Ecuador Amazon Tour - Cotopaxi

The Ultimate 13-Day Ecuador Amazon Tour: Explore and Discover

The Ultimate 13-Day Ecuador Amazon Tour: Explore and Discover

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Set off on an unforgettable 13-day journey through one of the planet’s most biodiverse treasures with our Ecuador Amazon Tour. The adventure begins in the bustling, historic cityscape of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From there, we dive into the wild heart of the Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s last untouched havens.

Highlights of our Ecuador Amazon Tour:

– Connect with local indigenous communities. Immerse yourself in their rich, ancient culture and traditions.
– Relish unmatched bird-watching and wildlife spotting opportunities. Witness the unique fauna of Ecuador.
– Embrace adrenaline-pumping activities like canoeing down the winding Amazonian waterways, trekking through lush rainforests, and swimming in crystal-clear lagoons.
– Participate in immersive cultural experiences, such as mastering the art of traditional Ecuadorian bread preparation.
– Experience luxurious stays in some of Ecuador’s finest accommodations, offering comfort and tranquillity after each day’s exploration.
– Delight in scenic transfers across breathtaking Andean landscapes, offering panoramic vistas of the country’s incredible topography.

Your expedition provides an intimate look at the Amazon’s diverse ecosystem, a haven for a multitude of unique species. You’ll traverse the majestic Andean highlands, explore the historic Zuleta Hacienda, and gaze upon the formidable Cotopaxi Volcano. As we delve further into the Amazon, you’ll encounter the resilient Siona community, learning about their deeply-rooted customs and traditional ways of life. Your nights will be spent in top-range accommodations, selected to showcase the best of Ecuadorian hospitality, while your days will overflow with discoveries that inspire and enlighten.

This tour transcends a mere exploration of Ecuador’s Amazon. It’s a voyage into the heart of life itself. Whether you’re an experienced explorer or a curious traveller, this Ecuador Amazon tour promises an unforgettable blend of adventure, culture, and natural beauty.

Accommodation Details:

We’ve curated a variety of accommodations for this tour. From city hotels to rainforest lodges, each venue offers unique comforts and opportunities for exploration.

Quito: Enjoy a luxurious boutique hotel located in the historic heart of Quito. You’ll have easy access to the city’s most popular attractions and stunning views of the Andean landscape.

Zuleta: The historic Hacienda Zuleta, a 16th-century estate known for organic farming and an Andean condor rehabilitation project, will be your home in Zuleta.

Isinliví: Experience a charming eco-lodge that blends seamlessly with the surrounding highland environment. The lodge promotes sustainable practices and offers a cosy, rustic experience.

Amazon Rainforest: Deep within the Amazon, your home will be a comfortable, eco-friendly jungle lodge that allows you to experience the rainforest’s spirit while ensuring your comfort and safety.

Baños: In Baños, a beautiful spa resort renowned for its thermal baths and spa services will be your retreat.

What’s Included:

– All accommodations as listed
– Meals as per itinerary
– Entrance fees to all scheduled attractions and parks
– Knowledgeable local guides
– Ground transportation

What’s Not Included:

– International and domestic airfare
– Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, etc.
– Gratuities
– Any meals or activities not specified in the itinerary


It’s important to note that while this tour includes a comprehensive range of services, personal expenses and discretionary gratuities are not covered. However, this arrangement allows for the most individual flexibility and personal choice in your travels.

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  • Departure/Return Location
    Your hotel in Quito
  • What to wear
    Comfortable seasonal clothing and shoes
  • Included
    Photo Assistance
  • Not Included
    Entrance Fees
    Local Flights

