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Value Ecuador and Galapagos: At a glance

9 days from £2,449pp

Dates & Prices Get in touch

Value Ecuador and Galapagos: At a glance:
Trip Dossier

You might have thought that a holiday to the remote Pacific Galápagos islands would be prohibitively expensive. While cruising on a yacht can still be pricey, you now have the option of a land-based visit, where you can get to know one or two islands more intimately, with the option of some exciting outdoor sports thrown in. This holiday bases you at the popular Finch Bay hotel where you are free to choose your experiences from a wide menu. Hiking, biking and snorkelling are popular options, as are visits to the hilly interior of Santa Cruz Island with its giant tortoises. Choose what you fancy most and pay for your excursions locally.

Spend a few days on the mainland too, well worth exploring in its own right. Visit Quito, a colonial hacienda close to Otavalo indigenous market and the self-explanatory Avenue of the Volcanoes, dominated by the towering snow-draped mountain Cotopaxi.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Quito high in the Andes. Transfer to countryside hotel .

Day 2

Day at leisure to explore the region.

Day 3

Transfer to Quito, guided walking colonial city tour.

Day 4

Full day excursion to the Valley of the Volcanoes and Cotopaxi.

Day 5

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, transfer to hotel on Santa Cruz Island.

Day 6

At leisure in the Galápagos, optional excursions.

Days 7-8

At leisure in the Galápagos, optional excursions.

Day 9

Fly to Guayaquil; connect with international flight.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Quito high in the Andes. Transfer to countryside hotel .
 

As soon as you arrive at Quito’s high altitude airport you are whisked off to the glorious Andean countryside surrounding the capital. You stay at a Pinsaqui, a Spanish colonial hacienda (country estate) with an illustrious history.

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Quito, Ecuador

Day 2

Day at leisure to explore the region.
 

You have a day at leisure at the hacienda. While it might be tempting just to sit back and enjoy the views from the subtropical gardens, we recommend you visit the nearby market town Otavalo, famous for its weavings and other artisan work crafted by the proud – and prosperous - Otavalo Indians who still wear their striking traditional clothes.

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otavalo indians

Day 3

Transfer to Quito, guided walking colonial city tour.
 

Today you have a guided walking tour of the colonial highlights of Quito - the world’s first UNESCO Heritage Site city. Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with whitewashed walls and rising above are the steeples and cupolas of the city´s numerous spectacularly decorated historic churches. Walk through the main plaza, where you will see the baroque cathedral and other delightful 16th and 17th century churches.

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old quito

Day 4

Full day excursion to the Valley of the Volcanoes and Cotopaxi.
 

A full day trip down the Avenue of the Volcanoes one of the most picturesque routes in Latin America. As its name implies, the route passes an imperial guard of conical snow-draped volcanic cones, surrounded by lush pastures pitted with colonial market towns and tiny indigenous villages. You arrive at Cotopaxi National Park, dominated by the superb snow-tipped volcano of the same name. There are chances to go walking here, and at the Limpiopungo lake (3,850m) with expansive views. Relax over lunch at a mountain refuge on the northern side of the national park, before heading back to Quito.

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Cotopaxi

Day 5

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, transfer to hotel on Santa Cruz Island.
 

Drive back to Quito’s airport and fly to the Galápagos islands (2-4hrs, depending if there is a stop in Guayaquil on the way).  From the  airport at Baltra there’s a speedboat ride over to the archipelago's mountainous principal island, Santa Cruz, which hosts the capital, Puerto Ayora.  Transfer on to your hotel, Finch Bay which is just outside the town.

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frigate birds galapagos

Day 6

At leisure in the Galápagos, optional excursions.
 

At leisure at Finch Bay. Choose form a large number of different activities.  You can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, the Highlands and Tortuga Bay. There are also optional excursions by motor launch to nearby islands of North Seymour, South Plaza, Santa Fe and Bartolome (itinerary confirmed locally). There are also sporting activities you might dip into including mountain biking, introductory scuba diving classes, snorkelling, sea kayaking and hiking.

