Embarking on a recent journey to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was nothing short of extraordinary for our Americas destination expert, Olie. We caught up with him after his trip to hear all about it.

Tell us about your itinerary - where did you start and finish your trip?

My adventure kicked off in the sultry embrace of Guayaquil, where I relished a night of exceptional seafood before jetting off to the Galapagos. Unlike previous trips, I chose the eastern route aboard the Integrity yacht – a masterfully curated experience. Days were filled with snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and island-hopping to witness the incredible endemic wildlife. Returning to the mainland, I headed to Cuenca for a travel conference, Remote, where I connected with Latin American partners and explored some of the region's most impressive hotels. From there it was onto the Ecuadorian Amazon for a cruise onboard the Anakonda yacht. To cap off the journey, I ventured into the Andes, spending a magical couple of days at Hacienda Zuleta.

Wow, it sounds like an incredible adventure. Tell us more about your time sailing on the Integrity Yacht in the Galapagos islands and your guide? What made this such a unique experience?

Sailing on the Integrity yacht in the Galapagos was a revelation. Comfortable cabins, inviting public areas, and an expansive sun deck made for a delightful voyage. Our guide, Richard Polatty, a 30-year Galapagos veteran, unveiled the islands' mysteries, intertwining geology, glaciology, climatology, and ocean currents with the region's captivating wildlife.

The Galapagos islands are considered one of the best destinations in the world for wildlife lovers, what were you lucky enough to encounter whilst there?

The Galapagos dazzled with its biodiversity. My highlights? Wandering among giant tortoises in Santa Cruz's highlands, watching Waved Albatross take flight from Española, and the sheer thrill of snorkeling with playful sea lions.

Can you tell us more about the conservation efforts in the Galapagos islands?

Conservation efforts in the Galapagos involve extensive collaboration with NGOs, focusing on species protection, habitat preservation, and battling climate change.

The Ecuadorian Amazon is a bucket list destination and is a place that few people are lucky enough to visit. What was the highlight of your time onboard the Anakonda in this remarkable region?

My excursion through the Ecuadorian Amazon aboard the Anakonda yacht was an eye-opener. Wildlife sightings were abundant, but the day we explored the Yasuni National Park near the Peruvian border was truly unforgettable. I crossed into Peru, swimming through the border waters, adding a unique touch to the day. Cruising the Amazon Rainforest was a wildlife spectacle, from Giant river otters to pink and grey river dolphins, boisterous macaws, and elusive Pygmy marmosets, the tiniest monkeys.

Sustainable tourism and community conservation is a leading principle of Anakonda Amazon Cruises - tell us more about the indigenous communities you met whilst on the expedition and what challenges they face?

Anakonda Amazon Cruises places sustainable tourism and community conservation at its core. Indigenous communities along the Napo River face challenges from the allure of the oil industry, cultural disruption, and environmental risks. A significant portion of Anakonda's profits supports these communities, fostering cultural exchanges and conservation efforts.

Staying at Hacienda Zuleta in the Ecuadorian Andes sounds fascinating and fun. Can you tell us about the unique activities available at the hotel?

Hacienda Zuleta in the Ecuadorian Andes offers a blend of adventure and relaxation set on a 4,000 acre working farm in Northern Ecuador which was once the home of the late president Galo Plaza Lasso Lasso. Activities range from hiking to condor spotting, horseback riding, and visits to the local cheese factory. The Galo Plaza Lasso Foundation, a non-profit arm of the Hacienda, strives to uplift the local community and safeguard the environment.

Finally, saving our toughest question to last, if you have to pick one stand-out experience that our guests must do on this fascinating Ecuadorian itinerary, what would it be and why?

As for the ultimate experience in this mesmerizing Ecuadorian journey, the Galapagos is the standout destination. Each day there promises snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and intimate wildlife encounters, making it an adventure like no other.

If you'd like to discuss a tailormade vacation to Ecuador and the Galapagos, get in touch with Olie via our enquiry form.

Suggested Itineraries

Family Vacation in Ecuador & Galapagos

Quito Galapagos Islands Ecuador & Galapagos

  • Go exploring and try chocolate-making in Quito
  • Enjoy canopy cycling above the Cloud Forest at Mashpi
  • Head on a night safari searching for insects, owls, bats and night birds
  • Go horse riding through the Andes, and visit local communities, waterfalls and the Condor project
  • Sail around the Galapagos looking for sea lions, rare penguins and giant tortoises

When to go:

ideal length 12 nights

Island Hopping in the Galapagos

Galapagos Islands Ecuador & Galapagos

  • Walk along the rim of the Galapagos’ largest caldera
  • Explore the natural volcanic formation of Los Gemelos
  • Spot marine iguanas, sea lions and fur seals on North Seymour
  • Scale Santa Fe to find the endemic Santa Fe land iguana
  • Go swimming and snorkelling at Tortuga Bay

When to go:

ideal length 6 nights
Destinations Featured in the Article
View of two beaches on Bartolome Island in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

Ecuador & Galapagos

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