Ecuador multi activity holidays

“What you quickly notice about Ecuador is that there just aren’t many people around,” says Kat Dougal, from our holiday partner Andean Trails. “Certainly not compared with somewhere like Cuzco in Peru. And I think that means that Ecuadorean people often have an open and genuine attitude to tourists.”

Ecuador is special even among Latin American countries, and our Ecuador multi activity holidays punch well above their weight when it comes to adventure. It’s rare that you can take part in so many thrilling experiences in such a short space of time, and especially with so few other people around.

This is a small country. It’s easy to get from A to B overland – sometimes even by local bus. If you travel just 90 minutes north-west from the attractive UNESCO-listed capital Quito, you can be hiking in cloud forest. A similar drive time south finds you on the Avenue of Volcanoes, where you can tackle descents by mountain bike. Then you’ve got the hot springs of Banos, epic river rafting, and indigenous communities to travel to by boat in the Amazon.

So with all that going on, it seems odd that Ecuador sees so few visitors. But then, just a three-hour flight from Quito, you’ve got one of the world’s most famous wildlife watching destinations: the Galapagos Islands. Most travellers head straight there.

‘Responsible travel is easy here’

This focus on the Galapagos Islands means that tourism in mainland Ecuador has been able to develop sustainably and on a small scale. “Responsible travel is easy here,” says Simon Forster, from our partner The Beyond Tourism Co. “You’ve got family-owned lodges and haciendas everywhere employing lots of local people.”

Many accommodations are also involved in community projects which your visit contributes to. Your holiday can also benefit conservation organisations such as the World Land Trust, which works in Ecuador to buy up tracts of land to protect and enhance biodiversity.

There’s no need for any internal flights (unless you’re visiting the Galapagos Islands too). And multi activity holidays in Ecuador immerse you thoroughly in the country’s amazing natural beauty. You’ll swim beneath waterfalls, trek through wildlife reserves and around lakes in the craters of extinct volcanoes, and visit animal sanctuaries where you’ll meet parrots and monkeys.

“Another reason why I love Ecuador is the strength of its indigenous communities,” says Simon. “In the Andean region you find markets everywhere, but they’re not there for visitors at all. And tourism in the Amazon is proving a way of keeping indigenous culture intact in riverside communities.”

Our multi activity holidays in Ecuador typically stay in ecolodges or rural homesteads known as haciendas, almost always locally owned and operated, and eating food sourced from the surrounding area. The activities are guided by local people too.

From markets to mountain biking, you get a real feel for rural Ecuadorean lifestyles, while your holiday provides valuable income for parts of the country that traditionally don’t see much financial benefit from tourism.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Ecuador or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

What do multi activity holidays in Ecuador involve?

Our Ecuador multi activity holidays are usually around a week long and tailor made, so you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to travel dates, activities and the type of accommodation you want. Tailor made trips are ideal for extending your trip when visiting the Galapagos Islands, or when trekking to Machu Picchu, as Cuzco and Quito are just six hours apart by plane.

You’ll get underway in the capital, Quito, and have time to explore its Incan and Spanish colonial heritage, including the Old Town. Independence Square is a must, flanked by the Presidential Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. El Panecillo is a volcanic hill crowned by a winged Madonna statue, offering the best panoramas of the city.

From Quito you might first head north-west to the Bellavista Cloud Forest on the slopes of the Andes. Guides drawn from the local town, Mindo, lead you on hikes into the forest during which you’ll discover its astonishing biodiversity. There are more than 4,500 species of orchid here, around 400 species of bird, as well as pumas and spectacled bears, which are considered vulnerable due to habitat loss.
The Avenue of Volcanoes, south of Quito, is a 200km route taking in eight snow-capped volcanoes, some of them active. Whether driving or hiking here, the scenery is absolutely captivating. Some of our Ecuador adventure holidays take you up the slopes of Cotopaxi, the second tallest volcano, pop you onto the saddle of a mountain bike, and send you off on what must be one of South America’s most exciting downhill rides.

White water rafting is a major highlight of our Ecuador multi activity holidays, and there are several suitable rivers which can be used depending on the age and capabilities of your group.

Staying in an Amazon lodge is a more relaxed, but no less exciting experience. Boat trips visit riverside villages that have developed their own unique form of tourism, designed to preserve their culture and traditions. A day here might see you learning how to pan for gold, brew the corn-based beer known as chichi, and hunt with a blowpipe – a skill that, if you’re bringing the kids along, you might not want to encourage too much when you get home.

Family multi activity holidays in Ecuador

Kat Dougal, who spent a year living, working and travelling around Ecuador in her youth, returned in 2018 with her family. “Once they’d got over the weather and the lack of Rice Krispies for breakfast they had a great time, weirdly taking the presence of monkeys completely in their stride!” she says. “I’ve always loved the friendly vibe in Ecuador. It’s a very children-focused country with lots of big families. They couldn’t do enough for my two.”

“The Amazon gives families an incredible experience,” says Wilma Luna of our partner Rebecca Adventure Travel. “Kids love it, and being around animals and their habitats helps them learn too. All the activities are amazing, and being in a quiet place, far from the city, fills you with a lot of energy."

Our family multi activity holidays in Ecuador are suitable for kids aged around 10 and up. River rafting can be adapted when necessary, hikes are easy-going and the mountain biking is all downhill. A day or two in Quito is advisable to adjust to the altitude and climate, but after that they’ll have the time of their lives. And you can always pack some Rice Krispies just in case.

Best time to go on an Ecuador multi activity holiday

“I’d recommend visiting between November and January,” says Simon, “but really Ecuador is an all-year round destination, perhaps except February.”

Skies in the Andes are clear and temperatures cool from June to September, while it’s warmer and cloudier from December to March. March to July, meanwhile, tend to be the wettest months in the Amazon.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Longjourneys] [Intro: Jaime Dantas] [The Avenue of Volcanoes: Pete] [Family multi activity holidays in Ecuador: Ministerio de Turismo Ecuador]