Tour Plan

Day 1: Arrival in Quito and City Exploration
After landing at Quito International Airport and retrieving your luggage on your own, your guide will greet you outside the airport's exit. From there, a roughly one-hour drive will bring you to your hotel, situated in the heart of Ecuador's capital city.
As your journey unfolds, you'll initially traverse the contemporary district of Quito. Soon after, the unique topography and vibrant neighborhoods of the city will come into view, sprawled along the steep terrains of the Pichincha volcano.
Your quaint hotel is nestled in the core of Quito's Historic Centre, standing at an altitude of 9,186 ft. Perfectly distanced from the city's most hectic streets, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of the church domes and the famed Panecillo Virgin statue.
Conclude your day with dinner (not provided) and some restful sleep. Your first night will be spent in Quito.
Day 2: Exploring Quito's Rich Heritage
Your day begins early with a departure from the hotel, heading straight to the famed Itchimbía hill. Here, you'll have a prime vantage point to photograph the mesmerizing sunrise over the city.
After soaking in the morning view, you'll head back to the hotel for breakfast. Following that, embark on a journey back in time as you explore Quito's colonial history. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Quito has rich roots that trace back to the Caras—a pre-Incan tribe—and the Incas, being a major trading hub. The Spanish influence on the city is evident in its stunning architecture, capturing its essence of peace and historical depth.
Your photographic journey will lead you to the La Compañia de Jesus church, renowned for its intricate baroque gilding that dates back to 1605. The Plaza Grande awaits next, housing the city's cathedral and the Presidential Palace, flanked by the "La Merced and San Francisco" churches. A leisurely walk through the famed "La Ronda Street" will give you a glimpse of Quito's historic centre, showcasing 17th-century homes that have been the abodes of various artists, politicians, and writers.
Concluding the city exploration, you'll ascend to the "Panecillo Hill" to marvel at the majestic Statue of the Virgin of Panecillo, which stands guard over the city.
Lunch is on your own.
The afternoon offers optional activities tailored to your interests:
  • Casa del Alabado Museum: Step into this quaint pre-colonial museum which boasts a collection of five thousand artifacts from across Ecuador.
  • Capilla del Hombre: Situated in Quito's elevated regions, this destination lets you delve into the life and works of “Guayasamín”—one of Ecuador's iconic painters known for his distinct artistic style.
  • Equator Line: A short 45-minute drive (20km) north will take you to the "Middle of the World" monument, marking the exact position of the Equator.
Your day ends with a provided dinner and a comfortable night's rest in your cozy hotel.
Day 3: Journey from Quito to Zuleta via Cayambe
Begin your day with a delightful breakfast before setting off southward to the scenic Otavalo region. En route, you'll stop at a captivating Andean rose farm. Ecuador is renowned globally for its exportation of roses and various other flowers. Chances are, you might have purchased Ecuadorian flowers in the past without even realizing it! During the visit, you'll gain insights into the intricate rose cultivation process. Don't miss the opportunity to capture the striking hues of the blossoms.
Enjoy a lunch (provided) amidst the enchanting backdrop of the rose farm.
The journey continues to the serene Cuicocha lake, nestled under the watchful eye of the Cotacachi volcano, standing tall at 16,216 ft altitude. A brief 45-minute hike allows you to take in breathtaking views of the lake and its surroundings. Legend has it that Cuicocha was once a volcano. Roughly 3,000 years ago, it separated from its parent volcanoes, Cotacachi and Imbabura. Consumed by grief, the mother Cotacachi wept, filling the lake with her tears.
The day's adventures culminate at the historic Zuleta Hacienda. This exquisite property bears witness to various epochs of Ecuadorian history, offering a window into the nation's past.
Conclude your evening with a sumptuous dinner (provided) and a restful night in this enchanting region.
Day 4: A Day between Zuleta and Otavalo
Dive deep into the local culture today as you set out on a journey to explore the daily lives of the indigenous communities. A short drive takes you to a bustling indigenous market, where the sights and sounds of animal and fruit trading come alive. This experience offers a genuine glimpse into the longstanding traditions of Andean villages. As you capture these moments through your camera, discover the untold tales that every snapshot holds.
Your exploration continues at the famed Otavalo market, which stands as the most significant and renowned indigenous market in Ecuador. This expansive marketplace is segmented into three distinct areas: an animal market on the outskirts (only on Saturdays), a vibrant fruit and vegetable section, and a kaleidoscopic artisanal market teeming with crafts.
Enjoy a fulfilling lunch (provided).
If time and inclination permit, consider a visit to Cotacachi Village, celebrated for its exquisite leather workshops. These craftsmen are known to export high-quality leather goods to various international destinations, making it an ideal spot for souvenir shopping.
Wind down as you head back to your picturesque hacienda. Embrace the tranquility, followed by a delightful dinner (provided).
Day 5: From Zuleta to Cotopaxi National Park
Enjoy a leisurely morning at Hacienda Zuleta. Established in the 16th century and nestled at the base of the Imbabura Volcano, Zuleta stands as one of Ecuador's most picturesque rural estates. Thanks to a successful condor rehabilitation program, you might be lucky enough to spot these magnificent birds soaring above. While you can explore the reserve with a local biologist at no extra charge, several other activities are on offer:
  • Horseback Riding: For $90/person (1-2h) or $131/person (3-4h), saddle up and set out on a journey to possibly spot the spectacled bear and the grand condor.
  • Embroidery: At $71/person, immerse yourself in the local craft of embroidery.
  • Local Cuisine: For $58/person, team up with the hacienda's chef to whip up some traditional dishes.
  • Mountain Biking: Rent a bike for $8/person/hour and embark on an adventurous quest, possibly encountering the spectacled bear and condor.
  • Local Product Discovery: Delve into the world of local cheese-making and learn about other agricultural products, with no additional cost.
Refuel with a hearty lunch (provided).
Post-lunch, journey through the Volcanoes Alley, leading you to the vicinity of Cotopaxi National Park, named after the tallest active volcano globally, Cotopaxi, standing at 19,338 ft. En route, marvel at the sights of Corazón Volcano (15,715 ft), Pasochoa (13,776 ft), and Rumiñahui (15,481 ft) Volcanoes.
Cap off your day with a delightful dinner (provided) at your hotel within the Cotopaxi National Park.
Day 6: Delving into Cotopaxi National Park
Begin your day before dawn, readying your camera to catch the ethereal morning rays as they paint the Cotopaxi volcano from the east. Wander along the Limpiopungo lake trail, a photographer's dream, where every angle presents a new opportunity to capture the park's beauty. This time is also prime for spotting the park's diverse wildlife.
After your morning adventure, head back to the hotel for a rejuvenating breakfast, gearing up for the day's adventures.
Your next venture involves partnering with a native guide called a Chagra—traditional Andean cowhands. On horseback, you'll traverse the vast paramo, beholding the majestic volcanic terrains, free-roaming wild horses, and the surreal landscapes that encapsulate the aura of Cotopaxi Volcano—its name translating to "moon neck."
Relish a hearty lunch (provided) set against the backdrop of the iconic volcano.
Post-lunch, should you be inclined, you have the chance to ascend to the Cotopaxi refuge "José Rivas," perched at an altitude of 15,953 ft. Cotopaxi National Park stands as one of Ecuador's crowning jewels in natural beauty.
Conclude your day by retreating to the hacienda, unwinding and reflecting on your adventures. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner (provided) and spend your final night enveloped by the splendors of this iconic national park.
Day 7: Journey from Cotopaxi to Isinliví via Zumbahua and Quilotoa
Kick off your day with an early start around 5:30 AM as you make your way south to the quaint Andean village of Zumbahua. Dive into the bustling energy of the Zumbahua indigenous market, enveloped by the sights and sounds of llamas, horses, fresh produce, and local farmers proudly donning their traditional bowler hats. While it may not rival the scale of the Saquisilí or Otavalo markets, the Zumbahua market offers a raw, rural charm, showcasing an authentic slice of life in the Andean highlands. Here, the promise of unique, captivating photographs awaits.
Next on the agenda is the enchanting Quilotoa Lake, known for its mesmerizing turquoise waters. At an elevation of 12,841 ft, the viewing platform offers a breathtaking panorama of the crater and its steep inclines. Under the guidance of your expert guide, embark on a brief walk to find that perfect angle for an unforgettable photo.
Recharge with a hearty lunch (provided).
By afternoon, you'll find yourself in the timeless village of Isinliví. This secluded hamlet provides a serene backdrop for some relaxation. Make the most of your stay here—whether it's wandering around the scenic village, unwinding with a drink while soaking in the stunning vistas, or just enjoying the comforts of your accommodation.
Wrap up your day with a delightful dinner (provided) and a restful night at the charming Llullu Llama Inn.
Day 8: Isinliví to Riobamba via Chimborazo
Today offers a unique opportunity to connect with the legacy of Baltazar, Ecuador's last remaining "Hielero" or ice harvester. Although age and health constraints have kept Baltazar from continuing this age-old tradition, his son-in-law has taken up the mantle. He embarks on bi-weekly ascents to the ice mines, extracting sizeable ice blocks. These are then transported on mules, insulated with straw to regulate temperature. Historically, this ice served a variety of purposes, even being used in gourmet ice creams—a history Baltazar and his son-in-law are keen to share.
A memorable 5-hour hike on the Chimborazo volcano's slopes awaits. Accompanied by the legacy-bearing "hielero," you'll witness this ice harvesting process first-hand, drawing on his vast knowledge.
Relish a scenic picnic lunch (provided) set against the majestic backdrop of the Chimborazo volcano. If circumstances permit, a visit to Baltazar's residence is on the agenda.
In the afternoon, immerse yourself in local culture with a trip to the indigenous community of Chimborazo, known as Sumak Kawsay. This community proudly hosts the llama museum, an initiative that sheds light on the daily lives of the indigenous Kichwa people. Following this enlightening experience, the journey leads to the city of Riobamba.
Your evening culminates with a savory dinner (provided) at a genuine hacienda. Here, if the skies are clear, you can seize the opportunity to photograph the awe-inspiring Chimborazo volcano, which boasts the distinction of being Earth's nearest point to the sun!
  1. For the day's adventures, two mules are allocated for transporting your photographic gear and other necessities.
  2. Baltazar's health may sometimes prevent him from hosting visitors at his residence.
  3. Depending on availability and your preferences, the Sumak Kawsay visit might be substituted with another indigenous community experience.
Day 9: From Riobamba to the Amazon Rainforest via Shell
Kick off the day with an early start as you embark on a 2.5-hour journey to the village of Shell. Here, an aircraft awaits to whisk you away on a captivating 1-hour flight over the lush expanse of the Amazon Rainforest, culminating in Lago Agrio village. Prepare your camera for some unparalleled aerial shots of the verdant rainforest below!
