Ecuador and the Galapagos

Probably the greatest show on earth !





From $3,860 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Hike around lovely Laguna Cuicocha
  • Chill out in beautiful Banos
  • Snorkel amongst tropical fish
  • Walks on the awesome Galapagos Islands

During a first week on the Ecuadorean mainland, we visit many of the most famous attractions, such as the picturesque azure lagoon of Cuicocha and the charming towns of Otavalo and Banos. We also drive to the Jose Rivas and Edward Whymper refuges, and take a walk high on the slopes of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo with sensational views over the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes'. Then, flying out to the Galapagos, we embark on a programme of boat trips and exploration on foot that will show us some of the highlights of this extraordinary archipelago. Overnighting in small hotels and hostels, we get close to Kicker Rock, snorkel amongst the tropical fish of some of the islands, and cross the volcanic interior of Isabela, the largest island in the group. Throughout our visit, we are on the lookout for the most striking wildlife species: giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, sharks, sealions and even penguins. This is the very best of Ecuador and the Galapagos !

Is this holiday for you?

During the first part of this holiday we will make some short walks including around two of Ecuador's high mountain huts, up to and beyond 4000 metres. The huts themselves are accessed by vehicle. The walks on the holiday will be on a mix of village tracks, forest roads and some sections of open grassland. On the Galapagos Islands, the trekking is along mainly flat, but occasionally rocky paths with the odd short ascent. The average trekking time on each day's hike is between 3 and 6 hours. This holiday involves only moderate walking but it should be borne in mind that walking at even moderately high altitudes does make extra demands, and you should have a reasonably level of fitness before embarking on this holiday.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Quito. A single timed transfer from Quito Airport is included.
  • Visit San Pablo and Zuleta villages.
  • Drive to Cuicocha, trek around the lake (3246m).
  • Morning in Otavalo and transfer to Machachi
  • Cotopaxi National Park and refuge (4800m).
  • Free time in Baños.
  • Chimborazo refuge (5000m) and transfer to Quito.
  • Fly to Baltra Island in the Galapagos, boat to Santa Cruz and walk to Tortuga Bay.
  • Galapagos Island cruise.
  • Galapagos exploration. Visit the Darwin Research Centre and sail to Isabela.
  • Galapagos exploration. Isabela and Tintoreras.
  • Galapagos exploration. Return sail to Baltra and fly to Quito.
  • Depart day. A single timed transfer to Quito airport.
Sun 20 Dec - Fri 01 Jan Code EGA /04/15/ Adult$3,860 Status Available Book now
Sun 27 Mar - Fri 08 Apr Code EGA /01/16/ Adult$3,860 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 07 Aug - Fri 19 Aug Code EGA /02/16/ Adult$4,020 Status Available Book now
Sun 23 Oct - Fri 04 Nov Code EGA /03/16/ Adult$3,860 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 18 Dec - Fri 30 Dec Code EGA /04/16/ Adult$4,020 Status Available Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Quito. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Quito airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

Galapagos Park fees and taxes: Note that these can only be paid locally.

You will need to take with you a total of $US110. $10 is paid on departure from Quito and $100 on arrival in Galapagos.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • internalflight
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Quito. A single timed transfer from Quito Airport is included.

    We rendezvous at Quito Airport. KE Land Only package services begin with a timed transfer from the airport to the group hotel in Quito.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Visit San Pablo and Zuleta villages.

    We meet our guide for a briefing and have breakfast at the hotel. We then board our tour bus and drive north along the Pan-American Highway to the village of San Pablo near the Laguna San Pablo which is well known for its abundant birdlife. We will spend some time in and around this area where we can gain real insight into the daily life and culture of the Imbayos and Cayambe 'indiginoe’ who farm the slopes of the volcanoes Imbabura, Cayambe and Cusin. The people of this area are principally farmers but also have a reputation throughout Ecuador as skilled craftsfolk particularly for their elaborate and delicate embroidering. The area is highly scenic and we will enjoy some easy walking through the farmland and we will also visit Zuleta village before meeting our vehicles once again and driving to Otavalo where we check into a hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Cuicocha, trek around the lake (3246m).

    We transfer to Cuicocha crater lake, a dormant volcano with water filled caldera. The lake, which is a stunning azure blue, has two islands in the centre – lava domes from its last major eruption. We will make a complete circuit of the lake enjoying stunning views. We have to take things easy on this first full day at altitude and the circuit will take around 4 - 5 hours. From Cuicocha we continue to Otavalo, stopping just outside the town to visit a small, gnarled tree that is known locally as 'El Lechero’ which is supposed to have magical healing powers. The tree is located on the crest of a hill in a Eucalyptus Grove and affords a pleasant view over the pretty lake of Laguna San Pablo. We then return to our hotel in Otavalo for a second night.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 580m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 580m

  • Morning in Otavalo and transfer to Machachi

    We have a free morning to enjoy the town. Otavalo is particularly famed for its colourful textiles and there are stalls on the central 'Poncho Place' and several shops in the maze of side streets, selling blankets, ponchos, jumpers, tapestries, hats, and hand bags. After lunch we leave Otavalo and transfer to where we check into the group hotel. Drive time: 3 hrs.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Cotopaxi National Park and refuge (4800m).

    We have a short 1 hour transfer to the Cotopaxi National Park. Travelling through the Park we reach the lakes at Limpiopungo and from here we climb another switch-back road up the side of Cotopaxi, the second highest mountain in Ecuador, and the World’s highest active volcano. The dirt track leads to a car park high on the mountain below the Jose Rivas refuge at 4800 metres. This alpine hut which is situated just below the level of the glaciated part of the mountain is the starting point for climbers wishing to scale the peak. We take a slow walk up to the hut which at this altitude takes around 45 minutes (it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to return). There are breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. Depending on the weather and the conditions of the mountain we can walk a little further to reach the glacier before returning to our vehicle. Descending from the volcano we now have a scenic drive for 3 - 4 hours to reach the delightful spa town of Banos, where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 300m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 300m

  • Free time in Baños.

    We have a free day to enjoy the amenities of this picturesque and laid-back town of hot springs complete with its own smoking volcano. Situated in the shadow of Tungurahua, an active volcano the town is famous for its thermal pools and is also known as ‘the Gateway to the Amazon’ due to its position, perched on the edge of the Andean plateau and overlooking the rainforest, known in Ecuador as the ‘Selbe’. There is much to see and do here. Baños is a very relaxing place just to stroll around or shop with its little plazas and pavement cafe culture. There are several interesting churches and of course there are the famous baths. It is also possible to arrange a number of excursions such as canyoning, horse-riding, via ferrata or rafting. These activities which will be for approximately 4- 5 hours, can be booked at extra cost through your hotel and should be organized with your guide the day before. We spend a second evening and overnight in Banos.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Chimborazo refuge (5000m) and transfer to Quito.

    After breakfast we drive back into the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’ and across to Cimborazo. At 6310 metres, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and, due to the equatorial bulge, its summit has the distinction of being the furthest point from the centre of the Earth – more than 2,000 metres more than the summit of Mount Everest! Until the last century it was thought to be the tallest mountain on earth and Edward Whymper made the first recorded ascent under that mistaken belief. Today there is a mountaineers’ refuge named after this great alpinist, located high on the mountain at close to 5000 metres. As with our earlier visit we drive on a switch-back dirt road up to a parking area below the hut from where we make the short hike of around 45 minutes to the Whymper Refuge. If the weather is good it is also possible to make a return hike from here of around 2 hours to reach ‘Whymper Point’ for more breathtaking views. Returning to our vehicle we descend the mountain and join the Panamerican Highway and drive north again for approximately 4 hours to return to Quito where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 660m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 660m

  • Fly to Baltra Island in the Galapagos, boat to Santa Cruz and walk to Tortuga Bay.

    In the morning we transfer to Quito airport for the 3 hour flight to the Baltra Island in the Galapagos. Pelicans greet us as we then travel by boat through the Canal de Itabaca to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, the second largest of the Galapagos islands. From the pier we have a walk of around 45 minutes to reach Tortuga Bay. The bay area contains two of the islands most pictursque beaches. The first is a protected area for several species of aquatic life and the other is a gorgeous stretch of white sand, protected from the surf by a reef which is perfect for swimming or snorkelling with the tropical fish who have their home on the reef. After our stroll we head into town to check into our hotel base for the next two nights.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Galapagos Island cruise.