North Seymour is a small island covered in boulders and scrubby bush. Large colonies of seabirds (frigates, blue-footed) breed here and there’s always a courting, mating or nesting ritual to see.

Santa Fe is one of the most beautiful islands, with a lovely turquoise lagoon. Some of the giant cacti there grow up to 10m high. There are land iguanas, sea-lions and lava lizards.

South Plaza  is famed for its lovely flora, including the prickly pear, Depending on the season, the ground vegetation changes colour from intense green to orange and purple. You’ll also see colonies of land iguana, and nesting birds such as the tropicbird.

Bartolome is a small, arid island with blue-black lava flows and white-sand beaches fringed by mangroves. You can spot penguins and go snorkelling there.

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South Plaza Island The Galapagos

Days 7-8

At leisure in the Galápagos, optional excursions.
 

There are also sporting activities you might dip into including mountain biking, introductory scuba diving classes, snorkelling, sea kayaking and hiking.

You can also visit Puerto Ayora, a lively but laid back place bursting with shops, cafés, restaurants and banks. It’s a busy harbour, with tourist yachts and fishing boats coming and going, and the bay is full of fearless pelicans, iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Spend some time on the beach there and you may well be joined by a sea-lion or two. Nearby is the Charles Darwin Research station, where you can learn about the history of the islands and conservation projects, and Tortuga Bay, where you might spot giant tortoises and reef sharks.

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Kayaking with sea lions in the Galápagos Islands

Day 9

Fly to Guayaquil; connect with international flight.
 

Transfer back to Baltra airport and fly to Guayquil on the Pacific coast. Connect with your international flight. UK clients arrive home the following day.

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guayaquil

Essential information

Transport

2 flights (2-3hrs); 2 speedboat journeys (45mins), 2 road journeys.

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates a countryside colonial hacienda, a boutique B&B in Quito, a mid-range hotel in the Galápagos.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 4.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary of nights

9 days, 8 nights: Otavalo 2, Quito 2, Galápagos 4.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified.
• Snorkelling equipment in the Galápagos.

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Galápagos Park entrance fee.

Currency

The unit of currency in Ecuador and the  Galápagos is the US dollar.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of good quality meals on those days in the holiday itinerary when not on the cruise, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. 

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can spend as the dollar is the local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques (American Express are the most widely accepted), though these are gradually falling out of use. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will welcome a tip so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, guides etc. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance pages. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors. 

The streets in Quito are cobbled and steep and you must be cautious taking these on at altitude (see “Altitude” below).

Climate

Lying at 2,850m on the equator, the highlands have a permanent spring-like climate: altitude is the determining factor with regard to temperature. The rainy season in the Andes runs between January and April when there are showers most afternoons. The dry season is June, July and August when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (maybe as low as freezing point). May, September and October are less predictable, with both rainy and sunny spells. . In the mountains at any time of year you should expect a variation between 15°C and 25°C.3

In the Galápagos, from January to April it’s hot and the sun is relentless, with some sudden showers. May to July, and October to December is cloudier; August and September it’s often cloudy and cool, and a stiff breeze makes the waters choppier.

Altitude

Several days are spent at high altitude (over 2.500m). You may notice the effect of high altitude; symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches and breathlessness. If you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of being adversely affected.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a waterproof/breathable outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well on the Galápagos Islands.

Long-sleeved shirts will protect you from insects. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellant, sun block, hat and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for ocean swimming (Galápagos). For June to November departures, the waters can be chilly for snorkelling.

Don’t forget your binoculars, camera, charger and cards.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America and Galápagos.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

For admission to the Galápagos a yellow fever certificate is required for anyone over 1 year old coming from an area with risk of yellow fever transmission. 

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online at Esta online
This costs $14 per person, and must be applied for by you personally.
Passports must also be e-passports. Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Clients with a different nationality should refer to our Briefing Dossier and check with the Ecuadorian Consulate.

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