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Quito, Otavalo & the Galapagos

Duration
9 Days
Prices From:
US$ 4,769

FIRST-CLASS | TAILOR-MADE: Experience the top highlights of Ecuador on this journey from the mainland to the Galapagos. Explore the preserved old town of Quito and barter in the colourful Indigenous markets of Otavalo before connecting to the Galapagos to explore the volcanic landscapes of Isabela and Santa Cruz.


This 9-day Ecuadorian vacation takes you to Quito and Otavalo on the mainland before connecting to the Galapagos Islands. It features first-class accommodations and a mix of shared and private tours.

Your journey through Ecuador begins in Quito, the capital and one of the best-preserved cities in South America. Start the day off with a visit north of the city to Mitad del Mundo, where the equator bisects the planet. Back in the city centre, you’ll explore the colonial churches and government buildings around Plaza de la Independencia before capping off the day with a cocoa experience, learning about the world’s most beloved sweet in the country where it’s from. The next day, turn north and pass by the Quitsato Sundial and Cayambe Volcano en route to Otavalo, arguably the most colourful town in South America. Known for its boisterous craft market run by the local Kichwa Indigenous villagers, Otavalo is a great place to bargain and drink in the mountain atmosphere. After a visit to the workshop of master weaver, Miguel Andrango, you’ll visit the massive volcano crater lake of Lake Cuicocha and the leather workshops of Cotacachi. On the way back to Quito, stop by the Afro-Ecuadorian Community of Salinas to learn about this distinct subculture within the nation.

After another night in Quito, board your flight to the Galapagos Islands, the world’s greatest natural playground. This island chain is renowned for its biodiversity and startling geography. After landing on Baltra, you’ll connect to Santa Cruz to kayak through the Itabaca Channel and spot blue-footed boobies and sea lions on the shoreline. Back on the island mainland, head into the highlands to hike alongside Giant Tortoises. Spend the night at the Magic Galapagos Tented Camp, where you’ll enjoy an eco-friendly environment on a nature preserve frequented by wild tortoises.

Spend the next several days exploring a few of the remarkable islands in the Galapagos. On South Plaza, you’ll visit a sea lion colony and snorkel alongside fish and rays at Punta Carrion. Visit Tintoreras, a small islet off Isabela known for the abundance of white-tipped reef sharks in the waters, as well as rays, turtles, and penguins. On Isabela, bike the Wetlands to pass through mangrove forests and spot marine iguanas. Stop by the Wall of Tears, built by American solders back in WWII, to learn about the islands’ role in the conflict. You’ll also hike to some of the volcanoes across famously volcanic Isabela. Hike up Sierra Negra Volcano and enjoy the views of Volcano Chico, home to the second-largest caldera on the planet. Pass through the alien-looking landscape and enjoy views of the other islands from the lookouts. Then cap off your adventure with some relaxing time at the beach near Puerto Villamil.

At the end of your stay, connect back to Quito via Baltra for onward travels.


 

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Duration
9 Days
Prices From:
US$ 4,769

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Quito Airport to Hotel

Duration1 Hour

Casa Aliso

Casa Aliso is one of the best boutique hotels in Ecuador; full of personality and character and defined by its unique design, decor and ambiance. Delightfully secluded, Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travellers who want to be close to everything, but desire a quieter, more refined atmosphere. True hospitality is discreet and is expressed on a daily basis by a myriad of small gestures.

Meal Plan Buffet Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Casa Aliso

More Info

Location View map
  • starstarstarstar

    Casa Aliso



    Casa Aliso is one of the best boutique hotels in Ecuador; full of personality and character and defined by its unique design, decor and ambiance. Delightfully secluded, Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travellers who want to be close to everything, but desire a …

    Casa Aliso is one of the best boutique hotels in Ecuador; full of personality and character and defined by its unique design, decor and ambiance. Delightfully secluded, Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travellers who want to be close to everything, but desire a quieter, more refined atmosphere. True hospitality is discreet and is expressed on a daily basis by a myriad of small gestures.

    Facilities

    • Internet Access
    • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Service
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service

    More Details

    Preferred Hotel
Day 2

Quito City Tour

The place to start exploring Ecuador is Colonial Quito: a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls and, rising above, the steeples and cupolas of the city's many spectacularly decorated historic churches. The city has one of the best preserved colonial centers in all South America, and its integrity was assured in 1978 when the United Nations declared Quito a World Cultural Heritage site.

