Family trip Ecuador with rental car

19 days - from € 3,179 per person

family trip - self-drive - Andes - active - Amazon

  • Discover the highlights of Ecuador by rental car: Andes, cloud forest, rainforest and coastal area
  • Stroll through the Indigenous market in Otavalo
  • Soak in the thermal baths of Papallacta
  • Take tours through the Amazon rainforest from your jungle lodge
  • Stand eye-to-eye with the Blue-footed Booby and frigate bird on Isla de la Plata

Travel itinerary

Day 1: Amsterdam - Quito

Today you will fly with your intercontinental flight to the Ecuadorian capital Quito. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by our local staff and taken to your hotel. You will stay at the attractive boutique hotel Casona de la Ronda, located within walking distance of the historic center of Quito. Located in the heart of the city, this is the ideal base to explore the historic center of Quito.
Overnight stay: Hotel Casona de la Ronda | bed & breakfast

Day 2: Quito

Today you have time to explore Quito by yourself. This attractive city, situated at about 2800 meters altitude in the Andes Valley, has a rich past and a beautiful colonial centre. From almost every spot in the city you have a view of one of the many volcanoes that surround the city. The old colonial part of the city centre (Centro Histórico) has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The colorful, picturesque streets, the busy squares and the authentic local atmosphere are what makes this part of the city worth a visit. In the morning, we highly recommend you to ride the telefériQo (cable car) to get off at an altitude of 4,000 metres with a view of the entire city.  In the new part of the city centre there are nice shops and markets to find. In the old town you will find the beautiful squares Plaza de la Independencia and Plaza San Fransisco. Within walking distance of the Centro Historico, you will find the Basílica del Voto Nacional, where you can climb the 115-metre-high towers. From here, you will have a spectacular view over the city.
Overnight stay: Hotel Casona de la Ronda | bed & breakfast

Day 3: Quito – Mindo

(approx. 100 km | 2 hour drive)
After breakfast you will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the car rental company where you will pick up your rental car. With the car you will drive to your next destination, Mindo. You will stay at the Sachatamia Lodge. A paradise for bird lovers! The hotel and restaurant are built in the middle of the cloud forest and you really feel at one with nature. The restaurant has windows on three sides so you can see the hummingbirds during breakfast.
Overnight stay: Sachatamia lodge | bed & breakfast

Day 4: Mindo

Today you can go to the nature reserve by yourself, where you will encounter many different bird species, more than 400 bird species live here. In addition, you will of course see the various plants, orchids and butterflies. In this nature reserve you will also find a beautiful waterfall, an interesting butterfly garden and you can enjoy the cloud forests.
Overnight stay: Sachatamia lodge | bed & breakfast

Day 5: Mindo – Otovalo

(approx. 170 km | 3.5 hour drive)
Today you will get back in your rental car and travel to Otavalo. Here you can visit one of the largest traditional markets in South America. The traditional people from the surrounding area come to this place to sell their merchandise and to do their own purchases. By their unique costumes you can recognize which region the people come from. The market is a beautiful palette of colorful colors and many fragrances. Among other things, clothing, exotic fruits, vegetables, spices and meat are traded here. 
Overnight stay: Hacienda Pinsaqui | bed & breakfast

Day 6: Otovalo – Cotopaxi

(approx. 180 km | 3.5 hour drive)
You continue your journey to Cotopaxi. On the way you can visit the mysterious Cuicocha crater lake in the beautiful surroundings of Otavalo. This was created because the top of the mountain collapsed during a violent eruption (about 3,000 years ago). When you walk on the edge of the lake, you will be surrounded by the volcanic peaks of Imbabura and Cotacachi. In the middle of the emerald green lake you can see two islands called Teodoro Wolf and Yerovi. Enjoy the magnificent view with the Cotacachi volcano in the background! Another attraction is the village of Cotacachi which enjoys national fame as a leatherworkers town. Here you can buy leather goods at very favorable prices. 
Overnight stay: Hacienda Hato Verde | bed & breakfast

