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Trek Across the Ecuadorian Andes

An unforgettable hike through the volcanic peaks and paramos of the Andean mountains

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Trip Ref #10353

Trek Across the Ecuadorian Andes

An unforgettable hike through the volcanic peaks and paramos of the Andean mountains

DURATION
8 nights
LOCATION
Ecuador
ANNUAL LEAVE
5 days off work
SEASON
Year round
GROUP SIZE
Up to 14 people
MEETING POINT
Dann Carlton Hotel, Quito
ACCOMMODATION
Classic

Hotel · Lodge · Hostel · Guesthouse

OVERALL RATING

4.8

Based on 11 reviews
DIFFICULTY
Moderate

You'll need to be fit and able to hike 5-6 hours at altitudes up to 5000m, in some areas of mountainous terrain.

Hike crater to crater over the famous Avenue of Volcanoes, peepers open for Andean condors and wild vicuñas

Trek to the glacier under the Chimborazo Stratovolcano - the furthest point from the centre of the Earth

Follow paths through remote communities, past turquoise lagoons and by thundering waterfalls before soaking your muscles in natural hot springs

Day 1

Touch down in Quito

Welcome to Quito! The largest, best-preserved colonial city of South America - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is located on the equator, in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano. Depending on your arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area, shaking off any jet lag. Your host can help you to organise a day trip (please request this in advance). There will be a group meet up at 18:00 to get to know your guide and fellow adventurers.

Day 2

Trekking Agua y Vida

Hiking

5-6hrs · 12km · 600m up · 600m down

Driving

1hr

After breakfast, there's a short drive to the village of Papallacta. You’ll then lace up your boots and head off into the Cayambe Coca National Park, an ecological reserve where you’ll trek past lagoons and waterfalls with incredible views along the way. Your hike ends at the Papallacta Hot Springs, a natural hot spring where you can soak the evening away. You will be walking at altitudes of between 3700m to 4300m today.

Day 3

Trekking from Sigchos to Isinlivi

Hiking

5-6hrs · 12km · 300m up

Fuel up on breakfast and start your hike towards the southeast part of town. Navigate trails through farmland, along cornfields and slowly descend towards the river. The views from the valley are stunning and most of the people who live in the villages along the route have lived in the region their whole life, maintaining traditional practices. You'll end the day at an eco mountain lodge surrounded by impressive volcanoes, breathtaking views and traditional highland villages. You will be moving at altitudes of between 2600m and 2900m today.

Day 4

Hike Toachi Canyon to Chugchilán

Hiking

4hrs · 13km · 300m up · 400m down

Today you’ll trek through the awesome Andean mountain landscape towards the Toachi Canyon and catch glimpses of small villages and indigenous communities working in the fields. Hike down to the canyon of the Toachi River and then on to Chugchilán, a small town located in the middle of the Quilotoa Loop. In the afternoon you can explore the village and mingle with the locals. You will be walking at altitudes of between 2896m to 3295m today.

Day 5

Trekking to Quilotoa

Hiking

5hrs · 11km · 975m up · 200m down

Up bright and early today, you’ll hit the small trails used by the mountain people who traverse the canyons to reach neighbouring communities, where it’s common to see the traditional custom of exchanging goods. Venture down into the canyon then climb back up to the top of the crater rim, where you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Quilotoa Lake, a water-filled volcanic crater. Enjoy a beautiful picnic with the best views from the volcano before jumping into the van and transferring to a magical hacienda in the foothills of the Chimborazo volcano. You will be walking at altitudes between 2987m and 3962m today.

Day 6

Trek to Chimborazo Basecamp

Hiking

2-3hrs · 9km · 200m up · 200m down

Early in the morning, drive through valleys and farming villages to reach the Chimborazo Volcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador (6310m). Its summit is the furthest point from the centre of the earth on the entire planet. On a clear day, the majestic peak of Chimborazo dominates the view for many kilometres. Visiting this spectacular national park includes a short hike to reach the elevation of 5000m, where the glacier begins. Keep your eyes peeled for the animals that inhabit this volcanic climate - such as Andean condor, caracara birds, hummingbirds, and timid vicuñas. Once extinct in Ecuador, vicuñas were reintroduced into the wild and are now protected; they are a relation of alpacas and llamas. In the evening, soak in the famous hot springs of Baños and experience the thriving nightlife of this town - well known for its spectacular location right at the foothills of the active Tungurahua volcano.

