Ecuador and the Galapagos
Ecuador, Discovery, 13 days - from £2,295 (land only) - from €2,755 (land only) - from $3,785 (land only)
Day 1: Rendezvous at the group hotel in Quito Airport. KE Land Only package services begin with a timed group airport transfer. During dinner we have our first briefing from our guide on the week ahead. We stay overnight at the group hotel.
Day 2: After breakfast we drive north to the crater lake of Cuicocha. We will make a complete circuit of the lake on foot enjoying great views of the surrounding countryside. After the walk we continue to Otavalo stopping along the way to visit El Lechero - the magic tree. Arriving in Otovalo we check in to our hotel.
Day 3: We have a short transfer to San Pablo village close to Laguna San Pablo which is well known for iots prolific bird life. From here we walk to Zuleta village to experience the daily life and culture of the Imbayos and Cayambe indiginoes. The area is highly scenic and this easy walk takes us through the farmland surrounding these villages. After the walk we return to our hotel in Otavalo.
Day 4: We have a free morning to enjoy the town. Otovalo is famous for its artisan crafts and there are several shops which are well worth a browse for souvenirs. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will make the drive south to the Cotopaxi National Park where we spend the night in a hotel in Machachi.
Day 5: Drive into the Cotopaxi National Park and hike the last part of the approach to the Jose Rivas Refuge (4800m / 15,750ft), starting point for climbers making the ascent of Cotopaxi. After returning to our vehicle, we transfer to Riobamba.
Day 6: We drive on a switchback mountain road to the parking area beneath the Whymper Refuge on Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. We hike up to the refuge for great views. Then we drive to Banos on the Pamamericana Highway where we check into our hotel.
Day 7: Banos is a charming spa town perched on the edge of the Andean Plateau and overlooking the jungle. We have free time here to enjoy the amenities of the town, including the thermal pools. In the afternoon we return to Quito.
Day 8: We transfer to Quito airport for the 3 hour flight to Baltra island in the Galapagos. Pelicans greet us as we travel by boat through Canal de Itabaca to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. We visit Tortuga Bay (approximately 45 minutes walk) which has both a protected beach for wildlife and a separate beach of perfect white sand for swimming and snorkeling. We stay at a hotel on Santa Cruz.
Day 9: We have a cruise (approx. 2 hours each way) to visit one of the smaller islands. Landing on the island we will explore on foot for aopproximately 1 - 2 hours to see the wildlife and we will also have time for swimming and snorkeling before we return to Santa Cruz island. Dinner and overnight at the hotel on Santa Cruz.
Day 10: We spend the morning at the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, founded in 1961 to conserve and protect the islands. After the visit we are back on board for the 2.5 - 3 hour sail across to Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos Islands. Arriving on Isabella we have a short walk to Concha Perla where we can swim and snorkel with sea lions and other marine life. Overnight in a hotel on Isabela.
Day 11: Today we will explore the area of Los Humedales and visit the 'Wall of Tears' built by convicts in the mid 20th century. In the afternoon we take a boat over to the Tintoreras islets where we can enjoyy some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos. We return to Puerto Villamil. for our second night on Isabela.
Day 12: On our final day in the Glapagos we sail back to Baltra Island and connect there with our flight to Quito. Arriving in the capital we transfer to the hotel and the rest of the day is free for independent sightseeing or shopping.
Day 13: In the morning we have a guided tour of the old city which has many buildings dating from the Spanish colonial period. After lunch a group transfer is provided to the airport where KE Land Only package services end.
This holiday involves going to very high altitude. During the course of your trip you will be spending at least one night above 4000 metres and/or trekking to 5000 metres or above. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude.