Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America but it has more than its fair share of the continent’s diverse wonders. From the dramatic Andes and the Amazon Rainforest to the fascinating indigenous cultures and ancient Inca remains; Ecuador is a remarkable land of contrasts.
We have included activities to help you explore these natural surroundings including: mountain biking down volcanoes, zip lining through the lush cloud forest, horseback riding through the Cotopaxi National Park and white water rafting through the Amazon Rainforest. The itinerary then moves on and into the incomparable Galapagos Islands. The world famous wildlife and award winning national parks need little introduction but surpass all expectations.
You will spend four nights staying on the islands in specially designed eco-friendly hotels whilst experiencing a range of activities including: snorkeling, mountain biking, hiking and the option to scuba dive amongst the stunning marine life in the area.
Families with children aged 8 years and over.
Saturday: Arrival and transfer
Upon arrival at Quito Airport, a guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. En route they will provide you with an introduction to the city before you enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Sunday: Quito City tour
Your first morning is free for you to relax and gives you the chance to acclimatise to the altitude in Quito. After an afternoon meeting with your guide you head out on a tour of this vibrant capital city.
This evening you are free to eat at a restaurant of your choice before heading back to the hotel to prepare for the start of your adventures tomorrow.
Monday: Cotopaxi ropes course and horse riding through the Avenue of Volcanoes
Today you will drive south on the Pan American Highway, through the stunning Avenue of Volcanoes. Your first stop is a cloud forest reserve where you can enjoy the Cotopaxi ropes course. You will fly through the trees and overcome challenges as you travel through the course.
After lunch at a hacienda you saddle up in Chagra cowboy style to head out on a stunning scenic horseback ride up the slopes of the Ruminahui Volcano. You will then spend the night at a family owned hacienda.
Tuesday: Cotopaxi volcano cycling adventure
After breakfast you head towards Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. The day will begin with a hike to visit some fascinating pre-Incan ruins. Next you will set off on mountain bikes to explore and take in some stunning volcanic views. You will stop at the visitors’ centre before continuing on to your second hacienda.
Wednesday: Mountain bike descent of Tungurahua Volcano and Baños town
On Day 5 you head into the Llanganates National Park to a fantastic viewpoint to gaze at Ecuador’s most active volcano. Here you will be reunited with your mountain bike for a thrilling descent of the Tungurahua Volcano.
At the lively town of Baños you stop for lunch and travel by cable car to the Avenue of the Waterfalls; a spectacular sight. From here you will travel to your Amazonian eco lodge and enjoy dinner listening to the sounds of the rainforest.
Thursday: White-water rafting in the Amazon Basin
Today you will travel to the Amazon Basin where you will raft down the Jatunyacu River; one of Ecuador’s most renowned river runs. These crystal clear waters provide big waves and lots of fun but there are also quieter stretches where you may catch glimpses of the local communities and wildlife that live on the shore.
On the way back to the lodge you will visit a Kichwa Amazonian Indian community who will introduce you to their traditional way of life in the jungle. This community’s relationship and knowledge of the rainforest is a privilege to behold.
Friday: Cloud forest hot springs
It is time to head back to Quito, en-route you will visit some natural hot springs on the edge of the cloud forest - extremely relaxing!
After your arrival around lunchtime, the afternoon and evening will be free to enjoy Quito City.
Saturday: The Galapagos Islands – Frigate Hill hike and snorkeling in Charles Darwin Bay
This morning you will take a short flight from Quito over to the Galapagos Islands and your first stop - San Cristobal.
After transferring the short distance to your hotel for lunch, your guide will take you to the visitors centre to learn more about the islands, their flora and fauna. Next is a hike up Frigate Hill, following lava trails which offer stunning views over the coastline and potential encounters with the frigate birds which live here.
This afternoon you will have your first snorkeling experience in Charles Darwin Bay. Sea lions, turtles, brightly coloured Galapagos crabs and hordes of tropical fish are regularly seen.
Sunday: Sea kayaking, snorkeling and Kicker Rock
After a short boat ride you will kayak along a rocky shore, which allows you to get up close to both marine and bird life without disturbing them. It is common to see sun bathing sea lions, blue footed boobies and frigate birds. After lunch you will spend the afternoon snorkeling in a bay popular with turtles and marine iguanas – just magical.
A short boat trip then takes you to Kicker Rock where you may see spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos, hammerhead and white tipped sharks.
Monday: Wall of Tears mountain biking
This morning you will take a light aircraft across to Isabela Island.