Upon landing, your next leg of the journey involves a transfer to the Cuyabeno river bridge. From here, a comfortable speedboat ride of around three hours will further immerse you into the heart of the Amazon. This river journey offers bountiful opportunities to observe a myriad of avian species, such as herons, kingfishers, and toucans. If you remain vigilant, you might even catch a glimpse of monkeys and sloths in their natural habitats. Reaching the lodge, you'll be greeted with a hearty lunch, followed by a chance to take a brief siesta. As the day progresses, set out for a serene rowing canoe exploration. Venture towards the nearby lagoon, where you'll be treated to a mesmerizing Amazonian sunset. Post-dinner, for those intrigued by the nocturnal wonders of the rainforest, an optional nighttime walk offers the chance to spot various insects and reptiles.
Enjoy a fulfilling dinner (provided) and retreat for the night in a quaint cabin nestled amidst the Amazon Rainforest.
Note: The Amazon itinerary might undergo changes based on the specific lodge you're residing in and prevailing weather conditions. As such, the provided program is a guideline and might be adjusted without prior notification.
Day 10: Delving Deeper into the Amazon Rainforest
Begin your day even before the sun fully awakens. Embark on an early morning rowing canoe adventure, aiming to spot birds and elusive freshwater dolphins. The tranquil moments around sunrise provide an optimal window for wildlife observations and capturing the essence of the Amazon in your photographs.
Upon your return, a nourishing breakfast awaits at the lodge. Post-breakfast, with your knowledgeable local naturalist guide leading the way, set foot on a rewarding trek through the mesmerizing Amazonian landscape. This moderately-paced hike unveils the secrets of the rainforest, spotlighting both its diverse flora and fauna. Particularly intriguing is your introduction to the medicinal plants native to this environment. These plants have held a revered place in the healing traditions of the Amazon's indigenous communities for generations.
After a sumptuous lunch at the lodge, embrace the serenity of the forest during your leisure time, letting the ambient sounds of nature lull you into relaxation.
As the afternoon progresses, you'll once again board a rowing canoe, this time journeying along the Cuyabeno River. The aim is to observe any monkeys and avian species that might have eluded you in earlier excursions.
Conclude your day with a delightful dinner at the lodge.
Note: Please be mindful that Amazon programs can be subject to modifications based on the specific lodge's offerings and prevailing weather conditions. Hence, the described itinerary is a guideline and can be adapted without prior notice.
Day 11: Immerse in the Amazon Rainforest's Local Culture
Kick off your day with a hearty breakfast at the lodge. Following this, you're set for another canoe adventure along the Cuyabeno River, continuing your quest to observe the diverse mammals and avian species native to the Amazon.
The journey then takes a cultural turn as you tread a trail cutting through the dense rainforest, leading you to a Siona community. Here, the indigenous inhabitants offer a deep dive into their customs and way of life. A highlight of this cultural immersion is learning about and witnessing the preparation of "casabe," a traditional bread or cake. Your experience becomes even more enriching with the community's leader who, impressively, is nearing a century in age!
Having soaked in the cultural insights, return to the lodge for a delectable lunch.
Post-lunch relaxation is followed by a unique opportunity: a swim in the midst of the lagoon! Fear not, as the potentially perilous creatures typically dwell along the lagoon's edges, ensuring a safe swimming experience.
After refueling with dinner, gear up for a nocturnal foray into the rainforest. This nighttime expedition offers the thrill of possibly spotting caimans, various insects, and birds that thrive under the cover of darkness.
Note: As with previous days in the Amazon, the activities might undergo adjustments based on the specific lodge's provisions and the prevailing weather conditions. Therefore, the described itinerary serves as a guideline and is subject to alterations without advance notice.
Day 12: From the Amazon Depths to Baños via Shell
For early risers eager to catch a final glimpse of the Amazon's avian wonders, the morning presents an optional bird-watching opportunity. Once you've soaked in the dawn's serene beauty, head back to the lodge for a wholesome breakfast.
Post-breakfast, it's time to make your way to the Cuyabeno River bridge, which is around 3 hours by canoe. Upon reaching, a vehicle stands ready to transport you to Lago Agrio. From here, embark on a scenic flight back to Shell. This hour-long aerial journey offers another chance to marvel at the sprawling vistas of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
After touching down, enjoy a hearty lunch (provided).
The day concludes with a transfer to the tranquil spa-town of Baños. After days of adventure, this locale provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation. Settle into your inviting hotel, indulge in its amenities, and reminisce about your journey through Baños—often referred to as the gateway to the Amazon Rainforest.
Wrap up the day with a delightful dinner (provided) and spend your final night in Ecuador, cherishing the memories crafted over the past days.
Day 13: From Baños to Quito for Departure
Your final day starts with a nourishing breakfast in Baños. After refueling, you'll embark on your journey to Quito Airport. To ensure a timely arrival for your international flight, an early morning departure might be necessary.
The approximately 3.5-hour drive north takes you through the picturesque Volcanoes Alley. As you traverse this route, you'll have one last chance to admire the majestic peaks of Chimborazo (20,548 ft), Ilinizas North (16,818 ft), Ilinizas South (17,208 ft), and perhaps even catch a fleeting view of the iconic Cotopaxi. Along the way, the vibrant daily lives of the local populace provide a lively backdrop.
Pause for a lunch (provided) en route.
Upon reaching Quito Airport, it's time to bid adieu to the enchanting landscapes and rich culture of Ecuador. Board your international flight, marking the end of your memorable journey. Safe travels!

