Itinerary for Ecuador – Quito and Banos
9 Days in Ecuador
I love Ecuador and have been there several times! A client recently contacted me to put together a trip as they took advantage of a great airfare sale. Here’s the itinerary I put together for them – enjoy!
Note: This is for a very specific client’s needs. Some travelers may like to change hotels every few days as they move around rather than having day trips from Quito. Be sure to let me know your travel style and I can adapt my suggestions for you. This trip spends the first part of the trip in action-packed Quito, then ends with a few days in a hot springs resort for rest and relaxation.
Day 1 – late night arrival
Arrive at Quito Airport and transfer to your hotel, the JW Marriott.
Rest and recover from the late night. Take it easy and remember you are adapting to high elevation. Explore the Old Town and La Ronda Neighborhood, including the churches and Independence Square.
Dinner suggestion: ZAZU – it’s on the fancy side, but I personally ate here and it was delicious (and it’s rated one of the top restaurants in Quito!). You can also try the Marriott’s restaurants if you’re too tired to venture out, as they are very high quality as well.
Another “nice” place I ate was Carmine Gastronomia & Arte – delicious!
Today you’ll visit Otavalo and the crater lake of Cuiocha on a small group tour. (Want to book this tour yourself? Here’s my affiliate link.)
The Otavalo cultural tour is a wonderful way to discover and combine the famous artesian indigenous market in Ecuador, and some of the amazing views outside Otavalo. The tour begins with a scenic drive north of Quito through the highlands. Our first stop will be in Quitsato Middle of the World, and then Cayambe city where you can taste and learn about the towns famous biscochos (local biscuits). Then,
you will arrive to the famous Otavalo market where you will have time to eat lunch and buy handicrafts.
The main market day in Otavalo is Saturday; however this tour can operate throughout the week.
Our professional guide will provide an explanation on the indigenous people of this area, such as the Quitu Cara and other pre-Inca groups, as well as some information of the city. After exploring the market and having lunch, you will depart from Otavalo and make a stop at Cuicocha Lagoon, which is located in a volcano crater, and contains two green islands. Then, we will visit Cotacachi town, famous for its leather goods a great place to pick up a bargain! After that, we will make our way back to Quito.
Continue exploring Quito and consider a half day trip to Mitadad Del Mundo, where you’ll be able to stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one foot in the southern hemisphere!
On the way, you’ll stop by Pululahua Volcano before continuing to “The Middle Of the World”.
You can save this day for spontaneous excursions or continuing to explore Quito. You could also do a day trip to Mindo Cloud Forest if you like. I was originally going to suggest a day trip to the Papallata Hot Springs, but your trip to Banos will have plenty of opportunities for relaxation.
Mindo: A tropical cloud forest paradise. Highlights for a day trip here would be a chocolate tasting tour, waterfall hikes, & zip lining. There is also a fresh juice bar in town that is not to be missed. If you’re feeling more relaxed, you could visit the butterfly house or orchid farm instead of an activity requiring higher energy. This will be an easier destination physically simply because of the altitude.
06:45 Meeting point at Plaza Foch (Restaurant Q).
07:00 Leaving from the meeting point toward Mindo.
09:30 Arrival to El Descanso for birdwatching.
11:00 Ecologic trekking to the waterfalls or Canopy.
13:00 Lunch in a local restaurant.
13:45 Visit the chocolate factory or the butterfly farm.
16:00 Returning to Quito.
18:00 Arriving at Plaza Foch (meeting point).
Take the teleferico (cable car) up to the vantage point for one of the major views over Quito. Go in the morning, before the clouds roll in and the views are obscured. It is the highest cable car in South America. You can hike a bit to volcano Pichincha (5 hours roundtrip), but please exercise caution as there are reports of muggings. Small groups are better rather than solo hikes. You can ask your hotel what the current safety updates are. There should also be some horse rides advertised at the top of the teleferico, but I never saw them. If you get a headache, move slowly and drink extra water. Even though you’ve been in Quito a few days, you still may not be acclimated to the increase elevation (SO DON’T DO THIS THE FIRST DAY).
In the afternoon, savor the culture and the cuisine of Quito on this Quito Culinary Tour and Cooking Class. Meet your guide, who will provide an all-access culinary pass to the city and head out to a market to see fresh fruits and vegetables. Then, visit one of the oldest bakeries in Quito and then learn how quesadillas are made before sampling the final product straight from the pan. Next, navigate the back streets to southern Quito where you’ll get up close with iconic architecture on your way to a local Quito home for a chance to test your skills in the kitchen. Roll up your sleeves and learn how to make tamales and empanadas under the direction of an expert chef. Tuck into your culinary masterpieces with fellow travelers as you recount the day’s adventures and celebrate your Ecuadorian cooking victory.
Private driver transfer to Baños. It’s over 3 hours away but well worth the visit. Relax in the hot springs pools, go for a walk, on horseback, by bicycle or in a quad to admire the unique landscapes and the enchanting nature of the entrance gate of the Amazon.
You will drive by Cotopaxi on the way so you could also stop there to break up the trip if you like.
Stay at the Samara Hotel & Spa, one of the top hotels in Ecuador.
Rest, relax, and explore Baños. You can see waterfalls, lush forests, steaming thermal springs, steep gorges, boats that will end in the Amazon Basin, and even sometimes an erupting volcano Tunhurahua!
Transfer to Quito Airport directly in the afternoon in order to enjoy another full day in Baños. Good bye Ecuador!
If you liked this itinerary and would like to work with me to design your own perfect trip, let me know by contacting me here!