Galápagos, Ecuador
18 days
From 3075 US$
Family trips to South America Family trips to South America
Self-guided tours, travel in complete freedom Self-guided tours, travel in complete freedom

Your travel expert

Emma Laforge

Discovery and family travel advisor

Emma Laforge
voyage@ecuador-experience.com
Contact our expert
18 18 days

Day 1: Arrival in Ecuador - Quito

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After arriving at 2:40 pm with KLM at Quito international airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel, located in a beautiful colonial house in the heart of the city's historic center. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Quito at your leisure and relax after the long flight.

Private transfer, 45 minutes

Day 2: Quito, a world heritage site

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After breakfast, you'll discover colonial Quito on a guided walking tour in French. You'll discover the whitewashed houses with their tiled roofs, as well as the colonial churches that characterize this UNESCO World Heritage district. You can also admire the city's landmarks: Independence Square, the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral. You'll also get to explore La Ronda, a street steeped in history; the Compañía church, whose admirable gold-leaf-covered altar is considered one of the jewels of Baroque art on the American continent; the colonial-style church of San Francisco, the city's oldest (16th century); and numerous scenes of daily life, as you wander around. In the afternoon, you can visit Quito's Botanical Garden, where you'll learn about Ecuador's different ecosystems (including a fine display of orchids), the Capilloa del Hombre and the studio of the famous Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999), located in the modern northern part of the city, or the Casa del Alabado archaeological museum in the colonial center.

Day 3: Flight to the Ecuadorian Amazon

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Transfer to Quito airport. After flying over part of the Cordillera Oriental, we land in Coca. You'll be welcomed by your naturalist guide, followed by a drive to the bridge over the Cuyabeno River. You will then begin your descent of this superb black-water river. Your first contact with this extremely diverse ecosystem, will be similar to the atmosphere of Tintin's "Broken Ear". You may be lucky enough to spot pink Amazonian dolphins or sotalies, freshwater turtles or the mysterious anaconda. Arrive at the impressive Laguna Grande. After settling in, enjoy a moment of peace while observing the wildlife and the sunset. This is essentially a day's journey,  along the Cuyabeno River (riparian and "white water" ecosystem) and then along the narrow "black water" canals, you'll have the chance to observe your first Amazonian species: swallows, kingfishers, herons and caimans.

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Overnight at Siona Lodge
45-minute private transfer to Quito, then 2-hour group transfer with the lodge in the Amazon.
2-hour canoe trip in the Amazon
40 minutes

Day 4: Cuyabeno Reserve: Terra firme and Laguna grande

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In the morning, your naturalist guide will accompany you on a walk through a new, non-floodable ecosystem, the "Terra firme", to observe a wide variety of flora and microfauna. Your guide's explanations will help you better understand how the Amazon rainforest functions. You'll discover many species of birds (Hoatzins, Caciques, Tanagers, Parrots, Macaws, Toucans, American Aningha, etc.) and monkeys (Saïmiri squirrel, common Tegu, Woolly Monkey, etc.). Ten species of monkey have been recorded in the reserve. Then, after a welcome siesta, you'll head off with your guide to explore the Laguna Grande, in which you can take a dip, followed by a canoe ride through the flooded Macrolobium forest covered with abundant epiphytic plants. Watching the sun set over the lake is a unique experience!

Note: The activities described day by day are subject to change or modification to optimize wildlife observations in consultation with the local guide.

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Overnight at Siona Lodge

Day 5: The Siona community in Puerto Bolivar

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After an early breakfast, you'll board your motorized canoe for another trip along the river. Once again, you'll try to observe the exuberant fauna that populates these inextricable canals: woolly monkeys, saki monkeys and, with a little luck, the three-toed sloth. You'll arrive at the Siona community of Puerto Bolivar, where you can observe and understand the way of life of this Amazonian ethnic group. You'll take part in the preparation of a traditional cassava-based dish, "casave". At the end of the day, after the heat of the day, you'll return to the canoe for further observations on various "black water" rivers, so called because of their dark tea color (due to the tannins in the decomposing leaves washed by the Amazon rains and accumulating in the rivers and lagoons). After dinner, you'll head out by torchlight in search of numerous nocturnal species (insects and amphibians).

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Overnight at Siona Lodge

Day 6: Birdwatching and return to Quito

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You'll get up at dawn for a final birdwatching session, then, after breakfast, take your motorized canoe up the Cuyabeno River to the bridge. A vehicle will take you to Lago Agrio for your flight to Quito. Arrive in the capital late afternoon (*). Transfer to your hotel, located in the city's modern northern district.

