Region Overviews: Ecuador Travel Guide: Overview
Ecuador is home to Amazonian jungle, mountainous Andean sierra and stunning Pacific coastline. Ecuador even boasts the wildlife-abundant Galapagos Islands.
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Unleash your sense of wonder high in the Andes. Hike and bike amid volcano-studded highlands where traditional villages, folkloric music and ancient ruins are yours to discover. Then delve into the Galápagos marine sanctuary, snorkeling with sea lions, encountering blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises. Ecuador casts a seductive spell.
THIS ITINERARY: 8 days, 7 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Casual & Premiere Hotels*
Special Kids Prices
Start Cotacachi / End Quito
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
Hike in the snowcapped Andes and trace the orchid-lined caldera rim around deep-blue Laguna de Cuicocha | Take in magnificent views of surrounding cloud forest, jagged peaks and lush valley far below | Wander through Cotacachi's colonial streets, renowned for its leather goods.
Peacocks stroll freely in the lavish gardens of this stately hotel, which combines Ecuadorian and European styles. (pool, spa)
Visit with master weavers and see their age-old techniques as you stroll through their studio | Fernando Polanco, grandson of an Ecuadorian president, welcomes us at Hacienda Zuleta, a 4,000-acre working farm set amid verdant meadows, forested slopes and pre-Inca ruins | Check out Condor Huasi, a center reintroducing endangered condors into the wild | For new perspectives and breathtaking views, hike to archaeological sites and along winding roads through the Zuleta Valley's lush pastureland | Visit Zuleta's embroidery shop—local women are renowned for their fine needlework.
Luxuriate at this 4,000-acre working farm and living museum open only to select groups of travelers. Our host is Fernando Polanco, the great-grandson and grandson of former Ecuadorian presidents.
Fly to the Galápagos Islands for incredible up-close wildlife viewing | With an expert local guide, we venture into a secluded private reserve where many of the island's most notable residents—giant tortoises—hang out | Pedal through the highlands and rural Galapagueño villages and visit a local coffee and sugarcane farm | Snorkel, swim or kayak at Tortuga Bay, a favorite spot for sea turtles, eagle rays and white-tipped reef sharks.
Designed to complement its lush highland surroundings, this serene hotel features a natural lava tube on its grounds. (pool)
Boat from island to island, stopping to kayak, hike, bike and swim with fluorescent fish, sea lions, sea turtles and even white-tipped reef sharks | Marvel at blue-footed boobies, Darwin's finches, magnificent frigate birds and lava lizards | Hike through rich Scalesia forests and witness giant tortoises wallowing in mud puddles | Late afternoon, kick back at our lodges or stroll in laid-back port towns.
Set on Playa de Oro beach, this eco-friendly hotel features a modern touch that blends with its natural surroundings. (pool)
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Click on dates for pricing, itinerary variations and to book your trip. Price is per person, double occupancy.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one day to the next—and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do. LEARN MORE.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
Please note that there is an ample amount of travel time on this trip, and we may have earlier mornings than you are used to on Backroads trips—including as early as 4 a.m.—due to our flights between the Ecuadorian mainland and the Galápagos Islands. We will be flying on commercial flights with Avianca or LATAM Airlines aboard twin-jet planes. Once in the Galápagos, the main form of travel is by boat, so be prepared for occasional wet, windy conditions and bring seasickness medication if you think you'll need it. Also, in summer months the waters can be a bit rougher.
The Galápagos Islands are a welcoming and fascinating place, yet complex and at times logistically challenging due to national park regulations. Mid-trip itinerary changes are quite common. Rest assured, if we encounter changes to our planned activities, your Trip Leaders will find alternate activities that you're sure to enjoy.
Although the Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador, they can feel worlds away from the mainland, with challenges including slow or nonexistent internet connectivity and ATMs possibly running out of cash. Service at hotels and restaurants can lack a sense of urgency when compared with other regions. Your best bet is to sit back, relax and soak in the island way of life.
Some hikes on this trip are remote and do not intersect with roads. Vehicles will get us to and from the trailheads, but the nature of these trails is such that we won't see our vehicles along the route. Significant trail support in the form of water, snacks and encouragement is provided by your Backroads leaders and local guides.
We provide plenty of hiking options and ample trail support so that you can hike at your chosen pace throughout the trip. However, in the Galápagos, in accordance with the national park's environmental protection regulations, hikers must stay in designated areas and be accompanied by our local naturalist.