Destinations

Ecuador and the Galapagos

It may be one of South America’s smallest countries, but that doesn’t mean Ecuador won’t offer you all the diversity of its bigger neighbours. Colonial cities, unexplored jungles and snow-capped volcanoes will keep you busy on the mainland before you take a short flight west to experience the real showstopper – the famous Galapagos Islands.

The central region of the Andes Mountains run straight down the middle from north to south, forming a string of some thirty volcanoes which include Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. It is with this impressive backdrop that you will find Quito, the capital city, where pretty cobblestone streets, colonial-era architecture and huge plazas are all overlooked by the Virgin of Quito, a statue atop the Panecillo Hill. It isn’t hard to see why this attractive city was the first in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

North of the city, visitors flock to pick up souvenirs at the colourful market of Otovalo and to stand with one foot in each hemisphere at the Mitad del Mundo. Beautifully restored traditional haciendas make the perfect place from which to explore it all, and we particularly recommend this region for anyone interested in riding.

A short flight to the east of Quito brings you down into the Amazon basin.  The Amazon boasts of the highest concentration of plant and animal life of any region on the planet, and while Ecuador's borders contain a small slice of the Amazon, the Ecuadorian rainforest is highly diverse, with quiet blackwater lagoons, raging chocolately rivers, dense tree canopies and flooded forests. The wildlife here is both plentiful and diverse and with a number of comfortable lodges to stay at, guests can enjoy the unspoilt wonders of the forest.

An exclusive luxury cruise has also recently been launched, allowing guests to explore deeper into Ecuador’s unique slice of the Amazon. With top naturalist guides and highly experienced crews and excellent chefs, these cruises are the best options for those who want to experience the Amazon in style.

Some 1,000 km off the west coast of the mainland lie the Galapagos Islands, inspiration for Charles Darwin’s pioneering work on the theory of evolution and Ecuador’s piece de resistance. The sheer volume of endemic species here will have you enraptured and there are few places on earth you can get so close to such magnificent species in their natural habitat.

There is no better way to explore all there is to see than from the comfort of a week-long small cruise around the Galapagos, where the experienced guides will introduce you to the archipelago's unique wildlife - both on land and in the water.  The Galapagos is also a snorkeler's and diver's paradise!

DID YOU KNOW?

Easter Island, one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, was named by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen who ‘discovered’ the Polynesian island on Sunday, 5th April 1722 – Easter Sunday. The island also goes by its Polynesian name, Rapa Nui, although this name didn’t appear until late in the 19th Century.

Sample Itinerary for Ecuador and the Galapagos

Classic
Classic itinerary description.
9 Nights / 10 Days • Starting at US$ 7,000 per person
Day 1-2

Upon arrival in Quito you will be met by your guide and transferred into the city for your two night stay at the luxurious Casa Gangotena in the city’s colonial center. Accompanied by a guide, explore one of Latin America’s biggest and most well preserved colonial centers.

Day 3-9

A three hour flight from Quito and you will arrive in the Galapagos where you will board your luxury small cruise ship – The Grace. Named after her previous owner, Princess Grace of Monaco, this beautiful yacht accommodates just 18 passengers in superb accommodation with excellent service and gourmet cuisine. Expert naturalist guides will accompany you on excursions over the next week as you discover these mesmerizing islands. As well as shore outings, sea kayaks and snorkelling gear are also available for guests to enjoy.

Day 10

Today you will return to mainland Ecuador in time for your international flight back home.

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We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.