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.
Hike to villages in volcano-studded highlands and discover crafts, music and ancient ruins. Then enjoy a mind-blowing adventure in the Galápagos Islands. Ever see a frigate bird strut his stuff? Or a seaweed-eating iguana? Alongside a naturalist, witness incredible wildlife behavior right before your eyes.
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 the orchid-lined caldera rim of deep-blue Laguna de Cuicocha | Enjoy the spirited serenading of musicians playing handcrafted instruments | Explore the quaint town of Cotacachi, famous for its leather goods | Kids enjoy a special Andean pan flute making workshop and a scavenger hunt in the local artisan market.
Peacocks stroll freely in the lavish gardens of this stately hotel, which combines Ecuadorian and European styles. (pool, spa)
Visit Ecuador's foremost master weavers—kids get a chance to learn the ancient craft firsthand | Learn about daily life from the locals in the community of Angla | Fernando Polanco, grandson of an Ecuadorian president, welcomes us to our home for two nights, the luxurious Hacienda Zuleta, set amid volcano vistas and pre-Inca ruins | Exclusive opportunities for kids to participate in interactive games at the Condor Wasi, milk cows and see how homemade cheese is made | Hike along steep-sided valleys to a pre-Inca archaeological site.
Luxuriate at this idyllic 17th century hotel, 4,000-acre working farm and living museum owned by a former Ecuadorian president and his family.
Fly to the Galápagos Islands, an isolated sanctuary for a stunning array of unique plants and animals, and get set for incredible up-close wildlife viewing | With an expert local guide, head to pasturelands once dotted with grazing cattle but now form a secluded private reserve where many of the island's most notable residents—giant tortoises—hang out | Bike through the highlands and rural Galapagueño villages to a local coffee and sugarcane farm | Swim, snorkel 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 snorkel, kayak, hike and swim | Marvel at blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, white-tipped reef sharks, fluorescent fish, sea lions and lava lizards | Kick back at our comfortable island lodges or venture out to hike, play at the beach and discover quaint port towns | The younger set gets their creative juices flowing with a special art activity.
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. Several routes and a range of levels are offered each day so you can choose how much or how little activity you want to do. Learn more about how we determine activity levels.
Our Andes highlands routes follow cobblestone paths, dirt roads and forest trails across rocky and uneven terrain with some climbs and descents. You may encounter mud, rocks and roots in spots. Keep in mind that our mountain hikes are made more challenging in the Andes as we hike in altitudes between 8,000–11,000 feet. Our Galápagos walking routes are generally easygoing on beach or dirt paths—predominantly flat and rolling with few steep or technical sections. If it rains, trails can become muddy. Biking in the Galápagos is mainly along paved roads with some bike lanes and some short stretches of dirt road.
The key to a stellar day's ride is a bike that's perfectly in tune with your cycling style… Backroads has you covered with the best bike fleet in the world! Read on for your available bike options for this trip.
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 aboard a twin-jet plane. 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, including challenges such as 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.