Ecuador & the Galapagos

Quito, Otavalo and Galapagos Cruise, including Santa Cruz, South Plaza, Santa Fe & San Cristobal Islands

Book now online
9 days from $4399 $3999
per person, double occupancy, including taxes & fees*
Book by Oct. 28, 2014 to save up to $400!

Overview

Style Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures January – June 2015
Departs Miami (MIA) (flight schedule)
Highlights Quito, Otavalo, San Cristobal Island, Sante Fe, South Plaza, Santa Cruz Islands, Charles Darwin Research Center
Included in the Price
  • Round trip flights from Miami via LAN Airlines including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees, with other gateways available on request
  • Flights between Quito & the Galapagos Islands
  • All ground transportation and transfers
  • All ground transportation & transfers
  • Accommodations in a Deluxe hotel with private bath
  • Four-night Galapagos Cruise aboard the M/V Santa Cruz in standard outside cabins with portholes
  • 16 meals: breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Comprehensive guided sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Galapagos National Park Fee ($100) & Transit Control Card ($10)
  • Professional English-speaking tour directors & guides
What to Expect This fast-paced, locally hosted tour involves a significant amount of walking or hiking, often on uneven terrain, and reaches high altitudes requiring a high level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.

LAN Airlines

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Testimonials

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This was our first ever group tour package... and we'll definitely consider another with Friendly Planet based on our experience! The accommodations are all high quality and unique; hotel service outstanding. Our enthusiastic guide, Vivian, and capable driver Jose, were warm, hospitable, knowledgeable ambassadors for their country. Vivian enjoyed maximizing our experiences whether it was at a simple ice cream stop or describing in detail church art treasures. And she's lots of fun! Highlights for my husband Harris and I were the two amazing days spent at Casa del Suizo in Amazonia. Our local guide, Ramon, welcomed us into his culture and literally made the jungle come alive letting us sniff aromatic termite nests or offering us freshly cut jungle hearts of palm to eat. And then there was the blow dart tournament...

Deborah Samuels, New Smyrna Beach, FL

Dates, Prices & Options

Prices, fees and deposits are per person. Prices and availability are subject to change. More about our prices.

Departures & Prices
per person, double occupancy*
Depart Return Price Book by
Oct 28
Thu Oct 9 2014 Fri Oct 17 2014 $3999   Departed
Thu Nov 20 2014 Fri Nov 28 2014 $4399 $3999 Closed
Thu Dec 4 2014 Fri Dec 12 2014 $4199 $3799 Closed
Thu Dec 18 2014 Fri Dec 26 2014 $4499 $4099 Closed
Thu Jan 1 2015 Fri Jan 9 2015 $4399 $3999 Available
Thu Feb 12 2015 Fri Feb 20 2015 $4399 $3999 Available
Sat Mar 21 2015 Sun Mar 29 2015 $4399 $3999 Closed
Thu Apr 9 2015 Fri Apr 17 2015 $4749 $4349 Available
Thu Jun 4 2015 Fri Jun 12 2015 $4399 $3999 Available

Prices include Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee, but do not include excess baggage fees or advance seat reservations, unless otherwise noted.

Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to extend your stay later than the scheduled dates, subject to availability. Contact us about dates, prices and restrictions.

Seperately Paid Fees
Ecuador Departure Tax1 (paid separately) +$45

1. All departure taxes are paid locally at the time of departure. Amount is approximate and reflects current exchange rates.

Optionals & Upgrades
Rooming Selection / Cabin Categories
Main Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy
Oct 9, Nov 20, Dec 4, Mar 21, Apr 9 unavailable
All other departures included
Main Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy
Dec 18, Jan 1, Feb 12 +$1299
Oct 9, Nov 20, Dec 4, Mar 21, Apr 9 unavailable
All other departures +$1199
Upper Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy
Nov 20, Dec 4, Jan 1, Feb 12, Apr 9 unavailable
All other departures +$125
Upper Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy
Oct 9, Dec 18 +$1399
Mar 21 +$1499
Nov 20, Dec 4, Jan 1, Feb 12, Apr 9 unavailable
All other departures +$1299
Boat Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy
Apr 9 included
Dec 4, Dec 18, Jan 1, Feb 12, Mar 21 unavailable
All other departures +$300
Boat Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy
Oct 9, Nov 20 +$1699
Apr 9 +$1849
Dec 4, Dec 18, Jan 1, Feb 12, Mar 21 unavailable
All other departures +$1549
Boat Deck PLUS Cabin, Double Occupancy
Oct 9, Nov 20, Dec 4, Dec 18, Jan 1, Mar 21, Apr 9, Jun 4 unavailable
All other departures +$500
Boat Deck PLUS, Single Occupancy
Oct 9, Nov 20, Dec 4, Dec 18, Jan 1, Mar 21, Apr 9, Jun 4 unavailable
All other departures +$2049
Superior Boat Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy
Oct 9, Nov 20, Dec 18, Jan 1, Feb 12, Mar 21, Apr 9, Jun 4 unavailable
All other departures +$500
Superior Boat Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy
Oct 9, Nov 20, Dec 18, Jan 1, Feb 12, Mar 21, Apr 9, Jun 4 unavailable
All other departures +$1799
Departure Airports
Miami (MIA) included

Coming from somewhere else? Unfortunately, we don't offer departures from cities that are not listed, but you can book your own connecting flights separately.

