A unique private tour of Ecuador’s rural highlights, highland towns, archaeological ruins and hacienda life concluding with a spectacular Galapagos cruise

Personalised journeys from start to finish

Every trip helps support Conservation

Every detail taken care of

  • Personalised journeys from start to finish

  • Every trip helps support Conservation

  • Every detail taken care of

What's included

  • All internal flights
  • All accommodation
  • Five night Galapagos Cruise
  • All tours specified in the itinerary description
  • Private transfers throughout
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

This is an in-depth and off the beaten track journey into rural Ecuador to explore its sublime ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, a route dotted with colonial highland towns, traditional culture and Inca ruins, before a luxurious five-night Galapagos cruise.

An unusual and rewarding trip for those that want to see Ecuador’s impressive landscapes and warm rural life, begin with the capital of Quito, the first city to be granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Then you’ll begin a grand tour of Ecuador’s highlands, driving with your private vehicle and expert guide south along the aptly named Avenue of Volcanoes.

From the snow-capped Cotopaxi, see the stunning waterfalls near Baños before a night in Riobamba, setting off the next morning to the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex and a rural hacienda. Board the winding Devil’s Nose Train the following morning en route to colonial Cuenca where you’ll spend two nights and get shown around the city while meeting local artisans.

One last scenic drive through Cajas National Park brings you to Guayaquil, from where you’ll fly out to the incredible Galapagos Islands for a six day luxury cruise where you’ll get to explore the famous archipelago and get up close to its resident wildlife.



stopping at Indian Markets, towns, lagoons, waterfalls of Baños and Riobamba. Explore the country’s Inca heritage and history at El Tambo and Ingapirca before heading to the colonial town of Cuenca to relax and explore. Conclude with a six day cruise of the Galapagos Islands for a wildlife adventure you won’t forget.

Example trip itinerary

Days 1-3


Flights & transfers


Private transfer from Quito airport to your hotel

Accommodation in Quito

Two nights in Quito Two nights in Quito

You will have time to enjoy some of Quito's historical sites, there are many beautiful old buildings, plazas and streets to explore with some particularly beautiful old churches among the highlights.

Full day Live Quito Like a Local tour Full day Live Quito Like a Local tour

This brings alive the capital’s historic quarter, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, to go beyond the mere ‘bricks and mortar’ and allow guests to get a true feel for quiteños and the lives that make it such a fascinating place.

The first part of the tour includes a neighbourhood walk in the company of a local guide who will share their first-hand insights into the history, livelihoods, traditions, stories, beliefs and cuisine of their city. Experience the lively market of San Francisco and wander down to the restored and revitalised street of La Ronda, meeting artisans at work and find out more about the art of chocolate-making from a Swiss-Ecuadorian confectioner family.

A lunch of Ecuadorian specialities is served inside the elegant Casa Gangotena hotel dining room. The afternoon is divided between a visit to the Casa del Alabado archaeological museum and a trip up to one of the city’s viewpoints to fully appreciate its Andean setting from on high.

Days 3-4


Scenic transfer from Quito to Cotopaxi Scenic transfer from Quito to Cotopaxi

Travel south through the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’ to Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world (5,897m/19,349 feet). Discover the flora and fauna of the National Park with a good chance of seeing the Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird and enjoy a hike surrounded by fabulous Andean landscapes. After lunch at a local restaurant, continue on to your accommodation.

Accommodation in Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Volcano Ecuador
Day in Cotopaxi National Park Day in Cotopaxi National Park

Spend the rest of the day hiking in the beautifully scenic Cotopaxi National Park, named 'Avenue of the volcanoes' by Alexander von Humboldt. Take in the magnificent vistas of snow-capped summits and stunning lagoons whilst on a hike at your leisure.

Days 4-5


Private tour to Baños and Devil's Cauldron Private tour to Baños and Devil's Cauldron

This private tour takes you to the town of Baños which is famous for its thermal baths and as the gateway to the Amazon Rainforest. The drive here offers amazing views of the town and its surrounding area, when you arrive in Baños you will have the chance to wander around the streets and visit local artisans. You will then be driven along the route to the Devil's Cauldron waterfall. During the drive you will pass by little waterfalls before arriving at a lush forest setting where the sights and sounds will amaze. Enjoy the awesome vision that is the Devil's Cauldron, one of the world's largest waterfalls, from varying spots including the hanging bridge.

Accommodation in Riobamba

Riobamba city tour Riobamba city tour

Discover the 'Valley of the Volcanoes', as Riobamba is otherwise known, as you wander the streets and markets of this vibrant city. Surrounded by four of Latin America's largest volcanoes, there is much to explore here.

