Crash Course Ecuador.


Quito - Cotacachi/Northern Highlands - Coastal Ecuador - Cuenca  - - - in 10 Days ----plus optional Loja and Vilcabamba!!!!!





We call our signature tour the Ecuador Crash Course!, to convey that we consider it a learning experience, not simply a tour.  It is an opportunity to learn about what makes Ecuador distinctive and unique…its lifestyle, history, culture, heritage and its people.  We do not try to “sell” Ecuador as a place to retire….but instead show you the country and help you interpret the culture, so you can make informed decisions about relocation and to gain invaluable knowledge that will help…

 make your experience successful!

In an efficient and fun way, we will help you become familiar with this beautiful country and, if you do decide to relocate, make moving to Ecuador a positive and peaceful transition. We will start our ten day tour with two days in the capital of Quito.  In addition to survival Spanish introduction, we will learn from outstanding guest speakers including an immigration lawyer and experts in fields  such as Ecuadorian history, culture, and politics. Using Quito as our classroom, we will explore different areas of the city, including Quito’s famous colonial district and its valleys to the east.


We will then leave Quito and explore other parts of this beautiful and fascinating country. We will visit different highland and coastal communities that are considered the “expat hot spots”, meeting expats who are living in each of different areas.  We will also go just a little ways “off the beaten path” to learn more about the “real” Ecuador!   Throughout the tour you will be receiving daily Spanish tips and opportunities to try out your new language skills while gaining knowledge of Ecuadorian cuisine, customs, and culture. When the tour wraps up in Cuenca, we hope you will have gained the basic knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your future here in Ecuador.


We pack a lot into 10 days . . .


- Guided visits to the places that have become expat and retirement hotspots….Quito valleys, Cotacachi and the northern highlands, Coastal Manabi and Guayas provinces, and Cuenca.  Expat meetings and Q and A sessions in each spot.

- We take you to some of the most beautiful places in Ecuador…from the spectacular colonial Churches of Old Town Quito to Cuicocha crater lake, to the gorgeous beaches of the Pacific Coast. 

- We see the Ecuador that is off the beaten path, exploring rural villages, learning about natural medicine, visiting local artisans and markets.

- We have speakers on topics such as Ecuador’s politics, current events and issues,  Ecuador’s history and culture,  an intro to Ecuador’s diverse cuisine (yes, you will have a chance to try guinea pig – the “national dish”of Ecuador!!!)

- You will receive a practical introduction to Survival Spanish, learning how to greet people, order in a restaurant, ask directions, use public transportation, tell time. In addition we will address the fundamentals of customs and culture . . . and how to successfully navigate within these frameworks.

- There will be many opportunities to make contacts with and learn from a variety of people who have decided to make Ecuador their home . . . those  who have just recently moved here and others who have lived here for decades . . . we will meet with expats, retirees, ex-Peace Corps Volunteers and others and hear about their experiences and observations.

 - And of course we will fill you in on far more than just the basics of the practicalities of moving here…..through presentations by an immigration lawyer, moving/shipping services providers, and many others . . . 



Sample Itinerary

Day1 in Quito

Our first day will begin with a welcome and tour overview session where you will meet your guides and the other members of the tour.  We will have an introductory session to expat life in Ecuador and begin to learn basic Spanish phrases to get around.  We’ll visit Colonial “Old Town” and see the changing of the guard at the presidential palace. A little later we’ll have an “almuerzo” (inexpensive lunch) at a very popular Quito cafe.   In the afternoon, back at our “classroom”, we will delve a little bit more into basic Spanish and then our guest speaker will talk about Ecuador’s politics and current events. Afterwards - - a fantastic wine and cheese service at our hotel! 

Day2 Quito to Cotacachi

After breakfast in your hotel, we head back to the classroom for some more Spanish with Suzie and then a fascinating and informative session on Ecuador’s history and culture.  Afterwards we meet with expats who have chosen to live in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador.  Then we pack our bags and head out in private coach to the north, stopping along the way for lunch.  A little later we’ll visit  Guachala”, Ecuador’s oldest hacienda, to enjoy typical snacks of the northern highlands and to hear a fun and interesting talk by Ing. Bonifaz, the owner of the hacienda and former mayor of Cayambe..  Nearby, we will also make a stop at the equator (ecuador) to straddle both hemispheres!  We then continue to either Otavalo or Cotacachi, where we will spend the next 2 nights.

