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Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Ecuador sits astride the Equator, where its relatively tiny size belies its staggering geographical diversity, from a battalion of snow-smothered Andean volcanic peaks to luscious Amazon rainforests. The wild Pacific beaches, unjustly neglected, are fringed with exuberant vegetation pulsating with wildlife. The Galapagos Islands, which also form part of Ecuador’s territory, are located a couple of hours flight from Ecuador's coast.

Mainland Ecuador is compact and easy to get around. Roads are invariably scenic and journeys are of a comfortable length. Short domestic flights and a recently refurbished railway complete the transport network. Often overlooked by people rushing to and from the Galapagos Islands, those who take the time to explore Ecuador are rewarded by a dramatically beautiful country that never fails to surprise and charm its visitors.

Ecuador is one of the continent’s most traditional countries; there’s a strong indigenous tradition in the highland villages, with cottage crafts and hand-woven textiles piled high in the lively markets and Quito is arguably one of the most impressive colonial cities on the continent. Ecuador is wonderful for those looking to take part in outdoor activities, visit local communities, enjoy breathtaking nature and relax in lovely country farms or haciendas in exquisite scenery.

Experience Ecuador on its own or combine it with a Galapagos Cruise.

Our insider tips for Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Hiking around the skirts of Mount Cotopaxi, the most satisfyingly conical of the ice-cream cone volcanoes: or even climbing up to the snow line or, for the ambitious, to the peak at 5,897m.

Discovering the incredible wildlife in the cloud forest of Mindo and the enchanted Galapagos on a island hopping adventure or a Galapagos Islands cruise.


Sitting beside the fire at one of the restored patrician haciendas in the chilly uplands, after an exhilarating day out walking or riding across the plains; or enjoying a cup of coffee and a cake under the arches of an arcade in sunny colonial Cuenca, the city’s most delightful and graceful city.

Ben Line

Browsing the artisan and produce markets of the highland village communities, and finding a little gem among the mountains of craft work:  a lovely leather bag, an embroidered shawl, a carved figurine.

Alex Walker

Riding the newly reinstated train service down the Andean spine, a stopping service chugging along at the leisurely pace of Andean rural life.

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  • Client Comments

    Galapagos, especially Bartolome.

    IA, London | August 2015 | 50 - 65 | With Partner
  • Client Comments

    Galapagos snorkeling at Devils Crown and the inland lagoon; walk on Fernandina; mountain bikes and trek at Cotopaxi.

    JG, Sevenoaks | August 2015 | 50 - 65 | Family
  • Client Comments

    "It was all amazing to use an overworked word, but (i) the Cotopaxi days (train plus condors plus steaming volcano) was extraordinary, and (ii) encountering the Galapagos Islands and their unique wildlife were memorable - but so was the whole trip!"

    JL, Winchester | July 2015 | 65 and over | With Friends
  • Client Comments

    Most memorable experience: "Where to start? Huge evening skies on the Napo river, pulling out of Chimbacalle station on the Tren Crucero in a cacophony of whistling and hooting; the Devil's nose, swimming with penguins, sharks and sea lions. The moment on the Tren Crucero when our guide wanted to reassure us, You may have heard that Cotopaxi has been erupting recently, don't worry, it's all under control. The library in the Hacienda Zuleta; Firefly larvae in the dark on Limoncocha; smoking a cigar in the garden of Hacienda La Cienega - its's hard to keep a cigar alight in the thin Andean air, but you can pretend to be Alaxander von Humbolt."

    DH, Portsmouth | June 2015 | 65 and over | Family
  • Client Comments

    "Avenue of the Volcanoes was superb plus swimming with sea lions and penguins."

    JK, Sheffield | February 2015 | 65 and over | With Partner
  • Client Comments

    "Two parts: Seeing cotopaxi and the surrounding area for the first time, and stepping off the boat onto floreana and having to avoid sea lions and iguana, magical."

    HT, Conwy | November 2014 | 65 and over
  • Client Comments

    "Waking up at Hacienda Porvenir and being able to see the sun rising near Cotopaxi. Being in the Galapagos once again and seeing all the wildlife - such a unique experience."

    JB, Edinburgh | July 2014 | 65 and over
  • Client Comments

    Loved it

    "Ecuador is perhaps a most underrated country for a great visitor experience. The people are great and helpful and, for anyone with an interest in the natural world, there is so much variety to see and enjoy."

    IB, Kendal | June 2013
  • Client Comments


    "It was all brilliant, we expected the Galapagos to be the highlight, but all the other trips were as good in different ways. All the Ecuadorians encountered at hotels, restaurants, shops, etc could not do enough to help, and they did it with a smile."

    AH, Eastleigh | June 2013
  • Client Comments

    Excellent service

    "From the moment we were picked up, (on time) from our hotel in Quito, to the moment we were left at the departure lounge in the airport in Baltra, the organisation and punctuality of everything was impeccable. As residents in South America this was a very pleasant surprise!”

    TP, Lima | June 2013
  • Client Comments

    Great holiday in Ecuador

    "Ecuador was a fantastic adventure: welcoming friendly people, beautiful landscapes and amazing wildlife. To fit in two cities, the Andes, the Amazon, the cloud forest and the Galapagos Islands into a 16 day trip on a seamless itinerary was a fantastic solution provided by Sophie at JLA and we enjoyed every aspect.”

    GE, Glasgow | June 2012
  • Client Comments

    Surpassed expectations

    “We had a wonderful time… we thought the guides we had were among the best we have known anywhere; we went for the Galápagos and would admit to mainland Ecuador being a bit of an “add on”, but we thought it was fabulous and would return - Quito was so much better than we expected.”

    PW, Lambeth | January 0001
For advice on travelling to Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
Speak to an expert on 0203 432 9175 or enquire online

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