Balanced Ecuador Expedition

A trip that pays off
FromUSD$1,410
A trip that pays off
FromUSD$1,410
Available: 9 seats
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Build a Custom Tour



Looking for something a little different? At Impactful Travel, we specialize in crafting custom itineraries tailored to your unique travel desires and ethical values.

Build Your Trip

  • 15 Days, 14 Nights(Flexible: this is an example itinerary)
  • Group Size: 1 - 9(for bigger groups please enquire)
  • Price range: $ 1410 - 1810Single traveler: $ 2460

This Balanced Ecuador Expedition offers an ideal exploration of mainland Ecuador in a limited timeframe. It encompasses not just the essential highlights that enrich any trip, but also ventures into less-trodden locales, showcasing the rich tapestry of cultures spread across the country’s varied regions.

If you have extra days to spare, consider diving deep into our exceptional 22-day package, the Complete Ecuador Adventure: Nature and Culture, customizable to fit your preferences. Alternatively, for those on an even tighter schedule, our condensed 11-day Highlights Trip through Ecuador and Galapagos (soon online) ensures you won’t miss out on being an impactful traveler, even in a rush.

We invite you to read the detailed Day-to-Day description further below.

Gallery

Slide through some images to get an idea of what you might see on this Balanced Ecuador Expedition

Day by Day

Note:

If you enquire about this tour, we will ask you to allow us to connect with you through a video call. This enables us to gain a deeper understanding of your unique travel preferences, allowing us to tailor our services to your exact needs.

Once you book we will promptly send you a comprehensive PDF itinerary. This detailed document will provide you with helpful tips for upgrades and downgrades, and valuable recommendations.

Day 1Quito Arrival

Upon your arrival at Quito airport, you will be promptly transferred to your hotel in the heart of the city.

Take advantage of your leisure time to explore the neighboring areas or indulge in the splendid amenities offered by the hotel.

Day 2Explore Quito - Night Bus to Cuyabeno

This day tour unfolds within the enchanting historic center of Quito. You’ll be guided through iconic landmarks, as your knowledgeable guide navigates you through colonial streets and other points of interest. A highlight is the authentic local market, boasting over 250 stalls brimming with an array of fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants, herbs, meat, and seafood. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to savor some of Ecuador’s typical fruits.

The cobblestone streets of Quito beckon exploration of colonial buildings, offering a chance to indulge in the local cuisine at your own pace. Treat yourself to canelazo and empanadas de viento, providing the strength and warmth needed to immerse yourself in the city’s captivating tales, all within walking distance.

Then, comes your visit to Sinsoluka, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a second chance to local street children and youth, is an inspiring project.

In the evening, a taxi ride from the hotel will take you to the meeting point of the shared shuttle, embarking on an unforgettable journey to the jungle.

Day 3Cuyabeno

Upon your arrival, you will embark on a scenic three-hour canoe journey along the enchanting Cuyabeno River, guided by our knowledgeable bilingual guide who will share captivating insights about the local flora and fauna.

After reaching the lodge, we invite you to savor a delightful lunch, followed by some well-deserved relaxation. Later, we will venture upstream to the mesmerizing Laguna Grande, where you will witness a breathtaking sunset. On our way back, keep your eyes peeled for the majestic caymans, and after dinner, brace yourself for an unforgettable night walk.

Day 4Cuyabeno

After breakfast, we will visit the Siona Seoqueya Community of Tarapuy, accompanied by our knowledgeable guides who will provide insights into the rich cultures and traditions. The visit will include a fascinating demonstration of the craftsmanship involved in creating earrings, necklaces, shigras (woven bags), and casave (yuca bread).

In the afternoon, we will immerse ourselves in the enchanting wonders of nature along the banks of the Cuyabeno River. We will be serenaded by the melodious calls of birds and the playful chatter of monkeys. If we’re fortunate, we may even catch a glimpse of the graceful pink dolphins and other captivating creatures that call this magical place home.

Day 5Cuyabeno and back to Quito

Witness the captivating wildlife along the Cuyabeno River at 6:00am, followed by a delightful breakfast.
Depart from the Lodge at 9:30am and head to the bridge, where the shared shuttle transfer awaits to take you back to Quito.

Day 6Quito – Cotopaxi tour

Located in the central highlands of Ecuador, Cotopaxi National Park is renowned for its breathtaking Cotopaxi volcano. Standing tall at 5897 meters, it is considered one of the highest active volcanoes worldwide. Beyond the volcano, the park offers fantastic opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. It is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including wild horses, foxes, deer, Andean condors, and spectacled bears.

Embark on this unforgettable experience as your private driver guide picks you up from the hotel lobby in the morning. Set off on the Avenue of the Volcanoes, treating your eyes to the spectacular Andean landscapes. While the hike is relatively gentle, it may take some time to acclimate to the altitude. Once you arrive at the refuge, take a well-deserved break and soak in the awe-inspiring vistas. If weather conditions permit, you may even venture further to explore the glacier.

Later, return to the parking area and proceed to the preserved area of the Limpiopungo Lagoon. Take a moment to rest and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature. As the day winds down, follow the road towards your cozy hacienda, and along the way, your driver will recommend a delightful place to dine.

Day 7Free day at Hacienda in Cotopaxi

This ‘Tierra del Volcan’ (Land of the Volcano), as this place is commonly known, offers a captivating blend of adventure, cultural exploration, and meaningful connections. Whether you’re conquering volcanoes, traversing tranquil landscapes on horseback, or cycling through breathtaking vistas, the allure for thrill-seekers is undeniable.

But there’s more to discover – immerse yourself in the serene beauty of local craftsmanship and savor the culinary delights of traditional cuisine. As night descends, gather around the fireside, embracing the warmth of camaraderie and allowing this extraordinary place to leave an indelible mark on your spirit.

Day 8Cotopaxi – Quilotoa – Tigua

Today, you’ll venture into Quilotoa, the westernmost volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. This remarkable landmark is renowned for its colossal caldera, formed around 800 years ago when the volcano collapsed, leaving behind a vast, breathtaking void spanning nearly 9 kilometers. When the sun’s rays grace the scene, a lagoon of enchanting greenish-blue hues emerges, captivating all who behold it.

And because the allure of beauty knows no bounds, we’ll guide you back to the volcano’s base, where Tigua lies. Here, you’ll encounter art that serves as a symbol and reflection of the vibrant culture found within Ecuador’s indigenous communities. Talented painters can be found in their workshop-galleries in Tigua, contributing to the prosperity and welfare of the diverse communities settled there.

Day 9Tigua – Chimborazo – Guamote

Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, reaches an impressive elevation of 6,310 meters above sea level. Its upper slopes are surrounded by a vast and desolate wasteland, but this seemingly barren landscape serves an important purpose: providing water to the three provinces below. The reserve that encompasses this area is not only a sanctuary for a diverse population of native animals such as vicuñas, llamas, and alpacas, but also a testament to the historical legacy of the ancient Andean civilizations that once thrived here.

Exploring this remarkable reserve, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on a short hike alongside a knowledgeable guide, unearthing hidden treasures of the páramo.

Nestled within the Chimborazo Province, you’ll discover Guamote, offering a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich and vibrant culture of the Andes. This canton holds the distinction of being the most traditional region in Ecuador, with a staggering 95% of its residents identifying as indigenous, in contrast to the national average of just 16%. While Guamote itself is home to around 5,000 inhabitants, it is surrounded by numerous small communities that are collectively inhabited by an additional 40,000 people, creating a tapestry of cultural diversity that is simply enchanting.

Here you will visit Casa Condor where the community prepares typical Andean cuisine served in the communal dining area, alongside brief cultural activities like showcasing their traditional attire or exploring the community museum.

Day 10Ozogoche - Overnight in Guamote at Intisisa

Embark on a journey to the authentic Indigenous community of Ozogoche, nestled amidst the scenic paramo landscape just 55 km from Guamote. This enchanting community, located on the fringes of the breathtaking Sangay National Park, boasts a collection of more than 300 stunning lakes. During your visit, you’ll be captivated by the charm of two of these lakes and gain profound insights into the daily lives of the local inhabitants.
Prepare to be mesmerized as you ascend to an elevation of 3800 meters above sea level, treating your senses to awe-inspiring views of an untouched, pristine part of Ecuador. Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, you’ll embark on an invigorating walk that showcases the remarkable natural surroundings. Along the way, your guide will regale you with captivating tales of local traditions, as well as the mystique surrounding the lakes. One such intriguing phenomenon is the enigmatic “suicide birds,” where migratory birds inexplicably plunge into the icy waters of the lakes and meet their fate, defying a complete explanation.
As you traverse the adventurous trails, you’ll encounter crystal-clear freshwater rivers and towering rock formations. For the daring at heart, a refreshing swim in one of the lakes awaits. Before bidding farewell to Ozogoche and returning to Guamote, a delightful encounter with the community’s school children awaits. Known for their infectious joy, these young minds warmly welcome visitors. Staying true to Inti Sisa’s philosophy of empowering local communities through tourism, the organization has spearheaded various initiatives at the school. These endeavors include vibrant school paintings, generous pig donations, exciting school trips, and the provision of nourishing daily meals for the students.

