Nature and Wildlife in Ecuador and Galapagos

Though one of the smaller countries in Latin America, Ecuador boasts an array of wonders.

This two week tour of Ecuador will bring you to the country’s main sights and also allow you to take a walk on the wild side in the Galapagos Islands, where exotic animals will be your constant companions throughout your stay.

The islands will delight with its breath-taking sceneries and near-mythical biodiversity whilst Quito (a Unesco World Heritage Site) and Otavalo will charm you with its history and culture.

Day 1: Arrival into Quito

Upon arrival into International Airport Mariscal Sucre you will be met by a Lightfoot representative and be transferred to your hotel, Casa Gangotena.

The remainder of the day is at leisure

Stay: Casa Gangotena

Day 2: From Quito to Otavalo

Early departure from Quito to the Northern Andes.  Pass through beautiful valleys and fields and next to Cayambe volcano (5,790 m / 18,997 ft).  Then continue to visit the Indian market of Otavalo; thousands of years old and famous throughout the Andes for its handcrafts, textiles and tapestries.

Lunch will be served in one of the haciendas (estate) in the area.

In the afternoon continue on to hacienda Zuleta for overnight.

Day 3: Day at leisure at Hacienda Zuleta

Full day to enjoy hacienda Zuleta and its surrounding areas. Among the activities that are available at the hacienda, the most interesting and exciting ones are: hikes around the hacienda’s boundaries (hikes from 2 up to 6 hours), horseback riding (3 hours of horseback riding included during the entire stay at the hacienda), visit the embroideries workshop, visits to the condor-raising project, the dairy and cheese factory, the organic garden or just relax.

You can choose one or various activities each day.

Stay: Hacienda Zuleta

Day 4: Return to Quito

Departure from the hacienda to enjoy a very interesting visit to one of the most important roses’ farms in the Cayambe area and learn more about the growth and export procedures of the Ecuadorian roses.

Lunch will be served at hacienda La Compañia, one of the oldest haciendas in the area and still a private property.

Return to Quito in the afternoon. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Stay: Casa Gangotena

Day 5: Tour of Quito

Pick up at the hotel to start a Mystical tour of Quito. The tour starts with a short walk down La Ronda Street considered the oldest street in the city with its workshops and old fashion stores. Then continue to San Agustin convent for a short visit of the Chapter Hall, where the first Declaration of Independence of Ecuador was signed in 1809. Continue to the Independence Square and La Compañia church (known as the best example of baroque style in the country). The tour ends with a visit to the new museum Casa del Alabado, a Pre-Columbian art museum that owns more than 5,000 archaeological pieces from most of the communities living in Ecuador before the arrival of the Spaniards.

In the afternoon, enjoy a short private visit to the house/atelier and private art collection of Oswaldo Viteri, known as the best contemporary painter of Ecuador and owner of one of the best private art collection in the country. The painter himself will host you during the visit and will explain all the details of his art and the magnificent art pieces that are part of his private collection.

Stay: Casa Gangotena

Day 6: From Quito to Galapagos

Pick up at the hotel and transfer to the airport to board the scheduled flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival, you will be met by a guide who will escorts you to the harbor.

After lunch, visit the Charles Darwin Station on Santa Cruz Island. Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out.  One of the main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, Lonesome George (tortoise from Pinta), and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

Stay: La Pinta

Day 7: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta

Visit to White Tipped Reef Shark Canal, Isabela Island in the morning.

A delightful place that will be reached by a nice zodiac ride. “Tintoreras” are small islands in front of Puerto Villamil coast.

There is Heron lava on the lookout on mangrove branch, and Galapagos Penguin and sea lion often pop out on shore. White-tipped reef sharks are fairly common in the archipelago. Their name in Spanish is Tintorera, thus the name of this site as they are always found here resting in the shallow waters.

In the afternoon, a visit to Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island.

Isabela Island is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We head up to the highlands from Puerto Villamil to Sierra Negra slope, and later hiking on uneven terrain until you arrive to the Sierra Negra volcano rim. Sierra Negra is the second widest crater in the world. From this viewpoint, you have fantastic sights to the 6 x 5 -mile-wide crater, the rest of the volcanoes, and Perry Isthmus, a 12 Km wide lava field. From here we can hike to Chico Volcano to watch the striking lava formations, examples of the geological occurrences that have created the Galapagos Islands.

Stay: La Pinta

Day 8: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta

Start of your day with a visit to Punta Moreno, located on the north coast of Isabela Island between the volcano Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcano. The trail runs along a lava flow Pahohoe (solidified lava in the form of corrugated or an accordion) into a complex of coastal lagoons, its main attraction are several species of birds which can be found around this lakes and mangroves.

The afternoon will be spend on a dinghy ride along Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island. This is a marine visitor site, the excursion is carried out in a zodiac and so there is no landing point. Your zodiac ride starts with a visit to the Marielas islets where there is the largest and most important penguin colony in the Galapagos Islands. The excursion continues into the cove that is surrounded by red mangroves where you can admire their red roots and green leafs. Here, you are able to observe sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans and sea lions. Frequently visitors have been able to see Galapagos Hawks soaring overhead whilst schools of Pompano and Dorado fish swim below.

Stay: La Pinta

Day 9: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta

Fernandina is the third largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza.

Tagus Cove, a tour along the cliffs in a zodiac will give the visitors a good chance to see the Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant and other sea birds. From the landing dock it is about a 30 minute hike along the trail up to the top of the clif from where you can view Darwin Lake, an uplifted ultra-saline lake, saltier than the sea. You can also see several volcanoes from this location. Look carefully at the graffiti on the surrounding cliffs of the cove, it has been written by pirates, whalers and bucaneers in past centuries.

Stay: La Pinta

Day 10: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta

Your day will be spent on Santiago Island.

Espumilla beach is located in northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. During the last presence the El Niño phenomenon, one of the two lagoons in this site, underwent a process of sedimentation, thus causing the disappearance of a representative colony of flamingos. The main attractions are the palo santo forest and the marvelous. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles.

Puerto Egas, with its black beach is located at the west side of the island and is the main attraction of the island. Their volcanic tuff deposits have favored the formation of this special black sand beach.

Stay: La Pinta

Day 11: From Galapagos to Guyaquil

Your last day on the Galapagos Islands will be spent in Isla Lobos, 1 hour by panga from Port Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Island. The trail will lead across a dry vegetation zone, substrate of volcanic rocks and sandy areas. There is a small population of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds, which nest in this site. At the beach you will see a large colony of sea lions. It is common to see shorebirds.

After the visit, transfer to Baltra airport to board the scheduled flight back to the continent.

The rest of the day is at leisure

Day 12: Departure

Pick up at the hotel and transfer to the airport to check-in on the international departure flight.

Itinerary

Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival into Quito Casa Gangotena
Day 2: From Quito to Otavalo
Day 3: Day at leisure at Hacienda Zuleta Hacienda Zuleta
Day 4: Return to Quito Casa Gangotena
Day 5: Tour of Quito Casa Gangotena
Day 6: From Quito to Galapagos La Pinta
Day 7: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta La Pinta
Day 8: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta La Pinta
Day 9: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta La Pinta
Day 10: Exploring the Galapagos aboard La Pinta La Pinta
Day 11: From Galapagos to Guyaquil
Day 12: Departure

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Excursions
  • Transfers
  • 24 hour emergency contact

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Personal expenses
  • Visa if applicable
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (please note that travel insurance is mandatory for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)

Map

Quito Otavalo Galapagos Islands

From US$ 9126 per person, based on two persons travelling (excluding flights).

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant