Ecuador's highlands & islands
Cotopaxi, Quito, Galapagos & Otavalo
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
We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 858 345 1763 to start planning your vacation.
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.
Location & Directions
Cotopaxi, Quito, Galapagos & Otavalo
Upon landing in Quito, head straight to Cotopaxi for high-octane adventures in the shadow of Cotopaxi Volcano. Spend two nights in Quito, Ecuador's capital, learning about this charming city's history, culture and architecture. Then you'll fly to the Galapagos for a cruise on board the Isabela from where you can explore the wildlife-rich islands of the Galapagos. The final stop on this journey is Otavalo and its colorful markets.
When to go
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.