Highlights of Ecuador

16 Nights from €4,279 Including Flights

Overview

The incredibly rich diversity of unique, native wildlife is one of the main drawing points to the Galapagos Islands, both on land and under the azure, crystalline waters, whilst Ecuador is home to some of South America’s most beautiful scenery and cultural assets; from pretty colonial centres which look as if they belong on the front of a postcard, to spectacular white-sand beaches, luscious Amazonian rainforest and ancient Kichwa villages.

This 16-night adventure starts and ends in Quito, offering the opportunity to explore the finest sights and wildlife found in both of these utterly sublime, diverse destinations by land and sea. Involving a number of active, adrenaline-fuelled activities, this tour is created with adventerous travellers in mind, featuring lots of hiking, snorkelling, sailing trips and immersive guided tours throughout. (INT)

Highlights

  • Become acquainted with the beautiful churches, colonial buildings and graceful boulevards found in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city
  • Explore the unbelievable beauty of the Galapagos Islands – coming face-to-face with some of the most extraordinary wildlife on earth during snorkelling, boating and hiking excursions; including sea turtles, giant tortoise, whales, dolphins, sea lions, Galapagos Penguins, blue-footed boobies and the famous Galapagos Shark
  • Get your adrenaline pumping as you scale one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos and the second largest crater in the world
  • Witness one of the world’s finest sunsets on Isabela Island, and kayak the picturesque Isabela Bay
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Cuenca, a medieval fortress town said to be Ecuador’s most attractive city
  • Interact with the locals and indigenous people during a number of cultural trips and village tours
  • Collect unique, hand-crafted wares, textiles and gifts from bustling local markets along the way
Whats included?
  • Flights & taxes
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers
  • Checked baggage
  • CAR licensed & bonded
  • In resort assistance & 24 hour contact centre
Why Book with Tropical Sky?
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  • No amendment fees
  • Low deposits
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Day 1

Arrival in Quito

Upon arrival in Quito Ecuador, transfer to your hotel in time for a welcome meeting at 2pm. (Please note you’ll need your insurance details and next of kin information available to provide to your tour leader).

In the afternoon, you’ll enjoy a quick city tour around the beautiful colonial buildings and cosy Old Town; Quito is one of South America’s most attractive cities, and you’ll have lots of time to further experience the city in the evening at leisure if you wish.

Day 2

San Cristobal, Galapagos

Today you will start your trip to the Galapagos Islands – depending on your day of arrival, you can either meet your fellow tour group at San Cristobal Airport, where your guide will be waiting in the arrivals hall, or you can meet at the hotel (Casa de Nelley).

After meeting with your tour group, you’ll travel to La Loberia to enjoy a snorkelling trip with the magnificent sea lions, and maybe even some sea turtles. Continue back to town, and the evening you may wish to head out with the group and enjoy some of the delicious, freshly-caught seafood available in the restaurants.

Day 3

San Cristobal, Galapagos

Your day will begin with a short boat ride to Leon Dormido or Isla Lobos, observing the Galapagos’ renowned abundance of marine life along the way – you may even be lucky enough to swim/snorkel with the playful young sea lions.

On arrival, you may delight in a spot of snorkelling in the open sea, keeping an eye out for sea turtles, manta rays and the harmless Galapagos Shark, and spend some time relaxing on the sublime beach of the National Park. Lunch will be enjoyed aboard the boat, and you’ll later head to the Interpretation Centre to learn about the history of the ‘Enchanted Islands’ and conservation/preservation projects of the unique Galapagos wildlife. Next, you’ll make your way to Frigatebird Hill – it’s quite a climb to the top but is well worth the spectacular views of the bay and Kicker Rock. Return to town in the late afternoon/early evening.

Breakfast and Lunch are included.

Day 4

Isla Floreana – Isla Isabela, Galapegos

Today will start with an early-morning boat ride towards Florena Island, which should take around 2.5 hours – along the way, keep an eye out for sightings of dolphins and whales. On arrival to the island, enjoy a snorkel in the clear tropical waters before lunch, and then head to the black sand beach which belongs to the Witmers. The town here, Puerto Velasco Ibarra, is home to around 150 residents, and carries an intriguing history involving a number of mysterious deaths, disappearances and murders around 100 years ago. Later in the afternoon, continue to Isabela Island, taking around two hours, and transfer to your hotel for the night.

Breakfast and Lunch are included.

Day 5

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Your second day on Isla Isabela starts with a short 15-minute bus ride to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre where you can observe these majestic creatures in each stage of development, home to almost a thousand giant tortoises training for life in the wild. Afterwards, you’ll take another short bus ride to a brackish lagoon to observe beautiful flamingos in their natural habitat.

In the afternoon, you’ll board a small pangas to Tintoreras or Shark Alley; on the way, you may get the chance to see the famous Galapagos Penguin along the coast. On arrival, hop off for a short walk on the isolated islet to see hundreds of marine iguanas at a nesting site. Snorkel in the calm inlet with tropical fish and intertwining underground lava tubes – this area is frequently visited by green sea turtles that rest on the calm, sandy bottom. Later in the afternoon, return to town and seek out a sandy resting spot to enjoy your first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.

Breakfast included.

Day 6

Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Your last day on the island will begin with a 45-minute bus trip to the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos and the second largest crater in the world. Weather permitting, take a challenging hike of around 17 kilometres up the rocky mountain, which will take between five and six hours. After the hike, make your way back to town in the later afternoon to enjoy some free time at leisure to relax and unwind after a tiring day.

