Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE WILDLIFE PARADISE
Code: ECWHWPrint page
Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
From the lava tunnels and white beaches of Santa Cruz to the giant turtles of Isabela, this volcanic island chain hosts a rich biodiversity. Challenge yourself with walks in Cotopaxi National Park and around the rim of the Sierra Negra volcano.
- Walking in the Galapagos Islands, a true once in a lifetime experience
- Enjoy the surroundings of the Cotopaxi National Park
- Discover the unique wildlife: sealions, giant tortoises, marine iguanas and much more
- Visit Quito and walk around the historic centre, a World Heritage Site
We stay in comfortable hotels of mainly 3-star standard, all with en-suite facilities and fantastic locations. Some of the hotels have swimming pools.
The chance to stay on the islands and experience island life is one of the many highlights of this holiday. Once the crowds of the cruise boats leave, we have the islands to ourselves.
Patio Andaluz, Quito - 1nt at start and end of tour
On the first and last night of the holiday, we stay in the colonial centre of Quito. Our accommodation is in a converted historic hacienda, only two blocks away from the main plaza. Rooms are all en-suite and tastefully decorated in keeping with the building's colonial style.
Chilcabamba eco-lodge, Cotopaxi - 2nts
We spend 2 nights in the Chilcabamba eco-lodge, close to the Cotopaxi National Park. This hotel offers rustic charm and a cozy welcome. The lodge is situated at 11400ft surrounded by higher volcanoes.
Villa Lagina Hotel, Santa Cruz - 3nts
Our first hotel on the Galapagos islands is on the island of Santa Cruz. This is a small hotel with comfortable modern rooms, offering us 3-star facilities, and an excellent introduction to the islands.
Isamar Hotel, Isabella - 3nts
On Isabella, the final island of our holiday, we stay at the welcoming Isamar Hotel. This hotel is located on the beachfront in the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Villamil. Its location gives guests sweeping views of sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and boats bobbing on the water. Bedrooms are comfortable with mediterranean style decor, and are fully equipped with wifi, safety deposit box, air conditioning. A restaurant and bar are located right next to the hotel. The chance to stay on the islands and experience island life is one of the many highlights of this holiday. Once the crowds of the cruise boats leave, we have the islands to ourselves.
On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.
Ecuador & Galapagos Islands itinerary
Leisurely part day walks ranging from 2-7 miles, with little ascent. The walk in Cotopaxi will be at an altitude of up to 12,660ft. Once on the Galapagos Islands, walks are short and taken at a leisurely pace, as we stop to see wildlife and study the ecology of the islands.
Day 1: Quito
Arrival in Quito (1 night).
Day 2: Cotopaxi National Park
A guided walk around the colonial centre of Quito gives us an excellent introduction to Ecuador. We then drive towards Cotopaxi (2 nights) where we stay at the Chilcabamba ecolodge. Our lodge is at an altitude of 11,500 ft (3,500m).
The next day we walk in the Cotopaxi National Park with wonderful views of this snow-capped volcano.
Days 4-6: Galapagos - Santa Cruz Island
Fly to the Galapagos, and the island of Baltra, from where we take a short ferry journey to Santa Cruz (3nts). Our Galapagos adventure starts straight away with a visit to the impressive highland Galapagos tortoises.
The next day we head to an off the beaten track location of Santa Cruz, Garrapatero beach. On the way we'll stop at some lava tunnels. After lunch we visit the Cerro Mesa viewpoint from where we can admire the whole southern shore of Santa Cruz. We'll hike down towards the bottom of the iconic crater and back up again. We'll hopefully spot endemic species such as the Woodpecker Finch, and if we're really lucky, the giant tortoises.
Our final day on Santa Cruz takes us to the Charles Darwin Research Centre for an introduction to his theory of evolution, and the ecology of the islands. We take a short walk to the white sand beaches of Tortuga Bay, where we can snorkel, swim or walk amongst marine iguanas, sharks, and sea turtles.