Morning visit to colonial Quito. We will walk through the Main Plaza, where you will see the Government Palace, La Compania, and some of the most important churches built around the XVI and XVII centuries, including the San Francisco Monastery which was started 5 days after the founding of the city in 1534. Then we will visit the city's famous La Ronda street, where we will learn about traditional work in Colonial Quito.

For our last stop, we will also be visiting the 'Panecillo', the hill that dominates the South of the city, and where we will be able to admire the famous statue of Our Lady of the Panecillo and enjoy spectacular views of Quito.

Duration4 Hours
Day 3

Quito to Otavalo

On this day, you will visit the Quitsato Sundial, a cultural-tourist area located on the equatorial line near the Cayambe volcano, where you will learn about the astronomical knowledge of the region's pre-Hispanic cultures. You will then head to the town of Otavalo, either on foot (a recommended one hour hike on a back road) or a ten-minute drive. This is truly one of the most interesting towns in Ecuador, where the local Kichwa indigenous culture is not only plainly visible, but in the ascendency. The town's famous craft market is one of the most visited sites in Ecuador, and with good reason is filled with interesting colourful and sometimes rare objects and crafts. Do remember to bargain, but only if you're interested! The market is held every day on one of the town squares at the foot of the majestic Mt. Imbabura. And to help you navigate the market, you will be given a short explanation and provided with a map of the area. As part of your day, you will visit the workshop of Master weaver Miguel Andrango, in the village of Agato. Miguel's art has taken him abroad, mainly to exhibitions and fairs in the United States where the quality of his work is widely acknowledged. In the small store in the courtyard of his Tawantinsuyo workshop, the walls are covered with bright designs, most with an indigenous motif; the designs are based on Inca patterns but are the work of Miguel and his family. The workshop uses only pure wool and Alpaca; the weavers card and spin it themselves and then dye it with natural inks made from mosses (for yellow) or seeds such as 'Achiote' (for red).

In the afternoon, you will drive to the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve for a visit to the Interpretation Center and an outstanding view of Lake Cuicocha, a deep-blue crater lake on the lower southern flanks of Mount Cotacachi. You will enjoy more views of the surrounding volcanoes Cayambe, Imbabura and Cuicocha while learning about the local flora and fauna.

After the hike, you will stop at the picturesque colonial town of Cotacachi, famous for its leather work, before we head back to your hotel.

Meal Plan Lunch and Dinner
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Las Palmeras Inn

More Info

Location View map
  • starstarstar

    Las Palmeras Inn



    This 150 year-old farmhouse is tucked in a lush mountain valley less than 2 hours from Quito. It features a garden, volleyball and football courts, and free private parking. Las Palmeras Inn is in 7-minute drive from Plaza de Ponchos Square, an 8-minute drive from …

    This 150 year-old farmhouse is tucked in a lush mountain valley less than 2 hours from Quito. It features a garden, volleyball and football courts, and free private parking.

    Las Palmeras Inn is in 7-minute drive from Plaza de Ponchos Square, an 8-minute drive from Otavalo Bus Terminal, and a 10-minute drive from Cascada de Peguche Waterfalls.

    Facilities

    • Airport Shuttle (Surcharge)
    • Bicycle hire
    • Business Centre
    • Designated Smoking Area
    • Dry Cleaning
    • Express Check In/Out
    • Fax/Photocopying
    • Ironing Service
    • Laundry

    More Details

Day 4

Otavalo to Quito

Today you will set out on a unique journey through spectacular Andean landscapes to the Afro Ecuadorian Community of Salinas where you will discover colourful murals commemorating the history and culture of Afro-Ecuadorian people. Visit its museums and enterprises and enjoy the local cuisine on a trip full of memorable experiences.

After lunch and this immersive cultural experience, you head back to Quito.

Meal Plan Lunch

Casa Aliso

Casa Aliso is one of the best boutique hotels in Ecuador; full of personality and character and defined by its unique design, decor and ambiance. Delightfully secluded, Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travellers who want to be close to everything, but desire a quieter, more refined atmosphere. True hospitality is discreet and is expressed on a daily basis by a myriad of small gestures.

