Navigate your way through some of Ecuador’s most incredible sites on an 11-day self-drive adventure taking in majestic volcanoes, expansive national parks, endemic wildlife species and historic cities.
Begin in the fascinating capital of Quito before picking up your vehicle and heading to the spectacular Avenue of Volcanoes, a region littered with natural wonders. Wander peacefully through the incredibly laid-back city of Cuenca and marvel at the beauty of Las Cajas National Park before a well deserved two-night relaxing stay in Puerto Lopez, located on Ecuador’s alluring coastline.
The drives on this itinerary are some of the best in the world and a self-drive adventure is a fantastic way to explore the very best of Ecuador at your own pace.
Days 1 & 2 - Quito
Day 3 - Cotopaxi National Park
Day 4 - Baños Valley
Day 5 - Chimborazo Nature Reserve
Day 6 - Cuenca
Day 7 - Guayaquil
Days 8 - 10 - Puerto Lopez
Day 11 - Transfer to the airport for your onward flight
Any element of this holiday can be made truly individual to your requirements, including the places you want to see and the things that are important to you. Just contact one of our Travel Specialists today.
Arrive in Quito and transfer to your centrally located hotel. The afternoon on your first day is at leisure for you to explore the capital at your own pace.
During your second day, wander through the winding streets of Quito’s old town on a guided tour of the city’s architectural treasures, engulfing market stalls and magnificent churches. End the day with a short stop at the ‘middle of the world’, visiting both the monument and interactive museum.
After picking up your car, enjoy the incredible drive to the aptly named region of the Avenue of Volcanoes. The journey will take you through the winding roads of the beautiful Ecuadorian countryside in the heart of the Andes – passing by dense forests, indigenous settlements, artisan markets and all flanked by towering majestic mountains. It is recommended that you spend the first day exploring the Cotopaxi National Park, where the snow-capped symmetrical coned Cotopaxi Volcano dominates the skyline. It is possible to ascend the volcano although there are several options for scenic hiking in the park where you are likely to spot llamas, horses and deer roaming freely.
Continue your journey exploring the Avenue of Volcanoes in the verdant Baños Valley where you can explore the many waterfalls of the region. The most impressive is the Pailon del Diablo which eerily directly translates as the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’. Observe how the waterfall, which lies on the edge of the cloud forest, thunders down an impressive 265 feet creating a powerful mist and spectral ambience.
Drive the short distance to Riobamba, the base to explore the vast Chimborazo Nature Reserve. The drive itself is reason enough to make the journey as you ascend to higher altitude with some of Ecuador’s most scenic views along the way. The reserve is vast and somewhat barren but the desert-like terrain has several beautiful hiking options and it is likely you will spot Vicuñas, llamas and Alpacas on your trail, all with the impressive backdrop of the mighty Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest volcano.
Leave the Avenue of Volcanoes this morning, driving south to the historic city of Cuenca. En-route make a stop at the 16th-century church of La Balbanera which showcases one of the earliest examples of colonial architecture in Ecuador. It is recommended to make a further stop at Ingapirca, home to ancient Inca ruins, including the Temple of the Sun before reaching Cuenco in the early evening.
This morning take another beautiful drive through the Andes to the coastal town of Guayaquil, stopping en route at the serene Las Cajas National Park, in the heart of Ecuador’s highlands. An incredible variety of wildlife and bird species can be found here who are drawn to the many lakes that feature in the park.
Spend the night in Guayaquil and the evening taking strolling lazily along the promenade of the vibrant Malecon 2000, on the banks of the River Guayas.
Drive to the peaceful small fishing town of Puerto Lopez to end your self-drive Ecuadorian adventure relaxing on the coast. En route to Puerto Lopez, you could make a short detour to the coastal Machalilla National Park and have a refreshing dip in the Agua Blanca lagoon or take a stroll along the beach of Los Frailes.
On your second day in Puerto Lopez, enjoy a navigational tour of Isla de la Plata and Isla Salango, keep your eyes open for Blue-footed, Red-footed and Nazca Boobies as well as the magnificent frigate bird, the male of which has a large red throat pouch.
Drive to Quito to return the car at the airport and connect with your onward flight.
(Valid for 2022 departures, based on 2 people sharing a room)
International flights to Ecuador from the UK start from £699 per person
Send an enquiry and your travel specialist can find you the best available options from your local airport
10 nights’ accommodation
Private half-day tour of Quito and Middle of the World
A local guide to visit Cotopaxi National Park
Entrance to the trail to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall
Local guide and entrance to Chimborazo Nature Reserve
Entrance to Ingapirca ruins
Parking for Machalilla National Park
Navigational tour to Isla Salango and Isla de La Plata
10 days of car hire with unlimited mileage (4WD)
Full cover insurance
1 additional driver
Transfers and domestic flights as per itinerary
Meals not indicated in your itinerary
Local departure taxes payable locally
Items of a personal nature such as laundry and drinks etc
Tips for guides and drivers (discretionary)
Camera or video fees at any sites
Our Truly Individual Holidays allow you to choose the destinations, inclusions & budget
Our Escorted Small Group Tours offer fantastic itineraries, travelling with like-minded people
Winner of 'Tour Operator of the Year - Small' at the 2021 Travel Industry Awards by TTG
Winner of 'Best Tour Operator' at the 2019 & 2018 L.A.T.A. Achievement Awards
All of our holidays are ATOL protected (11104), for your complete peace of mind