Discover Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands - Unique Small Group

Discover Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands - Unique Small Group

Discover Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands - Unique Small GroupSouth America
Fully GuidedFully Guided
1111 Nights
B&B (+1)
Transport: Flights & TransfersFlights & Transfers

    Your Guided Small Group Holiday to Ecuador & Galapagos

    Travel with us on this once in a lifetime trip to see historical cities, magnificent landscapes and unique wildlife. Our adventure will begin in Ecuador's capital of Quito, set against the Andes Mountains, this city is surrounded by incredible scenery and is full of gems like the historic old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising of remarkable colonial architecture. Close by is the landmark of Mitad del Mundo, or the 'Middle of the World', marking the exact location of the equator, offering us a unique opportunity to stand in the northern and southern hemisphere simultaneously! Other highlights we'll uncover on the mainland of Ecuador include learning more about the indigenous people of Otavalo, trying Ecuadorian traditional dishes and exploring Cotopaxi National Park. Then we'll fly to the Galapagos, where we'll walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and see the iconic Galapagos giant tortoises. On our Galapagos cruise we'll sail around Bartholomew and South Plaza Island, spot marine life whilst snorkelling and take in the beautiful natural surroundings. Journey with us to this extraordinary part of South America, this holiday is guaranteed to create everlasting travel memories.

    Tour Map

    Trip Itinerary

    Activity Level 4

    Activity Level: Busy

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    Travel to Quito Ecuador


    Let's Begin

    Let’s begin our Ecuador and Galapagos journey!

    Arrive in Quito

    Following our arrival in Quito, we will be transferred approximately one hour (35km) with guide assistance to our hotel, our tour base for the next two nights.

    Unpack, settle in, and relax more after our journey.

    Breakfast is included for each day of your stay in Ecuador and Galapagos Islands.

    Discover Quito and “Middle of the World”


    Full Day Guided Excursion of Quito

    Time: MorningMorning

    Welcome to the enchanting city of Quito, a jewel of Latin America and a UNESCO World Heritage site that has retained its historical charm. Get ready to discover this fascinating city!

    We depart from our hotel by coach and begin our walking tour meandering through the narrow cobblestone streets, reminiscent of the sixteenth century, allowing you to soak up the historical charm of Quito. We uncover Quito’s highlights including Independence Plaza square, La Compania Church, with its ornate gold leaf interior and elaborately carved altars. Experience more as we visit the wide-open plaza, and church of San Francisco, built in the sixteenth century by the Indians of St. Andrews School.

    Next, we take in the beauty of the Andean landscape (weather permitting) with a visit to El Panecillo Hill.

    Enjoy some time at leisure for lunch (not included) before we see more of this fascinating city.

    Experience both Hemispheres – Middle of the World!

    Let’s discover the “Middle of the World” monument and see the Sun Dial monument! Just north of Quito is a large park built for the exact location of the equatorial line a latitude of 0°0’0”. Let’s experience stepping onto the Northern and Southern hemisphere at the same time, what a great Instagram shot moment!

    After our journey to both hemispheres we return to our hotel late in the late afternoon from our full day excursion and enjoy the evening at leisure to soak in the local ambiance and relax after a memorable day in Quito.

    Transfer by Coach to Otavalo


    Experience Otavalo and the Otavalo Indian Market

    Time: Full Day - MorningFull Day - Morning

    Today we embark on a scenic coach journey to Otavalo, an enchanting destination known for its vibrant indigenous culture and bustling markets. Our adventure begins with an early start, ensuring we make the most of the day’s exploration.

    As we depart, we travel along the breathtaking Pan American Highway offering a chance to relax and take in the stunning scenery of the Imbabura province and its captivating lake district. The approximate 95-kilometer journey, roughly two hours, will leave you captivated.

    Along the way we make time for some comfort stops before we reach Otavalo.

    Lago San Pablo and Indian Markets

    Time: AfternoonAfternoon

    Indulge your senses as you step back and take in the majestic beauty of Lago San Pablo, a pristine, icy gem among the Andean lakes. Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant heart of Otavalo, where a world-famous open-air market awaits you. Delve into a treasure trove of unique goods, from timeless pottery, cozy woollen sweaters and tapestries. Shop till you drop for souvenirs or revel in the kaleidoscope of colours and creativity that fills this marketplace.

    We have some free time for lunch (not included) and further time to explore the marketplace.

    After our adventure into the market, we make our way to our accommodation for the night in Otavalo.

    Tonight, dinner is included (simple set menu)

    Visit Cotacachi, Cuicocha and Peguche


    Transfer to Quito by Coach

    Time: MorningMorning

    We experience more of this beautiful country as we depart from Otavalo and venture into the breathtaking highlands on our way back to Quito by coach.  Our scenic coach journey will lead us to captivating destinations including Cotacachi, Cuicocha and Peguche.

    Let’s see more as we take in the raw beauty of Lake Cuicocha, a 3km wide caldera and crater lake at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano in the Coirdillera Occidental of the Ecuadorian Andes. Our exploration continues in the artisan haven of Cotacachi, renowned for its exquisite leather goods and handicrafts. Here savour the flavours of Ecuador with traditional dishes like carne colorada (filet of pork cooked in red achiote sauce) and queso de hoja (soft cheese wrapped in plant leaf).

    Before we make our way back to Quito, we pause to bask in the allure of Peguche and its picturesque waterfall, one of the main attractions in the Otavalo region. This cascading wonder stands 18 meters tall and stretches 6 meters wide, a perfect opportunity to capture unforgettable moments through your camera lens or phone!

    There will be free time for leisure at lunch (not included)

    Time: EveningEvening

    We have arrived back in Quito! Let’s unpack and relax after our adventure through the highlands.

    Join us tonight and savour a tasty cocktail while we take in the night lights over Quito, on a roof top bar. The rest of our evening is at leisure to further relax and unwind before tomorrow’s adventure.

    Excursion to Saquisili Market and Quilotoa Lagoon


    Transfer from Quito to Cotopaxi by Coach

    Time: Full DayFull Day

    Let’s get ready for another full day of exploration in this captivating country! Our journey begins early in the morning from Quito, ensuring we make the most of every moment. We set our course for the vibrant Saquisili market, renowned as one of the most colourful and comprehensive Indian markets in Ecuador, the transfer takes approximately 2 hours (97.5km)

    After, we continue our full day excursion to Quilotoa Lagoon (86km), nestled amidst towering mountains. Pause and take in the panoramic vista from the observatory and admire views of the highland life, with all its unique endemic flora. The majestic lagoon below is approximately 3km, with an emerald green to blue colour, soak up the beauty and capture yet another postcard worthy moment.

    Throughout today’s journey, we will make convenient comfort stops and enjoy a well-deserved break for lunch (not included).

    We depart Quilotoa lagoon and make our way to Cotopaxi and spend the night here.

    Tonight, dinner is included at our accommodation (simple and rustic set menu)

    Cotopaxi National Park Walking Tour


    Transfer to Quito by Coach

    Time: Morning - Full DayMorning - Full Day

    This morning we depart our hotel and make our way to Quito, but not before we experience more of this fascinating countryside. Our journey leads us to the lush paramo of Chasqui, where we approach the base of Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano. Witness stunning peaks rising almost 6000 meters and experience the invigorating mountain air as we prepare for our 45-minute, moderate walking tour in Cotopaxi National Park.

    Our path takes us to Limpiopungo, where you’ll relish scenic views of highland vegetation and the picturesque Limpiopungo Lagoon, often reflecting the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano on clear days. The terrain is flat with some unevenness, and not steep, we recommend comfortable shoes, and warm, dry clothing to enhance your experience. The natural beauty is beyond compare in this unique landscape.

    Please note this day’s excursion can change if Cotopaxi National Park is closed and an alternative activity will be offered.

    After we make a stop for lunch (not included) before continuing our drive to Quito for our overnight stay.


    Time: EveningEvening

    We have arrived! Check in to our hotel in Quito, and re charge our batteries for tomorrows big adventure to the Galapagos Islands!

    Flight from Quito to Galapagos


    Galapagos – Santa Cruz Island

    Time: MorningMorning

    Today we say farewell to Quito, and we transfer by coach to the airport for our flight to Baltra Galapagos.

    We have arrived in Galapagos! We meet our transfer and make our way to our hotel. Enroute to our hotel we visit the Twin Craters and admire these two large sink holes in an area of farmland and native forest, territory for the iconic Galapagos giant tortoise. These two craters are located on the opposite sides of the main Santa Cruz Road.

    Let’s check in to our hotel and enjoy some lunch (included).

    Please note your flight tickets and timings are given locally for your internal Galapagos flights. 

    Also included in the cost of your holiday are the Galapagos National Park Tax and Galapagos Transit card.

    Visit Charles Darwin Research Station - Puerto Ayora

    Time: AfternoonAfternoon

    After our light lunch (included) we venture to Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the archipelago. Here we explore the renowned Charles Darwin Research Station, and the captivating Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre.