Days 7-9: Galapagos - Isabela Island
After breakfast we leave Santa Cruz for our final island, Isabela (3nts). A 2hr boat ride away, Isabella is the largest and most active of the islands in the chain. This afternoon we take a short walk to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre, hopefully spotting flamingos on the way.
The next day time to stretch our legs, with a visit to Sierra Negra, the largest crater of all the Galapagos volcanoes, and a truly amazing sight. We picnic on top of the volcano for spectacular views over Isabella, and the neighbouring islands of Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz.
We also explore the Tintoreras Islands, known as Galapagos in miniature. Here we've the chance to snorkel in the clear, turquoise waters accompanied by turtles, rays, penguins, and sea lions. After lunch we walk from the white sandy beach of our hotel, towards the Wetlands Trail, where we wind our way through the mangroves and marine iguana colonies, to the Wall of Tears. These are the most extensive wetlands in the archipelago and have been recognised as a globally important site.
Day 10-12: Quito & return flight
We say goodbye to the Galapagos with a short flight back to Baltra and on to Quito (1nt) for a farewell dinner. The following day there is time to explore Quito a little further, before our return flight home.
Andes Lodge to Lodge Trek
Continue your Ecuador & Galapagos Islands adventure with our extension trip, which takes you into the foothills of the Andes for a taste of local life and culture. With a range of walks that explore the local area, you'll meet indigenous communities and learn more about their traditions and way of life in this incredible landscape.
Day 10 - upon reaching Quito you will be transferred to our accommodation in the Andes (1 night). Casa Mojanda provides a relaxing finale to your holiday and the staff here provide the perfect introduction to the warm and welcoming Andean culture. The accommodation looks out over snow-capped volcanoes and the Casa’s lovingly kept gardens. It is at an altitude of 2943m above sea level. If we’ve time this afternoon, we’ll take a guided walk to the Taxospamba waterfall (Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided).
Casa Mojanda is an eco-lodge and focuses on using locally sourced food wherever possible. Many of the vegetables that you will eat have been harvested from the organic gardens on the farm. The accommodation complex is made up of a central lodge, and comfortable cabins situated around the farm. Each cabin is ensuite, with a log fire.
Day 11 - we walk down to Otavalo town to visit its food market. We will explore the market and learn about the different crops which are produced in the surrounding farmlands which we will be exploring today and tomorrow. We'll then visit the famous craft markets before our guide takes us on a fascinating tour of the nearby villages, introducing us to the local artisans and their methods of making the colourful textiles and crafts that you see displayed in the town.
This afternoon we'll explore a more rural area as we hike above these communities learning about small-scale agriculture, an important part of life in the valley. Meet people that continue to farm their land and learn about the products you saw earlier in the market, especially grain crops, like quinoa. The scenery is gorgeous and from this vantage point in the foothills of Imbabura, you can see all the places we hiked through in the morning. If it's a clear day you can even see Cotacachi Volcano.
At the end of the trail, our supporting vehicle will be waiting for us for a quick transfer to the lodge, Sacha Ji.
Sacha Ji is a wellness and spa retreat built in a 100% sustainable fashion and offering the upmost in comfort. Sacha Ji’s unique combination of scenic magnificence, personalized service, beautiful accommodations, delicious, fresh and healthy Ecuadorian gastronomy, along with an array of wellness, natural and cultural activities and experiences allow for much more than your usual tour or even special vacation. We highly recommend the Jacuzzi that overlooks the valley!
Sacha Ji is at an altitude of 3938 m above sea level.
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).
Day 12 - an optional Yoga session (payable locally) an early breakfast and the morning is spent trekking through the communities of Zuleta. This agricultural area is famed for its traditional embroidery, dairy products, alpaca farming and highland crops such as wheat, maize, potatoes, lentils and quinoa. “Zuletenos” and “Zuletenas” are known to keep their culture and traditions - keep an eye out for the way the locals dress here and how different it is from the traditional Otavalo clothing.
Lunch will be prepared in a local’s home that kindly accepted to share his home and life with us and give us a cooking class before we make our way back to Quito and our return flight home. (Breakfast and lunch included).
