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Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary 2 Weeks

Tucked in between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America and yet has the most biodiversity per square kilometer. Backpacking Ecuador is an unforgettable experience, and this Ecuador and Galapagos itinerary covers both since Ecuador is one of the best South American countries to visit.

From its location on the Equator to its varied geography that includes the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is one-of-a-kind.

Throughout my South American journey (which hasn’t ended yet), I’ve spent three months backpacking in Ecuador. Tourists can spend a maximum of 2 weeks on an Ecuador backpacking trip, and there’s a lot to see in that short time. I wanted to make the most of my time backpacking Ecuador and explore as much as possible, including the Galapagos Islands.

Since I still haven’t seen it all, I plan to return and explore more of Ecuador. In the meantime, let’s jump into this 2-week Ecuador and Galapagos itinerary.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Ecuador Backpacking Map

Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary 2 Weeks

In this Ecuador and Galapagos itinerary, I’m sharing must-see locations when backpacking in Ecuador for 2 weeks. I’m also including some alternatives to give you plenty of choices on what to do in Ecuador.

2 Week Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary
Photo credit to Isabella @

Days 1-3: Visit Quito

Most people start their Ecuador backpacking trips in Quito—assuming your international flight lands here, I suggest booking a hotel in the heart of the city (the La Floresta neighborhood). This will give you time to acclimate to the 2800-meter altitude, as many aren’t used to such that kind of elevation.

Depending on what time you arrive, take a leisurely stroll through this beautiful city or rest up for the day. I suggest joining a free walking tour—there are many options, and the guides are typically local students passionate about their city. Plus, they offer insider tips and tricks!

I joined two tours: one in La Floresta, the colorful hipster neighborhood, and one in the historical center. Both were free, and the guides were very informative—participants are encouraged to tip guides for excellent service.

After the tour, you’ll know more about the city and the local culture. Also, you’ll learn how to stay alert and keep your belongings close. Quito typically isn’t dangerous, but it can be, especially near the historical center.

On the third day, I suggest venturing out by bus to see the Middle of the World Monument and Museum, which represents where the line would be. It’s a 30-minute bus from the city on the way to Otavalo.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best Ecuador ToursClick here to check out the top Ecuador tours
Best Ecuador Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Ecuador
Best Ecuador Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Ecuador

Spoiler alert: I read that they made the wrong calculation and the information it’s not really accurate, but still…

You can also stay in Quito and take an Uber to el Teleferico, a 40-minute cable car that takes you 4000 meters high on a clear day, offering a spectacular view of the city. From there, you can walk around and kick your feet up on a swing for the perfect Ecuador Insta-picture.

2 Week Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary
Photo credit to Isabella @

I’ve explained more about Quito in my post about the top things to do in Quito.

Days 4-6: Take a Bus to Mindo

Despite being just two hours from Quito, Mindo feels like a completely different world. With a separate microclimate, you’ll enter a thick cloud forest with tropical trees, lots of water, and beautiful birds. Bird lovers will be in paradise while visiting Mindo. The highlight is the waterfall sanctuary, which you can reach by a short, spectacular cable car ride and a beautiful, easy walk. Of course, it rained when I was there—I was soaking wet, but it’s part of the adventure, and the temperature is so hot you won’t mind.

The small town offers accommodations ranging from hostels to nice lodges, some of which have arranged their backyard as a bird sanctuary. Hosts will lay fruits and flowers out to attract birds in the morning, especially hummingbirds—it’s amazing to watch.

2 Week Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary
Photo credit to Isabella @

Alternative Option:

If you’re interested in markets, skip Mindo and go to Otavalo instead—it’s also two hours from Quito in a different direction.

While Otavalo’s colorful popular market is worth the trip, I appreciated the spectacular day trip options most. I speak in detail about this in my Otavalo Beyond the Market post.

One of my Otavalo highlights was my hike around Cuicocha Lake, a long but easy hike around the crater of a volcano with spectacular views.

If you choose Otavalo instead of Mindo, stay for at least two full days to embark on several tours. Remember that while the market is always there, the city’s main event, which involves stands all over the city, is on Saturday.

2 weeks in Ecuador
Photo credit to Isabella @

Days 8-10: Fly From Quito to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

There’s a lot to see while backpacking Ecuador, but why not turn this into an Ecuador and Galapagos itinerary? You shouldn’t go to Ecuador without visiting the incredible Galapagos Island.

We all think visiting the Galapagos Islands is a privilege for a few wealthy people, but this is false. With some planning and clever travel hacks, anyone can travel to this spectacular and pristine location on a modest budget.

2 weeks in Ecuador
Photo credit to Isabella @

One week in Galapagos allows you to see highlights of at least two islands without breaking the bank.

Arrive in Santa Cruz on the eighth day of your 2 week Ecuador itinerary and spend at least three full days exploring.

