This 9-day adventure is perfect for those who want to experience the incredible wildlife and scenery of the Galápagos Islands but prefer to sleep on shore – so your time on the water is limited to commuting between islands. Explore the islands of Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz as you spend your days with playful sea lions, giant manta rays, and the Galapagos giant tortoise.
Arrive in Quito at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. When you arrive at the hotel, please look around reception for a note from G Adventures that will inform you of the time and place for your group meeting, which usually takes place in the lobby of the hotel, starting sometime between 5:00-7:00 p.m. If you are not able to attend the welcome meeting, our representative will leave all important information at your hotel’s reception desk indicating what time to be ready on Day 2 of your trip. If there is any confusion on arrival, please do not hesitate to call the contact number listed on your voucher.
Located 2,850 m (9,348 ft) above sea level, the Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 22 km (14 mi) south of the equator. The old city is full of historical buildings and churches. We recommend spending an extra day or two in Quito. See our optional activities information below for a better idea of what there is to see and do.
We begin our trip with an early-morning transfer to the airport in Quito and a flight to Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, where we meet our friendly staff and check into the hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora.
The Galápagos Islands are located about 1,000 km (620 miles) off the Pacific coast of South America. Covering nearly 5,000 square km (3,100 square miles), the Galápagos Islands are now a national park. The archipelago is comprised of 13 major islands and scores of islets that served as a living laboratory for Charles Darwin, the renowned evolution theorist.
We visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, a science organization initiated in 1964, which works to preserve the Galápagos’ ecosystem through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers. It also provides a study location for international scientists and training for naturalist guides. Tour the exhibition center to see photo displays of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations, and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species.
The station is also a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back from the brink of extinction. See the famous Galápagos tortoise up close – a corral houses adult tortoises, and a nursery cares for the young until around age 3 when their shells have hardened.
Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by plane
In the morning of our first full day on the Islands, we walk through a cactus forest looking for Darwin finches and lava lizards on the way to “Las Grietas,” a local swimming hole, where the cool, bright turquoise water separates two volcanic cliffs. Fed by the ocean from one end and a river from the other, this unique, brackish pool is perfect for swimming.
In the afternoon, we hop on a speedboat to nearby Floreana Island. The history of Floreana Island (also called “Charles”) has gradually evolved to reach near mythic proportions. The story begins when a baroness and her two lovers, a German doctor and his mistress, and a German couple and their young son all came to settle on this land. Their dalliances and disasters, shrouded in mystery, were chronicled in John Treherne’s book The Galapagos Affair. Descendants of the German family, the Wittmers, still live on the island in the small community of Puerto Velasco Ibarra. Mrs. Margaret Wittmer has also written a booked entitled Floreana, which can be purchased at the airport in Baltra or at a local bookstore.
Floreana Island is a small, isolated island. Many of its residents have been living there for the past three generations, since the islands were first colonized. Its 150 residents have tried to benefit from the tourism boom, but since most tourism is marine-based and the boats don’t stop in the village, they have struggled to find any opportunities. Our partner tour operator G Adventures is investing in community training and infrastructure to develop the first ecological, community tourism program in the Galápagos Islands that sees both the islands small entrepreneurs and its unique wildlife as the primary beneficiaries of this project.
To further benefit the community on Floreana Island, G Adventures has provided training to residents for all aspects of tourism, including food preparation and service. The community will provide your meals while staying on this small island. The meals are rotated between different community members in order to spread out the benefits of tourism. While eating at the community restaurants you will be contributing to the self-sufficiency of the first community tourism operator in the Galápagos.
Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by speed boat
Please note: Seas can be rough during this voyage, so please bring sea sickness medication to use as necessary.
Today, we start by walking along a black-sand beach to Loberia, where we enjoy snorkeling immediately off the beach and get up close to the diverse wildlife in the waters around the Galápagos. Please be aware: the water here can be rough and the currents strong, making swimming difficult (but not impossible!) for even the strongest swimmers.
We then head up to the seldom-visited highlands of Floreana, where we will hear tales about the pirates, whalers, seal hunters, and buccaneers who once lived in this isolated and unique landscape. We will also learn about the birds, plants, and animals found on this small island.
After a tranquil night, we bid farewell to the mysterious Floreana Island and set off by speed boat to Isabela Island, where we check into our hotel.
Shaped like a seahorse, Isabela is the largest island in the Galápagos archipelago and stretches over 100 kms, though it is also extremely narrow. It is also a very active island, with six active volcanoes found on Isabella – Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra, and Wolf. All of these volcanoes, except Ecuador, are still active, and two of them are over 1,700 meters (5,500 ft) high – Wolf and Cerro Azul.
In the afternoon, we lace up our hiking boots in order to explore Sierra Negra Volcano. As we reach the summit, we will circle the rim of the volcano, looking down into the largest basaltic caldera in the Galápagos. We will see smoking fumaroles and the “sulphur volcano” (large amounts of sulphur deposited around the fumaroles) along the way. The volcano last erupted in October 2005, making it the most recent eruption in the Galápagos. This hike can be muddy and difficult, so if you aren’t in good shape, ask your tour leader whether they think you should go on the hike.
Approximate travel time: 2-2.5 hrs by speed boat
Please note: Seas can be rough during this voyage, so please bring sea sickness medication to use as necessary.
This morning, you can spend free time as you wish, with the option (for $40 USD) to take a wildlife boat excursion to “Islote Tintoreras,” a large crevice with clear, calm waters where marine iguanas swim and white-tip reef sharks (tintoreras) take their daily rest on the bottom. Spot pelicans, frigate birds, and diving blue-footed boobies, and keep an eye out for manta rays and rare Galápagos penguins, of which only 800 pairs of these lovable birds exist. You can even take the opportunity to snorkel to see Isabela’s underwater world up close.
Later, we walk through the town’s wetlands to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. We will pass basking iguanas and flamingos and head into the forest to see the gentle giants in their natural habitat. As the giant tortoise faced extinction, this program was established in the late 1950’s to protect these noble creatures.
You can further explore the surroundings with a short walk to observe pink flamingos in the wetlands and catch a stunning Isabela sunset on the beach. Along the way, stop at a lookout point, and visit natural pools, beaches, and mangrove swamps. In the evening, relax at the bar or on the beach and, if you want, enjoy a drink at sunset.
This morning, we travel by speedboat back to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.
Once there, we enjoy a short walk to the beautiful white beach of Tortuga Bay. You can relax on the beach, walk along the mangroves looking for marine iguanas and birdlife, or rent a kayak and explore this marine wonderland. Keep an eye out for Tintoreras sharks, sea turtles, and manta rays in the water’s shallow areas.
You will also have free time to explore Puerto Ayora. Head to the lively fish market where sea lions, pelicans, and other birds drop by to see the daily catch.
You also have the option ($15 USD extra) to grab a life jacket and go for a kayak adventure in the mangroves of Tortuga Bay. If you choose to do so, you might catch a glimpse of some of the wide variety of marine life that calls the Islands home, including colorful reef fish, rays, and sea turtles. Relax afterwards on the beautiful white sand beach and soak up some sun – you may even spot some iguanas also trying to catch some rays next to you on the shore.
In the evening, you have free time to sample some of the local restaurants and bars or do a little last-minute shopping.
Approximate travel time: 2-3 hrs by speed boat
Please note: Seas can be rough during this voyage, so please bring sea sickness medication to use as necessary.
This morning, we take a private van to the ferry terminal on Santa Cruz Island, before taking a short ferry to Baltra. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to the hotel for a final night in town. The G Adventures representative in Quito will be able to arrange many of the available day tours in and around Quito, if you have time to spare.
Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by plane
You are free to depart Quito at any time today.
Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).
If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator, we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!
It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.
All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.
On day 1 of the trip, a representative from G Adventures will meet you for the welcome meeting at the hotel and get you to your flight to the Galápagos Islands the next morning . You will then be met at the airport in the Galápagos by the group tour leader. This naturalist guide is certified by the Galápagos National Park. On Day 8, you will fly back to Quito and be met there by a G Adventures representative, who will get you to the group hotel.
This trip includes light walking and hiking that is suitable for most fitness levels. Some of the optional excursions on this trip require participants to be in good shape, capable of hiking 5 hours without difficulty. You are of course welcome to skip these optional excursions, if you do not feel up for it. Those who choose to snorkel must be cautious that they can handle the water conditions as some parts of the Galápagos have strong currents.
Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves, so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy, in other words, two people to a room. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender. Most of our trips have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email email@example.com. To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.
Our groups meet at the hotel we use for the first night of the trip. Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other than your welcome meeting in the evening. You can arrive at any time. Similarly, the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.
A G Adventures representative will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time and your transfer times to the airport the next day. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
Excess luggage can be stored free of charge at the joining hotel during your tour, if desired.
The Quito International Airport is approximately 1 hour outside of the city center, where your joining hotel is located. There are a number of routes the driver may take depending on time of day and traffic, however, the route often seems long and indirect. The easiest and cheapest way to get there is by organizing a taxi at the desk within the airport (approximately $30 USD). Private transfers generally cost more as the cars will need to drive from Quito, to the airport, and return. Immediately after the customs and immigration area, as you head to the exits, you will find a taxi stand. We strongly recommend you pay for the car at set rates from the taxi stand and therefore won’t need to worry about sorting out a ride outside the airport facilities, where the situation tends to get more chaotic with many drivers vying for few clients. The taxis outside the airport area do not belong to the Taxi Airport Union and may charge higher fares.
There is also a shuttle available with the bus company Aeroservicios. Aeroservicios charges $8 USD for a bus ride that will take you from the new airport to the old airport. The buses are new, comfortable, and often include WiFi. From the old airport, a taxi to get to your hotel generally costs $5 USD, depending on the distance and location.
If you have paid in advance for an arrival transfer, a representative, holding a G Adventures sign with your name, will be waiting at the airport to meet you directly in front of the arrivals section. There are often many people holding signs, so we recommend to take some time to locate the representative with a G Adventures logo and sign with your name. If for any reason you are not met at the airport, you can go directly to the H.A.T.S. counter (Hotel and Airline Transportation Services), which is situated directly in front of the international arrival area, next to the taxi stand, and they will be able to assist you. In addition, you may call our local support line at 0999 506 000. If you are unable to make contact for whatever reason, please make your way to the joining point hotel via taxi and report the issue to a G Adventures representative at the welcome meeting.
Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to call their local office in Quito first. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
G Adventures Office Quito, Ecuador
During office hours (Weekdays 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Local Time)
From outside Ecuador: +593 2250 6610
From within Ecuador: 022 506 610
After hours Emergency number
From outside Ecuador: +593 999 506 000
From within Ecuador: 0999 506 000
If you are unable for any reason to contact their local office in Quito, they have a toll-free line for North America, which will connect you directly with their Toronto office:
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Outside North America: +1 416 260 0999
Please read this article on GEEO’s blog for our staff’s suggestions on the best gear to pack for your upcoming travels. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels. As a rule, we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 minutes with your bags, which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 22-30 lb. Most travelers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size. No XXL bags please! A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person plus a daypack per person.
There may be a weight restriction for the internal flight on this program. Additional bags or excess weight charges may apply. These charges are the responsibility of the passengers.
Please note that Galápagos is a protected national park, so your luggage will be checked before arrival and departure to and from the islands. Don’t bring any food, seeds, or other organic material that could affect the delicate ecosystem of the islands. That said, a participant in 2013 told us “You can bring any processed food, even packaged nuts – this was very important for someone like me with dietary restrictions. I brought tons of protein bars, nuts, and granola!”
Laundry facilities are sometimes offered by the hotels. You can also use a local laundromat, if need be.
All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport. Please see our general FAQ for information on obtaining a passport. As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.
Americans do not need to purchase a visa for travel to Ecuador. Non-American participants should check with their government to find out if they need a visa.
They use USD in Ecuador, so there is no need for money exchange. Just make sure you bring plenty of cash to the islands – we recommend around $500-$800 – as ATMs can be hard to find, especially on Floreana. Small bills are better. Credit cards are rarely accepted.
It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip when there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $5-10 USD per day depending on the quality and length of the service.
Also, at the end of each trip, if you felt your G Adventures Tour Leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference. As a guideline, however, $30-$40 USD per person can be used.
We legally cannot give you any medical advice. It is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. GEEO recommends contacting Passport Health, (http://www.passporthealthusa.com/) who have travel clinics throughout the United States. Please take this seriously!