Day 11Guamote - Ingapirca - Cuenca. Overnight in Cuenca at Posada del Angel

Today, it’s time to hit the road again and head towards the Ingarpica complex. Prepare to step into a time machine and be transported back to the legendary Inca era as you explore the fascinating ruins of Ingapirca. Located in the town of Ingapirca, just 70 km from Cuenca, this site boasts the largest and best-preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador. Steeped in a rich history, it offers a captivating glimpse into one of South America’s most enigmatic ancient civilizations.

Welcome to Cuenca!
Cuenca’s architectural and cultural opulence has earned it the prestigious title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity, bestowed on December 1999. The Historic Center, spanning approximately 200 hectares, is a treasure trove of the city’s oldest residential area. Here, you’ll find a plethora of beautifully crafted colonial and republican style buildings, charming artisan neighborhoods with roots dating back to the colonial era, vibrant central markets, and the picturesque Barranco del Tomebamba with its delightful Paseo 3 de Noviembre. Not to mention, there are numerous sites of both cultural and scenic significance that perfectly exemplify why Cuenca was designated as a Cultural Heritage city.

Day 12Cuenca bike tour and cleansing session

Embark on a delightful cycling adventure through the enchanting traditional neighborhoods of Cuenca. Begin by picking up your bicycles and then set off towards Plaza Abdón Calderón, a charming square nestled amidst government buildings and churches. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore lovely squares, picturesque parks, and vibrant neighborhoods. Don’t miss the chance to admire the architectural marvels that grace Simón Bolívar Street, showcasing the city’s captivating beauty. As you traverse the ravine of Cuenca, following the Tomebamba River from west to east, you’ll pass through the scenic Barranco del Rio Tomebamba, an idyllic spot perfect for capturing memorable photos. Immerse yourself in Cuenca’s urban landscape and take advantage of the city’s numerous cycle routes.

After the bicycle ride we have prepared something special for you: a purification of body and soul.These rituals hold profound significance, encompassing ancient wisdom and offering solace to the mind, body, and soul. Cleansing ceremonies have long been practiced to dispel negative energy, fear, the evil eye, stress, and other ailments. These deeply-rooted beliefs and customs are intrinsic to the rich cultural tapestry of the communities across the nation.

Day 13El Cajas National Park

Experience the enchantment of El Cajas National Park as you embark on an unforgettable stroll through glacial wetlands in the northwest of Cuenca. Nestled between 3,100 and 4,450 meters above sea level, this park boasts diverse tundra vegetation and wildlife, set against a captivating backdrop of rolling hills and valleys.

Begin your adventure with a leisurely hike in the lower section of the park known as Llaviuco, where a convenient transportation service will be provided. Next, get to Tres Cruces, a significant viewpoint were you’ll have an opportunity to take a brief walk and soak in the breathtaking surroundings. Along the way, a delightful box lunch will be provided, allowing you to savor the park’s scenic wonders. Conclude your excursion by exploring the Polylepis forest and strolling alongside a portion of the picturesque Laguna Toreadora before returning to Cuenca.

Day 14Cuenca – El Deseo – Guayaquil

During today’s trip, just an hour away from Guayaquil city lies the El Deseo cacao plantation. Here, you can immerse yourself in the Ecuadorian coast’s typical fruits and witness the fascinating cacao process. Gain insights into the growth and various processes that make cacao a prized chocolate. Experience hands-on interaction with nature by handling cacao tree fruits and participating in the making of cacao paste through roasting, shelling, and grinding the seeds. Don’t miss the chance to observe the local wildlife.

During your visit, take a break for a delightful lunch made with organic ingredients grown on the farm. While chocolate production doesn’t happen on-site, you’ll get an overview of the chocolate-making process. And, of course, indulge in tasting the delicious chocolate. If you’d like, you can also support local cacao farmers by purchasing their 100% organic chocolate.

