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Ecuador Uncovered Reverse

Hidden corners of the Andes | View photos »

Beautiful cloudforest birds, timeless Andean highlands. Crater lakes and snowcapped volcanoes. This in-depth journey through Ecuador’s diverse Andean landscapes is privately guided to allow you total flexibility in exploring the fascinating landscapes and cultures of beautiful Ecuador.

15 day trip described, guide price £2,680pp i

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Map of the area

"Went like clockwork"

"Went like clockwork"

We cannot thank you enough for a really fantastic itinerary that you put together for us. At every stage everything worked well. There was always someone to meet us at the appointed time and the trip went like clockwork. Mark M

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Sample itinerary

Travel to Ecuador

Fly from the UK to Quito today.You should arrive in the Ecuadorian capital early this evening. The city is quite high, so take it easy and drink plenty of fluids, and you should be fine by the morning. Transfer to your comfortable hotel, located in one of the quieter parts of the city.

Beautiful Quito

Your guide comes to the hotel this morning to take you for a full day tour. Quito is positioned on the flanks of the Pichincha Volcano, and is home to perhaps the best-preserved colonial centre in Latin America (now UNESCO-listed). Explore the historic centre to learn about the city’s colonial past, perhaps dropping into the Government Palace en route.

Travel to the cloudforest

After a relaxed morning you are collected by your guide for the two-hour drive up to the cloudforest. Mornings are spent exploring, afternoons tend to be relaxed affairs as you rest at the lodge. From the lodge you can watch birds come and go. These include such species as the Golden-headed Quetzal and Choco Toucan.

Take in the wildlife

A normal day here starts early with a guided walk to observe the cloudforest canopy as it comes to life. If you are lucky you will see toucans, parrots and maybe the beautiful Andean cock of the rock. Relax this afternoon on a hammock enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest.

Travel to the highlands

This afternoon, you and your guide will head off for the drive to the Imbabura region. Arrive at your hotel on a mountainside about ten minutes’ drive from the colourful market town of Otavalo. Stay in your own adobe cottage with beautiful views of the countryside. Relax on the terrace or have a dip in the hot tub before dinner.

Walk around a crater lake

Today you might stretch your legs with a walk around Cuicocha Lake; an impressive crater lake of the Cotacachi volcano half an hour’s drive from Otavalo. On a clear day you can see the snow-capped peaks of Cayambe and Cotopaxi volcanoes. Visit the world famous Otavalo market en route back to the hotel. It is touristy but full of local textiles, ponchos, blankets, hats and wall hangings.

Andean food and markets

If you like your food then you might choose to spend today in the kitchen. Start in the lodge’s garden to harvest what you can. Carry on to one of the local markets to buy the remaining ingredients. This is a unique opportunity to learn about Andean cuisine and ingredients, many of which are likely to be quite unknown to you. Enjoy all your hard work this evening.

Travel to Cotopaxi

Set off south towards the Avenue of the Volcanoes. You may have time to visit the Pasochoa Reserve en route. Walk a trail to the collapsed crater of the extinct volcano. Arrive at Cotopaxi and stay in a friendly hacienda close to the entrance to Cotopaxi National Park. On a clear day you can see the volcano from the dining room.

Visit Cotopaxi national park

At nearly 5,900m Cotopaxi is the world’s highest active volcano. The national park which covers the skirts of the mountain are home to a wide variety of birds including condor, as well as llama, wild horses and deer. You can arrange activities locally through your hotel depending on your mood and local conditions.

Artisan markets & crater lakes

Head back into Cotopaxi Park today, or take a drive west to the impressive crater lake of Quilatoa, a wonderful spot to stretch your legs. A lovely drive south later takes you through local towns and villages where you can stop off to enjoy the artisan markets and craft stalls.

Hike on a volcano or to a tropical waterfall

Head east or west today, up to mighty Chimborazo Volcano, or down into the foothills of the Andes and the 'Waterfalls Route.' Although geographically close, there's a world between snowy Chimborazo and the lush waterfalls near Baños. End the day in a charming hostería in the pretty town of Alausi, perched on the edge of a gorge.

Ride the Devil's nose train

Hop onto the Devil’s Nose Train ride today taking the stretch from Alausi to Sibambe for the best views. It is a spectacular journey and a true feat of engineering. These days the train is touristy but zone it out and enjoy the ride. Afterwards, travel on south to Cuenca this afternoon. Stop en route to visit the Incan ruins of Ingapirca, the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.