We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum number of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum number needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find out whether this trip has been confirmed here.
You trip begins and ends in Quito. Please double check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Quito. You can arrive at any time of that day that you choose. You can depart any time on the final day of the trip.
There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers. The adapter is the plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two- to three-pronged power cord to match the prongs required by the local outlets. The transformer changes the local voltage to that required by your device.
Ecuador uses the same plug design used in the United States, a type A plug. Their voltage is 120 Volts, the same as U.S. outlets.
Before you decide on traveling with GEEO, it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. Remember, our programs are quite adventurous.
Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!
While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region, and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
“Using a rolling luggage is fine, no need for a backpack.”
“There are not many alternative activities. If you choose not to do something, you have to sit around and wait for the other people (because tourism in the Galapagos is strictly regulated).”
“We did a lot of snorkeling, and I think I would have bought a wetsuit top, if I knew the water was going to be a bit chilly.”
“Quito is a remarkable city and touring it and the surrounding area should not be missed. Visitors should be encouraged to plan to add a day or two to see it.”
“It gets cold at night on most of the islands!”
“It was much hotter than I thought it would be! I packed more warm things. Also, it is important to have a lot – maybe $500 to $800 – of cash on you. A lot of us ran out of cash, and it was hard to get to an ATM.”
“That outdoor gear is really not necessary and too much extra weight. You can rent snorkeling gear, and hiking boots are not needed. A collapsible walking stick might help with hiking but no need for boots. Bring lots of sun screen. Also altitude sickness medicine really helped in Quito. I had a much better time there than other group members because I took it. Also, sea sickness medicine is a must for the island boat transfers.”
“Be prepared for the hike to the volcano! It was long, and I got soaked by the end, which got cold! Dress in layers. Food in the islands is much more expensive than in Quito. “
“Ecuador and Galapagos are essentially a cash-only destination. Very few places accepted credit cards, and extra activities all had to be paid in cash. I think I spent at least $1,000 in cash during my time in Ecuador/Galápagos. It is very important to emphasize the need to have bills in small denominations.”
Quito, although close to the equator, is at a high altitude. Therefore, the temperature during the day tends to be in 60s F and at night it can get into the 40s F. Please make sure you have the proper clothing packed!
The Galápagos climate is tempered by the Humboldt Current, so you do not experience extreme heat found elsewhere at this latitude. The warmest weather is December to June, when temperatures range from 72-90 °F (22-33°C), and the water temperature is in the mid 70s°F (mid-20s°C). From July to November, temperatures are cooler and range from 60s -75°F (18-24°C), when average water temperature rarely reach 70°F (21°C).
You can bring your own snorkeling gear and wetsuit, or rent gear in the Galápagos. G Adventures provides the snorkeling gear for free and then you would need to rent a wetsuit for $5-$10 a day. They sometimes don’t have wetsuits for larger people or petite sizes. The water can be cold in the Galápagos, but one participant told me that she did not rent the wetsuit and was just fine without it.
While our itinerary does not list much snorkeling, I have been told by our group that there were lots of opportunities for snorkeling on the trip and that they snorkeled on four separate occasions. Some of the locations have a strong current and are too deep to stand, other locations are much calmer and easier to handle. You must use your judgement and tour leader’s advice to determine whether it is safe for you to go into the water.
If you wish to go diving, there are dive shops on the islands and your tour leader can help put you in touch with one of them.
Advice from GEEO’s Executive Director Jesse Weisz:
“Quito is a nice city to visit and having at least one day to explore is advised. Quito’s old town is a UNESCO world heritage site and can be explored by foot during the day. You should not miss the Basilica of the National Vow (Spanish: Basílica del Voto Nacional). The building is noted for its grotesques in the form of native Ecuadorian animals, such as armadillos, iguana, and Galápagos Tortoises instead of the typical Gargoyles you find on a Neo-Gothic cathedral. If don’t have a fear of heights, you should climb to the top of the back tower for a great view of the city.
Another way to get a great view of the city is by taking a taxi to the top of Panecillo, a hill south of the old town. Please do not attempt to climb this hill, as there are muggings on a regular basis reported in that area. A taxi ride to the top and return to your hotel typically costs about $20.
