Quito & the Andean Highlands

7 Days & 6 Nights
  • Hike through Ecuador’s Avenue of The Volcanoes
  • Visit Otavalo’s local market for artisanal crafts and textiles
  • Savour quinoa soups, Ecuadorian ceviches and traditional recipes each night
  • Look for soaring condors during your stay at the working ranch of Hacienda Zuleta
  • Follow the scenic rim trail around Cotacachi’s brilliant blue Cuicocha Lake
Immerse yourself in the colorful countryside of Ecuador’s Andean Highlands as you explore on foot, at a leisurely pace. Upon arrival in Quito, explore the city’s historical sites with an easy half-day walking tour. Head to the Highlands for stunning vistas and overnight stays at friendly, family-run haciendas. Hike local trails around a crater lake, through volcano valleys and to the Otavalo market for an authentic cultural experience and hiking adventure. Spend one last day in the heart of the Highlands at Hacienda Zuleta, a 17th-century working farm offering beautiful backyard trails, Andean cuisine and cosy rooms, before returning to Quito.

What To Expect

This tour is perfect for avid hikers who want to explore Ecuador’s Northern Andes, Quechua culture and striking scenery. This tour is graded moderate with a hiking average of 7 miles (4-6 hours) from a mixture of dirt trails, cobblestone and paved roads. A private English-speaking guide is provided for the Quito city tour and on the fourth day when hiking from lodge-to-lodge. All other days are self-guided and supported by the Macs Adventure Navigation App and route notes, so you can enjoy an independent, go-at-your-own-pace.

Tour Style:

Private Guided | Alone or with your chosen companion(s), benefit from a private guide throughout most of your trip.

Activity:

Multi Center Walking | You will spend multiple nights in one or more of the locations on this walking tour

This trip is suitable for:

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Elegance & Unique Stays
  • National Parks & Trails
  • Mountains

Activity Level & Terrain

This tour is graded moderate to challenging. Hiking is mostly on distinct dirt trails or double-track roads with moderate ascents and descents. On most days you will be walking between four to eight hours. To get the most from your trip, you should be in great physical condition and an experienced hiker accustomed to walking medium to long distances every day.

The Ecuadorian Highlands and Cotopaxi National Park are high-altitude regions, often above 8,000 feet. We have added extra time in Quito to help you acclimatize to this altitude and to minimize the likelihood of experiencing altitude sickness.

Navigation

The Macs Adventure Navigation App is a great tool when navigating daily hiking routes. All daily routes with GPX tracks are available to download for use offline. Along with this app, you will also receive route notes and turn-by-turn directions in your pre-departure information pack. You will be provided with 24/7 telephone support from us here at Macs Adventure as well as telephone support from our local, English-speaking representative should you require assistance.

Accommodations

Whether a converted colonial home, a boutique hotel, or a family-run hacienda, we carefully hand-pick every accommodation. We book standard rooms that provide comfort and modern amenities. While each overnight accommodation differs in style, each offers exceptional service, excellent food and individual character and charm.

Ecuador’s highlands are a year-round destination with a large volume of travelers. As such, we may at times have to accommodate you at alternative locations due to availability. We regularly use the following properties but will accommodate lodging of equal standard should any of the following be unavailable.

Solo Hikers & Single Rooms

This trip is based on two people sharing a room. If you’d like separate rooms, a single supplement is required.

If you would like to request a twin room (same room with two separate beds), please notify us during booking so we can request this option.

This trip is not available for solo hikers. 

Meals

Breakfast is included each morning and ranges from buffet-style to a set menu or a la carte. All chefs pride themselves on serving fresh and seasonal cuisine straight from the organic garden or via local farmers nearby. A typical breakfast includes juice, tea, coffee, yogurt, granola, breads, jams, eggs or a selection of hot dishes. Please notify us of dietary restrictions at the time of booking.

Three lunches are included in this trip and consists of a convenient packed lunch when hiking Cuicocha Crater Lake and two lunches presented by Hacienda Zuleta. Five farm-to-table dinners are included in this trip and are provided by your overnight accommodations while in the Highlands: Casa Mojanda, Hacienda Cusin and Hacienda Zuleta. All other lunches and dinners are not included in the trip, so you can choose to dine at your hotel or from available nearby cafés or restaurants. 

Extra Nights

You can easily request to add extras nights during this itinerary. For further details, please ask us at the time of booking.

Included
  • 6 nights at hand-selected accommodations
  • 6 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches and 5 Dinners
  • Private transfer from Quito International Airport to downtown Quito
  • Daily transfers per the itinerary
  • Quito city tour and guide
  • Otavalo English-speaking guide
  • Door-to-door luggage drop-offs
  • Pre-departure information pack
  • Route notes
  • Macs Adventures Navigation App with directions
  • 24/7 telephone support from our office
  • Telephone support from our local, English-speaking representative
Excluded
  • International flights
  • All other meals, drinks and snacks
  • Additional nights before, during or after the trip
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities and tips
Extras
  • Extra Nights in Quito, Otavalo, San Pablo del Lago or Zuleta
  • Room Upgrades (only where applicable)
  • Twin Beds
  • Private Taxi from Quito to Quito International Airport

When To Go

June to October are often the best times to go to Ecuador’s Northern Andes. This time period is during the dry season, where temperatures offer warmer weather and clearer skies.