Meal Plan Buffet Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Casa Aliso

More Info

Location View map
  • starstarstarstar

    Casa Aliso



    Casa Aliso is one of the best boutique hotels in Ecuador; full of personality and character and defined by its unique design, decor and ambiance. Delightfully secluded, Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travellers who want to be close to everything, but desire a …

    Casa Aliso is one of the best boutique hotels in Ecuador; full of personality and character and defined by its unique design, decor and ambiance. Delightfully secluded, Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travellers who want to be close to everything, but desire a quieter, more refined atmosphere. True hospitality is discreet and is expressed on a daily basis by a myriad of small gestures.

    Facilities

    • Internet Access
    • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Service
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service

    More Details

    Preferred Hotel
Day 5

Quito to Santa Cruz Island

You will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos. On arrival in Baltra's airport, you will be transferred to Santa Cruz Island and onto your hotel in Puerto Ayora. This tiny island was a military base during the Second World War and hosts the Islands' principal airport. The airport was built using the most advanced environmental techniques to reduce emissions and energy use, some of which you'll notice as you transit through the facility. It was the first ecological airport in the world.

Enter the airport through a special VIP lounge where you will have a chance to change clothes, put on some sunscreen and get a cool drink before transferring to the Itabaca Channel to explore its turquoise waters. You have a chance to kayak, snorkel and stand up paddleboard where we will see some of the famous Galapagos wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks.

The ocean (sit on top) kayaks come in doubles or singles, and life jackets are provided. A support boat escorts you throughout the water activities to ensure safety and to provide water, snacks and towels between activities.

From Itabaca Channel, head up to the Santa Cruz highlands to one of the private reserves that borders the National Park where the famous Giant Tortoises inhabit in the wild.

Afterwards you drive to your exclusive giant tortoise reserve where the tented camp is located. Perched high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, Magic Galapagos Tented Camp will be your home for the next two nights. The sounds of nature will be a lullaby in the evenings, and the Milky Way will be your night light. Feast your eyes on the mountains and forest surrounding the lodge, and enjoy the peace of having the entire hillside to yourself, with the exception of seasonal resident giant tortoises.

Dinners are sumptuous three course affairs, prepared by expert chefs in an open-air kitchen in the main lodge. A favorite post-dinner activity is a short walk to the natural lava tubes on the reserve for a night cap in the one-of-a-kind 'Lava Lounge!' It's the perfect spot to relax around the fire and share stories from the day's adventures.

Meal Plan Lunch and Dinner
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Galapagos Magic Tented Camp

More Info

Location View map
  • starstarstarstar

    Galapagos Magic Tented Camp



    Magic Galapagos (also known as Galapagos Magic) is a tented camp set in a private reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz. It's quite usual to see giant tortoises roam through the grounds of the camp, and it's a pleasure to share this peaceful location …

    Magic Galapagos (also known as Galapagos Magic) is a tented camp set in a private reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz. It's quite usual to see giant tortoises roam through the grounds of the camp, and it's a pleasure to share this peaceful location with them. After a day out exploring it's a treat to return here, take in a glorious sunset, enjoy a drink by the campfire and then sit down to a superb three course dinner. The 'lava lounge', formed out of natural lava tubes, is the ideal place to round off the day, chatting to other guests and sipping a nightcap.

    Facilities

    • Restaurant
    • WiFi

    More Details

Day 6

Santa Cruz Island

After breakfast, head back to the Itabaca Channel where you will board a yacht for your trip to South Plaza Island. Just a few hundred meters from the eastern shore of Santa Cruz Island, the Plazas Islands were formed from an uplifted seabed, almost giving them a tilted tabletop quality. We will disembark (dry landing) on South Plazas where we will be greeted by a colony of sea lions.

The yacht then moors at Punta Carrion, where you have the chance to snorkel in its beautiful waters. Swim with a variety of tropical fish and graceful rays, and if you are lucky, you may see white-tipped reef sharks that rest on the sandy ocean floor.

As we make our way up the shore, we will come upon a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents. The succulents are a beautiful groundcover in color contrast to the luminescent green prickly-pear cactus grove that dots the shore - it's an incredibly unusual and memorable vista. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath the cactus patiently waiting for pears to drop.

Make your way further along the trail, where you approach the southern cliff of the island. From there, observe nesting swallow-tailed gulls and several sea birds such as tropic birds, Nazca and blue footed boobies, as well as spend time taking in the beautiful views.

