Welcome to Central Highlands


Most trips to the area will include a couple of days in the region’s exceptional national parks and reserves, including Los Ilinizas, Cotopaxi, Llanganates, Chimborazo and Sangay. The Quilotoa Loop brings hiking travelers through traditional indigenous communities to an impossibly deep crater lake. And there are rail adventures and crafts markets, plus plenty of tropical experiences in the verdant valley leading down to the ever-popular town of Baños.


Top experiences in Central Highlands

Travel guides

Starting at $32.49

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Central Highlands activities

$30 Outdoor Activities

Canyoning in Rio Blanco from Baños

Meet at the office in Banos at 9:00am and receive all your equipment. You will put on your wet suit and get on the vehicle to head to Rio Blanco. Opon arrival, your guides will give you a safety briefing and you will be able to practice several times on land before entering the canyon. Then, it is time for the adventure to begin. You will negotiate your way down steep canyons by abseiling and jumping waterfalls and cliffs. Have fun as you cascade down natural chutes and also swim through crystal clear pools. Your guide will be with you at all times helping you as you go down. Admire the beautiful surroundings and lush vegetation. This tour involves spending 80% of the time in the water, so get ready to be wet. Once you reach the end of the canyon, you will dry-off and we'll head back to Baños where you can enjoy a sandwich and drinks to top-off this wonderful day. This tour in Rio Blanco among the seclusion of the canyons is the perfect way to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Join this tour and spend the day exploring some of Ecuador's last wilderness frontiers.

$33 Day Trips & Excursions

Devils Nose Train Ride from Alausi

The Devil's Nose Route is, without a doubt, the most impressive section of Ecuador's railway: a hair-raising trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes departing form the town of Alausi to the town of Simbambe on the way down to the coastal region.Depart by train to Sibambe. The train will descend more than 500 meters in less than 12km doing zigzag maneuvers on the mountain. This is a unique adventure and the most attractive of this route. You will experience a different landscape combinations between mountains, vegetation, and the central Andes valley. Arrive at Sibambe and enjoy the culture of Ecuador. Discover the history of the indigenous people, and learn more about the railroad construction which took place more than 100 years ago. You will have a short free time for pictures and a visit to the artisan market at Sibambe Train Station.When your time here is complete, you will depart back to Alusi by train.Two daily departures at 8am and 11am except on Mondays.

$80 Day Trips & Excursions

Banos to Puyo Amazon Rainforest Full-Day Trip Including Lunch

Your day trip to the Amazon jungle starts with meeting at a central location in Baños at 8:30 am. There, you will meet your prepared and experienced leaders and board a private vehicle to head to Puyo. After approximately 1 hour, you will reach Puyo where your first stop will be a rescue center for animals. Here, you will see monkeys, ocelots and caimans. We will then head to the camp in Hola Vida Reserve, an ecological reserve of 225 hectares dedicated to the conservation of the environment. You will first head with your guide to visit a beautiful waterfall located about two hours away from the cabins in the reserve. Once there, you will have a chance to swim and enjoy the tranquility of the forest. Spend some time here, taking in the atmosphere and stunning settings, which make this area a memorable place. Then, it is time to head back to the cabins and camp. On your way back, you will pass through and explore the jungle with your guide. Learn about the rainforest and its flora and fauna and try to spot interesting flowers and birds. Once you reach the cabins, you will enjoy a delicious and traditional lunch and then head on an exciting paddle canoe ride on the Puyo river. After 30-minutes of fun in the river, you will visit a viewpoint to admire an exceptional view of the rainforest and then continue your tour by visiting a Quichua indigenous community. See the people and how they make necklaces and bracelets. Here, you can also try and practice the blowpipe and paint your faces with achiote, which is a natural paint. After a fun-filled jungle adventure, you will be taken back to Baños.

$600 Outdoor Activities

FROM QUITO TO BAÑOS

Day 1: We start our tour from Quito early in the morning. The first day we will drive to Quilotoa Crater Lake but on the way we will have some stops. Depending of the day of departure we will stop at one of the traditional indigenous markets. This can be in Pujilí or Zumbahua that operate once a week and where the locals from the area congregate to sell their products. Another stop Tigua village and their famous painters who have achieved a prestigious name for painting indigenous traditions and Andean landscapes on goatskin. One stop more will be in the Toachi canyons before we continue to Quilotoa. This is our destination, where it will be possible to hike part of the edge of the crater or hike down to the lake (this hike is demanding but it is possible to hire a mule for the return climb.  (This cost is not included). We will have lunch at one of the locally own restaurants in the area and will move to Baños. On the way we will stop to try traditional ice-creams elaborated in the area. Our final destination this first day is a little town called “Baños” one of the most popular and interesting towns on the way to the Amazon Rainforest.Day 2: We have breakfast at the hotel and we will move east to visit the amazing route of the waterfalls where we have the chance to have a little ride on a gondola crossing the big Pastaza River to get a close view of one of the waterfalls called “Manto de la novia”. We will also visit another waterfall called “Pailon Del Diablo” or Devil’s cauldron in English. To get here we will have a hike along a forest path for around 45 minutes. We will return to Baños for lunch. In the afternoon we will go swinging on the swing at the end of the world and visit the town. The rest of the afternoon will be free for you to explore the area.Day 3: This third day we will start our return to Quito. On the way we will visit the Salasacas indigenous group and their textile shops located in the main square of this town. We will continue to “Cotopaxi Volcano and National Park”, a volcano of 5.897-m-high considered the highest active volcano in the world. This is an impressive sight to see if weather conditions are in our favor. During our stay at the National Park we will admire its natural environment, its Flora and Fauna with the explanations provided by your naturalist guide. We have a hike around Limpiopungo Lake which is located at the foot of the volcano and another one by the edge of a cliff watching the native vegetation . We will have lunch in the area of Cotopaxi and will return to Quito afterwards.