Day 7

Llanganates National Park

Hiking

5hrs · 11km · 400m up

Head out for a hike in the Llanganates National Park, famous for its beautiful landscapes as well as its intriguing stories (legend has it that the Inca General Ruminahui had a large sum of gold hidden somewhere in the Tungurahua mountains). The vegetation changes as you increase elevation, before reaching stunning views of the Tungurahua Volcano and the Sangay Volcano. Following the hike, return to Baños to spend a last night in this magical town. You will be moving at altitudes between 3200m and 3600m today.

Day 8

Chasing waterfalls

Hiking

2hrs · 2km

Head out of the mountain town of Baños this morning, and hit the road of the waterfalls. Stop at the Bride's Veil waterfall to take the Tarabita cable car across the Pastaza River. Then, hike down to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, the second highest in Ecuador. After a day full of adventures in the cloud forest, enjoy the scenic ride back to Quito.

Day 9

Bid farewell to Quito

Your adventure ends today as you enjoy a final breakfast at your hotel in Quito. You're free to head to the airport in time for your onward flight, or the bus station if you are travelling on to other parts of Ecuador.

Included

Guides

Certified, English-speaking local guides

Accommodation

You'll stay in a combination of hotels, hostels, mountain lodges and haciendas

Meals

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 2 dinners

Equipment

Hiking poles, if you need them

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Hostel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5 – Day 7

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Throughout the adventure, you'll be fuelled by delicious Andean food, such as traditional Ecuadorian potato soup, meat and vegetable dishes utilising local grains such as quinoa and beans and plenty of local fresh fruits. Lunch usually consists of a variety of sandwiches and dinner is always a warm and filling meal after a big day of hiking.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this in advance by mentioning any requirements on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Quito

During your time in Quito, you'll stay at the Dann Carlton Hotel. Offering a variety of facilities and services, the property provides all you need for a good night's sleep.

Papallacta

You'll spend one night at the 4-star Termas de Papallacta, a hot springs spa resort nestled in a majestic valley of the high Andes. Decorated with wooden walls and gabled roofs, rooms at Termas de Papallacta are fitted with wooden furnishings. You can relax in the thermal pools or try some of the treatments that are available at the spa.

Isinlivi

You’ll spend one night at LluLlu Llama Mountain Lodge, a small family lodge situated right on Ecuador’s most famous trekking route, the Quilotoa Loop. Hot showers and good food are available, and it's surrounded by impressive volcanoes, breathtaking mountain views and traditional highland villages.

Chugchilán

Mama Hilda is a cosy countryside hostel located in Chugchilán, which is the oldest settlement in the area and home to only 30 full-time residents. The rooms are basic in terms of décor and amenities but cosy, with some having an open fireplace. Food is home-cooked and served in a communal dining room, with most dishes created on the premises. Fresh pasta and desserts are provided by the Italian monastery just down the road.

Chimborazo

Haciendas are a highlight of any trip to Ecuador. Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate, these are generally traditional ranches or homesteads based in rural areas. You’ll spend three nights at La Andaluza Hacienda, located on the slopes of the most beautiful volcano in the Inter-Andean Valley. The rooms are distributed in four sectors, all of them connected. One sector is the historic hacienda house, and within the other three wings you'll find the rest of the facilities, some with a view of the gardens, others with a view of the majestic Chimborazo Volcano.

Baños

Casa de Luis is a rustic 4-star hotel, located in Baños de Agua Santa. The hotel has comfortable, cosy rooms with a homely atmosphere. Here you will be able to enjoy delicious dishes of Ecuadorian cuisine.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Dann Carlton Hotel, Quito

18:00 on Day 1

Ends

Dann Carlton Hotel, Quito

Morning on Day 9

Transfers

Arrival transfers are included, provided you have shared your arrival flight details in advance with the host. Your adventure begins at 18:00 on Day 1 when your host will meet you in the lobby at Dann Carlton Hotel, Quito.