    After our afternoon of discovering the headquarters for scientific research and conservation we make our way back to our hotel.

    Enjoy the evening at leisure to further explore our surroundings.

    Please note for your stay on Santa Cruz Island, the transfers and excursions will be shared, and not a private Travel Department tour for the duration of your stay here. All excursions will be organised by your hotel locally. The excursions are subject to change due to local weather conditions.

    Galapagos – Bartholomew Island


    Cruise Galapagos

    Time: Full Day - MorningFull Day - Morning

    This morning we have a very early start to uncover some of the treasures of these unique islands in the Galapagos! We transfer to Itabaca Canal for our cruise. All aboard! We embark on our cruise and set sail approximately two hours Northwest of Santa Cruz Island to Bartholomew Island. Bartholomew has one of the most beautiful and photographed landscapes of the archipelago with the iconic pinnacle rock. Lace up your sturdy shoes as we take a walk up the wooden staircase trail (360 steps, 795 meters), to the summit of the extinct volcano, there are a lot of steps to climb, but well worth the view! For those who don’t want to exert themselves, you can stay on board the boat, and soak up the relaxing atmosphere.

    Please note to keep the pristine beauty and ecological balance on these fascinating islands you will always be accompanied by a guide, when disembarking on the islands.

    After our walk we take well-deserved snorkel keeping an eye out for some marine life like the Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, rays and much more swimming in the shallow waters in Sullivans Bay located in Santiago Island, just five minutes from Bartholomew Island.

    A light lunch is included today on board before returning to Santa Cruz, Itabaca Canal.

    We arrive back in the evening after a day out sailing, snorkelling and discovery! Let’s transfer back to our hotel by shuttle.

    Relax More

    Time: EveningEvening

    Enjoy the evening at leisure relax and unwind after your adventurous day discovering the beauty of Galapagos.

    Galapagos – South Plaza Island


    Cruise Galapagos Punta Carrion & South Plaza Island

    Let’s get set for another day of sailing and exploring! We transfer fifty minutes’ drive to Itabaca Canal and set sail east of Santa Cruz Island to visit Punta Carrion for some snorkelling. We discover an array of marine life which may include a variety of fishes, sea turtles, rays, Galapagos sharks and much more. Next, we set sail to South Plaza Island and partner of North Plaza Island, with its natural red carpet (sesuvium) and cactus creating a unique landscape. Here we stop and to discover the natural wonders of the Galapagos from sealions, land iguanas, and the iconic marine iguanas, Galapagos lizards, finches, and a variety of seabirds.

    Lunch is included on board today (usually a simple light lunch of fresh fish, salads, and rice).

    After, we set sail back to Santa Cruz and Itabaca Canal.

    Arrive late in the afternoon and transfer by shuttle back to our hotel in the evening.

    Last Night on Santa Cruz

    Enjoy your last night on the Santa Cruz to soak up the island atmosphere.

    Fly from Galapagos to Guayaquil


    At Leisure Guayaquil

    Today we say farewell to our Galapagos Island wonders, and transfer to Baltra airport for our flight to Guayaquil.

    On arrival we meet our guide and transfer to our hotel for the night in Guayaquil (approximately 20 minutes, 7km). Our guide will tell us of places to visit to make the most of our free time in this captivating city.

    We spend the rest of the day at leisure to relax and further explore our surroundings.

    Guided City tour of Guayaquil


    Flights Home – Depart Ecuador

    It’s our final day and we still have more to discover. We uncover the highlights of Guayaquil city on a half day excursion taking in Centennial Park, first firemen station, the Masonic temple, 9 de Octubre Avenue, Seminario Park (known as Iguanas Park) and much more. There will also be a stop at the South Market in Malecon 2000, to visit Integration Plaza and artisan’s market. We continue the excursion through the Malecon Simon Bolivar and discover more before transferring to the airport for our flight home.

    We say a fond fare well to Ecuador and all its memorable moments in this unique and picturesque country.

    * We aim to operate your tour itinerary according to the format shown. Occasionally, local conditions and unexpected events may result in adjustments to the planned schedule. We kindly ask for your understanding and flexibility in the event of any changes.

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    Know before you go

    What if there is an emergency?

    We have local representatives in all of our destinations who are available 24/7 as well as an emergency contact number for our offices in Ireland should you ever need it.

    Do I need a Visa?

    Please visit our visa page for information on requirements for each country's entry requirements

    Will I be met at the airport?

    You will be met on arrival at your destination airport and transferred to your accommodation. You will be accompanied on all included excursions by your Travel Department guide. Your expert local guide is also available to give you tips and advice on any aspect of your holiday.

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