Ecuador's highlands & islands

Cotopaxi, Quito, Galapagos & Otavalo

From $10300 per person in low season

based on 2 people sharing.

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At a Glance

  • An in-depth exploration of Ecuador's Andean highlands coupled with the wildlife-rich Galapagos

  • The Avenue of the Volcanoes is the perfect playground for thrill-seekers - explore by bike, hiking or on horse-back

  • Experience the Galapagos Islands on board the luxurious Isabella II and enjoy a range of on-shore excursions

  • Go snorkeling with sea lions and green sea turtles for an unforgettable experience

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Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

Ecuador & the Galapagos can be visited year round. The higher the altitude in the Andes, the cooler it becomes, especially at night. June to September is the best time to enjoy the Andes as this is the drier season. From January to June it is typically hot in the Galapagos and sees sunny days and blue skies interspersed with showers, while the rest of the year is generally cloudier and cooler. From July to September the seas can be heavier and boats tend to go into dry dock for their annual refurbishment around this time. The average temperature ranges from a pleasant 20°C to 28°C, however being on the equator the sun is very strong. Due to limited permits in the Galapagos we advise to book well in advance.

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Insider's View

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about the endemic fauna and marine life of the Galapagos - it is within easy walking distance of Finch Bay Lodge.

This suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something bespoke to you. Call us on 858 345 1763 to start planning your vacation.

Itinerary

From adventures in the Avenue of the Volcanoes to wildlife encounters in the Galapagos Islands, this itinerary explores Ecuador's diverse ecosystems, celebrating its indigenous cultures and showcasing all that this tiny country has to offer.

One for the adventurous, this itinerary takes you along the volcanic spine of Ecuador, starting in the Avenue of the Volcanoes for adrenaline-fuelled adventures, before spending a few days in the cultural capital, Quito. Next snorkel in the crystal clear waters surrounding the Galapagos archipelago and then head back to dry land for days spent at one of the most charming haciendas near the colorful indigenous market town of Otavalo.

Upon arrival into Quito, a short transfer will take you to the dramatic Andean scenery of the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Stay for two nights at Hacienda San Agustin de Callo in the shadow of Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. Here you can enjoy invigorating adventures such as mountain biking, horse riding and trekking to Cotopaxi’s glacial peak. Relax in the refreshing mountain air before heading back to Quito for a few days of gentle exploration.

Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site set amongst a patchwork of hills, filled with pretty colonial plazas, ornate churches and buzzing bars and restaurants. Two nights here at the beautiful Casona de la Ronda will afford you enough time to explore both the Old Town and the New Town. Head out with a specialist guide and delve deep into the history, perhaps taking the ‘El Teleferico’ cable car to one of the picture-perfect hilltops for spectacular views over the city.

Then you will fly on the incredibly unique Galapagos Islands for a four night cruise on board the Isabella II. Activities include ocean kayaking, mountain biking, visits to the Charles Darwin research Station, hikes into the highlands, surfing lessons, visits to volcanic sinkholes and walks among colonies of giant tortoises, marine iguanas and sea lions. Free time allows you time to enjoy the facilities on board and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the diversity of the islands and encounter a variety of its fearless and endemic wildlife.

Fly back to Quito and transfer to Otavalo, stopping at the equator on the way for an exciting photo opportunity. Spend three nights at the traditional yet charming Hacienda Zuleta, a comfortable option which sits in stunning surrounds and acts as the perfect gateway to the vibrant and buzzing indigenous market in Otavalo town. Take a guided day trip to the colorful market and stock up on traditional artesanias, leather goods and delicious local delicacies; we highly recommend leaving some space in your suitcase for colorful fabrics and beautiful jewelry! Days at the hacienda can be as relaxed or as active as you like and it's best suited to travelers looking for an authentic experience – if wildlife is of particular interest then the area is great for birdwatching, while the Andean landscape provides the perfect playground for hiking, biking and horse-back riding for all abilities. There are also a couple of local projects which operate from the hacienda and nearby, allowing you to get a closer understanding of the close-knit communities which live in the area. Finally, drive back to Quito in time for your onward flight.

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  1. Fly to Quito

  2. Days 1-2: Hacienda San Agustin de Callo

    Cotopaxi, Ecuador

    Enveloped in the foothills of Ecuador's Cotopaxi volcano, the historic and unique Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is built on the site of an Incan fortress and the perfect base to explore the National Park and beautiful surrounding Andean villages.

  3. Days 3-5: Casona de la Ronda

    Quito, Ecuador

    La Casona de la Ronda has a superb location on the winding cobblestone streets of La Ronda in the heart of Quito's Old Town. This boutique hotel provides a comfortable base from which to explore Ecuador’s capital and to enjoy the historical attractions.

  4. Days 5-8: Hacienda Zuleta

    Nr Otavalo, Ecuador

    Dating from the late 16th century, the historic Hacienda Zuleta lies in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador at 9,600 feet above sea level, and only two hours north of Quito and one hour from the famous indigenous market town of Otavalo.