Enjoy lunch on the yacht with island views before returning to Santa Cruz.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7

Isabela Island

Today, take an early morning speed boat transfer to Isabela Island where you check into your hotel. The adventure then begins with a tour of the Tintoreras, a group of small islands near the village of Puerto Villamil. The islands are named after the white tipped 'Tintoreras' reef sharks that swim in these calm waters. On Tintoreras, you will see almost all of the archipelago's iconic wildlife: white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. It's like the Galapagos in miniature! After walking on the island, take a chance to snorkel in the bay. Don't be surprised if some of the penguins or sea lions jump in to play alongside you in the water!

In the afternoon, bike the Wetlands Trail where you can see marine iguana colonies and a number of different types of mangrove trees (all four can be seen here) as well as enjoying the network of trails, beaches and historic sites. At the end of the trail is the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940's by Second World War prisoners held at the US base on the islands. Your guide will explain the importance of the Wall of Tears, giving us a glimpse into the lives of the island's previous inhabitants. On this network of trails you will catch some beautiful views of the village below and we will have the chance to see birds and, maybe even some wild giant tortoises.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Isamar Hotel Galapagos

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Location View map
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    Isamar Hotel Galapagos



    Set in a fishing village, this all-inclusive, oceanfront resort is an 8-minute walk from Flamingo Lagoon, 3 km from the Aeropuerto de General Villamil and 7 km from the Wall of Tears historic site.

    Set in a fishing village, this all-inclusive, oceanfront resort is an 8-minute walk from Flamingo Lagoon, 3 km from the Aeropuerto de General Villamil and 7 km from the Wall of Tears historic site.

    Facilities

    • Beach Access
    • Deck
    • Rooftop Terrace
    • WiFi

    More Details

Day 8

Isabela Island

Hiking Day!

Volcanic eruptions created all of the islands in the Galapagos, and you will get to see this geologic process first-hand as you explore Isabela, one of the youngest and most volcanically active islands of the archipelago.

You start by hiking up to the crater of the massive Sierra Negra volcano, and then onward to the rim of the Volcan Chico. This fascinating walk usually begins with some morning fog and drizzle which sometimes persists in the shadow of the volcano, adding to its mysterious character. Despite the drizzle, you may see Galapagos hawks, finches, flycatchers and short-eared owls en route.

You then reach the rim of the Sierra Negra crater, the second largest in the world after the Ngorongoro in Tanzania. The crater is so large, and the views so expansive, photos can't do it justice, but bring your binoculars and camera anyway! Later, as you head towards Volcan Chico, you may get the feeling we are walking on Mars due to the alien landscape. While it appears to be utterly desolate, a closer look reveals small lizards scurrying among the rocks. From its rim, we will enjoy more amazing views along with lava tubes and fumaroles.

After Volcan Chico and its extreme landscape, relax under the shade of a lovely "jaboncillo" tree to enjoy your box lunch while taking in the spectacular and expansive views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. In the distance, you will be able to see Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz Islands. Then head back down to complete our day of hiking and relax on the beaches of Puerto Villamil.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 9

Isabela Island to Quito

Today, take an early morning speed boat back to Santa Cruz and then a transfer by land to Baltra for your onward journey back to the mainland.

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Daily

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • Private airport transfers in Quito

  • 3 nights in first-class accommodations in Quito

  • 1 night in first-class accommodations near Otavalo
  • 2 nights in first-class accommodations on Isabela Island
  • 2 nights in first-class accommodations on Santa Cruz Islands
  • Private-guided tour of Quito
  • Private-guided tour of the Quitsato Sundial & Otavalo
  • Roundtrip airfare between Quito and Baltra Airport
  • Baltra Airport VIP services and transfer upon arrival
  • Shared Kayak, SUP and snorkeling activity on the Itabaca Channel
  • Shared boat excursion with snorkeling
  • Shared speed boat transfer between Santa Cruz and Isabela islands
  • Galapagos National Park Fee
  • Galapagos National Park Tourist Ticket
  • Breakfast daily (excluding day 1), 5 lunches, 4 dinners

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International airfare & airfare taxes
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Visa fees if applicable

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

DP QUITPK10DEC1
4 Jul 2022
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