Then, continue to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city and main port. Its history dates back to 1538 when Spanish conqueror Francisco de Orellana founded it. Today, Guayaquil serves as the commercial heart of Ecuador and a transit hub to the renowned Galapagos Islands. Explore the city’s waterfront promenade, the green oasis of Parque Seminario, the vibrant neighborhood of Las Peñas, and enjoy the panoramic views from the blue and white lighthouse atop Cerro Santa Ana hill.

Day 15The farewell

Today, as we bid farewell, we will ensure that you reach the airport in a timely manner, aligning with your scheduled departure.

Small version of transparent round logo of RESPONSible Travel Peru

Why is this experience impactful?

Our Balanced Ecuador Expedition offers a deep dive into indigenous cultures, like in Tarapuy, Ozogoche and Tigua by the interactions with local population and artisans providing meaningful connections while focusing on cultural preservation.

Environmental conservation is also a cornerstone of our journey, as evidenced by visits and to pristine locations like Cotopaxi, Sangay and El Cajas National Parks, and places like Cuyabeno, Quilotoa and Chimborazo which play a crucial role in biodiversity conservation.

Economically, we contribute to community welfare by encouraging the use of homestays  and supporting local farmers as we do visiting El Deseo and Tierra del Volcán.

Support given to social initiatives like Sinsoluka and the Inti Sisa school underscores our dedication to uplifting local communities.

Then, think about the shared long-distance trip to the jungle, the bicycle tour in Cuenca, and the visit to Ingapirca – Ecuador’s most significant pre-colonial archaeological site. These elements exemplify carefully considered, mindful slow travel that enhances the positive influence of this journey.

Details

Please note that this Balanced Ecuador Expedition is just a proposal that serves as a source of inspiration, and we are fully aware that adjustments will be made to tailor it to your preferences and possibilities.

Price Includes

  • Day 1Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver; Accommodation in Quito. Meals: None
  • Day 2Private excursion with English speaking guide, Fruit tasting, Sinsoluka visit, Shared shuttle transfer to Cuyabeno. Accommodation in Cuyabeno. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 3Shared canoe transportation to lodge, activities coordinated by lodge staff; Accommodation in Cuyabeno. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 4Activities coordinated with lodge staff; Accommodation in Cuyabeno. (Meals: Breakfast)
  • Day 5Shared shuttle transfer to Quito; Accommodation in Quito. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 6Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver, Cotopaxi National Park visit with English speaking local guide and entrance fee included; Accommodation in Cotopaxi. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 7Accommodation in Cotopaxi. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 8Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver, Quilotoa crater lake entrance fee; Accommodation in Tigua. Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Day 9Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver, Chimborazo Reserve visit with English speaking local guide and entrance fee included, Visit Casa Condor project with lunch; Accommodation in Guamote. Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Day 10Private excursion to Ozogoche with English speaking local guide and local transportation, Cooking class in the afternoon; Accommodation in Guamote. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 11Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver, Ingapirca entrance fee; Accommodation in Cuenca. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 12Shared bike excursion in Cuenca with English speaking guide, cleansing session; Accommodation in Cuenca. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 13Shared excursion to El Cajas with English speaking driver and local transportation, El Cajas National Park entrance fee; Accommodation in Cuenca. Meals: Breakfast, box lunch
  • Day 14Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver, El Deseo visit with entrance fee; Accommodation in Guayaquil. Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Day 15Shared transfer with Spanish speaking driver. Meals: Breakfast

Price Excludes

  • There are many minor items that are not included in the price, either because they are optional or easier for you to pay on site. Some general exclusions on this trip, are:
  • Meals not included and snacksWe recommend bringing some snacks for the many days and hours of travel and to share with your guides and drivers.
  • FlightsEither domestic or international.
  • Optional items or direct paymentOptional excursions, additional services and entrance fees can be paid on site in cash (or booked in advance with us).
  • Other items not specifically indicated as includedLike early check-ins or late check-outs, souvenirs, laundry, tips, insurance and other personal expenses.
  • Read our Terms and Conditions (click here).

What to Bring

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Balanced Ecuador Expedition

I'm traveling with children but I can't include them in the booking, now what do I do?