Day 13 - Arrive UK
A full passport is required.
Visas are not required by British passport holders. Other nationalities please check with the visa section of their nearest Ecuadorian consulate.
Visitors are issued with a tourist card on arrival. Keep this safe as you will need to present it on your departure.
Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk www.traveldoctor.co.uk
Vaccines: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus & Diphtheria vaccinations are recommended. Malaria, Rabies and Yellow Fever prevention may be recommended too. On occasions, dengue fever vaccine may also be recommended.
Travelling in Ecuador does not carry major health risks, provided simple precautions are followed.
You may feel the effects of altitude on arrival in Quito. The sun can be very strong at altitude, even through cloud cover, and it is recommended that you wear plenty of sun screen or keep covered up. Altitude will not be an issue on the islands.
If arriving into Ecuador from a country with endemic yellow fever you will be asked for a yellow fever certificate. Please consult your GP for up to date details. If you have recently travelled in Brazil, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, you must be vaccinated at least 10 days prior to entering Ecuador, and you must carry an International Yellow Fever Vaccination card at all times.
The Ecuadorian government has announced all travellers to the Galapagos who plan to undertake any activities like hiking, walking, snorkelling must now provide the following mandatory information before travelling to the islands - Blood type (if you don't know this already, you will have to pay for this - current price approx £60), Pre-existing medical conditions/allergies, Emergency contact information, Medical insurance information, Advance Passenger Information. We will be asking for this information prior to departure.
Ecuador’s varied topography results in a variety of climate zones that are encountered on this holiday. Around Quito and the surrounding Andean peaks and valleys temperatures are pleasant and spring-like year round, with temperatures dropping in the mountains at night. The Galapagos Islands experience hot days and nights, due to the proximity of the Equator, although showers and cloudy periods can sometimes occur.
The unit of currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. Bills of $20 or more are harder to change so please make sure you bring some cash in smaller denominations for any extras such as drinks and souvenirs. You should ensure that you have access to emergency funds, a credit card being the most convenient.
ATMs are available at most banks in urban areas. On the Galápagos Islands, currently only Mastercard is accepted. Cash withdrawals from ATMs should be done in Quito (Visa is most widely accepted). Traveller’s cheques are not advised.
Tips are included on this holiday.
There is plenty of choice at mealtimes, plenty of water to fill up your water bottles. You cannot use tap water for drinking water but you can clean your teeth with the tap water. Fruit and salads are ok to eat.
For flights information please see Dates and Prices tab
Roberto is our local guide based in Ecuador. He is 33 years old and lives in Quito. This is the third year that he has been guiding the HF Holidays' guests through his home country, including the Galapagos Islands. He is a National guide and a Naturalist guide from the “Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve” and his degree is in Ecotourism, allowing him to work in different regions of the country. He loves to share his knowledge with our guests, and wants to make your visit to Ecuador an enjoyable experience.
When he’s not guiding, Roberto likes to go mountain biking; he also has a huge interest in wildlife and birds, of which there are plenty on the Galapagos Islands.
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Dates & Prices
Here at HF Holidays, we pride ourselves in offering a unique holiday full of experiences that you can’t find with anyone else. Find out what's included in this holiday.
|1 Oct 2018||
ECWHW - Ecuador Quito, Cotopaxi & Galapagos Island Hopping
(Travel included - Departs from: London Heathrow)
Flight - Outbound
Flight - Return
|2 Oct 2018||ECWHW - Ecuador Galapagos Island Hopping - Without Flights||10||£3,815.00||Book Now|
|12 Nov 2018||
ECWHW - Ecuador Quito, Cotopaxi & Galapagos Island Hopping
(Travel included - Departs from: London Heathrow)
Flight - Outbound
Flight - Return
Prices are per person
- 10 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
- Full Board from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure
- Full holiday programme including internal flights, entrance fees to Galapagos Islands National Park
- Travel by boat or bus
- Services of an experienced local guide
Additinal important information
- Single room: £440 (2018)
- Andes extension from £419
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person