Looking back, the best vacation we ever had was our adventure in the Ecuador highlands. We contacted Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders, as we had been recommended them by a friend for Ecuador personalized trips. As a family of four, with two teenage children, we sought experiences that would stick for a lifetime – that would open our children’s eyes and inspire them to love travel as much as we do, while keeping everyone entertained. We were delighted with the fantastic, awe-inspiring trip that resulted from this open-ended brief.

We found that for personalized Ecuadorian tours you could not go wrong with Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders. Our teenage boys have a lot of energy, so we wanted a trip that would keep them occupied but also build in some relaxation time for us. We wanted luxury and affordability, and the Ecuadorian highlands delightfully offer all of these things in an adventure package sure to exhilarate the most difficult, moody adolescents.

Our personalized Ecuadorian tour kicked off in the small Ecuadorian town of Mindo, in the cloud forest. Cloud forest is… well… sometimes a bit cloudy. This was not a deterrent at all for the days of fun packed thrills adventure we had ahead that Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders had organized. Everything was carefully arranged so there was fun for the boys in the morning, and natural delights for us all in the afternoon. The greatest adrenaline fix was from the ziplining we enjoyed on the first morning, which quickly wiped away sulky teenage faces as we rattled our way very quickly along the zipwire across deep forested canyons. The boys were buzzing so much, they didn’t even complain about the afternoon visit to the Mariposas de Mindo – a place where hundreds of colorful butterflies can be observed at close quarters. The following day we kicked off with some exhilarating tubing through river rapids, before a quiet afternoon at the lodge, watching the many varieties of humming birds around the feeders.

The next stop on our customized Ecuador trip was a lodge set in the Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is one of the worlds largest active volcanoes, located in the famous Avenue of the Volcanoes that one typically drives through to traverse this small, mountainous country. The volcanic activity did not stop us hiking up to the refuge at 4800 meters, for a cup of steaming hot chocolate and to spy the amazing view across the surrounding valleys. Given that Cotopaxi has erupted in recent years, this might have been adventure enough for our teens, but Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders had arranged a special trip that we kept as a surprise from them – mountain biking down the volcano!

A thrill-packed day at Cotopaxi National Park led to another two invigorating days at the small town of Banos. Both these incredible sites make for a great Ecuador hiking trip as part of the avenue of volcanoes. We enjoyed more biking, this time to spectacular waterfalls, some terrifyingly exciting rafting in the river rapids, and a chance to try rappelling too! After all this, as the boys slept, we soaked in the hot springs, after which the town is named. Getting the boys to be adventurous with food was a lot harder. While we experimented with our first taste of cuy (guinea pig), llapingachos (potato patties) and locro (a potato soup with avocado) their dietary needs were also well taken care of with the array of Western options on the menus at the restaurants that had been planned for us.

Following our days in Banos we moved on again, for an adrenaline-charged experience on the Devil’s Nose train ride. A train journey does not sound all that exciting in and of itself, until you consider that it takes numerous switchbacks down the steep mountainside, all of which were engineered in the nineteenth century. Once at the bottom, our nerves were wracked by a delay of half an hour, as we discovered we had derailed. Once fixed, we had a spine-tingling journey back to the top, hoping there would be no further issues of this type, and we were assured that the trip was safe.

A bit of culture came next, and that worked as the teens were tired after fun-filled days of biking, rafting and flying along zipwires. They were so exhausted, they did not even complain when we stopped off en route to the southern city of Cuenca to visit Ingapirca, the best preserved Inca ruin in Cuenca. They did not whine as we explored the delightful colonial streets of Cuenca taking in its colorful markets, beautiful domed churches and feasting on traditional cuisine in the market place, as we watched local life bustle by. But by the next day, it was adventure they craved yet again, and so it was just as well that Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders had recommended horseback riding in the Cajas National Park as part of our personalized Ecuador trip. We were delighted with the extraordinary landscape and foliage of the park, and even more so by the three llamas trotting along by the side of the road – a truly South American experience! We had no horseback riding experience, and all found it rather exhilarating, trotting along atop our carefully selected horses, viewing the scenery all the while.

As our trip started drawing to a close, we were ready for a proper rest, but the boys still wanted more action. For our remaining days we opted for a beach resort. The boys enjoyed surf school as we relaxed on sun loungers, letting the sun soak our cares away. While our sons splashed around pretending they could stand on surf boards with their competent instructor, we enjoyed yoga lessons on the sand and a refreshing cold beer or two, toes dipped into the warm Pacific Ocean. Not to mention some extension days we had in the capital of the country Quito which completed a trip of a lifetime!

As our youngest said at the end of the journey, “Who knew Ecuador personalized trips could be so awesome?” We could only agree. Who knew indeed? Yet we firmly believe that the awesomeness was enhanced by selecting Ecuador and Galapagos.

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Success Coach, Business Development Consultant, Strategist,Blogger, Traveller, Motivational Writer & Speaker