Ecuador & the Galapagos 2016
Warm and relaxed Quito & Otavalo, then an unforgettable Galapagos Cruise, including Santa Cruz, South Plaza, Santa Fe & San Cristobal Islands
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|Style||Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of 15-24 likeminded travelers escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Quito, Otavalo, San Cristobal Island, Sante Fe, South Plaza, Santa Cruz Islands, Charles Darwin Research Center|
|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. The Galapagos cruise portion of the tour may have up to 90 passengers on board.|
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|Already Booked?||Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, passport & visa requirements, flight information, weather, and more.|
Discover 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!
Dates, Prices & Options
Departure Dates & Prices
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Options, Upgrades & Fees
Flights & Departure Cities
Passengers departing New York (JFK) or Los Angeles (LAX): Passengers must check-in the night before the listed departure dates for their overnight flights arriving on Day 1. Please refer to the flight schedule for details.
Transfers: Transfers for this package are provided on a group basis only. For passengers deviating in any way from the group program, transfers are not provided. Individual, private transfers can be arranged at a supplement in price. Taxis and other forms of transportation are also available and may cost less than private transfers. If you wish to arrange private transfers, please request this service at the time of reservation.
Day 1: Depart USA
Accommodations: 2 nights Hilton Colon, Quito.
- Depart USA on your flight bound for Quito, Ecuador
- Passengers departing JFK or LAX will depart & arrive 1 day earlier
Day 2: Arrive Quito
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Arrive in Quito and transfer to your hotel
- Afternoon city tour of Quito and Equatorial Monument
Full Day Itinerary: Arrive in Quito (9,500 feet above sea level) this morning and after customs formalities, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Today, 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.
Day 3: Quito, Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal & Punta Pitt
Accommodations: 4 nights M/V Santa Cruz II. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Transfer to the airport for your flight to San Cristobal Island
- Continue to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to board your first-class cruise ship
- Disembark on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt
- Weather permitting, swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets
Full Day Itinerary: 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, which provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galápagos where the three species of boobies can be found together.
Day 4: Galapagos Cruise: Sante Fe Island & South Plaza Island
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- After breakfast, take a dinghy to Sante Fe Island
- Snorkel & swim from the beach or take a glass-bottomed boat ride
- Disembark in the South Plaza Island channel
Full Day Itinerary: 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.
Day 5: Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora, & Darwin Research Station
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
- Afternoon optional activities available
Full Day Itinerary: 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.
This 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
Day 6: Galapagos Cruise: Española Island, Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Morning walk at Punta Suarez
- Enjoy the white coral beach of Gardner Bay
Full Day Itinerary: 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.
Day 7: Galapagos Cruise, Baltra Island & Quito
Accommodations: 2 nights Hilton Colon, Quito. Included meals: Breakfast.
- Disembark at Baltra Island, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Quito
- Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel
Day 8: Otavalo Market & Quito
Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Drive along the Panamerican Highway to Otavalo
- Explore the famous market at Otavalo
- Continue to Peguche, a nearby Indian village
- Return to Quito for a farewell dinner and overnight
Full Day Itinerary: This morning, 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.
Day 9: Depart Quito/Arrive USA
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Transfer to the airport for your return flight
- Arrive in the USA later today
- Passengers returning to JFK or LAX will arrive back to the USA one day later
- 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.
By far this has been the best trip ever!!! Our tour guide Patricio and bus driver Edwin made our stay as pleasant as possible. They were courteous and attentive to everyone's needs and made us feel safe at all times. I highly recommend this trip to anyone who has never dared to venture to South America—you will not be disappointed!! The canoe ride up the Amazon river and the scenic panoramic view of the mountains will leave you breathless!
Ivonne Davila & Lucia Morales, Brooklyn, NY
Before You Book
- Do I need a visa or any other documents? Please review the requirements about which documents you need before you travel.
- Should I get travel insurance? Protect your travel investment with our comprehensive policies.
- What's the fine print? Read the terms & conditions for this package.
- I'm traveling solo. Can you help me find a roommate? Yes, you can connect with other travelers to share a room and avoid single occupancy rates.
- Can I bring my kids? Are there any age restrictions? To book this package, you must be 18 or older. Your traveling companions must be 8 or older at the time of travel.
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