On the final day of the trip, you can depart independently after checking out of the hotel. The airport is around a 45min journey away from downtown Quito. You can request a private transfer from the host to take you to the airport, or arrange your own taxi or bus.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Quito from major airports across the UK, Europe and North America.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • All camping equipment
    Hiking poles

What do I need to bring?

BAGS
Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
Daypack (25+ litres)

CLOTHES
Waterproof jacket
Lightweight down jacket
Waterproof trousers
Breathable wicking layers
Thermals (top and bottom, merino ideal)
Fleece or warm mid-layer
Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
T-shirts
Underwear and socks
Swimwear
Sunglasses
Sunhat
Winter hat
Gloves
Something to sleep in
Waterproof hiking boots (worn-in)

OTHER
Universal travel plug adapter
Power bank or solar charger
Passports (and visas)
Travel insurance documents
Earplugs
Insect repellent
Suncream
Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
Quick-dry towel
Alcohol hand-gel
Headtorch or torch
Reusable water bottle (x1 litre)
Biodegradable wet-wipes
Energy bars and snacks
Water purification tablets/treatment system

*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Pre-trip accommodation in Quito (Single)

Payable Before Departure

Pre-trip accommodation in Quito (Single)

Per Night

Pre-trip accommodation in Quito (Twin/Double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre-trip accommodation in Quito (Twin/Double)

Per Night

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Per Person

Ben B.
The whole trip was great!

The whole trip was great! The hiking was well planned for different fitness levels with amazing views and great food throughout. The accommodation was also excellent! Everywhere we stayed was very welcoming with comfortable rooms and great amenities. I would highly recommend this trip for anyone looking to get outside and see some amazing sights throughout Ecuador.

Michael

This was a fantastic trip seeing some of the highlights of the Ecuadorian Andes. The guide (Jorge) was excellent: very experienced and knowledgeable, and very friendly and helpful. The hikes take you through some stunning landscapes and were really enjoyable. The accommodation was well chosen and we stayed in some lovely places. We were lucky to have a lovely group of like-minded people on the trip. For information (it was not clear to me from the website): this is a series of hikes with some minibus travel in between (there is one three day hike). The minibus takes your overnight bag from place to place so you only need to take a day pack. The hikes themselves are not that long and are easily manageable for someone with reasonable fitness who is used to walking. The altitudes are very high, so it is worthwhile acclimatizing in Quito first. I didn't need all of the kit on the list, but you do need warm clothes, waterproof clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Overall, a wonderful experience. I would recommend this trip.

Amy

The trip was fantastic! As a solo traveler I felt in very safe hands with our guide, Jorge who had superb local knowledge and was enthusiastic throughout! The 3 day Quilotoa loop hike was a highlight for me. Would highly recommend.

Abner

Overall an excellent experience with a nice exposure to a variety of beautiful Ecuadorian trails. Our guide and driver were very attentive and safety-conscious. I would happily travel on other Much Better Adventures trips in the future.

Manjari

Beautiful country with lovely places, friendly group and guide/driver, nice accommodations!

Jess

This was my first ever group trip, normally I travel with friends and more spontaneously - so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it blew any of my preconceptions out the water!

We had a super easy going group, and Jorge our guide was a fantastic addition to the team. At no point did it feel like he was just a guide being paid to take us around, but more like a friend showing us his favourite spots.

The trekking was the right level of tough whilst still being enjoyable with breathtaking views! The stunning places we stayed at were perfect to recover - with evenings being just as memorable as the days!

Rachel

A fantastic experience, both mentally and physically demanding, exploring the stunning Ecuadorian Andes. We saw so many different ecosystems, dramatic views, tackled challenging conditions, and had an absolute blast.

Stephen

I loved each day and everything we did on this tour, but if you are not used to high altitude, be prepared for a few days of headache and struggling up and down trails. I'm a strong hiker but this was not an easy multi-day trek by any means. Paulo and Jose were our guide/driver/cook. They were wonderful; always available, patient, knowledgeable, positive. To give you an idea of how good they were, I told them I was Pescatarian but that it was ok if they could only served meat, I wouldnt complain. To my shock surprised me with fresh fish on most days while out on trail! I would 100% request them again on another adventure. The Lulullama Hostel was amazing and adorable but the historic Hacienda Andulaza near the Chimborazo volcano was my favorite place by far! It was filled with an amazing collection of Spanish/colonial artwork and other antiques that you could just walk around exploring in for hours. You can ride horses, get a massage in a beautiful spa, feed the domesticated bunnies in the courtyard. We stayed there for three nights and it never grew old.