Tour Location

Ecuador's unique charm is found in the diversity of its landscapes and cultures. From the bustling streets of Quito, steeped in history and heritage, to the serene beauty of Zuleta, which embodies traditional rural life, every location offers a unique facet of this vibrant country. The majestic Cotopaxi National Park invites visitors into a world of natural grandeur, while the idyllic communities of Isinlivi and Riobamba provide a deep connection to the land and its people. And the heart-stopping adventure of exploring the Amazon Rainforest is balanced by the restorative calm of Baños, the gateway to the Amazon.

Quito: Quito, the capital of Ecuador, mesmerizes with its fusion of colonial and contemporary culture. Perched at an elevation of 2,850 meters, it is the highest official capital city globally, home to a UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. Traverse through its charming cobblestone streets, and admire the architectural masterpieces from the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the intricate Church of the Society of Jesus.
Zuleta: Zuleta, a pastoral paradise, is renowned for the historic Hacienda Zuleta. Dating back to the 16th century, this estate provides a glimpse into Ecuador's rich traditional life. Nestled amidst the lush Andean mountains, Zuleta thrives as a hotspot for ecotourism, attracting wildlife enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors.
Cotopaxi National Park: With its iconic active volcano, Cotopaxi National Park exemplifies natural beauty and biodiversity. The park houses a diverse range of fauna such as the Andean condors, wild horses, and a variety of indigenous plants, providing a captivating exploration for every nature lover.
Isinlivi: Tucked away in the Ecuadorian highlands, Isinlivi is a serene community offering awe-inspiring vistas of the surrounding mountains and the Toachi River canyon. This peaceful destination allows visitors to immerse themselves in nature and experience the authenticity of rural life.
Riobamba: Riobamba, the "Sultan of the Andes," is a city steeped in culture and history. Its colonial architecture, bustling markets, and panoramic views of the encompassing highlands make it a unique destination. The towering Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador's highest peak, adds to the city's majestic charm.
Amazon Rainforest: A visit to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest is akin to stepping into a living, breathing nature documentary. With its vast biodiversity, including rare Amazonian birds and mammals, and the opportunity to engage with the indigenous Siona community, it promises an unforgettable adventure. The dense green canopy, thriving wildlife, and tranquil lagoons combine to create an environment both exhilarating and serene.
Baños: The charming town of Baños, renowned for its thermal springs, serves as a gateway to the Amazon. Offering a perfect spot to unwind following your Amazonian adventure, Baños is not just about its restorative waters. Its variety of outdoor activities, scenic waterfalls, and verdant landscapes add to its appeal, making it an essential stop on any Ecuadorian journey.