Plaza Independencia in old town Quito at night, Ecuador
Plaza Independencia, Quito, Ecuador
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Heading on a Luxury Trip to Ecuador

8 min read
Published on Feb 20, 2018
Aren Bergstrom
By Aren BergstromManaging Editor, Globetrotting Magazine

Ecuador packs a powerful punch as a nation. It’s geographically small, but there’s a diverse array of landscapes and natural highlights within its borders. In its 283,000 square-kilometres, you’ll find old colonial towns, the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains, and, of course, the Galapagos Islands. It has a boisterous culture and a welcoming people. It’s a place you ought to visit on an Ecuador vacation for a multitude of reasons. It can also nicely accommodate the more extravagant tastes of discerning Globetrotters. If you’re looking for luxury, you’ll find more than one Ecuador vacation that will suit your interests, from cruises through the Galapagos to luxury train rides through the Andes Mountains to stays in 5-star hotels in the countryside or in the heart of Quito.

Cruise the Galapagos in Ultimate Style

The Galapagos Islands are the most popular attractions in Ecuador. These bio-diverse islands offer a dizzying array of microclimates and animal species within a relatively small region. There are several ways to visit the islands, but exploring them on board a luxury catamaran or yacht is arguably the most comfortable.

At Goway, we offer several trips that take travellers through the Galapagos Islands aboard a luxury catamaran or yacht. For luxury catamarans, you can choose between 4 or 5-day excursions to the islands. A 4-day journey aboard the Cormorant takes you from the capital on San Cristobal to Floreana, where you can visit the Post Office Barrel, which used to be the island chain’s first mail box, to Santa Cruz Island, arguably the most popular island in the archipelago. On Santa Cruz, you’ll find the Charles Darwin Research Station, where giant tortoises roam freely, as well as the iguana nesting grounds of Dragon Hill. The Cormorant is an attraction in and of itself. The brand-new catamaran boasts a massive sundeck, gorgeous staterooms with private balconies, a Jacuzzi, and kayaks for use while on board. On our 5-day Galapagos tours aboard the Ocean Spray, you’ll enjoy one of the speediest catamarans in the islands, with a massive sundeck, Jacuzzi, private balconies, and attentive service. Aboard Ocean Spray, you’ll travel from Santa Cruz Island to Santa Fe, where you’ll find yellow land iguanas and prickly pear cactus groves, to Espanola, with its albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, and sea lions, and finally, Rabida, home to volcanic rocks and stunning red-sand beaches.

Haugan Sotry - MV Catamaran Ocean Spray, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
M/V Ocean Spray luxury catamaran

If you opt for a voyage aboard a luxury yacht, you’ll take in South Plaza Island, which is home to sea lion pups, marine and land iguanas, and Darwin finches, as well as some of the best snorkelling spots around Punta Carrion, and San Cristobal Island, with its extinct volcanic crater, in addition to Santa Fe, Espanola, and Santa Cruz. You’ll also be able to enjoy the premium digs of La Pinta, which has the largest cabins of any ship in the Galapagos with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows to let you enjoy the beauty of the islands when you’re on board. The 24 cabins have modern designs and stylish bathrooms, while the restaurant boasts incredible gourmet cuisine. La Pinta is especially attractive if you’re heading on a luxury Ecuador vacation with family; it has up to eight cabins that can be connected for families and friends travelling together.

Enjoy a Colonial Stay in Lake Country

The luxury appeal of Ecuador doesn’t end in the Galapagos. If you head north of Quito, towards the Colombian border, you’ll find Hacienda Pinsaqui, a glamourous luxury hotel that was built in the 18th century. Located in the lake district around Otavalo, Hacienda Pinsaqui retains its original character from the 1790s. With 30 suites with private baths and fireplaces and set amongst 200-year-old grounds dotted with relaxing ponds, palm trees, and the occasional llama, Hacienda Pinsaqui offers luxury amid rustic surroundings. The hotel also has a distinguished history. The liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar, once stayed there, and the peace agreement between Colombia and Ecuador in the late 19th century was signed within its walls. While staying at Hacienda Pinsaqui, you’ll be free to explore the heritage spots around Otavalo at the base of the Imbabura Volcano. You can head to the famous Otavalo Market to shop for indigenous wares or visit the attractive lakes of San Pablo, Cuicocha, Mojanda, Ibarra, and Cotacachi.

