Private Journeys

Self-drive Ecuador: The back roads of the Andes

10 days from £3,120pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

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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. 

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  • 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

Chris

Chris Rendell-Dunn

Travel Expert

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Bartolome, Galápagos

What our clients say

  • We knew from the itinarary that alot of travelling would be involved. Given the amount we saw it was well worth time spent in the bus. We compared this itinerary…

    JN, Peterborough
  • This really is Extremes of Chile going from desert conditions to frozen  mountains. He prepared for some tiring travelling - and some stupendous scenery. 

    DR, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • It was a fantastic trip. There is an obvious division in Cuba between those who come into contact with tourists and those who don't and so, like a magnet around…

    RN, London
  • The boat trip,down the river, the waterfall and above all the trip,through the mango swamps and seeing the flamingos it was magical. However the archeological trips to the different pyramids…

    IR, Malta
  • Every day was a highlight - loved the train from Puno to Cusco, and then there is Machu Picchu.

    RK, Dorchester
  • Please describe the most memorable experience/aspect of your trip? "The first time a sea lion came up to have a good look at me when I was snorkeling in the…

    LH, Hong Kong
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Our Expert's Opinion

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.

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.

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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.

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Bartolome, Galápagos

Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Millie
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Carrie
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Alex Walker
    Alex Walker - Travel Expert

    A globetrotter since her childhood, Alex spent a year studying abroad in Guadalajara and has returned to Latin America countless times since then.

  • 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.

  • Paul Winrow Giffin
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • 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!

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