Ecuador Galapagos Holiday

Galapagos Explorer

Ecuador and the Galapagos...

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Highlights and Island-Hopping

12 day holiday in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for £3450pp

Although we're keen for people to learn about the amazing sights on the mainland of Ecuador, obviously the big draw for many people is the Galapagos Islands. This holiday shows how you can combine the two and get the best of both worlds!

Outline Itinerary

  • Day One: Arrival in Quito
  • Day Two: City tour of Quito
  • Day Three: Cotopaxi National Park
  • Day Four: Lake Quilotoa
  • Day Five: Into the Cloud Forest
  • Day Six: Bellavista Lodge
  • Day Seven: On to the Galapagos
  • Day Eight: Santa Cruz and Floreana
  • Day Nine: On to Isabela
  • Day Ten: Return to Santa Cruz
  • Day Eleven: Back to Quito
  • Day Twelve: Overnight flight back to the UK

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Detailed Itinerary

Day One – Begin your Ecuador Holiday

You will arrive in Quito today as your Ecuador holiday begins. We’ll be there to pick you up and take you to your hotel, which is in the heart of the capital. You will probably want some time to rest and get used to the altitude so we have left the rest of the day free for you to relax. Your hotel is close to dozens of restaurants and cafes, as well as all the other facilities you'd expect from a capital city, so if you're feeling up to it then why not head on out and explore one of South America’s most beautiful capitals.

Day Two - City Tour in Quito

This morning we’ve left you some free time to relax after your journey, then after lunch we will pick you up after lunch and take you for a tour of Quito. We’ll focus on the beautiful colonial Old Town, with its winding cobbled streets and grand plazas. The area is a designated World Heritage Site, and it’s home to some of South America’s finest colonial architecture, including the stunning Cathedral and several other churches, all overlooked from the nearby Panecillo hill by the winged statue of the Virgin of Quito. (Breakfast included)

Day Three – Cotopaxi National Park

The snow-capped mountain of Cotopaxi is one of the enduring symbols of Ecuador, and no holiday in Ecuador is complete without a trip to see it. Today we will take you on a full-day tour through the beautiful Cotopaxi National Park, including the lovely Lake Limpiopungo and the mountain refuge on the slopes of Cotopaxi itself, giving you the chance for some breathtaking photos, as well as the chance to see some of the park’s fantastic wildlife, such as the giant Andean Condors. We will stay tonight in a traditional Andean hacienda, giving you the chance to enjoy some history along with the fantastic scenery. (B/L/D)

  • Our standard hacienda for tonight is the lovely 300-year-old Hacienda La Cienega, but we work with several different haciendas in Cotopaxi, so just let us know if you'd like to see some other options.

Day Four - Lake Quilotoa

Today we will head out of the Cotopaxi National Park to Lake Quilotoa. This giant crater lake is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and as you climb up to the lip of the (extinct!) volcano, you look down through the mists into a bluey-green lake that seems utterly surreal. You can then head down to the lake and take out a rowing-boat or canoe, before coming back up by horse to your waiting driver. After lunch, we'll head back up through the ‘Valley of the Volcanoes’ to Quito. (B/L)

Day Five - Into the Cloud Forest

You will see a different aspect of Ecuador today, as we pick you after breakfast this morning for the drive down the western slopes of the Andes, towards the town of Mindo. This area is known throughout Ecuador as “Mindo Lindo” (Beautiful Mindo) for the stunning scenery you will see along the way. We will arrive at the Bellavista cloud forest reserve in the late morning and you will have a chance to stretch your legs and settle in before lunch. In the afternoon we will take a guided hike out into the cloud forest to appreciate the huge variety of bird and plant-life we can find here. We will then return to the lodge to relax before dinner and a short briefing on tomorrow’s activities. (B/L/D)

Day Six – Bellavista Lodge

After breakfast this morning we will rise early to head out and see some more of the reserve’s amazing wildlife – toucans, parrots, quetzals, flying squirrels and agoutis can all be seen in the area and we’ll hope to see as many as possible. After a final lunch back at the lodge, we will head back to Quito, where you will arrive in the early evening. (B/L)

Day Seven - Begin your Galapagos Holiday

We will take you to the airport to catch a flight out across the Pacific to the island of Baltra this morning, and we will pick you up and take you across the Itabaca Strait to Santa Cruz. First of all, we will take you to the secluded and lovely Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge, where you can refresh yourselves and drop your luggage. Then, in the afternoon we will take you by boat out into Academy Bay and La Loberia, where you can swim and snorkel with sea-lions. From here we will travel around the coast to Tortuga Bay, where we can see baby reef sharks and stingrays. (B/L/D)

  • This itinerary is based on a five-day island-hopping holiday in the Galapagos, but we can easily change this to be a longer land-based itineray or a cruise in the Galapagos islands if you prefer.