We’re thrilled that you’re planning a trip to Ecuador with your kids! We understand that traveling with children can be challenging, so we’re here to help make it as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

It’s important to note that due to the nature of Ecuador as a travel destination, we don’t recommend it for children under 8 years old. With the changes in altitude and sometimes the long distances involved, it can be quite intense – but don’t worry, this particular trip has shorter distances.

If you have questions about child discounts or accommodation options please don’t hesitate to reach out with any request or concern.

I would like to add a trip extension or make some changes to the proposed tour. Is that possible?

Absolutely! At our core, we specialize in custom itineraries, and have been doing so for over a decade! So, making changes to your trip or extending it is definitely possible.

Contact our travel designers and let us know what changes you’d like to make. You have two options to get in touch with us:

  1. Simply send us an email and mention the trip you’re interested in from our platform. You’ll find our contact details here.

  2. If you have more elaborate ideas about your trip and would like to start from scratch, you can fill in this form and we’ll get to work on your customized itinerary right away.

We’re here to help you create the trip of your dreams!

What should I pack for this tour?

Please refer to our article Essential Packing Tips for Your Ecuador and Galapagos Adventure for all your questions about packing for your Ecuador trip. Whether you’re going to the jungle or the mountains, you’ll find the answers you need. You can also download a full Packing List for free.

How can I see the prices for this tour for my amount of travellers?

If you want to see the price for your situation, please select an amount of travelers (number of adults, children, etc) on the right side of the website (or the bottom on the mobile version). You will then see that total price for your party right above it. For some tours, the price will change according to the amount of people. 

It is advised to book this tour through our Custom Itineraries department, instead of direct booking here on the website, so that we can adapt the itinerary to your liking before you book. You can enquire by filling out this form

Is it appropiate to take pictures of the local people I meet during this trip?

Everyone directly involved in your visit, like the hostfamily, the local guides or families you visit during excursions, are usually fine with pictures. If you make a really nice (family) portrait and you promise to send it to them, make sure to fulfill that promise!

As to anyone not directly involved, like other community members you meet on a hike, it would be kind to ask them first if it’s OK to take a picture. If the picture is great and/or they’re a little uncomfortable, it’s OK to give a little tip if they are doing you the favour of posing or allowing you to take your photo. Something between 1 to 2 dollars is fine. Don’t exaggerate. 

Showing the resultant picture is always nice if you have the time! 

Do the local families speak English?

No, they don’t. However, our host families are very used to having guests that don’t speak Spanish and their Spanish is easy to understand for those who speak other Latin languages. 

Of course, learning Spanish beforehand is always a good idea! Use an app like Duolingo to learn the basics before leaving and enhance your experience whilst traveling.

 

Is this tour physically demanding?

This trip includes a few hikes that require medium fitness and some experience with activities in different climates. Due to the altitudes, it’s advised to come in good shape and have a strong heart and lungs. In case of doubts, you can read our article on How to Stay Healthy in Peru (regardless of its content was created with Peru in mind) or contact us. 

What kind of weather should we expect during this route?

Anything really! since you’re visiting many ecosystems, you will experience heat and drougth, as well as the cold. So, like we mention in our article Essential Packing Tips for Your Ecuador and Galapagos Adventure, be flexible and prepared for anything. 

Find more info about climates in Ecuador in our blog The Best Time to Travel to Ecuador.

Is this a private tour or will I share with other travelers?

This is not a group trip: most transfers and excursions are fully private. On some excursions, you will meet other travelers, of course! You can find more details in the separate PDF we can send you once you enquire.

General questions

For questions about booking a tour, prices, preparation for your trip, health and safety or other themes, please check our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you can’t find your question & answer, email us and we’ll add it!

Reviews
Your Travel Designer

Alejandra Jimenez

Travel Designer

Discover the transformative journey that awaits you with my inspirational and customizable itinerary across the breathtaking landscapes and cultures of Ecuador.

This travel experience harmoniously weaves the natural beauty and cultural richness of Ecuador with our mission to support and grow with local communities.

Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast, cultural connoisseur, or looking for a way to make a positive impact while exploring new horizons, this trip is for you. My expertise in curating travel experiences that are not only memorable but also meaningful ensures that every step you take contributes to the local ecosystems and economies.

Join me (as your omnipresent guide) on a voyage where you become part of a larger story, one that celebrates responsible tourism and the spirit of Impactful Travel.

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