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Ecuador & Galapagos Islands: Andes to Amazon

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On the eastern flank of the Andean cordilleras, separating the high-altitude chain of snowy peaks on the Avenue of the Volcanoes from the steamy flatlands of the Amazon basin proper is a rugged area of misty mountains and steep valleys smothered in cloud forest and punctuated with thermal pools, waterfalls and silvery streams.

This scenically exquisite region has until recently not really been explored by visitors who head straight down into the jungle or visit the attractive little spa town of Baños and then head back up to the Andean spine.

But with improvements in the road infrastructure the region, fringed by the central highlands and the jungles of the northern oriente, is opening up to visitors keen to discover it hugely abundant and varied flora and fauna and become acquainted with the lifestyle of its rural and indigenous communities.  Sustainable eco-tourism is gaining ground here, fighting against the encroachment of commercial and industrial interests.

Easily accessible from Quito, Baños and river-ports Tena and Misahualli  are the centres of activity for visitors, with both a good range of hotels and lodges and a plentiful choice of walks, outdoor sports including river rafting and kayaking, wildlife spotting. Don't miss the thermal hot springs at Papallacta (above).

Our holidays to Andes to Amazon

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Off the beaten track Ecuador: From the Andes to the Amazon

Private journey

9 days from £2,595pp

river pastaZA

Self-drive Ecuador: The back roads of the Andes

Private journey

10 days from £2,664pp

Things to do in Andes to Amazon

Squirrel monkey

Explore Paikawe lagoon

santa rita chocolate tour

Visit a cocoa plantation in the Ecuadorian Oriente

Ecuador Tena river rafting

Go river rafting in the Ecuadorian jungle

Ecudaorian amazon

Visit a Quichua community in the tropical countryside

Our insider tips for Andes to Amazon


Sarah Bradley

Go white water rafting from Tena, Ecuador's rafting and kayaking capital  sitting at the confluence of two Amazonian rivers, offering everything from a lazy float to wild, high powered Grade IV rapids. 

Ben Line

Ben Line

Confident, adventurous driver? Take a 4WD hire car down the back roads of the Andean spine, an ultra-scenic route with opportunities to stop off at wildlife lodges and visit farms and traditional indigenous communities.


Jamie Swan

Luxuriate in the thermal pools at Papallacta, enjoying stunning volcano views as you stretch out in crystal clear water. 

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