Ecuador & Galapagos

The breathtaking Andean scenery of mainland Ecuador encompasses lakes, Indian villages and dramatic mountain landscapes. Experience Otavalo and its market, the biggest Indian handicraft market in South America. Take in the famous islands of the Galapagos in the relaxed atmosphere of a luxury tented camp in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

Country Information

Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands

Ecuador & Galapagos Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands


(Interest Type(s))

Safari Tours

,

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

11 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $4,998
  • Explore Ecuador’s colonial capital, Quito, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site
  • Take in the breathtaking Andean scenery of mainland Ecuador, with its lakes, Indian villages and high peaks
  • Visit Otavalo, the biggest Indian handicraft market in South America
  • Discover the fabled islands of the Galapagos in the relaxed atmosphere of a luxury tented camp, Galapagos Safari Camp, set in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, bordering the national park
  • Enjoy many opportunities to experience the richness of  the Galapagos Islands and its wildlife through snorkeling, scuba diving (for certified divers), hiking, and mountain biking

 

 

Day 1:  Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Welcome to Ecuador.  After claiming your luggage, you will be met by your Big Five Ecuador representative and transferred to your hotel.  JW Marriott Hotel

Day 2:  Quito
The capital of Ecuador, Quito lies at an elevation of 9,000 feet in the province of Pichincha surrounded by the Andes Mountains.  One of the most beautiful capitals in the world, the city was founded as San Francisco de Quito on December 6th, 1534 by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Benalcazar and sanctioned through the auspices of UNESCO in 1978 to be a World Cultural Heritage Site.  The historic center, the old city, of Quito has narrow, winding cobblestone streets, magnificent churches and wide-open squares.  The buildings that line the streets reflect Spanish colonial influence as seen in their balconies, tile roofs, thick columns and central patios.  A full-day private tour of Quito begins in the colonial quarter, and includes the incomparably rich La Compañia Church, San Francisco Square, and other gracious landmarks.  Drive up Panecillo Hill for glorious views of the city and surrounding mountains.  Then, enjoy lunch overlooking the serene countryside.  You can stand in the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously at the Equatorial Monument.  Return to your hotel.  Later this evening enjoy a special dinner of Ecuadorian cuisine.  JW Marriott Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3:  Quito / The Galapagos Islands
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island.  Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide who will accompany you for lunch and a complete tour of the highlands.  You will visit Los Gemelos, collapsed twin craters that were formed by a series of eruptions when the island was still active.  This area is one of the few where the Scalesia forest, which is a type of cloud forest, is almost intact.  Tortoises wander around, finches and vermilion fly catchers can be seen.  You learn about the formation of these fascinating islands in the dark lava tunnels of the island.  Your tour ends at Galapagos Safari Camp for a sunset drink and dinner.  Galapagos Safari Camp is set on a 55-hectare farm in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island bordering the national park, 30 minutes from the sea.  The farm is rich in birdlife with finches, warblers, mockingbirds, Galapagos doves, egrets and owls.  Tortoises also make frequent visits.  The farm has many local species of trees, such as scalesia, guayabillo, and palo santo which are rapidly regaining a foothold after years of cattle farming.  The camp has eight luxury safari tents perched on a hill, providing comfort and privacy in the wilderness.  All tents have a balcony with views of the park and the ocean — they are spacious, attractively decorated, and each has a private bathroom, with hot shower and toilet.  Guests can gather by the fireplace in the main room to view the sunsets, taste the chef’s creative dishes that cater to the international palate in the panoramic dining room or enjoy the tranquility of the infinity pool with fabulous ocean scenery.  Galapagos Safari Camp (B,L,D)

Day 4:  The Galapagos Islands
Today you have the opportunity to hike or take a mountain bike on your guided explorations.  The trail begins at the village of Bellavista and takes you to some of the biggest hills of the island: Media Luna, Puntudo and Cerro Crocker.  The distance from Bellavista to Media Luna is five kilometers, and from there to Puntudo and Cerro Crocker close to three kilometers.  Ornithologists will love this area with its variety of birds, including rails, finches and petrels.  Galapagos Safari Camp (B,L,D)

Days 5 & 6:  The Galapagos Islands
Get up early this morning for a boat trip to explore one of the neighboring islands such as North Seymour, Bartolomé, Plazas, Santa Fé, Floreana or Isabela.  Each island has its particularity and you will be guided through the natural marvels.  You can explore the richness of the Galapagos Islands marine life by snorkeling in the clear waters.  Or, if you are certified scuba diver, you can replace one or both day trips for diving.  Galapagos Safari Camp (B,L,D)

Day 7:  The Galapagos Islands
Spend the morning enjoying Tortuga Bay, a pristine white sandy beach which buzzes with wildlife.  You can also stroll over to a tranquil mangrove lagoon ideal for swimming and snorkeling.  Lunch (on your own) in Puerto Ayora gives you a taste for town and you can then take a privately guided tour of the Charles Darwin Foundation where visitors can see the tortoise breeding center.  Galapagos Safari Camp (B,D)

Day 8:  Galapagos / Quito / Otavalo
Early this morning, you can opt to tour the farm, catch the sunrise, and then walk to the barn owl’s cave before breakfast.  You are privately transferred back to Baltra’s Airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador.  Upon arrival into Quito, you are met and transferred by private car north to Otavalo country.  Arrive at the La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa, perched on an Andean hillside.  La Mirage is a contemporary resort built on the grounds of 200-year-old Hacienda featuring 23 large, exquisitely furnished and unique rooms and suites.  No two are alike, but all have an eclectic blend of local and European art.  They have fireplaces, a separate sitting area and all the amenities one would require including a nightly turn-down service.  Wander through the extraordinary fragrant hummingbird-filled gardens where peacocks stroll by.  Enjoy delightful regional and international cuisine.  As with any resort, many activities can be enjoyed (additional cost applies).  You may relax in the elegant spa for one of the 17 different treatments.  Or choose mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding.  La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa (B,D)

Day 9:  Otavalo
There have been many beautiful sites “discovered” over the years and considered remarkable due to their cultural and natural fragility.  In the most breathtaking of Andean scenery in the Otavalo area, there are beautiful lakes, Indian villages, high peaks and natural reserves.  Your guide will tailor the program for the day.  You can visit the Peguche Indians, who still weave on the traditional back-strap loom, a true art form; or, trek the brim of Cuicocha Crater Lake; visit the artisan center of Cotacachi, which specializes in leather goods; or explore Cochasqui archaeological complex.  La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 10:  Otavalo / Quito
The land of the Otavalo Indians is perhaps the most important mainland attraction after the Amazon rainforest.  A great deal of pride is displayed not only in the native handcrafts of this unique indigenous culture, but also in their dress, music and beliefs that have defied the passing of time.  This morning, visit Otavalo, the biggest Indian handicraft market in South America, famous for its typical leather, wood, weaving antiques and jewelry markets as well as fruit and vegetables market.  In the afternoon, return to Quito via a different scenic road.  JW Marriott Hotel (B,L)

Day 11:  Depart Quito
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight out.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $4,998

Internal Airfare (subject to change until ticketed):  $520

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