    Today we will sail to one of the other islands (Plazas, Seymour, Bartlolme or Floreana) selected according to avalaibility of National Park itineraries. This will be a cruise of approximately 2 hours each way. We will land on the island and there will be lots of opportunity to see the indiginous animals and also for snorkelling. We may also be able to observe turtles swimming in the ocean. After our exploration we make the return sail to Santa Cruz island with another opportunity to watch the fascinating marine birds and wildlife enroute. Dinner and overnight at the hotel on Santa Cruz.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Galapagos exploration. Visit the Darwin Research Centre and sail to Isabela.

    Early in the morning we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Established in 1959 it works closely with the Galapagos National Park Service protecting the Galapagos Islands and Marine Reserve. Along a series of walk-ways you will see giant tortoise and discover through interpretive displays what the foundation does to protect and maintain the area as well as educate the visitors. After the visit we board our boat for the 2.5 - 3 hour sail to Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos Islands. Arriving at Puerto Villamil on the southeastern tip of the island we check into our hotel. If time permits we will take a short walk through mangroves on a wooden walkway to reach the Concha de Perla, a superb shallow bay perfect for swimming and snorkelling with the fish and possibly with sea lions.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Galapagos exploration. Isabela and Tintoreras.

    Our morning starts with a visit to Los Humedales an area of Mangroves fringed by rocky shores and sandy beaches. This is the best area in the Galapagos to see the migratory birds including the pink flamingo. We will take a walk for a 2 - 3 hours through Los Humedales and here we will also visit the Walls of Tears (Muro de las Lagrimas), a wall of lava blocks built by convicts between 1946 and 1959 when the island was a penal colony. In the afternoon we take a speedboat out to Tintoreras Islet where we might see, amongst other species, the white-tipped reef shark and marine iguanas. After some snorkelling we return to Villamil for dinner.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Galapagos exploration. Return sail to Baltra and fly to Quito.

    On our final day in the Galapagos we sail back to Baltra Island (approximately 3 hours) for the flight back to Quito. On arrival in Quito we transfer to our hotel for our last evening in Ecuador. We have a celebratory meal and a chance to chat through our experiences in Ecuador and the Enchanted Islands.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Depart day. A single timed transfer to Quito airport.

    Depending on flight times there may be further opportunity for sightseeing in Quito this morning or some time for last minute souvenir buying. A complimentary group transfer is provided to the airport where KE Land Only package services end.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • English speaking local leaders
  • Single timed airport transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands with associated transfers
  • All boat and ferry transport
  • Guided city tour of Old Quito

  • Travel Insurance
  • Galapagos National Park Permit (currently $125)
  • Departure tax (if applicable)
  • Airport transfers other than group transfers
  • Tips for local staff
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.

Hotel accommodation for this trip is in a variety of comfortable, tourist class hotels and smaller hotels (known as hostals). All accommodation is on a twin sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Single rooms are available for a supplementary cost. Additional hotel nights in Quito are also available. For hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

All meals are included in the holiday price from dinner on day 1 to lunch on day 13.

Ecuadorian cuisine is varied across different regions and includes excellent seafood, potatoes, toasted corn, and pastries stuffed with spiced meats. For those wishing to fully immerse themselves in the local culture, you can try roasted cuy (guinea pig), but this is strictly optional. Ecuador is famous for its exotic fruits and these will be served with most meals. Breakfasts generally consist of fruit, yoghurt, eggs and toast. Depending on the day’s itinerary lunches may be taken in a restaurant or café, or they may be provided as a packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit and biscuits. Dinner will normally be a set meal taken either in the hotel or in a nearby restaurant. The tour leader will order this meal taking into account what is the best food in the region and also individual members' dietary requirements.

The group will rendezvous at the group hotel in Quito on the evening of day 1 of the Land Only itinerary. A single timed transfer to the group hotel is provided on day 1. This transfer is timed to the arrival of KLM flight from Amsterdam . Clients using the group transfer will be met at the airport by a KE representative. A return group transfer from the hotel to the airport timed to the check-in for the KLM flight to Amsterdam is also provided on the last day of the holiday. Anyone may use this transfer but LAND ONLY clients must let us know if they will be joining the group transfer. For clients making their own arrangements to get to the group hotel, taxis are available 24 hours a day from outside the arrivals hall. It is approximately 20 miles to the city from the airport and this journey will take around 1 hour due to the heavy taffic. Fares are in the range of $30 - 40. The guide will meet the group during breakfast at the hotel on day 2 of the Land Only itinerary. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.

English speaking local guides will accompany the group throughout the holiday except during the flights between Quito and the galapagos Islands.

