One Week in Ecuador Itinerary

So you’ve only got one week to explore Ecuador? That’s unfortunate, but let’s see what we can do. Here’s a one week in Ecuador itinerary to get you started.

But first, if you’re thinking, maybe I’ll do a couple of days in the jungle and then head to the Galapagos Islands – let me stop you right there and tell you: you probably won’t have enough time. 

If you’ve only got a week, you’ll probably want to spend all your time on the Islands. You might have a spare day to explore the city of Quito (definitely worthwhile!) or, if you prefer, the city of Guayaquil and its surroundings, but the nearest Amazon destination would be Tena, and you’ll want more than a day to really make the most of a visit to this region. 

Basically, this is how I’d break down your options when it comes to time management for a one week in Ecuador itinerary:

  • 1 week on the Galapagos Islands (maybe 1 day at a layover city like Guayaquil or Quito)
  • 1 week in the Amazon (maybe 1 day in Quito)
  • Combination Quito, northern Andes, and Amazon
  • Combination Quito and day trips to northern Andes destinations and cloud forest
  • Combination Amazon, southern Andes, coast

There are actually many more combination options, but those would be the ones I’d consider first.

One week in Ecuador itineraryAn Itinerary for the Adventurous Ones

One reason people love Ecuador is because the air is thick with adventure, especially once you leave Quito and start to see the mountains and forests. Here’s a one week in Ecuador itinerary for the adrenaline junkies among you.

The route for this one-week itinerary: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños

Note: This itinerary involves a decent level of fitness.

  • First day: Explore Quito Old Town, get acclimatized to the altitude and organize your trip to Cotopaxi volcano.
  • Second day: Head to the Teleférico to climb Rucu Pichincha to prepare for your next summit.
  • Third day: Head to Cotopaxi National Park to begin your Cotopaxi adventure: downhill mountain biking. Either jump on the Wanderbus to Cotopaxi (if pick up times work out), or head to Cotopaxi by private car or a regular bus.
  • Forth day: Depending on where you spend the night, you can head to the Quilotoa crater, walk into the crater or around it. You can also explore trails around Chugchilan that make up part of the Quilotoa Loop. If you really like this area, spend another night here!
  • Fifth day: Head to Baños and get strapped in for a zipline experience, in the evening head to Luna Volcán for a heavenly thermal bath or go to the local thermal baths. Make sure to organize a half day or full day river riafting/kayak day trip.
  • Sixth day: Spend all day in the river in class 2-5 rapids. Most day trips include transportation and lunch. Depending on what time your flight leaves tomorrow, you might have to head back to Quito from Baños that night.
  • Seventh day: Head back to Quito to catch your flight.

This is actually a route we offer regularly on the Wanderbus called the Jacamar Pass. 

One week in Ecuador itineraryBest Stops for the Urban Lovers

For those among you that want to see cool stuff but prefer the comforts of the city to roughing it, here’s a one week in Ecuador itinerary for you.

The route for this one week itinerary: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Cuenca, Cajas, Guayaquil

Note: You’ll start in Quito and end in Guayaquil

  • First and Second day: Spend two days exploring Quito, its Old Town and some of the traditional food you’ll find around the city.
  • Third day: Head through Cotopaxi and Quilotoa to see some of the nearby volcanic peaks (without having to climb anything substantial).
  • Fourth day: Continue south to Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city often described as a living museum.
  • Fifth day: Visit Cajas National Park or the nearby towns to see how local handicrafts are made.
  • Sixth day: Head to Guayaquil by plane or Wanderbus and taste one local delicacy: crab soup.
  • Seventh day: Continue to explore Guayaquil and its surroundings before heading out on your flight.

One week in Ecuador itineraryOne Week Itinerary that Nature Lovers will Love

Love nature? You’re in luck! Ecuador’s got a lot of that. Here’s a one week in Ecuador itinerary for nature lovers. (Have you figured out what my keyword phrase is? I apologize.)

The route for this one week itinerary: Quito, Mashpi or Mindo area, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Chugchilán (optional) OR Quito, Amazon, Cotopaxi Quilotoa, Quito

  • First day: In Quito, head up the Teleférico to climb all, or part, of Rucu Pichincha for great views of the city and surroundings.
  • From second to forth day: Head to Maquipukuna to learn about the spectacled bear and possibly spot some in the wild. Stay overnight. Alternatively, you could visit Mashpi Lodge or Mindo. In all of these areas you’ll be able to birdwatch, spotting hummingbirds, and other cloud forest species endemic to this region of the country.
  • Fifth day: Take the Wanderbus to Cotopaxi and then Quilotoa for the day, spend the night at the eco-friendly Black Sheep Inn near Quilotoa in a town called Chugchilán.
  • Sixth day: Hike around this area for the day.
  • Seventh day: Head back to Quito to catch your flight.

For the nature-lovers that just can’t skip visiting the Amazon, we offer extra tours for 2-4 nights near Tena or in Cuyabeno. These can be combined with Day 1 and 5 of the above itinerary.

Wanderbus Ecuador

The Wanderbus Ecuador might be your ideal mode of transport while you’re planning your one week in Ecuador itinerary. Our routes ensure you’ll visit the top destinations in the country and for those that want to see it all, our Wanderpass will take you cross country!

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