Five-Day Ecuadorian Mountain Getaway | Fauna Travel

Five-Day Ecuadorian Mountain Getaway

Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador / Nick Cruz / Unsplash

5 Days

Sometimes, you want to go somewhere wild and new, but it’s difficult to find the time between responsibilities with the kids and work. Fortunately, Quito, Ecuador, is only a five-hour flight direct from Houston and feels a world away. Quito is a classic Spanish colonial city that sits over 9,000 feet in elevation, and there are numerous excellent hiking destinations in the nearby Avenue of the Volcanoes. Cotopaxi National Park is the most well-known, and this itinerary gives you a taste of outdoor adventure in the region in a short five-day getaway. The winter months of June through August are the best times to visit to avoid the crowds and have clear skies in the mountains.

This itinerary gives you a taste of outdoor adventure in a short five day getaway or makes an excellent prelude to a cruise in the Galapagos or Amazon.

This itinerary works independently but is also the perfect prelude to a Galapagos or Amazonian cruise.

Day 1: To Quito

Depart on an afternoon flight to Quito from Houston. Your plane lands close to midnight, so you can go straight to bed at an airport hotel or take a car into central Quito to wake up in the city. This first night of sleep is great for acclimatization.

Quito Ecuador / Kiyoshi / Unsplash
Quito Ecuador / Kiyoshi / Unsplash

Day 2: Colonial Quito and Cotopaxi

Hotel: Chilcambamba Lodge

Chiclabamba Mountain Lodge

Spend the morning exploring Colonial Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoying lunch at a local cafe. Your driver will meet you in the afternoon and ferry you for 1.5 hours to Chilcabama Lodge near Cotopaxi National Park. Spend the afternoon relaxing at the lodge. If time allows, you can arrange a short hike to a nearby waterfall.

Day 3: Riding in Cotopaxi

Horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park / Shutterstock
Horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park / Shutterstock

Spend the morning riding in Cotopaxi National Park. Guides from the lodge can take you on horseback through the scenic villages and foothills surrounding the Cotopaxi volcano. Alternatively, you can take a car closer to the snow line for a purely downhill mountain bike ride down the slopes. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the park and an evening back at the lodge.

Day 4: Volcano Hike

Hiking Ecuador / Kiyoshi / Unsplash
Hiking Ecuador / Kiyoshi / Unsplash

Now that you are comfortable with the altitude, you can tackle a long hike. Nearby volcanoes like Pasachoa or Rumiñahui have more dramatic rock formations than Cotopaxi and don’t require any technical glacier climbs to reach the summit. There is more than enough hiking to occupy yourself in the area for days if you want to extent your trip.

Day 5: Short Hike or Saquisilí Market and Departure

Indigenous Markets
Indigenous Markets

This is your last full day. If you are leaving on Thursday, we suggest spending the morning at Saquisilí Market, one of the largest and most authentic indigenous markets in the area. People come from the surrounding mountains every week to trade and sell animals. After lunch, head back towards the Quito airport for a midnight departure. On other days of the week, there are short routes through the agricultural areas that offer scenic river views and a taste of daily Ecuadorian life.

Extension: Galapagos or Amazon Cruise

This itinerary is an ideal start to a diverse itinerary that includes a cruise in either the Galapagos Islands or along the Napo River in the Amazon Basin. June through August has relatively nice weather in both places, though the water will be somewhat colder in the Pacific.

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