Enjoy a Classical Train Ride through the Andes

Train travel has become the travel of choice for those seeking luxury and maximum comfort. There’s no finer way to travel across the expanse of Ecuador than aboard Tren Crucero, the finest luxury train in Ecuador and possibly all of South America. On a 4-day train ride between Quito and Guayaquil on the Tren Crucero, you’ll enjoy the best way to see the countryside. As a vintage steam locomotive with stunning interior design and personalized service for just 50 passengers, Tren Crucero promises a ride in style and comfort on your luxury Ecuador vacation.

The journey aboard Tren Curcero is great in either direction. It passes through Cotopaxi National Park, where you’ll see the animals of the Andes Mountains, as well as alongside volcanoes and glaciers that dominate the landscape outside your window. Most famous of all, Tren Crucero traverses the Devil’s Nose, one of the world’s premier rail achievements. Constructed in 1908, the Devil’s Nose uses an antiquated "switchback railroad" system, which allows the train to deal with steep ascents and descents in elevation along the track by essentially rocking the train back and forth along zigzagging rail lines. In the process, you’ll rise or fall 500m over the course of 12km. The Devil’s Nose is what makes the rail journey between Quito and Guayaquil so famous, but the entire experience of Tren Crucero is unforgettable.

Devil`s nose, with railway tracks

Explore Quito from Elegant Hotels

If you spend most of your Ecuador vacation confined to the capital, Quito, you’ll still have the opportunity to enjoy luxury accommodations and pampering services. Quito is home to several luxury hotels that make excellent bases to explore Quito’s historic sites.

Goway offers three luxury hotels that offer the best accommodations while staying in Quito. The first is Le Parc Hotel, situated in Quito’s financial district. This 5-star hotel has rooms equipped with marble bathrooms and luxurious designs courtesy of famed designer, Philippe Starck. In the hotel, you’ll find a spa offering sauna and massage treatments, as well as a hotel with exquisite gourmet dishes and a rooftop bar where you can enjoy cocktails while looking out over the city. Hotel Plaza Grande is also a 5-star accommodation. It’s situated on Plaza de la Independencia, Quito’s central square, so you’ll know you’re in the heat of the action if you stay here. The dark woods and brown tones of the 15 luxurious suites evoke the colonial past, which is appropriate considering the hotel’s geography. You’ll also find three excellent restaurants on site, offering gourmet fusion and traditional Ecuadorian fare. Casa Gangotena is also located near Plaza de la Independencia. Its elegant rooms come with spa baths, air-conditioning, and stunning views of the city.

Casa-Gangotena Exterior, Quito, Ecuador
Casa Gangotena exterior

While staying at one of these three elegant hotels, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Quito’s many attractions on an Ecuador vacation. Be sure to explore the central square, Plaza de la Independencia, and get lost in the cobblestoned colonial streets. You can also head just north of the city to Latitude 0’0’0”, which is geographically the centre of the world. Jump on the scale on the equator to notice how you’ll momentarily lose a few kilograms; the equator plays tricks on the gravity, making you weigh less while you’re standing on it.

There’s a lot of opportunity for luxury on an Ecuador vacation. You can explore the Galapagos Islands aboard a luxury catamaran or yacht, ride a vintage steam train through the Andes Mountains between Quito and Guayaquil, and stay in elegant hotels in the capital or the lake country. Ecuador has a lot to recommend itself, and if you have a taste for luxury when travelling, it’ll accommodate you nicely.

Related Topics
South America
Aren Bergstrom
Aren Bergstrom
Goway - Managing Editor, Globetrotting Magazine

You might say that Aren was destined to become a globetrotter after his family took him to Germany two times before he was four. If that wasn’t enough, a term spent in Sweden as a young teenager and a trek across Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand confirmed that destiny. An independent writer, director, and film critic, Aren has travelled across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. His favourite travel experience was visiting the major cities of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, but his love for food, drink, and film will take him anywhere that boasts great art and culture.

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