Here your mountain bike guide will meet you to explore the inland trails to the Wall of Tears; a link back to the days when the island was a penal colony. The route is varied and passes white sand beaches, lava features and mangroves. You may even bump into a giant tortoise or flamingo.
This afternoon provides another chance to snorkel or to explore your new island surroundings and indigenous animals. On Isabela visitors normally enjoy many sightings of the unique Galapagos penguins and huge numbers of marine iguanas.
Tuesday: Sierra Negra Volcano hike
A hike to one of the most spectacular spots on the islands awaits. The active Sierra Negra Volcano has dramatic lava landscapes and offers stunning views of the 30 square mile crater.
This afternoon you are free to relax - we highly recommend enjoying the roof top jacuzzi and infinity swimming pool at the hotel.
Wednesday: Giant tortoises and Santa Cruz
After breakfast, there will be a speedboat trip to the island of Santa Cruz. Whales and dolphins are commonly seen on this crossing. Upon arrival you will head up into the highlands to see the giant tortoise in its natural habitat. You will then explore some of the island’s wonderful lava caves, previously used by pirates to hide their loot!
Thursday: Sea kayaking and Tortuga Bay
This morning you will use sea kayaks again to explore a very different coastline. You will paddle across turquoise waters and through dramatic lava caves. Below the surface you may see rays and white tipped reef sharks swimming around. This afternoon you will hike to the picturesque Tortuga Bay - one of the most beautiful locations in the Galapagos Islands.
Friday: Charles Darwin Centre and Quito
Before your flight back to Quito this morning you will head to the Charles Darwin Research Centre to learn about conservation in the Galapagos. You may also meet some baby tortoises raised here as part of their programme to protect this endangered species. You will then transfer over to nearby Baltra Island to catch your flights back to Quito for the final night of your holiday.
Today it’s time to leave Ecuador and fly back home, if you would like to extend your stay in South America then please call us on 01670 785 072 to discuss the options available.
Price per person based on 2 adults sharing with 1 child
||Child (8 - 12)
||Child (8 - 12)
Private departure supplement (based on two people travelling)
Private departure supplement (based on three people travelling)
N.B. Prices in brackets denote a price deduction.
Minimum numbers: This holiday typically requires a minimum of 4 participants to operate. If there are fewer than 4 people booked, which is very unlikely, we will do all that we can to operate the holiday as planned. If this is not possible then you will be informed 9 weeks prior to your departure date and all available options will be discussed with you.
Pricing: Prices include all activities. If you do not wish to take part in one or more activities please let us know at time of booking as this may reduce the price.
Please note the holiday cost does not include the permits required to enter the Galapagos Islands. These must be paid before you depart from Quito Airport for your flight to San Cristobal (so please leave plenty of time if you are arranging your own connections) and will cost $120 per person. These are not included simply because it is much easier to arrange when you are at the airport than in advance and it is each passenger’s responsibility to obtain the necessary documentation before departing from Quito.
This holiday is possible to operate as a private tour on any departure date. Please contact us for a quotation and availability for your chosen date.
Flights are not included but we are happy to arrange them on your behalf flying in and out of Quito.
Ecuador and the Galapagos islands are regularly used as examples within the industry of how tourism should be controlled and used to benefit the local community as much as possible, whilst also ensuring tourists get the best possible sustainable experience.
17% of Ecuador’s land is protected within 44 national parks and reserves across the country. These are all heavily monitored and regulated to protect the stunning natural areas for generations to come. In 1998 UNESCO named Ecuador as one of only 17 countries in the world classified as “mega diverse” due to the four clearly defined regions in this small country – the stunning Galapagos Islands, the warm and sunny Pacific coast, the majestic Andes mountain range and the Amazonian rain forest.
To take part in any guided activity in the National Parks, including the Galapagos Islands, by law you must be accompanied by a fully trained native guide along with your Ecuadorian guide. To live on the Galapagos Islands you must either have been born there or to have married one of the natives. This ensures that all employment generated by tourism directly benefits the local communities. Building of hotels in the Islands is heavily regulated to ensure they are environmentally friendly and as beneficial as possible to the local community as possible. You will see clear evidence of this during your visit including only native employees, use of local produce wherever possible and recommended guidelines for behaviour from the hotel guests.
The haciendas we have chosen in Ecuador have been owned by the same families for generations and have allowed them to use their fascinating heritage to continue their lifestyle in this stunning area. The lodge in the Amazon Rainforest is recommended by the Rainforest Alliance and considers protecting the local environment of upmost importance. The Hotel in Quito which is independently owned has won awards for its environmental policies.