  5. Days 8-12: M/V Isabela II

    Galapagos, Ecuador

    Isabela II is considered to be one of the best yachts operating in the Galapagos. Guests on board the Isabella II enjoy an intimate experience of the islands combined with the comforts and facilities of a mid-size yacht.

  6. Fly home from Quito

Experiences

  • Antisana volcano and ecological reserve

    Look out for Andean condors in the highland wilderness surrounding the Antisana volcano as you explore this private reserve, a sanctuary in the Paramo region of Ecuador. View impressive sections of lava flow and enjoy panoramic views of surrounding peaks.

  • Birding at Hacienda Zuleta

    Home to an incredible diversity of birds, Ecuador is a wonderful destination for birding enthusiasts and Otavalo is no exception. Its location within the dramatic Andes means it is home to the Andean condor amongst other rare species.

  • Cerro Puntudo hike

    Pass through beautiful scenery and Miconia forest as you hike up to the top of Cerro el Puntudo to take in glorious views of the island of Santa Cruz, and on a clear day views of the neighboring islands.

  • Chocolate tasting at Casa Gangotena

    Calling all chocoholics! This indulgent experience takes you through the process of transforming the humble cocoa bean into one of the world's most loved sweet treats, sampling a variety of chocolates along the way.

  • Cotopaxi biking adventure

    Bike down the slopes of Cotopaxi, the world's highest active volcano, for a thrilling adventure amid beautiful Andean scenery. Learn about the natural history and wildlife, hike to the Pucara pre-Incan ruins and keep your eyes peeled for the condors.

  • El Teleferico

    Boasting the most spectacular views over Quito's rooftops and of the surrounding volcanoes, El Teleferico takes you up the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano to the Cruz Loma lookout for a breathtaking experience.

  • Explore Quito & the Middle of the World

    A private half day guided tour of Quito exploring the colonial center, monasteries and churches, before heading to the "Middle of the World" monument that divides the Northern Hemisphere from the Southern Hemisphere on the equatorial line!

  • Full day Scuba Diving from Santa Cruz Island

    Scuba diving in the Galapagos is world-class, thanks to the abundance of tame marine life. You will typically come up lose with large rays, green turtles, sea lions and schools of sharks. The diving is suitable for intermediate and experienced divers.

  • Gastro Tour of Quito

    Explore Quito's old neighborhood of San Roque with the chef at Casa Gangotena, visiting his favorite shops and the colorful market. A great way to start the day, both for foodies and anyone wanting to uncover a different side of Quito.

  • Hiking and trekking at Hacienda Zuleta

    With trails to suit a range of interests and fitness levels, hiking at Hacienda Zuleta can be tailored to you. Head out with a guide or go it alone and discover the picturesque surroundings of the Otavalo countryside.

  • Horse riding at Hacienda Zuleta

    Notorious for its wonderful scenery and beautiful horses, Ecuador's highlands are a joy to explore by horseback. Embark on an equestrian adventure through Otavalo's beautiful countryside, surrounded by mountains, lakes and waterfalls for dramatic views.

  • Kayaking at Finch Bay

    Explore the pristine waters that surround the Galapagos Islands on this full-day kayaking adventure from Finch Bay. Gently paddle to your heart's content, keeping your eyes peeled for the endemic wildlife such as fur seals, sea lions and marine iguanas.

  • Mountain biking at Hacienda Zuleta

    Descend the rugged hills of Otavalo's countryside by mountain bike for an adrenaline-fuelled afternoon. Staff at Hacienda Zuleta can drop you at one of the surrounding hilltops so you are free to follow one of the many exhilarating trails.

  • Mountain biking Santa Cruz

    Enjoy a full-day mountain biking adventure and explore the volcanic landscape of the Galapagos Islands, encountering wildlife and speeding down rugged paths for a fun-filled alternative to the sea-based activities.

  • Panoramic Quito at night with dinner

    Soak in the city sights on this drive through tour of Quito, as the city's beautiful plazas are lit in vivid hues adding a magical feel to this already charming capital. Ascend one of the surrounding hills for superb views and enjoy a delicious dinner.

  • Quito's Hidden Treasures & El Teleferico

    Explore the hidden treasures of Quito on this full day excursion, taking in the less visited sites of the city such as San Diego monastery and Santo Domingo church on the far side of El Panecillo, the iconic hill which watches over the center.

  • Surfing at Finch Bay

    Make the most of Finch Bay's location right on the beach and enjoy a full day of surfing in the crystal clear waters of the Galapagos, the perfect soft adventure to break up days of wildlife watching and excursions to the surrounding islands.

Location

Cotopaxi, Quito, Galapagos & Otavalo

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This suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something bespoke to you. Call us on 858 345 1763 to start planning your vacation.

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