$362 Multi-day & Extended Tours

4-Day Cuyabeno Amazon Rainforest

Day 1. Arrival to Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve (lunch, dinner):Reception in Lago Agrio between 8:30am and 9am. Transfer to Cuyabeno River.Box lunch en route. Visitors have to register in the Reserve’s office and pay the entrance fee. Your naturalist guide will give information about the Reserve, important recommendations and other tips to begin the two hours navigation through Cuyabeno River to the Big Lagoon where the Lodge is located. Along the river you will find several species in its natural habitat as monkeys, toucans, parrots, insect and the exuberant Amazonian vegetation. Arrival and check in. Night walk in the primary forest to observe amphibians and reptiles for about one hour. Return to the lodge for a welcome cocktail and dinner to conclude until your accommodation in double rooms.Day 2. Explore the Reserve and visit to the local natives (breakfast, lunch, dinner)Depart after breakfast to the Siona Indian Community of Puerto Bolivar, the largest ethnic group on the Reserve. Learn their customs, traditions, and way of life. Be part of the elaborate Casabe, local dish made of yucca (carbohydrates principal feed of the community). The trip takes two hours navigation downstream to get there. Admire the existing fauna along the Rio Cuyabeno such as: birds, monkeys, snakes, pink dolphins, tortoises and many others. A visit to the Shaman, is also included. Full day excursion with lunch in the community. Return to the lodge before night navigation watching Caymans. Dinner to conclude until your accommodation in double rooms.Day 3.-  Hike in the Jungle (breakfast, lunch, dinner)Breakfast. Trek in the primary rain forest for approximately three to five hours. Explore the beautiful and complex tropical ecosystem. Find the great species of plants, trees, and animal life. Lunch back at the lodge. Afternoon navigation is to the big lagoon, enjoying the lake, time to fish piranhas, swimming, and awaiting a very special sunset. Dinner to conclude until your accommodation in double rooms.Day 4.- Early bird watching and return to Lago Agrio (breakfast )Your bird watching excursion is optional prior to breakfast. Transfer to Lago Agrio for your return flight.

$450 Multi-day & Extended Tours

5-Day Cuyabeno Reserve Amazon Rainforest Trip

Day 1: Lago Agrio – Big Lagoon ( lunch, dinner)Make your way to Lago Agrio, where you'll meet up with a guide between 8:30am and 9:00am, then transfer to the Cuyabeno River with a boxed lunch on the way.Upon arrival, all visitors must register at the Cuyabeno Reserve office and pay the park's entrance fee (not included). The naturalist guide will start with an orientation about the reserve's wildlife and plants, then set out on the 2-hour river journey to the Big Lagoon, where the lodge is located. As you travel, watch for monkeys, toucans, parrots, insect, and plants of all kinds. After check-in at the lodge, you'll have time to relax before an hour-long night walk through the primary forest, the perfect time to spot amphibians and reptiles. Return to the lodge for a welcome cocktail and dinner. Overnight in double roomsDay 2: Puerto Bolivar, indigenous community ( breakfast,lunch, dinner)After breakfast, depart to the Puerto Bolivar to meet the Siona Indian community, the largest ethnic group in the Reserve. During this tour you will learn their customs, traditions, and ways of life, learning to prepare casabe, a dish made of yucca. You'll also eat lunch within the community, and visit the local shaman. During the two-hour river trip to Puerto Bolivar, you'll have a good opportunity to see birds, monkeys, snakes, pink dolphins, and tortoises from the boat. Return to the lodge, then head back out after dark to spot caymans before dinner. Accommodation in double roomsDay 3: Rainforest Trek and Swimming ( breakfast,lunch, dinner)After breakfast, set out on a hike through the primary rain forest for  three to five hours, exploring a complex tropical ecosystem where you'll find a great variety of plants and trees. Have lunch back at the lodge, then enjoy an afternoon on the Big Lagoon, with time to fish for piranhas, swim, and watch the sunset.  Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight in double rooms. Day 4: Canangueno Lagoon ( breakfast,lunch, dinner)Travel by a traditional paddle canoe as you go bird-watching on Canangueno Lagoon, then set out for another hike through the forest. Overnight in double rooms.Day 5: Return to Lago Agrio ( breakfast)Rise early for an optional bird-watching excursion before breakfast. Check out of the lodge and begin the return trip to Lago Agrio, where this tour concludes.