Day3 Cotacachi, Otavalo, Lake Cuicocha, Ibarra

After breakfast we will do some more survival Spanish with Suzie and then meet with local expats for an informative Q and A session. Afterwards, we’ll have a session on real estate - - buy, or rent?  We’ll also discuss shipping, pets, and lots more. After this session, we’ll have some free time to wander around Cotacachi, which is famous for it’s leather work - - or, you have the option to go on a short real estate tour in and around Cotacachi.  At lunchtime we will head up to the scenic volcano crater lake, Cuicocha, passing through the beautiful and rugged rural landscapes of Imbabura province.  Later in the afternoon we’ll head up to the provincial capital of Ibarra for a short visit.  In Ibarra we can enjoy the famous “helados de paila” (a type of sorbet) and take a brief walking tour before returning to Cotacachi for an important session about residency visas and legal issues with Dr. Santiago Andrade, a lawyer from Otavalo.

Day4 Cotacachi, Otavalo, Peguche . . .

Today is market day so after breakfast we’ll start off with some Spanish phrases that will help you get good deals in the famous Otavalo market. We’ll walk over to the fruit and vegetable market of Cotacachi where you can learn a little about the abundance of fruits and vegetables here in Ecuador, and from there we take a local bus to Otavalo, home of one of Ecuador’s largest and most successful indigenous cultures. You’ll have some time on your own to see and perhaps purchase some of the wide array of crafts, art, and clothing produced locally.  From there we will go to the amazing workshop of an indigenous family, where ages old machinery is used to produce scarves, blankets, tablecloths and more, including alpaca goods.  For lunch, and the afternoon, we once again board our private coach and make the short trip to Peguche, where we have a lunch “tipico” (common lunch) of chicken roasted in a wood fired oven, quinoa, maize, habas, and much more.  Our hosts at “Inka Tambo” are the family of Don Mario - - 3 generations.  Don Mario is a “shaman” - - and those who wish to can participate in a customary “cleansing” ceremony with him.  Later in the afternoon, we return to our hotels in Quito, to get a good night’s rest before Friday’s early departure to the coast.  

Day5 Manta Montecristi Bahia Canoa

An early morning departure to the coast today, 6.30 AM! A light breakfast will be available at your hotel.  We will leave Quito in private coach, and then climb higher into the Andes before dropping into the cloud forests and ultimately to the beaches.  About 90 minutes after departure we will stop in Nanegalito for another light breakfast of empanadas and beverage.  Bring your cameras, there will be 100’s of hummingbirds buzzing around the feeders and flowers.  After, we continue down the northern highway to Pedernales on the coast, and for lunch we have a picnic on the beach, where we will meet expats who live in the area.  From there we go to Jama, for some free time to visit the museum or to see the lovely and rustic home of our artist friend Lisa.  From Jama we continue down the coast to Canoa, arriving in time to see the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.  We’ll be spending 2 nights in our hotel in Canoa.

Day6 Canoa and Puerto Lopez

After our long day of travel yesterday, you’ll have the chance to relax a little this morning, to sleep in, enjoy a swim in the pool or in the ocean, or a nice beach walk into the the town of Canoa. For those who would like to, we do offer an optional excursion to Isla Corazon (Heart Island) for a nice excursion in canoe to view the mangroves and bird life.  After lunch we head over to Bahia De Caraquez, a growing favorite of expats, over the ”new bridge” in private coach, or optionally you can cross via passenger ferry.  We’ll visit the city, go up to the scenic outlook, and then return to the expat owned “Puerto Amistad” restaurant for dinner with expat speakers.

Day7 Manta, Puerto Lopez, Montanita, Salinas

  Departure from Canoa about 7 AM, light breakfast provided.  From Canoa we go directly in private coach to the port city of Manta for a Sunday morning breakfast with local expats and a chance to see their homes. From Manta we continue down the coast (called La Ruta de Spondylus) to the quiet beach towns of Puerto Lopez and Olon.  We’ll have lunch and some free time in Montanita, the surf capital of Ecuador.  From there we’ll continue winding our way through the various towns and micro-climates of coastal Ecuador and arrive late afternoon to Salinas, the “Miami Beach of Ecuador”.  After settling in to our hotels we’ll have an optional (but recommended) evening get together with expats, focusing on real estate and expat life on the coast.  

Day8 Salinas Guayaquil Cuenca

Today we will cover a lot of ground,  traveling from sea level to the highland city of Cuenca, passing through the beautiful El Cajas Park where we will hit about 13,000 feet in elevation. After breakfast we will drive inland to  Guayaquil, where we will have some time to explore the downtown area, the Iguana park,  and walk along the Malecon 2000, one of Guayaquil’s beautiful urban renewal projects.  We’ll have lunch in Guayaquil.  We will then embark on our trip up through the beautiful coastal cloud forests into the Southern Sierra to Cuenca, arriving late afternoon or early evening to our hotels. We’ll spend 2 nights in Cuenca.