Lastly, if you want to see Quito from above, you can take a cable car (teleférico) to the top of a mountain overlooking Quito. It costs $8.50 and the 10-minute ride takes you up to an altitude of 13,290 feet. If you want a physical challenge you can then hike to the top of Volcán Pichincha. The hike takes an estimated 2-2.5 hours each way, so this is an activity that could fill a whole afternoon. It is windy and can be cold, so make sure you have the appropriate clothing.
The actual Equator is only a 30-45 minute drive north of Quito. At the Equator, you will find a large monument that has an admission fee. This is where the French thought the equator was, but they were wrong and the actual equator is about 240 meters from the Equator Monument. Feel free to visit the nearby Intiñan Solar Museum, which claims to have the real equator running through their property. Just keep in mind that the science experiments they show you there are mostly inaccurate and downright silly. If you are a science teacher, this is a can’t miss attraction for a good laugh.
While I did not have time to go, there are three day trips that have been recommended to me, which we list in the Optional Activities section of this webpage. Saquisili Market and Cotopaxi National Park make for a full day of hiking and shopping. I would make sure you have a few days to acclimatize to the elevation before signing up for that one. Bellavista Cloud Forest or Mindo are at a lower altitude and seem like a wonderful way to see the nature of the area. Another option is Otavalo where you will be able to see one of the largest markets in all of South America.
You should be able to book all of these activities at the front desk of our hotel in Quito.
Lastly, if you are traveling around the city by taxi, make sure it is an official taxi. Your hotel can hail one for you which can be trusted.”
Please keep in mind: this trip offers some free time to pursue activities that interest you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and note these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars and are rough estimates so you can budget your trip.
See our price in the top right corner
The Ecuadorian government currently levies a Galápagos Islands Park entry fee of $100 USD per person. This is not included in the price of our trip. The Galápagos National Park authorities have implemented a system of Transit Control Cards at a fee of $20 USD per person.
$600-$1,100 USD (approximate)
If you require assistance in booking your international airfare, we would be happy to help you.
Please note: it is mandatory for all of our travelers to have emergency medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.
We recommend $35 USD for your local naturalist guide. Budget another $20-$30 USD to tip local guides and drivers.
Make sure you budget for these types of expenses
Variable. Check with your doctor to see what you will need and what is covered by your insurance.
U.S citizens are not required to obtain a visa to travel to Ecuador if it is less than 90 days.
Variable; at your personal discretion.
$100 USD (Suggested donation)
This is only for non-educator guests traveling with an educator on a GEEO trip. Educators and retired educators should not make this donation.
Most optional activities are booked and paid for locally in the local currency. You do not have to decide in advance for which activities you would like to sign up. The prices listed are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please feel free to use them as a rough guide for budgeting your trip.
You should be able to book all of these optional activities at our group hotel in Quito when you arrive.
City Tour: $50 (for 1 person)/$40 (per person for 2+ people)
This tour of Quito is perfect for seeing fascinating panoramas, churches, and historical architecture of Quito. Learn about colonial art, culture, legends, and traditions. The trip includes a visit to the lookout point of El Panecillo, where you will find one of the best views of Quito, as well as an English-speaking guide/driver and private transportation. Entrances fees for churches not included.
The Middle of the World: $50 (for 1 person)/$40 (per person for 2+ people)
25 kms (16 mi) north of Quito marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º. Here you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. We will visit the Intiñan (“Pathway of the Sun”) museum, which show the diversity of Ecuador’s native groups and you can see different experiments to prove that you are at the Center of the Earth. On the 00°00’00” line at the museum, you will have the opportunity to interact with demonstrations of phenomena that occur in nature, and which can be tested on our magnetic equatorial line. Later, we travel to Pululahua crater viewpoint, one of only two inhabited volcanic caldera in the world. Trip includes English speaking guide/driver and private transportation. Entrance fees for museums not included.
