Ecuador by Car

Car Rental Trip

13 days



Guayaquil │ Cuenca │ Alausi │ Riobamba │ Chimborazo │ Baños │ Amazon │ Papallacta │ Cotopaxi │ Quilotoa │ Quito


Day 1: Guayaquil – Cajas – Cuenca

In the morning your guide accompanies you to the rental car agency office in order to help you with all the formal paper work. You then receive your car and your adventure through Ecuador can commence! From the tropical city of Guayaquil, you drive towards Cuenca and make a stop along the way to visit the Cajas National Park. Here you can explore the area by foot, which is characterized by rolling hills and uncountable lagoons. Afterwards you continue your ride to Cuenca.

Day 2: Cuenca

This day you can spend as you please in Cuenca or explore its surroundings. You can explore the charming surroundings of the Gualaceo, Chordeleg and Sigsig towns or travel to the Mediterranean subtropical Yunguilla Valley and to the Chorro de Girón Waterfall.

Day 3: Cuenca – Ingapirca – Alausi – Riobamba

On your way to Riobamba you have the choice between 2 stops: visit the most significant pre-Columbian Inca ruins of Ecuador, or go to Alausí on the steepest train ride of the world through the spectacular Andean landscape until reaching the “Nariz del Diablo” (Devil´s Nose).

Day 4: Riobamba

From Riobamba you can reach various interesting places for excursions:

Atillo y Ozogoche Lagoon: 90km/56mi from Riobamba is the grassland and lake-district Atillo with its beautiful lagoons. Around 22km/14mi south of Guamote, lies the Ozogoche lagoon.

Salinas de Tomabela: 30km/19mi north of Guaranda you can find the cheese manufacturing center of Salinas. Here they don´t only process cheese but also chocolate. Every Tuesday a market takes place where the town sells its products produced in-house.

Day 5: Riobamba – Chimborazo – Baños

Today you drive with your rental car through a desert-like landscape to the natural reserve Chimborazo. You can drive all the way up to a parking lot at an elevation of 4,800 meters (15,748ft) from where you can start walking up to the Edward-Whymper-Refuge at an elevation of 5,000m (16,404ft). Here you can enjoy the view accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate. Afterward you start your drive towards Baños.

Tip: Thursdays you can visit the market in Guamote on your way to the Chimborazo natural reserve.

Day 6: Baños

After a couple exhausting days by car, this day is completely at your disposal in Baños. You can rent mountain bikes, take part in an horseback riding excursion, go on a rafting or canyoning tour, and much more. With or without your car you can also explore the famous waterfall “Pailon del Diablo”.

Tip: At night you can visit a viewpoint where you can spot the Tungurahua volcano.

Day 7: Baños – Amazon

In the morning you start your drive to the small jungle lodge Hakuna Matata which is located within a 120 hectare private reserve. Depending on your arrival time, you can enjoy the afternoon at the pool or explore the surroundings by foot or on horseback!

Day 8: Amazon Rainforest

Today you can choose between two different excursions:

1. Option: Hike in the jungle – animal shelter – indigenous community
In the morning you visit a native market in the province’s capital of Tena before getting to explore the Rio Napo in a motorized canoe and learn more about the rainforest while hiking for approximately two hours. You arrive at the animal shelter “amaZOOnico” which is home to more than 500 animals. Afterward you visit a small indigenous community and immerse yourself in the natives’ everyday life for an afternoon!

2. Option: Parrot clay licks – indigenous community – jungle hike
Today you are going to the parrot clay licks to watch the birds. Then you visit the Santa Barbara community, where you immerse yourself in the culture of the indigenous families and share a unique rainforest buffet. During a hike afterwards you explore the jungle’s flora before you go canoeing. Next you enjoy a typical “almuerzo” lunch in the small jungle town of Misahualli where you can watch capuchin monkeys.

Day 9: Amazon – Papallacta

Your time at the Hakuna Matata Lodge comes to an end. You can take part in a chocolate workshop or spend your last hours at the pool before leaving to Papallacta, where you can relax for the rest of the day in the hot-spring baths.

Day 10: Papallacta – Cotopaxi

In the morning you can explore the surroundings of Papallacta by, for example, following a little trail along a small mountain stream and enjoying a traditional trout for lunch. In the afternoon you drive to the Cotopaxi National Park where you can spend the evening with a view of the volcano.

Day 11: Cotopaxi – Quilotoa – Chugchilan

In the morning you can explore the Cotopaxi National Park with its size of 34,000ha/131mi² and the Cotopaxi Volcano which can be climbed up to a refuge with an elevation of 4,800m/15,748ft. Afterward you drive to Chugchilan close to the Quilotoa Lagoon where you will spend the night.

Day 12: Chugchilan – Quilotoa

Today you can explore the surrounding of the Quilotoa lagoon. You can go on a hike around the lagoon or through the cliffy valleys of the Toachi Canyon. The latter is deemed to be the most beautiful hike in Ecuador.

Day 13: Chugchilan – Quito

Today you drive back to Quito in order to return your rental car (latest until 6pm). Depending on the day of the week, you can visit some indigenous markets on your way to Quito: Saquisilí (Thursday), Zumbahua (Saturday) and Pujilí (Wednesday & Sunday).

Note: If you choose to return your rental car at the Quito airport and not at the rental car agency office in the city, an extra fee will be incurred.