Day9 Cuenca and Surrounding Communities

In the morning we will meet for breakfast with Cuenca expats. Afterwards you’ll have free time to explore the beautiful Colonial center, with a walking tour of downtown, visiting Parque Calderon, the flower market, the 10 de Agosto vegetable market and the artisan market.  Later in the afternoon we offer an optional city tour of Cuenca on a double decker bus.  At 7 PM, we have our “final exam” and graduation ceremony! 

Day10 Cuenca and return to Quito

The last day of the tour for those not continuing on to Loja and Vilcabamba.

Breakfast in your hotel, and free time to see a little more of Cuenca, including the Panama Hat museum and the 10 de agosto market. 

For those continuing to Loja and Vilcabamba, a 10AM departure in private coach.  We head south through the incredible beauty of the Southern Highlands to the indigenous town of Saraguro for lunch and some sightseeing.  After lunch continuing south, passing through Loja and arriving late afternoon to Vilcabamba, “the valley of longevity”.  Two nights in Vilcabamba.

Day11 Vilcabamba

A day to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of this popular and quirky town.   Optional activities include horseback riding, massage, spa services, hiking, or even a pick up truck ride in the surrounding area.  We will of course make the arrangements for whatever it is you would like to do.

Early evening dinner with expats living in Vilcabamba. 

Day12 Vilcabamba, Loja (end of tour extension)

Breakfast in your hotel, free time, mid to late morning departure in private coach to Loja. 

A short visit to Malacatos, a pretty town north of Vilcabamba with a small expat population.

Continue on to Loja for a walking tour of the city and parks, lunch.   Later, our bus will take those flying back to Quito to the airport, about 50 minutes away in Catamayo.


NOTE - - The above is a sample itinerary of a typical Ecuador Crash Course. We strive to follow it as much as possible, but it is subject to change depending on circumstances, often beyond our control, such as weather, road closures, or lack of availability on the part of our speakers. 



Sept 22-Oct 1, 2014

Nov 10-19, 2014

All tours are extended 2 more days for those who opt for the optional Loja/ Vilcabamba extension.

Prices for 2014

$1100 per person in double room accommodation

$1300 per person in private (single) room accommodation


January 12-21, 2015

March 16-25, 2015

May 11-20, 2015

July 13-22, 2015 (family and regular tour)*

September 14-23, 2015

November 9-18, 2015

Prices for 2015

$1200 per person in double room accommodation

$1400 per person in private (single) room accommodation


Loja/Vilcabamba extension:  $225 per person (double), $250 (single)

*Family Focused Tour:  Considering relocation to Ecuador with your family?  This tour will include fun activities for kids, opportunities to visit family’s who have moved here with their children, visits to schools etc.

Don´t forget - - we are proud to say that our ECUADOR CRASH COURSE! tour is the most comprehensive of tours and is one of the best deals you will find!  Shop and compare, we are sure you will agree!

Deposit per person


You can also join us for a segment of the tour - please inquire about details and prices!



Airport Pick up in Quito

Private Van/Bus Transportation

Bi-Lingual Expat guides with over 30 years experience in Ecuador

Knowledgeable Guest speakers

Meetings with local expats in each of the areas

Daily Spanish and Culture classes

           Lodging (10 nights)

         Breakfast for all 10 days

         Several additional meals (lunch or dinner) during the tour

         All entrance fees and activities included in the tour.

        ECUADOR CRASH COURSE! tour does not include:

Hotel – Airport transfer out (post-tour)

Return flight from Cuenca or Loja (post-tour) We can help you with these arrangements.

Optional activities (e.g. Boat trip in Puerto Lopez, museum entrances on free days, etc) 

         Personal spending or tips

Alcoholic beverages,  personal” expenses


   Meet Your Tour Guides:  

In groups under 6 people, you will have one expat guide during the tour; in groups over 6, there will be at least 2 guides with the group at all times.   Local expats in each “retirement hotspot” we visit will serve as local guides to each of the areas.  Your guides are NOT new arrivals to the country just learning Spanish and their way around ….they are fluent in Spanish and in Ecuador’s culture, having years (and in most cases decades) of experience living in this beautiful and intriguing country.

*See “WHO WE ARE” for more info

                        Jonathan Hall      Sarah Dettman     Susana de Silva    Roger Lurie