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We’re lucky enough that our location independent business means that we can travel extra slow. If this is an option to you, we strongly recommend that you take your time when Ecuador backpacking, really getting to know and appreciate the country rather than try to cram as many new passport stamps as you can into a given time. We would advise at least one month in each country in Latin America, perhaps with the exception of Panama and Belize which have less to go and see.
However, that’s not always possible, as we are often asked by people who only have a 2 week holiday from their jobs where we would prioritise in the given time. So behold! Below is our 2 weeks in Ecuador backpacking itinerary for anyone who is tight on time but still wants to soak up the best that this incredible country has to offer.
As this is a 2 week trip, we assume that you are beginning and ending your 2 weeks in Ecuador backpacking itinerary in the capital, Quito. Please note that if you want to visit the incredible Galapagos Islands, we would recommend a bare minimum of 10 days in itself. There is so so much to see there, and without being on an organised boat tour, your movement between the islands using taxi boats is slow and very limited by daily or twice-daily departures. Plan ahead accordingly!
What not to miss in your 2 weeks in Ecuador backpacking itinerary:
Days 1-2 & 13-14: Quito
Spend your first couple of days in Quito getting used to the altitude and Ecuadorian pace of life. Climb the Panecillo hill during the day to see the Virgin that protects the city. Take a walking tour of the old town to soak up the history, making sure not to miss out on climbing to the top of La Basilica for views of a lifetime.
Watch Calle La Ronda come alive with street performers, small bars and local restaurants at night. Check out restaurants & nightlife in La Foch if you’re there between Thursday and Saturday.
The next day, take a tour out to the Mitad del Mundo to see if you can balance an egg on a pin on the Equator line. If you have time, take part in some of the free salsa, Spanish, yoga or chocolate-tasting classes hosted by Masaya Hostel.
Days 3-5: Baños de Agua Santa
Rent bikes and cycle Baños’ route of the waterfalls (Ruta de las Cascadas) – don’t miss the walk down to the Pailon del Diablo ‘Devil’s Cauldron’ waterfall! You can also get Tarabita cable car rides over some of the gorges along this route. Spend sunset relaxing in one of Baños’ many natural hot spring spas (but prepare for crowds straight after work!
See the Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa church lit up at night, and dine in one of Baños’ many restaurants. The next day, get a bus up to Casa del Arból treehouse at the top of the mountain and snap a pic swinging off the edge of the mountain(ish) – a must-do when Ecuador backpacking!
If you want a day of luxury, buy a $20 day pass at Hotel Luna Runtun (recently renamed to Luna Volcán) and wallow in their infinity pool with views over the whole valley. If not, head back down to the main town for a cheapo massage in one of the many parlours.
Days 6-8 Cuenca
Learn about Cuenca’s collision of indigenous and colonial cultures during a walking tour. Eat an uber-local lunch on the top floor of Mercado 10 de Agosto. Visit the Pumapungo Muesum to learn about Ecuador’s tribes and see a real shrunken human head. Have drinks and listen to live music at Cigale in the evening. If you like an adventure, get a bus to El Cajas national park to hike its hilly terrain, or get involved in a guided hike.
Day 9: Guayaquil
Climb Cerro Santa Ana in Guayaquil’s old town to view the colourful jumble of houses on Las Peñas, stroke wild iguanas in Parque Seminario, walk the Malecon 2000 and chill with a beer at the Pilsener bar at sunset. Push the boat out (quite literally) and go dolphin-watching at Puerto El Morro.
Days 10-12: Montañita
Surf the waves, soak up rays on the beach, party during the weekend, revel with all the Aussies and Canadians also there for some self-finding Ecuador backpacking. Visit Cascadas de Dos Mangas waterfalls via taxi or horse-riding tour. Enjoy a sunset from the Montañita Brewing Company craft beer bar. Day-trip from Montañita to Ayampe via bus or by hiking through the national park (just check the paths are open beforehand!).
Got 3 weeks for Ecuador backpacking?
If you have an extra week for your Ecuador backpacking, we recommend spending a couple of days in Puerto Misahuallí to see the edges of the Ecuadorian Amazon, then doing one of the longer hiking trips such as the Quilatoa Loop and Cotopaxi National Park. If you’re not here for hiking, Otavalo will provide a beautiful place to immerse yourself in one of Ecuador’s ancient indigenous cultures.
If you’re not yet sold on 2 weeks in Ecuador backpacking, and want to hone in on where in Latin America to spend your 2 weeks’ holiday, you might also want to check these out before booking those flights!