Days 5-6


Ingapirca Ruins Ingapirca Ruins

Today you will visit Ingapirca with your private guide. This is an important remnant of a Cañari site later occupied by the Incas, is a unique example of the cultural richness that prevailed in the country before the arrival of the Spanish.

There are very few pre-Hispanic remains as impressive as these ancient ruins, which in Kichwa mean "wall of the Inca". Built atop a Cañari adobe base, the Incas brought in andesite stone to build the unusual elliptically shaped ceremonial space, as well as the homes, roads and terraces that comprise this amazing archaeological site.

Accommodation in Ingapirca

Days 6-8


Devil's Nose Train Devil's Nose Train

Depart from your hotel at 5.30am and travel to Alausi train station where you journey starts. Take the train in a switch-back rail road, down to the famous 'Devil’s Nose'. During the ride you will be able to see amazing landscapes and colourful Indian towns that take you back to the past times.

Accommodation in Cuenca

Two nights in Cuenca Two nights in Cuenca

The third largest city in Ecuador and boasting a rich heritage, Cuenca is packed with historic landmarks. Luckily this is complemented by the abundance of cafés and galleries tucked into its cobbled streets, perfect to dip into after a long day sightseeing.

'Walking City Tour of Cuenca' 'Walking City Tour of Cuenca'

Enjoy your full day of the beautiful city of Cuenca. A walking tour of the old town will take you through magnificent churches such as the blue-domed cathedral built on the XIX century and the old colonial cathedral built on the XVIII century (now open as a museum), beautiful old buildings with wrought iron balconies and carved wooden doors, flower and handicrafts markets, art galleries, workshops and all the wonders that Cuenca, with its colonial style and pleasant atmosphere, offers its visitors. The visit also includes a ride along the Tomebamba River, while admiring the ancient houses perched on the river bank above as well as a drive through some modern neighborhoods and a panoramic view of the city from the vantage point of Turi. If time permits, visits to the flowers market, the Pumapungo Archeological site, a small black ceramic workshop or a Panama hat factory can also be included.

'Art and gastronomy in Cuenca' 'Art and gastronomy in Cuenca'

Your excursion starts with a visit to one of the most traditional family workshops that produce the famous toquilla hats - commonly known as Panama hats. You'll continue to the more modern part of the city and visit a ceramic workshop and participate in the making of a piece representative of the local culture. After a trip to the top of Turi Hill, which offers great views across the city, you'll enjoy lunch prepared in ancestral clay pots and cooked on an open fire. You will then explore the city by foot, visiting the neighbourhood of Todos Los Santos, know for its production of bread, and visit the church and convent. You'll also visit the City Hall, Parque Calderón, the modern cathedral and the flower market.

"Scenic transfer from Cuenca to Guayaquil via El Cajas National Park"

Depart from Cuenca early this morning and drive to Guayaquil, visiting El Cajas Lagoons Reserve en route. El Cajas is considered a paradise for hikers due to its ecological conservation and natural beauty. Enjoy the views of some of its 230 glacier lakes, admiring the moorland vegetation (high Andean grassland, like moors at high altitude) with incredible microflora, some patches of Quinoa primary forests and spectacular rock formations. Then continue on to Guayaquil for lunch at a local restaurant.

Days 8-9


Accommodation in Guayaquil

Overnight in Guayaquil Overnight in Guayaquil

The largest city in Ecuador and located on the Pacific coast, Guayaquil is the country's economic hub and with good flight connections, is more often than not simply a necessary stopover to or from the Galapagos. With a good selection of fine restaurants and cultural establishments, we can help you make the most of your short time here should you want to venture out.

Flights & transfers


Flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos

Days 9-14


Ships in the Galapagos

Five night luxury Galapagos cruise Five night luxury Galapagos cruise

A truly unique wildlife haven, the Galapagos is perhaps the only place in the world where you can see so much nature so close up. There are 13 ‘proper islands’, only four of which are inhabited, three small islands and hundreds of islets in the archipelago, each with its own distinctive landscape and often its own endemic species. The waters between are bursting with marine life. With so much to discover, the best way to explore the Galapagos is aboard a boat.

Spend your days hopping between islands, heading ashore to hike up volcanoes, meet giant tortoise and spotting hundreds of birds amid forest of cacti. There’s plenty of beach time, usually shared with playful sea lions and sun bathing marine iguanas, incredible snorkelling and sea kayaking, all with excellent guiding.

Flights & transfers


Flight from Galapagos to Guayaquil

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Volcanoes, Incas & Waterfalls: a Hidden Tour of Ecuador

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Every trip helps support Conservation.

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