Discover the enchanting world of the cloud forest, the ancient haciendas of Ecuador's highlands, and hike on Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes on Earth! Celebrating Ecuador's phenomenal array of landscapes and cultures, our Private Journey immerses you in three totally distinct settings. In the lofty realm of the highlands, explore beguiling rural landscapes, centuries-old markets, and enjoy a warm welcome at an atmospheric 17th century hacienda. On the high páramo grasslands of Cotopaxi National Park, crowned by ice-draped Cotopaxi (19,347'), hike along high trails and enjoy fantastic stargazing in the night sky of the Southern Hemisphere. For a grand finale, enter Ecuador's pristine cloud forest, home to some of the richest biodiversity in the world, and walk through vine-draped forests and even take an aerial "sky bike" ride across the canopy. As you explore these three realms of Ecuador, dining will be a special part of the experience, with locally sourced meals inspired by the ingredients of Ecuador's natural bounty. Our handpicked accommodations, from a stunning nature lodge in the cloud forest to a 17th century hacienda and a cozy mountain lodge, will be as memorable as the journey itself.
Arrive: Quito, Ecuador
Depart: Quito, Ecuador
At time of reservation: $1,000
90 Days prior to departure: Balance
*Please note that this differs from our standard policy.
Minimum fee: $500 per person
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost
*Please note that this differs from our standard policy.
Scroll through our signature accommodations for this trip below. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.
Day 1 (1 night)
Days 2-3 (2 nights)
There is something quite special about Hacienda Zuleta. Surrounded by more than 2,000 acres of forest and grazing lands, it was built at the end of the 16th century and is still a private family home. You can get a sense Ecuador's history here, and that of the Galo Plaza-Lasso...
Days 4-5 (2 nights)
Family-owned Chilcabamba is an exclusive, yet unpretentious, mountain lodge in a gorgeous setting, with spectacular views of towering Cotopaxi on a clear day. Guest rooms are comfortably furnished and heated by wood-burning stoves (and with thick duvets to keep you warm throughout the night!). The chef prepares excellent home-cooked meals...
Mashpi Private Reserve, Ecuador
Days 6-7 (2 nights)
Mashpi is a luxurious retreat surrounded by a private nature reserve in the cloud forest. Guest rooms have floor to ceiling windows onto the cloud forest, and the terrace is the perfect place to enjoy sights, sounds, and views over the canopy. The chefs provide...
This trip is rated Level 3, Moderate, according to our trip grading system. Cultural explorations and day hikes are the focus of the trip, with hotel, hacienda, and lodge accommodations throughout. Much of the trip takes place at higher altitudes, ranging from 9,500 feet at Otavalo to over 15,000 feet in Cotopaxi National Park. Overland travel is by van. There are five days with optional hikes of about 2-4 hours each. For your enjoyment of the trip, we recommend you make a special effort to be in very good physical condition, and ready to hike on varied terrain (rock and sand), driving on mountain roads that can be rugged, and the hikes will often be cross country, not on developed trails. Please note that your Trip Leader may make adjustments to the itinerary and hiking routes, depending on local weather and trail conditions.
Because of Ecuador's location on the equator, the weather patterns don't change very much during the year. Altitudes are very much the determining factor in the temperatures. In Quito, temperatures are pleasant and spring-like much of the year, with highs around 75°F and lows around 50°F. The central highlands of Ecuador are crossed by the Andes, with snow line starting at altitudes of about 16,500 feet. Expect the daily high to be around 75°F. Nights and mornings are cold, dropping down to 50°F or even lower. In the cloud forest at Mashpi, expect daytime highs of around 80°F and much cooler evenings, possibly as low as the mid-50s, and higher humidity.
The summer season is June through September, and you will enjoy great views of the volcanoes and mountains. The rainy season is generally February-April, and while temperatures are comfortable, it is not an optimum time for hiking.
Our Area Specialists know every detail about our tours. They will be happy to answer any questions and help you choose the journey that’s right for you. Contact us to learn more or book your trip today!
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With more than 200 different adventures to choose from, we want to help you find the trip that’s right for you. Our Trip Level system ranks each trip in two ways: a number rating from 1 to 6 according to the activity, and general travel rigors. 1 is the easiest and 6+ the most difficult—see descriptions below for explanations of each number. A plus (+) sign means the trip is a bit more strenuous than other trips of that level. The detailed explanation of each trip—below the bar with the number rating—is perhaps more important, specifying activities, altitudes, hiking, and travel conditions. The Detailed Itinerary, available by download or mail, gives further information. Our Area Managers can also answer questions and guide you to the trip that best suits your interests.
Level 1 – Easiest
Non-camping journeys, optional walks, little elevation gain or loss.
Level 3 – Moderate
Half- to full-day hikes (3-6 hours) over rolling countryside on most days, occasional steep trails. Many of our hotel-based walking tours are in this category, as are our snorkeling adventures.
Level 5 – Strenuous
Full-day hikes (4-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many days. Trips with hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet are in this category.