Hiring a private guide to discover Quito and its surroundings offers travelers flexibility, exclusivity and the expertise of local savior-faire. Our recommendation is to mix into your itineraries private guided tours when possible with days in which you can just mosey about at your pace.
Guided Full Day, Quito Historic Center
Old town Quito is a fabulous place to set out and explore on your own. But it is also the largest historic center in the Americas. So seeing it all in a short period of time is not really a possibility. What are the best places to stop at? Which are the quaintest corners nobody talks about? Where should you grab a bite? Should you just blindly trust Trip Advisor? Or can an experienced local private guide really tell you where the quality is? We venture to say yes. And old town Quito, like any city in the world, has its hits and misses. So, go to the right places with the help of first-rate local private guides and get the best out of this exhilarating experience.
Our staff’s favorite guided routes in Quito
Historic Quito is all about its heritage buildings, which hold centuries of astounding religious art, among the best in all of Spanish America. Quito was actually considered an artistic hub during Spanish Colonial times, so it makes sense to spend at least a morning exploring the city’s unique cultural importance. A tour of Colonial churches and heritage sites will offer a fascinating perspective on this subject, especially when visiting the arresting La Compañía and San Francisco Church, the largest religious complex in the Americas.
Another great place to set out and discover in old town Quito are its barrios, or neighborhoods. Discover the special trades that Quiteños continue to cherish, including handmade wood toy-making or seamstresses that make the most unexpected outfits for baby Jesuses…
You may also want take the Quito Cable Car to Pichincha volcano and, together with an expert private guide, explore the high páramo, perhaps even make it to the summit of the mountain itself.
Guided tours to Otavalo and the north
Quito is only a two-hour’s drive from the craft town of Otavalo, known for hosting the largest craft fair in the Americas. Every Saturday, the town is overflowing with handmade items and clothing, including the classic indigenous poncho. With a guided tour, bypass less-interesting mass-produced clothing stalls and head to picturesque textile workshops in the outskirts of town where local artisans weave unique items including beautiful wool sweaters, some of which can take several months to complete.
Next to Otavalo, discover Cotacachi, a very popular destination for expats and digital nomads, due to its connection with nature, its beautiful rural environment, its close-knit friendly indigenous community, and cultural importance. This town is known for its leather products and a beautiful crater lake Cuicocha, only twenty minutes away, in the heart of the volcano on which the town lies.
The Otavalo area is known for its beautiful mountain lakes, including San Pablo Lake, which sits placidly at the foot of Mount Imbabura. In our guided tours, we offer the most exhilarating sights and adventures here, so don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Avenue of the Volcanoes
Don’t miss out on private guided tours to Ecuador’s major snow-capped volcanoes and learn about the human history and fascinating nature that make them so special. Visit Cotopaxi, Quilotoa or even Chimborazo, beautiful mountains that offer a unique connection with nature. Guided tours can also take you to nearby communities to get to know how livelihoods are connected to the mighty volcanoes that surround them. The scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt once mentioned his surprise at how “Ecuadorians sleep calmly amongst raging volcanoes”. Unravel this mystery and discover the idiosyncrasies
Tours to Mindo and the Andean cloud forests from Quito
One of the most interesting things about Quito is the fact that, depending on which direction you travel, you will be setting out into completely different, almost contradictory, landscapes. As mentioned before, you can set out to a spring-like lake-ridden environment near Otavalo or up to the high paramo, dominated by almost Arctic weather at the foot of high mountain peaks. And then, you can go west, quickly entering a jungle world: Mindo and its cloud forests.
Mindo has become a prime eco-tourism hub, known for its nature walks in lush forests chock-filled with birds, butterflies, orchids and… bears. The entire area is fascinating and we highly recommend you visit it with a private local guide, who will not only lead you down the right trails but also show you the astounding wildlife that makes this corner of the country so sought after by naturalists and nature-lovers.
Another popular cloud forest destination is Baños de Agua Santa (“Holy Water Baths” in English), or simply Baños, to most travelers. Located about 2-3 hours from Quito, on the Eastern slope of the Andes, it’s also considered the gateway to the Amazon. Guided tours can take you to the famous “swing at the end of the world” and the beautiful waterfalls that surround the area, as well as take you deeper into the Amazon, towards Puyo and the headwaters of the Amazon Basin.