Group - Discovery

Paloma: Andean Ecuador and land based Galapagos

10 days from £3,330pp

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

UK clients depart, arriving Quito, Ecuador, the same day.

On arrival you will be met and transferred to the group hotel in the centre of Quito.

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Day 2

Tour of the historic centre of Quito.

The active volcano Pichincha glowers over Quito, a dynamic city which, at 2,850m, is one of highest capital cities in the world. Quito is divided into two contrasting districts. The modern zone is characterised by towering glass buildings and houses banks, international companies, hotels, shops and restaurants, while the central colonial area where your hotel is located has well-conserved and recently spruced-up white-washed architecture, open air markets and graceful Spanish-style mansions and churches.

There’s a walking tour to explore this UNESCO world heritage site, where we will survey the grand buildings of the cathedral and government palace, as well as some of the other ornate baroque churches which cluster in the historic core.

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Day 3

Visit the Cotopaxi National Park.

Travel by road into the Avenue of the Volcanoes towards Cotopaxi National Park, dominated by the superbly photogenic volcano of the same name - a (very occasionally active) soaring peak of shimmering ice surrounded by rumpled skirts of highland moor with a tundra-like vegetation of altitude-resistant shrubs and flowers. The park is inhabited by over 90 species of bird from pocket-sized hummingbirds to giant condors and a variety of hardy mammals including deer, rabbits, Andean foxes and puma, which shelter from view in the lacy veils of frequent swirly mists.

You can put the flora and fauna into geographical context at the park’s interpretation centre before hiking a trail that curves beside Lake Limpiopungo, its tranquil surface perfectly mirroring the snow-draped cones that rise above it. Continue to Chilcabamba lodge, your base for the next 2 nights.

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Day 4

Explore indigenos Andean communities and mysterious craters.

Today we set off for the indigenous market town of Saquisili, before continuing onto the Quilotoa volcano crater. A short walk around the crater’s rim allows you to fully appreciate the serenely mysterious green lake it holds.

On the way back to Chilcabamba, we will stop to visit the art galleries in the community of Tigua, where you will be able appreciate the paintings that represent the folklore of these Andean communities.

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Day 5

Visit the famous Otavalo market.

After breakfast we travel northwards to the town of Otavalo. This is home to Ecuador's largest indigenous market, where the enterprising and prosperous Otavalan Indians sell local produce and handmade goods including the high-quality textiles for which the region is known. It’s a wonderful place to see traditional highland costume and culture, as well as learn from a master weaver about how the famous cloth is produced.

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Day 6

Return to Quito.

Return to Quito for a final night in the capital.

Day 7

Fly to the Galápagos.

Today we head off to the airport for our flight to the Galápagos Islands (2hrs). Baltra is a tiny island which hosts the Islands’ principal airport.

We dive straight into our Galápagos adventure exploring the turquoise waters of the Itabaca Channel which separates Baltra from Santa Cruz island where you'll be based for your stay in the archipelago. You may kayak, snorkel and practice stand-up paddling while observing for the first time some of the uniquely adapted wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea-lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. Glide serenely through red mangrove forests and alongside lava rock cliffs. Later we head inland, up to the grassy highlands to one of the private reserves bordering the Galápagos National Park where giant tortoises roam in the wild, and where your tented camp is located for the night.

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Day 8

Speedboat to Isabela Island - wildlife spotting and snorkelling.

Today we take an early morning public speedboat to Isabela Island our home for the next 2 nights. The adventure begins with a tour of the Tintoreras, a group of small islands close to the town of Puerto Villamil. The islands are named after the white tipped ‘Tintoreras’ reef sharks that swim in these calm waters. Tintoreras also offers the chance to see almost all the archipelago’s other iconic wildlife: sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. This is the Galapagos in miniature! After a walk on the island, there is also the chance to snorkel in the bay.

In the afternoon we will hike the Wetlands Trail, where we can see marine iguana colonies and a number of different types of mangrove trees. 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 former US base on the island.

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Day 9

Explore the volcanic landscapes of the island.

We have the whole day to explore the Isabela highlands, and we start by hiking up to the crater of the massive Sierra Negra volcano, and then onward to the rim of 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 this, we may see Galapagos Hawks, finches, flycatchers and Short Eared Owls en route.

Once you reach the rim of the Sierra Negra crater, the second largest in the world after the Ngorongoro in Tanzania, you will be rewarded for you efforts, with some spectacular views.

Next it is onto the Martian landscape of Volcan Chico. While the land appears to be utterly desolate, a closer look will reveal small lizards scurrying about among the rocks. From the crater’s rim, we will enjoy more amazing views along with lava tubes and fumaroles.

After a day’s walking it is back to Puerto Villamil where you can relax on the beach.

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Day 10

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with your extension or your international flight home.

UK clients arrive home the following day.

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

Meet the team