Day Eight - Santa Cruz and Floreana

After breakfast this morning, we will go for a short trek up into the highlands of Santa Cruz, to explore the lava craters and see some of the wild giant tortoises. We will head back to the lodge for lunch, and then in the afternoon we will head by boat to the island of Floreana. First up is the secluded Luz del Dia cove, where we can see penguins and sea-lions on the rocky shore, and rays and bright tropical fish in the clear waters. We will then travel around the coast to our dock on the island, and head to the Floreana lodge, located right on the beach so all you have to do is unpack and relax! (B/L/D)

Day Nine - On to Isabela

This morning we will explore the island, including the tortoise reserve, Pirate’s cave, and seeing the endemic Floreana finches which make their home on Cerro Pajas. At around 11am we will get back on-board our boat for the short trip across to the island of Isabela, where we will arrive just in time for lunch. In the afternoon we will head back out to sea as we cruise around the coast, keeping an eye out for blue-footed boobies and penguins, before docking for a short walk up through one of Isabela’s huge lava fields, passing colonies of marine iguanas on our way to a natural viewpoint with stunning views of Isabela’s volcanoes, the green coastal mangroves, and the emerald seas beyond. We will then return to Isabela lodge, where you can relax on the beach, or swim and snorkel. (B/L/D)

Day Ten - Return to Santa Cruz

This morning we will drive out from Isabela lodge along what is generally acknowledged to be the most beautiful beach in the Galapagos – Long Beach. Over 3km of pristine white sand and the contrast with the turquoise seas make this an amazing photograph. If you can get one of the local giant tortoises or marine iguanas in the shot – so much the better! After an afternoon exploring the beach and the nearby tortoise reserve, we will head back to the lodge and board our boat for the trip back to Santa Cruz, where we will have a short visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and then some free time for you to relax and enjoy your final afternoon in the Galapagos. (B/L/D)

Day Eleven - Back to Quito

After breakfast this morning, we will travel back across Santa Cruz to Baltra, where our flight will take us back across the Pacific to Quito. On arrival back here in the mainland we will take you back to Quito hotel to get ready to head out and enjoy your last night here in South America. (B)

Day Twelve – Last Day of your Ecuador and Galapagos Holiday

Sadly, today will be the last day of your Ecuador holiday. Depending on your international flights, you may have some time to explore a little more of Quito, or you may be leaving straight after breakfast, but whatever you’re your flight, we will be there to pick you up and take you to the airport in plenty of time to check in for your flight back to the UK. (B)

Options for this holiday in Ecuador

Otavalo market

Otavalo Market - 2 days from £250pp

The Saturday market in the small town of Otavalo is not only the largest in Ecuador, but is one of the largest traditional markets anywhere in South America. You can always visit it on one of the regular day trips from Quito, but this 2-day private excursion is a much better way of doing things. We will pick you up in Quito on the Friday and drive north to Otavalo, visiting the glorious Cotacachi valley and the lovely Lake Cuicocha along the way. This means that the next morning you can have a bit of a lie-in and still be at the market before the crowds from Quito, and then we can drive you back to the capital in the afternoon, stopping off at the Middle of the World complex on the line of the Equator as well.

Amazon rainforest

Amazon Rainforest – 4 days from £795pp

Ecuador boasts some of the best-preserved stretches of the whole Amazon rainforest, and it’s easy to add some time in the jungle on to any of our Ecuador holidays. We work with a range of the best jungle lodges in Ecuador so you can pick the one that’s right for you: some are best for wildlife, some for contact with indigenous cultures, while some offer unique attractions such as canopy walkways, so you can walk through the treetops for a unique birds-eye view of this amazing environment.

Trains in Ecuador

Tren Crucero – 4 days from £995pp

This superb 4-day train journey allows you to experience the whole of Ecuador’s newly-restored railway network, with a journey all the way from Quito in the north, through the Cotopaxi National Park and down the infamous “Devil’s Nose” switchback through to Guayaquil on the Pacific Coast. Vintage steam locomotives will take you through two of the sections, with fabulously comfortable coaches and overnight accommodation in boutique haciendas along the way. There’s simply no better way to experience Ecuador than this.

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What's Included?

Our standard price for this Ecuador and Galapagos holiday is £3450 per person, which is based on two sharing a double or twin room in our standard hotels and lodgse.

That price includes all your accommodation, internal transport, transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees, plus all your meals in the Cloud Forest and Galapagos Islands, lunch in Cotopaxi, and breakfast every day.

We don't have any "local payments" or sneaky charges: everything you have read about on this itinerary is included in that price. And because everything we do is tailor-made, we don't have fixed departure dates or minimum numbers for our trips. Outside of national holidays or other special events, this price is valid for the whole of 2020.

International flights

So with the exception of a few meals, everything on your holiday is included. What we don't include as standard is your international flights, because with these you have a huge range of options depending on the date you want to travel, the route you want to fly, and your preferred departure airport in the UK.

We aren't tied to any particular airline, and we will be delighted to discuss all options with you, or you can even book the flights yourself if you prefer: it's totally up to you.

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