Day 7: Cotopaxi

Today you should visit the Cotopaxi National Park. Enjoy the paramo landscape and animal life like the llama, fox, falcon, deer and with some luck a condor. In addition to being a national park, the Cotopaxi is also a stratovolcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and the second highest mountain in Ecuador. In Quechua the word Cotopaxi means 'Neck of the Moon'.
Overnight stay: Hacienda Hato Verde | bed & breakfast

Day 8: Cotopaxi – Papallacta

(approx. 80 km | 1.5 hour drive)
After breakfast it is time to drive on again. You will drive to Papallacta, a small town hidden in the Andean Mountains known for its hot springs. The natural hot springs are filled with water from the mountains which flows through canals to the various baths. Here you can relax in one of the baths while enjoying the scenery around you. If you want to do something active it is of course also possible, so you can make several hikes in the area. You can book these at your accommodation.
Overnight stay: Termas de papallacta | bed & breakfast

Day 9: Papallacta – Tena

(approx. 203 km | 4.5 hour drive)
Today you will travel to a totally different landscape, to the jungle. You will park your car in Tena and change to a motorized canoe. During the ride you can enjoy the magic and beauty of the Amazon rainforest. Arriving at Itamandi Eco Lodge, where you will spend the night, you will receive a welcome drink and have time to relax in the bar with a snack. There will be a short briefing with general information about the lodge and activities. An option is to make a night walk with flashlight and camera. Here you can hear the nocturnal sounds and search for bats, owls, insects, tarantulas, frogs and possibly snakes. If there are no clouds, you can also enjoy the starry sky. 
Overnight stay: Itamandi Eco Lodge | full board

Day 10: Tena 

Are you a bird lover? Then get up early and join a canoe trip to visit a clay wall where several parrots and parakeets eat the minerals of the clay wall to digest their food. A special scene! After breakfast you will make a walk of about 2,5 - 3 hours. An expert nature researcher will teach you about the ecology, flora and fauna of the rainforest. You will see a wide variety of insects, birds and with luck reptiles and monkeys. In the afternoon you can enjoy a cultural activity. You will meet a Kichwa community from the Amazon who will teach you more about their way of life and interaction with the forest and treat you with a performance of a traditional dance. 
Overnight stay: Itamandi Eco Lodge | full board

Day 11: Tena – Baños

(approx. 160 km | 3 hour drive)
After breakfast you get in the boat back to the rental car. Then you drive to Baños. Baños (Spanish for bath) owes its name to the many hot springs that can be found in the area. The town is located in the transition area to the Amazon basin and is surrounded by beautiful green natural landscapes. Here you can visit the various waterfalls, such as the so-called waterfall of the bride's robe, Cascada del Manto de La Novia and the waterfall Pailon del Diablo.
Overnight stay: Samari Spa Resort | bed & breakfast

Day 12: Baños

On this day off you can discover the miracles of Baños. For example, the side corridor of the cathedral is full of crutches of cured patients. The sick are said to have been cured by the water coming from the thermal springs. Baños is also known for its various outdoor activities. These include rafting, paragliding, kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, ziplining, bungee jumping and hiking. Not far from Baños is the Sangay national park with one of the most active volcanoes in the world. 
Overnight stay: Samari Spa Resort | bed & breakfast

Day 13: Baños – Riobamba

(approx. 80 km | 1.5 hour drive)
You drive on to Riobamba today. Riobamba is a quiet town with many parks, squares and churches. Near Riobamba is the Chimborazo, with 6310 meters, the highest mountain in Ecuador. 
Overnight stay: Hacienda Abraspungo | bed & breakfast

