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Ultimate Ecuador & Galapagos

  • Northern Sierras
  • Amazon
  • Cloud Forest
  • Quito
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Guayaquil
Ultimate Ecuador & Galapagos Ultimate Ecuador & Galapagos
£ 13446

Birdwatching in the misty cloud forest. Meeting the fearless wildlife of the Galapagos. Horseback riding in the mountains. Ecuador offers discerning travellers a plethora of extraordinary experiences.

From admiring the beautiful period architecture of Quito’s old town you’ll soon find yourself high up in the Mindo Cloud Forest, watching exotic birds and gazing at a profusion of vivid orchids

Then comes the Amazon Basin – unmissable for connoisseurs of wildlife – where you’ll hike through untouched jungle, visit butterfly farms and even fish for piranha. But the climax of your tour has to be an unforgettable Galapagos cruise that takes you to the islands that inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. You’ll go snorkelling and kayaking amid dramatic landscapes, visit historic sites and meet some of the archipelago’s famously fearless wildlife.

20 days from
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    Detailed Itinerary
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    Day 1-3 Nothern Sierras
    Nothern Sierras

    Board a day flight from the UK to Quito, the Ecuadorian capital.

    Note: There are no direct flights between the UK and Ecuador. The quickest connections are with KLM, via Amsterdam or Iberia via Madrid. There are also options via the USA, with British Airways and American Airlines. 

    You will arrive into Quito in the afternoon of day one. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred north to Otavalo and your charming, colonial hacienda.

    A charming working farm set at the heart of the Avenue of Volcanoes, the property has been in the family of former president Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso for over a century.0

    You will find at your fingertips a wide variety of activities to enjoy in the surrounding area. You could go hiking along winding mountain trails, explore the countryside on beautiful Zuleteño horses, ride mountain bikes through scenic valleys or take a bird watching excursion. Cooking and embroidery classes are also on offer, as well as complimentary cheese-tastings each evening.

    Stay: Three nights at Hacienda Zuleta – full board

    Day 4-6 Amazon

    This morning you will begin your Amazonian expedition with a short flight to Coca. From there you’ll cruise down the Rio Napo in a motorised canoe, before branching off into a jungle creek in a traditional dugout canoe. Within 20 minutes you’ll arrive at your lodge on the edge of Lake Garzacocha, surrounded by dense tropical jungle.

    This is the Amazon Basin, so you can expect to see – and hear – an incredible variety of wildlife. This includes 500 different species of birds including toucans and trogons, jacamars, tanagers, antbirds, hummingbirds and macaws, as well as rarities like the zigzag heron and around 20 different types of parrot.

    You’ll hike along jungle trails both in the day and at night, accompanied by expert naturalist guides who will share their vast knowledge of the rainforest with you. You’ll take canoe journeys into the interior, kayak across a stunning lagoon and watch wildlife from a 37 metre high canopy tower. Your lodge has its own butterfly breeding farm and you can even go with a local guide to fish for piranha.

    Stay: Three nights at La Selva Amazon Lodge – full board (including activities in small groups)

    Day 7 Quito

    Today you bid goodbye to the rainforest and take a motorised canoe back to Coca for your flight to Quito, where you will be spending one night.

    Stay: One night at Illa Experience Hotel – bed & breakfast

    Day 8-9 Cloud Forest
    Cloud Forest

    From Quito you’ll set off to experience the riches of the Mindo Cloud Forest. A three hour drive takes you to your lodge, perched high on the western slopes of the Andes. Your cloud forest experience will include wandering through 1,200 hectares of untouched reserve; hiking along forest trails to discover a staggering variety of plants, birds and wildlife.

    You’ll discover sparkling waterfalls and crystal clear rivers to bathe in. You’ll stroll through gardens full of orchids and take in the view from above the canopy on an aerial tram. Ecuadorian guides will show you cotinga, cock-of-the-rock and umbrella birds – plus numerous other species – from three different bird watching hides. And when you need to recharge, why not enjoy a specialist massage or make use of the spa and open Jacuzzi.

    Stay: Two nights at Mashpi Lodge – full board (including activities in small groups)

    Day 10 Quito

    Transfer back to Quito. In the afternoon enjoy a guided tour around the Old Town, a designated World Culture Heritage site filled with impressive churches, monasteries and mansions.

    Stay: One night at ILLA Experience Hotel – bed & breakfast

    Day 11-17 Galapagos Islands
    Galapagos Islands

    On day eleven you will fly to the Galapagos Islands, where you will board your exclusive yacht for a seven-night expedition cruise of the archipelago. Throughout the journey, you will enjoy daily panga, snorkelling, kayaking and island excursions alongside experienced naturalists guides, who will give you a fascinating insight into the islands wildlife, history and geology.

    ORIGIN and THEORY are two almost identical sister ships, both with capacity for up to twenty guests and are currently the only two ships in the Galapagos to be part of the Relais & Chateaux group. They’re also two of only a handful of boats which have an additional naturalist guide on board, which means group sizes for activities is never more than ten per guide (normally it is is sixteen per guide in the Galapagos).

    Note: ORIGIN & THEORY operate weekly seven night cruises from San Cristobal Island, departing on a Sunday.

    Over the next week you will explore the unique landscapes and wildlife of the islands. See blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds, colonies of sea lions and giant tortoises and snorkel with turtles, inquisitive fur seals and possibly even hammerhead sharks and whales. Explore beautiful sandy beaches, lava-tunnels and giant craters, each day returning to the boat for delicious food and drinks.   

    Stay: Seven nights onboard ORIGIN or THEORY – full board (including activities in small groups)

    Day 18 Guayaquil

    Today you will fly back to Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador, where you will be transferred to your beautiful boutique hotel in the elegant Samborondón neighbourhood. You can choose to simply relax after your cruise, or enjoy experiences such as chocolate tasting, coffee roasting and wildlife walks in the tropical grounds.

    Stay: One night at Hotel del Parque – bed & breakfast

    Day 19-20 Overnight flight from Guayaquil back to the UK

    In the afternoon of day nineteen you will be driven back to Guayaquil airport for your overnight international flight home.

    Other itineraries in Ecuador and Galapagos Islands

    • Gemma took on board all I asked for and arranged a fantastic itinerary. She was always prompt and professional both in planning the holiday and during the very circumstances of Covid. We would not hesitate to come back to The Ultimate Travel Company.

      TS, August 2020