5 day trips suggestions to do around Quito

5 day trips suggestions to do around Quito if you have an extra couple of days!

Make the most of your stay in Ecuador

If your international flight lands in/departs from Quito, you may want to take some extra days to do sightseeing. As Ecuador is a country of contrasts, you will definitly be amazed by incredible sceneries very different from what you will see in Galapagos.

1) The classical: Quito City tour and “Middle of the World site”

This is a day trip where in the morning you visit the old town of Quito which is a UNESCO site and the best preserved colonial center of South America. See the famous Independance plaza, the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the “Compania de Jesus”church, one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque architecture in South America. In the afternoon we go out of town to the famous “Middle of the World” visitor site. That is where you spot the Equator line and while visiting the Inti Ñan museum you will do some experiments that can only be done on the Equator like seeing how wáter flushes differently depending on which hemispher you are.

Tip: make it 2 days and add the Cochasqui pre-inca site, which is still not so much visited but gives you a fabulous insight of Ecuadorian Civilization.

2. The “breath of fresh air”: Cotopaxi National Park is close enough to Quito to visit it for

a day. Get to walk to the first refuge of the Cotopaxi Volcano, at 4800 meters (quite as high as Mont Blanc Summit!)   and have a view of its summit (if weather allows) which is at 5897 m.

On this day trip you may spot wild horses, condors, foxes. You will also walk to the Limpiopungo Lagoon – a  glacial lake located at the foot of the Volcano.

Tip : Stay the night and sleep in one of the nearby old Haciendas to feel a bit of the history of the country. It is also possible to do nice horseback rides the way the Andean « cow boys » (chagras) do.

3) The “birders Paradise” tour:

This is especially a must for bird lovers. Mindo is approximatly an hour far from Quito and radically different in terms of weather: say goodbye to cold and dry Andean weather and experience the warm and tropical temperatures of the “cloud forest”. This is due to the fact that we go quickly down in altitude and being so closet to the Equator. In this small área up to 550 bird species have been spoted 40 species of butterflies and 170 species of orchids. Having a qualified guide is mandatory so you can make the best of your day!

Tip: add a day and spend the night in one of the lodges so you can have an early morning bird watching walk!

4) The Crafts and Art tour:

Go to Otavalo (better if a Saturday when the market is the
busiest but you have Sellers every day) to have an immersion in all the local production of ponchos, hammocks and indigenous ítems. It is also very important to go with a great guide so he can take you to to the best craftsmen who will offer you the best products, locally made and respectful of local traditions. On the way stop at Cayambe to taste the famous “bizcochos” (cookies). You will have breathtaking views while on the road through Northern Andes.

Tip: The Otavalo área has also beautiful Haciendas where you can spend the night and have a great Andean experience away from the busy Quito capital.

5) The “because I deserve it” Papallacta tour:

Going east in the direction of Baeza and the Antisana volcano, is Papallacta, a small village famous for its thermal pools with wáter rich in minerals and naturally heated by the volcanic activity of the nearby volcanoes Cayambe and Antisana. Papallacta is approx 45mn from Quito international airport and the road there offers you stunning views on the volcanoes. Spend time in the pools and have a refreshing walk in the área.
Tip: the resort also has rooms with Access to more private swimming pools (reserved to guests staying overnight). To spend the night there, enjoying a hot thermal bath under a sky full of stars at 3250m altitude is truly a one of a kind experience! Recommended to relax after a usually fully packed Galapagos tour.

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