City Tour and the Intiñan Museum: $60 (for 1 person)/$45 (per person for 2+ people)
Otavalo Market Visit: $100 (for 1 person)/$70 (per person for 2+ people)
The Otavalo Market is considered one the biggest and best native markets in South America. Here you can find an extremely wide variety of handicrafts made in Ecuador. To get there, we head north along the Pan-American Highway for 2.5 hours. On the way, we visit the village of Calderon to see the bread figures and Cayambe to taste the typical “biscochos” (local biscuits). After you have explored the Otavalo Market, we go to the leather market at Cotacachi or to Peguche, the weaving town. The busiest market day is Saturday when the most vendors can be found selling their goods. The market is open daily, however. This trip departs around 8:00 a.m. daily. The price includes an English-speaking guide/driver and private transportation.
Mindo Cloud Forest: $100 (for 1 person)/$70 (per person for 2+ people)
We drive northwest for about 2 hours and enjoy the dramatic change of vegetation as we descend the Andes into the cloud forest. Mindo is a tiny town set amidst some of the most beautiful and peaceful countryside in the entire country. Go walking through the cloud forest and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the different waterfalls. Take time to ride up the cable car with amazing views. There will be time for lunch in a local restaurant (not included in the price) and visit a butterfly farm where you can see an array of colorful humming birds, for which Mindo is renowned. In the afternoon, there is also the option of an organic chocolate tour that includes a demonstration of the chocolate-making process and, of course, tasting too! This trip departs around 7:00 a.m. daily and includes an English-speaking guide/driver and private transportation.
Lunch (not included in overall price above): $10 USD per person
Entrance fees (not included in overall price above): $20 USD per person
Cotopaxi Volcano Trip: $100 (for 1 person)/$70 (per person for 2+ people)
Just a couple of hours south of Quito is Parque National Cotopaxi, home to Cotopaxi Volcano. The beautiful cone-shaped, snow covered volcano is Ecuador’s second highest peak and the highest active volcano in the world. This is a great spot for a day’s hiking (up to the refuge on the glacier’s edge) or mountain biking (downhill all the way). True enthusiasts attempt the climb to the summit (overnight excursion). Allow yourself an extra day or two in Quito, before or after your trip, if you want to conquer Cotopaxi.
A spectacular 2-hour drive in private transport takes us to Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, the highest active volcano in the world at 5,897 m (19,342 ft). We visit a museum in the park and hike around a lagoon at the bottom of the volcano to learn about the flora and fauna found at this altitude. We then continue by car up the volcano to the parking lot, at over 4,500 m. Then we walk approximately 1.5 hrs to the refuge at 4,800 m, and after a short break, continue to the glacier (if the weather holds out). We head back to the Pan-American Highway to have lunch somewhere near Latacunga or we may buy a box lunch along the way to have more time in the park. Return to Quito in the afternoon.
This trip departs around 7:00 a.m. daily and includes an English-speaking guide/driver and private transportation.
Entrance fee to Cotopaxi Park (not included in overall price above): $40 USD per group (can be split)
Papallacta Hot Springs: $100 (for 1 person)/$50 (per person for 2+ people)
Two hours’ drive to the east of Quito (65 km) are the Termas de Papallacta. They are located on the Cinnamon Trail, the name of the route that Francisco de Orellana took in 1542 when he crossed the Andes Mountains in search of spices and gold and “discovered” the Amazon River. We return to Quito in the afternoon.
Optional activities for this excursion:
– Hot springs pools with different temperatures and sizes with views of the Antisana Volcano 5,750 m
– Trekking up the river
on a marked path
– Horseback rides
– Relax in the new spa recently inaugurated (spa services not included)
Please note: lunch is not included, but a restaurant is available onsite that offers typical Ecuadorian meals and some international options. Also, this tour provides transport service only. Your driver will drop you off at the Hot Springs and wait for you, when you are ready to leave.
Cable Car (Teleférico): $8 (foreigners)/$4 (locals)
You can get from 2,800 m to 4,200 m in just 10 minutes and view Quito at your feet. Once on top, you might take the opportunity to go for a small hike inside the complex. Bring warm clothes, as it can be chilly up top. A taxi from the hotel will cost $3 to get to the base of the cable car. There are shops and restaurants available as well. The cable car operates Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and Saturday and holidays, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Los Tuneles snorkelling, including lunch: $90 per person
Tintoreras snorkelling excursion: $40 per person
Surf lessons with surfboard rental: $30 per person
Surfboard rental: $20 per person
Bicycle rental: $4 per person per hour
Tortuga Bay kayaking: $15 per person