Explore colonial Cuenca

Spend today exploring Cuenca at your own pace. Unquestionably Ecuador’s prettiest city, Cuenca has a long, complex history covering pre-Inca, Inca and colonial settlements here. Wander amongst the cobbled streets and colonial buildings, which now are recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Drive through Cajas national park and on to the coast

Leave Cuenca today and drive a beautiful route from the Andean highlands down to the coastal lowlands of Guayaquil. Stop off for a walk in El Cajas National Park, a dramatic and pristine landscape of lakes and mountains with abundant flora and fauna. Carry on down the winding road to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city and its commercial hub. Stay tonight in a first class hotel prior to your flight home tomorrow.

Travel home

You will probably have the morning at leisure for a final bit of shopping or looking around Guayaquil. Transfer to the airport later for your overnight flight home.

About this trip


Beautiful cloudforest birds, timeless Andean highlands. Crater lakes and snowcapped volcanoes. This in-depth journey through Ecuador’s diverse Andean landscapes is privately guided to allow you total flexibility in exploring the fascinating landscapes and cultures of beautiful Ecuador.

How adventurous?

1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5

Best time to go i

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Level of activity

This holiday is not overly demanding physically though being tailor made, we can tweak the level of exertion on mainland Ecuador to some extent – longer walks and horse rides are always possible. However, the journey has been conceived to introduce you to the landscapes, wildlife and people of Ecuador at an enjoyable pace.

Though primarily a cultural exploration of Ecuador, you should be aware that the altitude of your overnight stays in Quito and the Avenue of the Volcanoes ranges from 2,800m-3,000m above sea level, going much higher on certain days. Acclimatisation is factored into our itinerary, but if you have a history of difficulty at altitude, please let us know in order that we build in extra time for you.

In the cloudforest, you will tend to walk into the surrounding areas on bird watching excursions, nothing too demanding. You can rent mountain bikes here or even ride an inflatable down the river in order to be more active. Around the Imbabura area and down in Cotopaxi, you stay in some comfort at night but days are spent exploring the high crater lakes and mountains. Because you have a private guide, you can set the pace which best suits you.

The weather in Ecuador’s highlands is at its rainiest in February, other than that, this trip works well at any time of year – after all, Ecuador is on the equator and therefore fairly steady in terms of weather. In the Amazon, you should expect rain, heat and humidity at all times of the year.

Level of culture

Ecuador is a melting pot of a country, almost bewildering in its diversity. For that reason, the first thing we do with you when you get there is give you a day with our guide in Quito. He takes you into the heart of the city and then up onto the mountain next door to give you a sense of the place from all different perspectives.

Up in the cloudforest, the lodge we use is built entirely of materials sourced from the surroundings. It could hardly be more integrated into its surroundings, both physical and community. The staff, cooks, guides are all dedicated to this precious cloudforest ecosystem.

Imbabura is a region well known by tourists – Otovalo market is here. However, staying just a few miles away, you experience a very much lesser known Ecuador. Villages, communities working the land, schools set up on shoestring budgets, artisans skillfully carving and weaving to make a living. Your stay up here is an opportunity to meet ‘ordinary’ people living in beautiful surroundings.

Travelling south of Quito brings you to traditional markets, Andean villages and the occasional 17th century hacienda. Throughout this part of your journey, your private guide is a fantastic resource for you to really understand and appreciate Ecuador.


We have a detailed itinerary for this trip, as set out above. If you would like a copy, please get in touch and we can email it over to you.

Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes good quality hotel accommodation, private guiding and transportation, activities, excursions and entrances as per our detailed itinerary. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly into Quito (airport code: UIO) and out of Guayaquil (airport code: GYE).


Departs on a date to suit you, March through January.

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01273 676712

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.


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The beautiful Cuicocha Lake in the Ecuadorian Andes The colonial heart of Quito The cable car up to the heights above Quito Guide leading a visit to the cloud forest of Mindo At the El Monte Lodge in Ecuador's cloudforest Looking out from Casa Mojanda in Ecuador's Imbabura area Beautiful walking around the Mojanda lake in Ecuador Fruit and vegetables for sale in Saquisilli market Looking out over the Cotopaxi volcano A rare clear day at Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador The beautiful blue waters of the Quilotoa crater lake in Ecuador Vicuna grazing at Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador The Devil's Nose section of the railway between Alausi and Sibambe in Ecuador Colonial houses in Cuenca, southern Ecuador Cajas national park near Cuenca, Ecuador The Bolivar park in Guayaquil is home to a lot of iguanas