Private Journeys

Self-drive Ecuador: The back roads of the Andes

10 days from £2,660pp

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. 

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

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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What our clients say

97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

Enjoyed the trip to the equator while in Quito. Loved Alausi, very interesting place, people. Cuenca was lovely, very easy to get around, felt safe, staff at hotel very helpful, happy hour cocktails 2 for 1 delicious! Las Cajas national park very interesting. The Galapagos week was fantastic! Staff really professional, islands and wildlife more than I imagined, learnt to snorkel, scenery fantastic. The group were also really nice, and as a single traveller this made my holiday really special. And on the whole the weather was very sunny and warm. Enjoyed the picnics we had during our trips in the Andes, which the tour leader arranged, especially the exotic fruits which she advised us to try.

JC, Bury

Tailor made holiday

Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for 40 years. We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

Hannah Donaldson
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.

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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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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.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Lina Fuller
    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 Waterhouse
    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.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    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.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    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.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    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.

Meet the team