Private Journeys

Self-drive Ecuador: The back roads of the Andes

10 days from £3,050pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

  • ShutterStock ©

Overview & Highlights

An exhilarating self-drive adventure exploring the cloud forest of Ecuador’s Andean foothills on the fringe of the Amazon basin. 

Between the high Andean plateaux studded with snow-dipped volcanoes and the sultry rainforest of the Amazon basin, the eastern foothills and valleys of Ecuador are stifled with the giant ferns, creepers and orchids of misty cloud forest. Winding its way south through this ethereal landscape, parallel with the Andean spine and tracing what is known as the ‘eyebrow of the jungle’ is a the paved road, Route 45. Recent improvements to this road mean that places once almost inaccessible to visitors are now brought within easy reach of Quito and the country’s principal highland cities.  

The traffic is relatively light and the route is wondrously scenic throughout, creating for independent drivers a brand new opportunity to discover a little-visited region by self-drive hire car. We’ve designed an innovative itinerary for you where you travel under your own steam down this road staying at forest-based lodges along the way, with opportunities to take a dip in thermal pools, go river rafting, jungle trail walking and wildlife spotting, while visiting local indigenous communities and their farms to immerse yourself in their way of life. 

Climbing back up to the high Andes you’ll return north to Quito along the famed Avenue of the Volcanoes, a completely different environment of wide open spaces blanketed by sprawling pastures and haciendas pitted with the perfect cones of a string of ice-clad mountain peaks, some still fizzing with activity. You'll pull over to discover the dazzling colours of an indigenous market and venture off the paved road to explore safely the sublime Cotopaxi National Park, the most beautiful in the country. 

Read More
  • Walking tour of colonial Quito
  • 8 days of self-drive in Ecuador
  • Choice of activities each day

THE UK’S NO. 1 SPECIALIST IN TRAVEL TO LATIN AMERICA

Kathryn

Kathryn Rhodes

Travel Expert

Talk to our experts
Bartolome, Galápagos

What our clients say

  • It was a terrific, well-designed tour to some of the most impressive historic sites in the world. The local expert guides were of a particularly high standard and our overall…

    DP, Chichester
  • I found the trip most enjoyable and very thoughtfully arranged to maximise our experience - I have no complaints at all about the trip and found it extremely enjoyable. Our…

    CW, Newcastle
  • "I was particularly impressed with the scenery in Bolivia. I had expected the salt flats but the rest of the country was a real bonus. On the optional excursions, I…

    GP, Northwich
  • Excellent professional service both before and during the holiday. Would certainly recommend Journey Latin America as a company to discover South America with.

    EW, Weston-Super-Mare
  • "Hats off to the Ecuadoreans for reinstating this railway line! It really is one of the world's great train journeys, and all managed with such style and comfort."

    AD, Newcastle
  • Overall an absolutely fantastic holiday. Arranged at last minute, there is no way that we would have been able to organise something like this on our own. Everything ran smoothly,…

    RB, Kettering
0 1 2 3 4 5

Our Expert's Opinion

Kathryn
Kathryn Rhodes Travel Expert Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

Papagaio

Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration
Bartolome, Galápagos

Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Hannah
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Lina
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Hannah
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Juliet
    Juliet Ellwood - Travel Expert

    After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and History and having been fascinated by Latin America since childhood by the book featuring photos of Nazca, Juliet first visited the region in 2003. Since then, Juliet has visited the majority of countries in Latin America but has particularly extensive experience with Peru, a country she loves for many reasons but not least, its incredible archaeological richness and delicious food!

  • Chris
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

0 1 2 3 4 5