Tour to Ecuador from the Amazon Rainforest to the Andes mountains

August 2005

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Suggested itinerary for a tour to Ecuador

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Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America but, at the same time, it is also one of the countries with the highest biodiversity of the planet, thanks to the wide variety of environments that it hosts, starting from the Galapagos Islands, going through the majestic volcanoes of the Andes, ending in the Amazon rainforest. Therefore, Ecuador is the ideal destination for lovers of nature, wildlife and extreme landscapes, without forgetting the historical and cultural richness of the capital Quito. The tour in Ecuador presented in this travelogue begins right in Quito, referred to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America and included in World Heritage Site by UNESCO. After a full day tour of Quito, this trip to Ecuador continues with an extended eight days stay at Sacha Lodge in the heart of the Amazon forest, among the banks of Rio Napo, a natural paradise that is home to over 500 different species of birds, many monkeys, reptiles, butterflies and countless insects. The journey in Ecuador then continues through the Andes, visiting the small museum of the equator, crossed by parallel zero, before proceeding to Cayambe volcano and the village of Otavalo, famous for hosting the lovely market of local crafts.


Ecuador is easily accessible from all over the world. The main gateways are Madrid (Spain) if traveling from Europe or Miami if coming from North America (but there are of course several other hubs letting same day connections to Quito). Getting around in Ecuador is not too difficult, thanks to the air network offering short flights between the main cities (smaller towns are actually linked by bus, although the conditions of the roads aren't always good).


Ecuador is a destination sold by many tour operators, especially because of the Galapagos cruises (quite often, an overland tour in Ecuador to the Amazon rainforest or to the other places of interest, is offered as a simple extension to a Galapagos cruise, when this should be really the opposite). For cruises to the Galapagos, it's good to book well in advance, as some ships, especially the smaller vessels, may be completely sold-out even many months before departure. If you would like to organize a trip to Ecuador on your own, most of the lodges in the Amazon rainforest offer the possibility to book directly on-line (some of them will also add the flight from Quito and all the transfers as an option), while other local agencies in Ecuador can organize excursions in Quito and around over the mountains. The tour presented in this trip review was entirely booked through G Adventures as a custom (single) departure.


Since during a trip to Ecuador it will be required to stay stay outdoors for many hours a day, you might be wondering what is the best season to visit Ecuador, having a drier and sunny climate . Despite the small size of the country, there is a complex climate pattern, showing different distribution of rainfall throughout the year. The best season to go to the Amazon rainforest corresponds to winter in northern hemisphere, when rainfall is lower than in the summer months (though in a "rainforest" there isn't any real "dry" season, so there will be not so much difference going there in the wettest period). Further west, the best time for a trip into the Andes mountains and along the areas downhill to the Pacific Ocean, corresponds to summer in northern hemisphere, when the climate is much drier. Finally, the Galapagos Islands offer more sunshine and less rainfall during the winter period, making it the ideal destination for New Year holidays.


Most tours to the amazon rainforest in Ecuador are usually 3-4 days packages, including travel time which requires from half to full day, depending on where the rainforest accommodation is actually located. While such time is generally enough to see the "not to be missed things", people having specific interests (for example in botany, wildlife or life of the natives), may wish to spend longer time (one week or even more). In addition to weather, sometimes preventing to run all the planned excursions, it should be noted that even walking the same trail more than once, may show each time things not seen during previous excursions: these are good reasons to plan sufficient extra time either as buffer to deal with unfavorable conditions, either to see more in full peace of mind.

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Fokker 28 in Ecuador Traveling from Quito to the Amazon rainforest <<-- GO
The distance from Quito to Amazon rainforest is not too long, but the complete trip takes almost a full day, including a short flight, some hikes and different types of canoe.
Sacha Lodge bungalow Sacha Lodge review - where to stay in the Amazon rainforest <<-- GO
In the heart of the Amazon rainforest, the Sacha lodge represents a very comfortable base for the excursions all around.
Amazon rainforest in Ecuador Amazon rainforest pictures <<-- GO
There are dozens of miles of trails around the lodge, and they are ideal to explore the forest meeting its inhabitants.
Oservation bridge in the amazon rainforest Kapok tower and Canopy walkway at Sacha Lodge <<-- GO
A kapok tower and a canopy walkway, respectively 43 and 30 meters tall, are the ideal points to observe birds and other wildlife from the top of the forest.
Toucan in Ecuador Photos of Birds & mammals of Amazon rainforest <<-- GO
If the Amazon rainforest, you may observe monkeys, toucans, parrots and many other colorful birds making it an ideal destination for birding.
Iguana, Ecuador Pictures of reptiles and amphibians of the Amazon <<-- GO
Especially at night, the Amazon rainforest is populated by countless frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians.
Giant tarantula, Ecuador Pictures of arachnoid and myriapods <<-- GO
Tarantulas and other spiders abound and they are big. In addition, you will observe several species of centipedes and millipedes.
Ants in the amazon rainforest Insects pictures of Amazon rainforest <<-- GO
The ants are perhaps the most impressive, but also butterflies, grasshoppers and coleopterans are included in this section.
Trees in the amazon rainforest Amazon rainforest trees, flowers and mushrooms <<-- GO
Trees, flowers, bromeliads, and different types of mushrooms. The Amazon rainforest is home to a huge variety of plants.
Dragon blood tree, Ecuador Living in the Amazon rainforest <<-- GO
Although we visit the Amazon rainforest only as tourists, there are people living there in the middle of nowhere. A local naturalist guide explained many aspects of the life in the forest.
Cotopaxi volcano from Quito, Ecuador Quito day tour, the capital of Ecuador <<-- GO
The Ecuador's capital has an altitude of 2800 meters above sea level and is surrounded by several majestic volcanoes. The city is probably one of the most interesting in South America.
Glacier on Cayambe volcano, Ecuador Excursion to Cayambe volcano in Ecuador <<-- GO
Cayambe is a picturesque town in the heart of the mountains, where it's possible to rent a 4WD vehicle and drive to the snow line on Cayambe volcano.
Otavalo handicraft market, Ecuador Otavalo day tour and the beautiful handicraft market <<-- GO
Otavalo hosts a colorful market where the locals meet to sell and exchange different types of products, many of them made by alpaca wool.
Panasonic DMC-FZ20 Electronic equipment used on this trip <<-- GO
A brief description of the equipment used to take the pictures throughout this voyage. How to get macros of the insects in the rainforest? How to get pictures in poor light? In this page you will find more details.

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