If you enjoy a challenging physical hike with solid views, great homemade food, this is for you. I only got to spend 1 day in Quito exploring- I regret that we could not stay longer. S. Ryan, Brooklyn NYC

Kimberly

Ecuador is such a gorgeous country! The hikes through the Andes were gorgeous-- each day more challenging than the next and the itinerary made the acclimation much easier than I was prepared for. Paul and Jose were WONDERFUL at communicating with us and ensuring that we were alright. (I hiked on the slower side and always felt completely taken care of--never that I was a burden for lagging a bit behind.) Jose also cooked us some of the best meals--better than the restaurants we went to! The haciendas were lovely (and I would LOVE to return to LluLluLlama in the future! What a sweet place!)

Jamie

This was a great week and a bit exploring the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Great food, great guide and just the right level of intrepid adventure. Great insight, too, into Ecuadorian Sierra. Some ropey moments thanks to COVID-19 (cancelled flights; 2 of a party of 3 having to isolate for the last two days), but all in all, I'm missing it. The level of care and support from Adventure Journeys was high: regular meals are a highlight. Recommended if you like walking, fresh air, hills, views and mountains. Trip was in four 'legs': Parque Nacional Cayambe-Coca, Quilota Loop and El Altar.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 212kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

All of our trips to Ecuador are currently running without any disruption. More information can be read here.

Much of the trek is within the capabilities of people with good fitness who are keen trekkers. Still, it is important to note that trekking at altitudes between 3000m to 5000m (10,000ft-16,404ft) is more demanding on the body than walking at low elevations. Some training beforehand will help and we advise doing at least one weekend of walking back-to-back days. The guide will set the pace and as with all altitude treks, ensure that you adjust to the altitude. This means that there are plenty of hours factored into each day to ensure it is completed by all. You only need to carry a day-pack each day. The views along the way make the journey more than worthwhile!

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however, we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

Guides: $10 USD per day

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

The tap water in mainland Ecuador is not always friendly on the stomach for those who haven't been in Latin America for a while. There is purified water in each of the accommodations which you can use to fill up each morning, so be sure to pack a reusable water bottle or two.

There really is no 'best' time to visit the Andes, any time of year offers a great chance to experience the area. However, December and January are great months due to low rainfall and far less wind. June and July are the driest months, although they can be very windy. The Andes are also blessed with the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Yes, you are able to leave excess luggage in Quito at the start of the trip, to be collected when you return to Quito.

We recommend checking out the country-specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

When you hike in the mountains, there's always the risk of getting altitude sickness, regardless of how old, young, fit or unfit you are. We would expect most hikers to feel some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, sleeplessness, heavy breathing) when over 3000m. Our guides are trained to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness so if any more serious symptoms are noted, there is a strict procedure regarding extra care or a rapid descent if needed. All of our trips have been designed with altitude best practice in mind and the experienced guides follow advice to ‘walk high and sleep low’.

We do not include some dinners on the trek and in Quito as from experience we know that altitude and physical exercise can mean appetites vary hugely. How much you spend per day will vary according to your choice of meal but generally, people spend between $20-$30 per person per day on meals and drinks.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

July 2024

Saturday • 6th July 2024

to Sunday • 14th July 2024
1 Booked • 13 Spots left
Guaranteed to run
Only 1 spot left at 5% off

Saturday • 3rd August 2024

to Sunday • 11th August 2024
1 Booked • 13 Spots left
Guaranteed to run
Only 1 spot left at 5% off

Saturday • 23rd November 2024

to Sunday • 1st December 2024
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 15th February 2025

to Sunday • 23rd February 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 17th May 2025

to Sunday • 25th May 2025
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 14th June 2025

to Sunday • 22nd June 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 12th July 2025

to Sunday • 20th July 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 20th September 2025

to Sunday • 28th September 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 25th October 2025

to Sunday • 2nd November 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 29th November 2025

to Sunday • 7th December 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 27th December 2025

to Sunday • 4th January 2026
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

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