Breakfast and Lunch included.

Day 7

Isabela – Santa Cruz, Galapagos

After breakfast, enjoy a kayak around Isabela before transferring by private speedboat to Santa Cruz. Once you arrive on Santa Cruz, you will head to a restaurant to enjoy a traditional Ecuadorian lunch. In the afternoon, visit the higher part of the island to observe giant tortoises roaming in their natural environment, before visiting a locally-owned sugar cane farm where the farmers will show you the process of turning sugar cane into alcohol.

Breakfast included.

Day 8

Santa Cruz, Galapagos

This morning you will hike approximately 3.5 kilometres (45 minutes) to the stunning Tortuga Bay Beach – along the way, look out for eagle rays, sea turtles and blue-footed boobies. Later on, head back to Puerto Ayora. In the afternoon, there will be some free time to further explore the town, or you may choose to go on an optional excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Centre. Tonight, enjoy a fun group dinner to finish off the day.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are included.

Day 9

Guayaquil

Guayaquil not just a gateway to the expanse of stunning Pacific beaches, it’s a vibrant, sprawling city known as the thriving commercial heart of Ecuador. Join your tour group and leader for a welcome meeting at 2pm, and afterwards you’re free to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure; we recommend taking a stroll along the picturesque boardwalk with beautiful views of the Guayas River, which is particularly lively in the evening. Here you’ll stroll by magnificent monuments, unique sculptures and tempting food stalls offering a delicious selection of bites to eat.

Day 10

Cuenca

After breakfast, you’ll take a 3.5 hour bus ride to what many consider Ecuador’s most attractive city, Cuenca. This medieval fortress town has earned a well-deserved spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and you’ll see why during a guided tour. After the tour, the rest of the day is yours to explore; study how the architecture seamlessly blends into nature, and witness beautiful ornate buildings built into craggy cliff faces.

Breakfast included.

Day 11

Cuenca

It’s entirely up to you how you spend your time today, though there are a number of optional activities to enjoy. Cajas National Park makes a fantastic day trip, located around 30 kilometres away, there are lots of scenic walking trails which lead through the diverse park, where steep hills covered in feathery shrubs meet rocky valleys and tangled, verdant forests. If you’re in search of souvenirs, the quaint town of Chordeleg is around an hour from the town, where you’ll find bustling markets which overflow with intricate handiwork from the many local silversmiths and jewellery makers. If you’d prefer to stay in Cuenca, there is beauty to find around every corner of the city, making it a lovely place to while away the day exploring.

Breakfast included.

Day 12

Vilcabamba

Along the way to Vilcabamba, you’ll make a couple of stops to break up the journey. Your first stop will be Saraguro, a town named after the indigenous people who have called this area home for over 500 years; take a tour around the town and its beautiful church before continuing to the neighbouring farming village of Namarin for lunch – the contents are fresh and locally-sourced so may change day to day, but will most likely consist of rustic, hearty cuisine and potatoes – an Ecuadorian culinary staple.

Breakfast and Lunch are included.

Day 13

Vilcabamba

Today will be spent exploring this verdant valley town via a walking tour, wandering along beautiful roads shared by tame livestock, such as donkeys. Later on, you will travel to Podocarpus National Park, where you’ll spend up to three or four hours exploring the biodiverse scenery, home to endemic plant species, stunning orchards and breath-taking natural wonders such as the mist-filled elfin forests perched up at a 3,000 metre elevation.

Breakfast included.

Day 14

Vilcabamba

Spend today at leisure with a plentiful array of optional excursions to enjoy; you may opt to see more of nature’s bounty at the Tapichalaca Reserve, or follow the white crosses that line the road on a worthwhile hike from the town centre to the shrine of Tuku Tuku. If you’re in the mood for a more relaxed day, perhaps take a gentle walk to the luscious banks of the Vilcabamba River, a body of water which is free from man-made interference with flourishing nature.

Breakfast included.

Day 15

Otavalo

It’s an early start this morning as you’re collected at 4:30am to try and make it in time for the famous craft markets. Enjoy a quick breakfast before heading to the airport, where the hour-long flight for Ecuador’s capital departs at 7:20am; upon landing, a private transfer will take you to Otavalo, taking around two hours. Spend some time exploring the markets for beautifully patterned hand-made textiles, handwoven bags and other interesting finds.

Breakfast included.

Day 16

Otavalo – Quito

Today will begin in the emerald green valleys of Otavalo, where you can spend some time soaking up the magnificent scenery before heading to the nearby Cotacachi, famous for its fine leather goods and expert tailor shops. Next, you’ll take a trip to the Peguche Waterfalls, a spot so enchanting that it’s no surprise the local Shamans observe the summer solstice here. After an hour-long hike of this stunning region, you’ll return to Quito for an afternoon at leisure.

Breakfast included.

Day 17

Quito

Today marks the end of your spectacular adventure. There are no activities planned for today, so your time is at leisure before heading to the airport in time for your flight.

  • International flights
  • Internal flights
  • 16 nights of hotel accommodation
  • 13 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner
  • Plane, speed boat, private vehicle, taxi and public bus transportation as mentioned in itinerary
  • Activities included in itinerary

What’s Not Included

  • Any optional activities, entrance fees or tour prices
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips and gratuities

Kevin Ryan
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