Availability

This trip is available year-round. As these regions are popular destinations, with a large volume of travelers, we may at times have to substitute you with an alternative itinerary or location due to availability.

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized to ensure availability for specific dates.

Getting to the Start

Getting to/from Quito

By Air

The best airport to arrive at is Quito International Airport, which has flights from international and national destinations.

By Private Taxi

Included in this trip is a private transfer from the airport to your overnight hotel in Quito. A private taxi will pick you up directly from Quito International Airport outside the arrivals exit, after passing through customs, baggage claim and security, and will drop you off at your overnight hotel (approx. 1 hour).

Luggage Transfer

We have arranged for your luggage to be transferred from your accommodation (as per your itinerary) and moved to your next overnight accommodation. Luggage will be picked up from the front desk or reception area around 10:00am each day and dropped off at that evening’s accommodation by 4:00pm. For consecutive overnights in the same accommodation, keep your luggage with you in your room. Please note that we have a luggage limit of 50 lbs. per person.

General Information

A private English-speaking guide is provided for the Quito city tour and when hiking from lodge-to-lodge through Otavalo and the Pedegral Valley. Join a guide on these days to gain in-depth local knowledge of significant sites, Ecuadorian culture and ecological features for a value-added experience.

All other hikes are self-guided and supported by the Macs Adventure Navigation App and route notes, so you can enjoy an independent, go-at-your-own-pace.

A daily guide is available to hike with you at all times if desired. Please let us know during the time of booking if you prefer this option.

Getting to/from the Highlands & Cotopaxi

Included in this trip is a transfer from downtown Quito to the Andean Highlands and to Cotopaxi National Park and back (approx. 2-3 hours). A private taxi will pick you up directly from your hotel and transfer you to your overnight hacienda and mountain lodge.

Getting Around

All transfers and vehicle services related to the itinerary are included in this trip. For additional transportation services outside the provided itinerary, such as a taxi to a specific restaurant or location, the host at your evening’s accommodation can help assist you in making the necessary arrangements.

Visas

Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before traveling to Ecuador.

For US and UK residents, proof of travel or health insurance and a valid passport for at least six months past the planned date of departure from Ecuador is required. Visas are not required unless you are planning to visit longer than 90 days. You may be asked about your reason for travel and provide evidence of a return or onward flight upon arrival.

Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard hiking gear such as good hiking boots, lightweight clothes, warm layers, water bottles, hats, sunscreen, rain gear, camera and a day pack.

Drinking Water
How does the luggage transfers work?
What happens if I can’t hike a section?
What do I do if I become ill during my trip?
WiFi

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Quito Day 2 Quito City Tour and Transfer Day 3 Hike Cuicocha Crater Lake 8 miles / 12.5 km Day 4 Explore Otavalo & Local Culture 4 miles / 6.5 km Day 5 San Pablo del Lago to Zuleta 5.5 miles / 9 km Day 6 Explore Hacienda Zuleta Day 7 Onward Travel

The Macs Way

  • Custom-made Adventures Custom-made Adventures
  • Freedom Freedom
  • Book with Confidence Book with Confidence
  • Expertise Expertise
  • Positive Impact Positive Impact
Build your perfect adventure your way
  • Flexible itineraries built around you
  • Knowledgeable and helpful specialist trip planners
  • Customize your trip to suit your interests
  • Start on any date that suits you
  • Choose your ideal trip length and difficulty
  • Range of accommodation comfort levels
  • Choice of trip styles
Authentic adventure travel experiences on your own terms
  • Choose your own travel companions
  • Walk, cycle and explore at your own pace
  • Make your own decisions
  • Choose your own path
  • Indulge your passions
Feel secure in making the right choice for your precious adventure time
  • 14,000+ unbiased trip & service reviews
  • Feefo Gold Award 2019
  • 25,000+ travelers trust us each year
  • As featured in the Guardian, Times, Nat Geo Traveler
  • Founder owned & operated since 2003
  • 100+ passionate team members across the US, UK & Europe
You can be confident that every detail of your journey has been expertly planned
  • Carefully planned adventures
  • Quality, hand-picked accommodations
  • Seamless and reliable arrangements
  • Comprehensive trip information & insider tips
  • Detailed maps, route notes and mobile GPS app
  • Helpful 24/7 support should you need it
Travel the right way and make a positive impact
  • Travel responsibly
  • Explore off the beaten track
  • Support locally owned businesses
  • Engage with local communities
  • Minimize your impact
  • Maximize the benefit of your travel
  • Challenge yourself & grow