Booking Deposit
Standard Deposit $800
Optional PriceLock Deposit $1500

To make a reservation, we only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, PayPal, check or money order. Your final payment is due 105 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of booking, whichever is later.

Ticketing: Airline tickets for this tour are usually issued within 24 hours of your booking, and once issued, cannot be changed, refunded or transferred.

Itinerary

Ecuador & Galapagos itinerary mapDiscover the wonders of Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, a remarkable collection of landscapes, people, cultures, animals, plants, and more. Our Ecuador & Galapagos Islands tour covers the highlights of this incredibly diverse country. You'll visit the capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Center of Quito and the colorful and bustling Otavalo market. Round out your tour with a guided cruise through the Galapagos Islands, the magical place that inspired Charles Darwin to propose his theory of evolution. All of this, plus airfare from Miami, is yours for an incredible price. We're excited about this tour and we know you will be too, but don't wait too long to book, as space is sure to sell out quickly!

 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA /Arrive Quito. Your exciting tour to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands begins today as you depart for Quito, Ecuador's capital city (9,500 feet above sea level). Upon arrival, after customs formalities, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Accommodations: Hilton Colón or similar.

QuitoDay 2: Quito. This morning, enjoy a panoramic city tour of Quito. Arguably one of the loveliest of all South American cities, Quito enjoys a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still-active Mt. Pichincha. Begin your walking tour at Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Municipal Building and the Archbishops’ Palace. The next stop, La Compañía de Jesús, has an ornate and richly sculptured facade and interior, with colored columns, 10-sided altars, and gilded balconies. Continue to the Monastery of San Francisco, Quito's oldest church and the largest colonial building constructed in Latin America.

Next, drive 16 miles north of Quito to the Equatorial Monument, the Mitad del Mundo ("Middle of the World"), commemorating the exact place where Charles Marie de la Condamine established the Equator, where you can stand with one foot in the northern and one in the southern hemisphere. Breakfast provided.

Blue-footed boobyDay 3: Quito, Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal & Punta Pitt. Transfer to the airport for your flight to San Cristobal Island, gateway to the Galapagos Islands to begin your adventure. Upon arrival, transfer to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to board your first-class cruise ship, the M/V Santa Cruz, your home for the next 4 nights. Settle into your cabin, and enjoy an introductory briefing and lunch.

In the afternoon, disembark on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, and walk along the trail with spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, and you may be lucky enough to view all three! After a walk along the trail, weather permitting, there will be a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets.

The March 21, 2015 departure follows an alternate Galapagos cruise itinerary. Accommodations: M/V Santa Cruz. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

SealDay 4: Galapagos Cruise: Sante Fe Island & South Plaza Island. After breakfast, take a dinghy to Sante Fe Island, where you'll find an idyllic sandy white beach populated by many sea lion harems. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Here, you may snorkel and swim from the beach, or explore the water from a glass-bottomed boat.

After lunch on board and a chance to rest, disembark in the South Plaza Island channel, where turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. A carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. You may see yellow-grey land iguanas patiently waiting for pears to drop. Along the coastline you may find sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and shearwaters glide above, playing with the thermals. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Charles Darwin Research StationDay 5: Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora, & Charles Darwin Research Station. In the morning, disembark (dry landing) to visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoises within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, also home to many land birds. The Research Station is the headquarters of scientific exploration, conservation and the National Park administration. Later, board our transport to travel to the cooler highlands of the island, a completely different ecosystem, to enjoy lunch.

TortoiseThis afternoon, there are several options to choose from, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader:

1) Trek along trails amid the miconia forests in the highlands, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel.
2) Mountain bike (mostly downhill) to Garrapatero Beach.
3) Sea kayak and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach.
4) Experience sustainable agriculture at an organic coffee plantation. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the M/V Santa Cruz.

Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Male frigate birdDay 6: Galapagos Cruise: Española (or Hood) Island, Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay. This morning, enjoy an exciting walk at Punta Suarez, to see its colonies of unique sea birds, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tail gulls. You'll also see the famous Galapagos "blow-hole," and keep an eye out for the famous marine iguanas with their interesting red, green and black coloration. Return to the ship for lunch on board.

In the afternoon, the picturesque white coral beach of Gardner Bay provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches. Enjoy an opportunity to snorkel or ride aboard a glass-bottomed boat. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 7: Galapagos Cruise, Baltra Island & Quito. Your cruise comes to an end as you disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Accommodations: Hilton Colón or similar. Breakfast provided.

