxi National Park that will take you to the highest point of the tour: 4500 metres (15,000 feet) above sea level. ucket list day as you mountain bike down the world’s highest active volcano. Start early with a ridAs the volcano juts from a flat landscape the view is stunning and on a clear day you will see the eight volcanoes that surround Cotopaxi. You’ll then don helmets, gloves and protection pads for a truly one-of-a-kind biking adventure. On dirt roads you will descend 700 metres (2300 feet) over the first eight km (five miles) through volcanic ash and tundra landscape. At 3800 metres (12,500 feet) you will have to do some pedalling while you descend another eight km between volcanic rocks and wild horses to a lunch spot by an Inca ruin at 3700 metres (12,140 feet). Cotopaxi’s ecosystem is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including a unique combination of pine vegetation. Keep your eyes peeled for a condor or caracara, a local bird of prey. The bikes will be loaded back on the 4WD before heading to Laguna (Lake) Limpiopungo at 3800 metres, where the last phase of the ride will take you 16 km ¬(10 miles) – all downhill – on dirt and paved roads through pine forest. Your bike adventure will end in the late afternoon, when you will be driven back to Quito.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cotopaxi National Park - Mountain Biking
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
The trip ends after breakfast this morning.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Local Bus, Private Vehicle, Taxi, Canoe

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Tena - White water rafting
  • Banos - Casa del Arbol visit
  • Banos - Devil's Cauldron visit
  • Banos - Pondoa Community Project visit & Lunch
  • Quilotoa - Quilotoa to Chugchilan hike
  • Cotopaxi National Park - Mountain Biking

Dates & availability

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Essential trip information

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