Day 14: Riobamba – Alausi – Cuenca

(approx. 290 km | 5.5 hour drive)
Early in the morning you will drive to the train station of Alausi (approx. 100 km / 2 hour drive) where you board the so-called Devil's nose train. This route is the most spectacular part of the original route from Quito to Guayaquil. The descent is so steep that conventional hairpin bends no longer suffice. To be able to descend anyway, the train zigzags successively forwards and backwards between switches. At the time, the route shortened this journey between Guayaquil and Quito from two weeks to two days. The route is truly breathtakingly beautiful. Upon returning to Alausi, you will drive on to your hotel in Cuenca (approx. 190 km / 3.5 hour drive). Cuenca is a former Inca city and is considered the cultural capital of Ecuador. The city has a number of good museums, pleasant streets with many bars and restaurants. 
Overnight stay: Hotel Santa Lucia | bed & breakfast

Day 15: Cuenca – Guayaquil

(approx. 200 km | 4 hour drive)
In the morning you can visit the hat factory of 'Homero Ortega', located just outside the center of Cuenca, where the best Panama hats in the world are made. Among others Al Capone had his hats made here. After this it is time to drive on to Guayaquil. On the way we advise you to visit the national park El Cajas, a beautiful mountainous nature reserve. The altitude in this area varies between 3000 and 4500 meters and consists of mountains and a large number of glacial lakes. Here you can make a number of beautiful walks, you can hire a local nature guide if you wish. Then you drive further in the direction of Guayaquil, a beautiful route from the Andes to the coast.
Overnight stay: Unipark Hotel | bed & breakfast

Day 16: Guayaquil – Puerto Lopez

(approx. 220 km | 3.5 hour drive)
Today you will continue your trip to Puerto Lopez where you can swim, or visit the nearby town of Salango where you can eat delicious fish dishes. From Guayaquil you will drive along the coastline of Ecuador. Along the route you will pass several coastal villages such as the surfer's paradise of Montañita and the seaside resort of Salinas in Santa Elena. Ayampa and Los Frailes offer the most beautiful beaches where you can relax. From July to September, you can spot whales along this route.
Overnight stay: Hosteria Mandala | bed & breakfast

Day 17: Puerto Lopez

Today you will be picked up at the hotel and you will visit Isla de la Plata, also called mini Galapagos, a small island of about 14 km2 in the Pacific Ocean. Isla de la Plata belongs to the Machalilla National Park, a park that consists of dry tropical forest and ocean with its islets. Here you can spot a number of animals, especially birds, as on the Galapagos archipelago; blue- and red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, frigate birds and dolphins. From July to September you can also spot whales here. Afterwards you will be brought back to your hotel.
Overnight stay: Hosteria Mandala | bed & breakfast

Day 18: Puerto Lopez – Guayaquil – Amsterdam

Today, unfortunately, your Unique Journey comes to an end. You will drive to the airport of Guayaquil (approx. 200 km | 4 hour drive) where you will drop-off your rental car. You can choose to follow the route along the coast as much as possible or follow the route through the inland / interior. In Guayaquil, you will board your intercontinental flight to Amsterdam, arriving the next day.

Day 19: Amsterdam 

Arrival at Schiphol airport.


From € 3,179 per person

  • Based on 2 persons traveling together
  • Depending on time of booking, availability of the flights and the period of travel


  • 15 hotel overnights, meals as stated
  • 2 overnights in Itamandi Jungle Lodge on full board basis, including excursions on shared basis accompanied by professional guides
  • 16 days rental car (cat.: Toyota Fortuner or similar alternative) incl. basic insurance, pick-up in Quito and drop-off in Guayaquil
  • all transfers and excursions as stated
  • our backup 24/7; locally and in the Netherlands
  • extensive travel documents package with small attention

Not included:

  • international flights, if you wish, we reserve these for you
  • early check-in / late check-out, based on availability, this is sometimes provided by the hotel. If you want to be sure that you have this, ask us about the additional cost.
  • (Dutch) public contribution Calamity fund; € 2.50,- per booking
  • SGR contribution of € 5,- per person per booking
  • travel and cancellation insurance

Request travel proposal

Would you like to make this journey? We can arrange the itinerary for you, but we are also happy to put together a programme based on your wishes and ideas. Do not hesitate to contact us. Call us on +31 73 610 62 04, send an e-mail to or ask us to plan your trip. We are happy to help. 

Request travel proposal

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