Otavalo womanDay 8: Quito, Otavalo, & Departure. This morning, check out from your hotel and then set out on the Panamerican Highway to Otavalo. After driving through dramatic Andean scenery, arrive at the famous Indian fair and the textile market of Otavalo, undoubtedly one of the best in all of Latin America.

The beauty of Otavalo lies in its people, the Otavaleño Indians. Unlike other indigenous groups who have given up their traditional dress for modern jeans and t-shirts, Otavaleños are true to their ancestral cultural heritage, and are still easily identified by their distinctive dress. Women wear intricately embroidered blouses and a wealth of beaded necklaces, while men have long, braided hair and wear calf-length white trousers, ponchos and sandals. Stroll by their many stalls filled with ponchos, scarves, blankets, hats, handbags and more, and observe as the Otavaleños barter in silence.

Then proceed to Peguche, a nearby Indian village, where local artisans weave in their homes. Learn about their culture and everyday life. Later, return to Quito for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Breakfast & dinner provided.

2015 departures: Due to a schedule change on LAN Airlines, the farewell dinner will be moved to Day 7.

Day 9: Arrive USA. Your Ecuador and Galapagos adventure comes to an end as you arrive in the USA early this morning.

 

Mar 21, 2015 Departure: Alternate Galapagos Cruise Itinerary

March 21, 2015 itinerary mapDay 3: Quito, Galapagos Cruise: Baltra Island & Santa Cruz. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, gateway to the Galapagos Islands, to begin your adventure. Upon arrival, transfer to the dock to board your first-class cruise ship, the M/V Santa Cruz, your home for the next 4 nights. Settle into your cabin, and enjoy an introductory briefing and lunch.

In the afternoon, disembark on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island at Las Bachas, a glorious white beach with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. There will be a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby inlets. Accommodations: M/V Santa Cruz. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Blue-footed boobiesDay 4: Galapagos Cruise: Buccaneer Cove & Puerto Egas. After breakfast, explore the coastline along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove, learning about the area's distant and recent history. The cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. View fantastic natural formations such as the "Elephant Rock", "The Bishop" and an impressive natural cave. This is a great site for snorkeling.

Later on, disembark at a beach called Puerto Egas. Enjoy a swim or snorkel amid a rocky shoreline, usually in the company of marine turtles. From here, head off on a nature walk, a great opportunity to see land and marine birds amid a landscape of tuff-stone layers and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and we can also observe a colony of fur-sea lions. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Marine iguanaDay 5: Galapagos Cruise: Rábida Island & Bartolomé Island. After breakfast, land on Rábida Island's red-colored beach, caused by the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic sediment. A walking tour brings you near a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin's finches. Very close to the beach, a salt pond hosts migrating greater flamingos at certain times of year. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes.

After lunch, disembark at Bartolomé for a hike to the summit of this diminutive island that boasts fantastic views of the archipelago. This is a moderately steep climb aided by a wooden staircase, resting platforms and handrails – the view from the top is worth the effort! Following the walk, enjoy a boat ride around the colossal Pinnacle Rock, landing at the beach to enjoy some swimming, snorkeling or just relaxing. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Male frigate birdDay 6: Galapagos Cruise: Prince Philip Steps & Darwin Bay. The morning starts with a boat ride along the cliffs of Genovesa Island. After landing, there will be a steep climb (90 feet) up Prince Philips Steps to reach a flat plateau. Along the walk, observe large colonies of Nazca boobies, red footed boobies, great frigate birds and storm petrels. For those not wishing to disembark, enjoy a longer boat ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions). After the walk, swim or snorkel along the dramatic cliffs where there are chances of spotting lots of fish, including hammerhead sharks.

In the afternoon, land at a beautiful beach on Darwin Bay to enjoy some swimming or snorkeling. Then, take an easy stroll to observe hundreds of birds, mainly frigate birds, red footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. There's an optional walk over some uneven terrain for dramatic views of the bay, or return to the beach to relax. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 7: Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal Island & Quito. Your cruise comes to an end as you disembark at San Cristobal Island and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Accommodations: Hilton Colón or similar. Breakfast provided.

See Day 8 of the tour itinerary above for the continuation of your touring program.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • The high altitudes reached on this trip (Quito is at 9,200 feet above sea level) and the amount of walking involved, often on uneven terrain, require that you be in good physical condition to fully enjoy the trip. We strongly suggest that you consult your physician if you have any concerns regarding your ability to handle these conditions.
  • Please remember that the exact route and program may vary according to weather and ocean conditions, and the wildlife encountered. There is no guarantee that all the possible species mentioned will be seen.
  • Itineraries and program are subject to change without previous notice due mainly to readjustment of the National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes or safety reasons.

Dry landing: guests step from a dinghy onto rocks or a dock.

Wet landing: as a dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.

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