Dramatic drops, powerful cascades and natural swimming pools await anyone chasing waterfalls in Ecuador. The tallest waterfalls in Ecuador routinely reach heights of well over 100m (328ft), fed by melting glaciers in the Andes or tropical downpours in the Amazon. Day trip to some of Ecuador’s best and most beautiful waterfalls from Quito, base yourself in nearby Otavalo for multi-day waterfall hiking adventures, or travel to Baños, Ecuador’s outdoor capital, for a serious waterfall expedition. Get your swimming gear ready – these are the best waterfalls in Ecuador you can visit.
Eager to explore this fascinating country? Join Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Ecuador adventure to embark on an unforgettable tour from the Andes to the Amazon, led by our Local Insider.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Baños de Agua Santa is Ecuador’s adventure travel capital. Baños is not only located at the base of an active volcano, but its position as the gateway to the Amazon rainforest means that you’ll find plenty of waterfalls to chase here. The best waterfalls can all be seen on the famous Ruta de las Cascadas, a 60km (37.2mi) trail that starts in Baños and ends in the town of Puyo. Along the way, you’ll have seven waterfalls to stop off at – including the ferocious Pailon del Diablo. You can hire a mountain bike or off-road buggy in Baños or take the slow, budget-friendly local buses from one stop to the next.
Pailon del Diablo is a churning mass of white water that never fails to awe travellers on the Ruta de las Cascadas. Located 17km (10.5mi) east of Baños, the Devil’s Cauldron is one of Ecuador’s most powerful waterfalls. Pailon del Diablo is around 80m (262ft) tall, and you can reach the best viewpoints by following a short trail from the village of Rio Verde down into the rocky canyon. There’s an adrenaline-pumping rope bridge stretched across the gorge – and you’ll feel the sheer natural energy below if you dare to walk out across it.
Two hours north of Quito is the mountain town of Otavalo, where you’ll find you’re within hiking distance of some of Ecuador’s best waterfalls. Cascada de Peguche is a 4km (2.48mi) walk from Otavalo or, if you’re feeling lazy, there’s a local bus there and back. At 18m (59ft) in height, this might not be the tallest waterfall in Ecuador, but it’s certainly one of the most photogenic. Cascada de Peguche is surrounded by lush green scenery – and there are plenty of perfectly placed rocks for waterfall selfies.
A steep descent outside of Otavalo will bring you to Taxopamba Waterfall, where the water crashes over the edge of a green, mossy cliff top into a shallow plunge pool below. If you want to be the first into Taxopamba Waterfall, then there’s a small collection of quaint cottages and remote cabanas at the start of the short trailhead. Spend the night surrounded by nature high in the Andes – and get the waterfall all to yourself in the morning.
Standing at a height of 60m (196ft) and surrounded by green, Andean scenery, Great Waterfall Pita is one of Quito’s most exciting day trips. Escape the city with a journey south into the foothills of the extinct Pasochoa Volcano, where you’ll find the glacial waters of the Rio Pita. Join a hiking tour from the capital – following riverside trails to the Great Waterfall Pita – where the water is ice cold all through the year.
Nambillo Waterfall is hidden amongst the moss, trees and mist of the Mindo Cloud Forest Reserve, a unique ecosystem that’s located a two-hour drive from Quito. Take a short cable car ride through the trees, before descending down into the forest for a refreshing swim in the ice-cold waters of the Nambillo Waterfall. Although small, the cascade is fed by the powerful Rio Nambillo – and you’ll be surrounded by tall trees and green forest scenery as you swim under the cloud forest’s canopy.
If you’re looking for a seriously secluded waterfall to visit, then the Reina Waterfall could be the destination for you. Found deep within the Mindo Cloud Forest on the western side of Pichincha Volcano, you’ll need to make your way to the Tarabita Cable Car to find the start of the trail. From Mindo’s famous cable car station, it’s a one-hour trek through thick forest to the Reina Waterfall. After a sweaty, humid hike, we guarantee you’ll love the ice-cold plunge pool.
It’s a bumpy four-hour journey from Quito to the San Rafael Waterfall. And after an arduous overland journey through the Andes, you’ll be surprised to find that the waterfall doesn’t actually exist anymore. Instead, there’s a large – but equally fascinating – sinkhole. Until February 2020, this was the largest waterfall in Ecuador. At its peak, San Rafael Waterfall was 130m (426ft) tall and it drew tourists from all over the world. That changed, though, when the river changed its course – leaving behind a curious, natural oddity in its wake.
Cascada Agoyan is one of the most powerful waterfalls along the Ruta de las Cascadas that leads from Baños to Puyo. The sheer power of Cascada Agoyan isn’t just impressive, but it’s vital to the Ecuadorian economy because the dramatic waterfall is an important part of the hydroelectric power grid. You can bike to Cascada Agoyan from Baños and then for the best views of the waterfall, take the dizzying zipline across the canyon.
Manto de la Novia is a 40m (131.2ft) tall waterfall that’s one of the most popular stops on the Ruta de las Cascadas outside of Baños. There are several spectacular ways to see this single-drop waterfall – and, if you’ve got time, you’ll want to hike down to the riverbed, following rocky trails and crossing swaying suspension bridges. If you’re in a rush, then hop on the open-topped cable car and fly over the river from high above.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.