A tour of Bartolome’s Island is around $380 USD—expensive but worth it. I even saw two penguins there while snorkeling!

Spend the Day in Tortuga Bay

There’s a lovely beach just 2 kilometers from town. Once there, you’ll see a strong ocean side with surfers, while the other side is a calm lagoon for tourists and locals. It’s not uncommon to see baby sharks or stingrays close to the shore late in the afternoon while the funny blue-footed boobies dive into the water to fish for their dinner.

Free Santa Cruz Activities:

  • Snorkel at Las Grietas and relax in Playa Alemanes
  • Explore the highlands
  • Get to know the conservancy project at the Charles Darwin Research Foundation and relax on one of its two beaches
  • Bask in the sun at El Garrapatero Beach
  • Relax in the Laguna de Las Ninfeas
  • Watch the baby sharks from the pier
  • Familiarize yourself with the funny sea lions
2 weeks in Ecuador
Photo credit to Isabella @

Santa Cruz is the main island—from here, you’ll find many local boat tours and snorkeling sites.

Day 11: San Cristobal Island

Although it’s difficult to pick one, I dare say San Cristobal is my favorite island overall. It’s probably because of the wealth of sea lions that seem to be taking over the island. You can find them everywhere with their funny sounds and adorable faces.

While there are many free San Cristobal activities, you can’t miss the 360-degree boat tour for $180 USD, which takes you on a trip around the island. You’ll snorkel with sharks, bask on pristine beaches, and snorkel around the “leon dormido” (kicker rock), where you might see hammerhead sharks.

Ecuador 2 week itinerary
Photo credit to Isabella @

San Cristobal Free Activities:

  • Visit Playa Punta Carola, the best sunset spot with many playful sea lions
  • Snorkel at La Tijeretas and hike to the Cerro Tijeretas above the bay
  • Enjoy the sun at La Loberia beach

Day 14: Fly from San Cristobal to Guayaquil or Quito to Fly Back Home

Ecuador and Galapagos
Photo credit to Isabella @

Sadly, the time has come to wrap up your 2 week Ecuador itinerary. Spend your final day backpacking in Ecuador by traveling to Guayaquil or Quito to fly home.

Important Things to Know When Backpacking Ecuador

Visas for Ecuador Backpacking

Depending on your country of origin, there are different immigration rules—generally, tourists can only spend three months each year backpacking in Ecuador. Of this time, you can only spend up to 60 days in the Galapagos. If you need more time, go to the Quito immigration office and ask for an extension, which they might grant for a fee.

Visiting the Galapagos

To enter the Galapagos, you must book accommodations in advance and present proof of your reservation, travel insurance, and a return ticket. There’s also a $20 USD government tax fee to pay before checking in and a $100 USD environmental fee you pay once you get on the island.

Backpacking Ecuador Safety Tips

Ecuador is a relatively safe country, but it’s always good to be careful and exercise common sense, like not showing off your iPhone or other fancy stuff. Some isolated areas in Quito around the historical center should be avoided, as they’re not very safe at night.

The Galapagos Islands are generally safe, though there are some rough areas of Santa Cruz.

Currency in Ecuador

The national Ecuador currency is the US dollar, however, $100 bills are typically not accepted. In fact, cash machines will only give you $20. Credit cards are common but always charge a commission, which can be pretty high—up to 16%.

Using Uber or Taxis

Uber is technically illegal in Ecuador, but it’s not dangerous. I’ve tried both taxis and Uber, and I found Uber cars much cleaner. The drivers were also more professional and friendly.

The Best Time To Visit Ecuador

Ecuador has a lot of microclimates like its neighbor Colombia. So there is no bad time to visit Ecuador. That being said, November to May is the best time to visit Ecuador if you are gonna visit the beaches.

The reason for that is during the other times it’s the dry season and the beaches are generally gloomy. If mountains are your thing, best time to visit Ecuador would be from May to November.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out these options!

Hotel David
Friends Hotel & Rooftop
The Secret Garden

Ecuador Travel Guide Planning

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Ecuador?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Ecuador?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Final Thoughts: Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary 2 Weeks

Of course, the list of things to do and explore in Ecuador doesn’t end here. One year isn’t enough to discover the beauties of this wonderfully diverse country, but this Ecuador backpacking itinerary is a great start.

If you like this 2 week Ecuador Itinerary, save it in your Stipple trip planner where you’ll find destinations, things to do, and accommodations all in one place without juggling between several apps.

2 Week Backpacking Ecuador Itinerary

Ecuador Itinerary

Ecuador Itinerary,backpacking ecuador,ecuador backpacking

Author Bio

She is a committed solo traveler and multimedia artist in the making on an endless journey through Latin America and wherever the road will take her. She is vegan when she can, in love with this planet, and always ready for an adventure. She enjoys working on her blog and digital art from cute cafes worldwide (when social distancing wasn’t a thing).