We suggest you allow approximately US$400 for expenses. This amount should be sufficient to cover tips to local staff (allow approximately $100), Galapagos Park Fees ($115), beer, soft drinks, etc. (allow $150). It is possible to use credit and bank cards to withdraw cash from ATMs in Quito, Otavalo, Baos, Galapagos (Isabela and Santa Cruz) and other major towns. If you intend to bring your spending money in the form of cash, you should bring US dollars in small denominations (tens and twenties). Credit cards can also be used in restaurants in Quito and are particularly useful for more expensive souvenirs.

Please remember that tipping is voluntary and dependent on good service. Tips do not form part of the wages of your local staff. Most people will want to give a tip as a 'thank you' to their tour leader, guides and drivers. We recommend that you give tips from the group as a whiole rather than individually and the group should decide together on an appropriate amount. As a rough guide we suggest that a contribution of around $100 from each group member should provide a sufficient 'pool' for these tips.

There is no baggage limit on this holiday other than that set by your international carrier but we do ask you to limit your luggage to one main bag plus a small day pack. The hold baggage on flights to Galapagos is strictly limited to 20kg per person. Any items not required on the Galapagos section of the holiday can be left at the group hotel in Quito.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 3500 metres. 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. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Walking shoes or boots
  • Sandals or shoes which are comfortable when wet*(1)
  • Socks
  • Lightweight trousers
  • Waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Underwear
  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Eyewear - Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Headtorch
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Swimwear (for thermal pools and on the boat)
  • Towel (for swimming)
  • Selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contents dry)
  • Second (fold-away) bag *(2)
  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
  • Small daypack
  • Basic First Aid Kit including plasters (Band-aids), blister treatment, headache tablets etc

The following items are optional:

  • Mask and snorkel*(3)
  • Trekking poles
  • Shorts
  • Scarf or buff
  • Wet wipes
  • Travel clothes
  • Camera, film/memory cards, batteries


  • *(1) Some of the island stops on the Galapagos cruise may involve ‘wet landings’ where there is no jetty and you step directly onto the beach.
  • .
  • *(2) Any items not required for the Galapagos section of the holiday can be stored at the hotel in Quito
  • *(3) Masks and snorkels can be hired locally for approximately 5$ per day. It is also possible to hire wet suits at 5$ per day for a short and 10$ per day for a long wet suit.

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa Ecuador

UK and USA passport holders do not require a visa for short stays.

Transit via USA

You will require an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), and you must get this before boarding any US-bound aircraft or ship, or entering on a land border. The fee is USD$14 and you should apply for it at

NOTE: This is required if you are transiting through the USA

You should contact your GP or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

The unit of currency in Ecuador is US Dollars. 

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on an active holiday getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime. Running and swimming are good for developing aerobic fitness and better stamina. You should gradually increase your exercise leading up to departure, and in the month before setting off, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

With the Pacific Ocean to the west and the great basin of the Amazon to the east, Ecuador has a complex pattern of weather. In general the eastern highland region receives the most precipitation. In the Central Highlands it is drier though cloud and rain can and do occur at any time during the year. In general the days are warm with temperatures between 12-22°C. Evenings can be chilly in the higher towns with night-time temperatures at freezing point above 3500m. Although the the Galapagos Islands lie on the equator, the influence of the Humbolt current means they are never excessively hot with a typical temperature range between 21° and 30° C. The Galapagos can be visited year round but has two main seasons. The warmest is between December and May when the weather is more or less 'tropical' with some days of cloudy skies and occasional downpours. Sea temperatures at this time are very pleasant for swimming and are up around the low to mid twenties centigrade. From June to November is the 'dry season' where skies are generally blue although showers can still occur. At this time sea temperatures generally range from 18° to 23°C.

Ecuador. Lonely Planet guidebook. Ecuador. Rough Guides Trekking in the Central Andes – Lonely Planet Ecuador and Galapagos Wildlife Guide Arris. Galapagos Islands (Natural History guide) Pierre Constant

Ecuador. ITMB 1 ; 700,000

Double-sided map dividing the country north/south with a generous overlap. Relief is depicted by altitude tinting and spot heights for peaks and volcanoes. Glaciers, swamp areas, national parks and reserves are marked. Intermediate driving distances are indicated and further symbols depict places of interest, archaeological sites, thermal baths, beaches, etc. Latitude and longitude lines are drawn at 1° intervals. There is an index of place names and the legend is in English and Spanish

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