(*) Schedule subject to change

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2-hour group transfer with the lodge in the Amazon, then 45 minutes by private transport
2-hour canoe trip in the Amazon
40 minutes

Day 7: Cotopaxi National Park

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Meet your English-speaking driver this morning. A giant awaits you today. The majestic Cotopaxi volcano is the country's second-highest peak and one of the world's highest active volcanoes at 5987 metres above sea level. Weather permitting, climb by motorized transport along the slopes of Cotopaxi  to 4500m, then on foot to the refuge at 4800m. You can also hike around Limpiopungo lagoon, framed by Cotopaxi, Rumiñahui and Sincholagua volcanoes at an altitude of over 3800m, to witness incredible scenery and light. See ducks, grebes and waders, as well as wild horses. In the afternoon, enjoy a 3-hour horseback ride through these lunar landscapes. Overnight in one of the lodges on the edge of the park, facing the volcano.

Day 8: The Quilotoa lagoon

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This morning, if the weather is clear, you can admire the sunrise over the volcano and enjoy this incredible setting for a while longer. From Toacazo, your journey continues into the heart of the Central Andes, with landscapes far removed from communities, rolling hills covered with a patchwork of traditional crops: quinoa, amaranth, potatoes, beans, etc.... Along the way, you can visit the small Indian market of Zumbahua. Here, every Saturday, Quichua communities from the highlands come to sell and barter their harvests as well as all manner of everyday goods. You'll have the opportunity to experience the incredible richness of the Ecuadorian Andean culture in a colorful atmosphere. Arriving in Quilotoa, you'll discover its incredible emerald lagoon from the sharp edges of the crater. You can hike the ridge path around the lagoon to the beautiful Mirador de Shalalá and/or descend the 300m to the edge of the lagoon, then climb back up by mule (optional), as the altitude can sometimes be too much! Overnight in the small rural village of Chugchilán, a ½-hour drive away at 2900m altitude.

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Black Sheep Inn Eco-Lodge - Please note: vegetarian meals and dry toilets.

Day 9: Baños, Waterfall Alley

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As you pass through Quilotoa this morning, you'll have a chance to see the lagoon in a new light, before continuing on to Baños. Situated between Tungurahua volcano and Rio Pastaza, Baños is one of the gateways to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Situated at an altitude of around 1,800m, it enjoys a pleasant climate and offers a wide variety of nature-based activities to its many visitors. Walk down to the "Devil's Pot", one of the country's most famous and impressive waterfalls. You can also take a gondola ride to the "Manto de la Novia" or another site in the Pastaza Canyon. You can  climb up to the Casa del Árbol for a swing in the void with a view of the imposing Tungurahua volcano (altitude 5023m) if the weather is clear. In the evening, you can enjoy the lively atmosphere of this small town, frequented by many holidaymakers, both Ecuadorian and foreign.

Day 10: Rafting down the Pastaza river

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Before starting the day, you can early bathe in the early morning in the hot springs, the perfect time to enjoy the medicinal properties of these pools. For those who wish, the half-day will be devoted to rafting down the Pastaza River. This superb river is easy to navigate by raft. Before setting off, your professional instructor will give you all the safety instructions you need to make the most of this risk-free water sport. After a two-hour descent, you'll enjoy a snack on the banks of the river. Return to Baños and continue by private transport to Riobamba, the "Sultan of the Andes", at the foot of the country's highest volcano, Chimborazo (6268m).

Day 11: Mountain biking on the slopes of Chimborazo

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You'll be picked up from your hotel this morning. Today you'll uncover one of the most surprising Andean landscapes, Chimborazo volcano. As you climb the flanks of this giant, you'll enter an increasingly lunar landscape. Volcanic rock as far as the eye can see leaves little room for vegetation or life. In this surreal atmosphere, you arrive at the first refuge at 4800 metres asl, then reach the upper refuge at 5000 metres asl, after a short but physically demanding walk, due to the lack of oxygen. Here, it's hard not to be jealous of the vicuñas, the South American Camelidae that run breathlessly down the slopes. Chimborazo volcano is home to Ecuador's last remaining population of this national symbol. Back at the first refuge, you'll get on your mountain bikes, equipped with helmets and knee and elbow protectors. The first part of the descent runs from the first hut to the park entrance, while the second lies in the hidden valleys north-west of the volcano. You'll pass through little-visited Indian villages, magnificent patchwork landscapes of cultivated valleys and surprising geological formations... A support vehicle will follow you all the way, allowing you to take passengers and bikes on board if necessary. Return to Riobamba at the end of the day.

Day 12: The Cañaris ruins of Ingapirca

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Today, you'll continue southwards through a large number of native Quichua communities, which take advantage of the fertility of the valleys at the foot of the volcano to grow all kinds of tubers and plants that form the basis of the Andean diet: Mashua, Melloco, Peruvian Oca, potatoes, amaranth, quinoa etc. Stop at the best-preserved Incan archaeological site in the country: Ingapirca. Here, history, agricultural traditions and geology combine in a strange pre-Hispanic Andean enigma. Discover the influence of the Cañari people on Incan architecture. Then it's back on to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, where you'll stay in a wonderful colonial house in the historical center.

Day 13: Cuenca

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Crossed by four rivers, Cuenca enjoys a temperate climate, allowing you to stroll leisurely through its colonial streets. During the morning, with a bilingual English/Spanish guide, you'll explore the city's colonial quarter, a UNESCO cultural heritage site: its alleys, patios, art workshops, flower market, churches, pre-Incan Cañar ruins, the Pumapungo site in the heart of the city, and meet its inhabitants, some of whom still wear traditional dress. The afternoon is free. With your driver, visit one of the Panama hat workshops. Finally, enjoy a traditional Andean dinner or supper.

Day 14: Hiking in Cajas National Park

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Today, you'll leave beautiful Cuenca and climb to the altitude of Cajas National Park. This fabulous park, also known as "the park of a thousand lakes", boasts an imposing landscape shaped by winds blowing down from the high Andean peaks: lead-colored lagoons, high Andean steppes or "paramos", magical Polylepis woods covered in lichen, peat bogs, etc. After a hike in two parts of the park, you'll begin the vertiginous descent to the Pacific plains. In just a few dozen kilometers and 4,000 meters below sea level, mosses and lichen give way to tropical banana trees, and high-altitude lagoons are transformed into vibrant mangroves. You'll travel across these nourishing plains, Ecuador's food and export granaries, to the country's largest city: Guayaquil. Settle in and discover the Malecón, the modern-architecture pier facing the Guayas River, then the beautifully restored traditional district of las Peñas.

Day 15: Flight to the Galapagos

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Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to the Galapagos archipelago. The flight takes around 2 hours by Boeing 727 from Guayaquil, where virtually all flights make a stopover. On arrival to San Cristobal airport, a driver will be waiting to take you to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free. In Puerto Baquerizo, a large colony of sea lions awaits you on Playa de Oro, just 200 meters from the hotel. You're free to wander around the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre, where you'll learn about the origins of the Galapagos archipelago and its ancient and recent history, from the arrival of the first giant tortoises 3 million years ago to their discovery by man only 500 years ago. Playa Mann is also a beautiful sandy beach, also frequented by sea lions, and located very close to Puerto Baquerizo.

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2h from Guayaquil

Day 16: Excursion to the upper part of San Cristobal

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Meet your guide this morning at 9am. With him, you'll head for El Junco lagoon, a natural freshwater lagoon located 700m asl in the island's interior, where Frigatebirds come to bathe to remove salt from their feet. It is the island's only source of drinking water. You'll enjoy a nice view of the coast from the lagoon on a clear day. A few kilometers away, you'll visit the Galapaguera, a site where you can observe giant tortoises endemic to San Cristobal, on a nature trail. Then discover the small clear-water beach of Puerto Chino on the other side of San Cristobal Island (approx. 25 km from Puerto Baquerizo). Return to Puerto Baquerizo in the middle of the day. Lunch in a local restaurant. Then off to explore the Lobería site, about 2.5 km from the town center (marine iguana, sea lion, frigate bird and pelican watching). Return to Puerto Baquerizo in the afternoon. Possibility of a leisurely stroll to the Tijeretas cliffs, near the interpretation center and where Swallow-tailed Gulls and Blue-footed Boobies can usually be spotted. You can snorkel in the crystal-clear cove at the bottom of the cliffs in search of sea turtles and sea lions.

Day 17: Excursion to Kicker Rock

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Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the San Cristobal pier for departure on a 12-seater boat to Kicker Rock or "León Dormido". This site, which you'll reach after about an hour's sailing, consists of two 150-metre-high vertical walls that practically touch, generating a current frequented by numerous species, including rays and reef sharks. The cliffs are also home to numerous seabirds, including Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Frigatebirds and the exotic Red-billed Tropicbird. Snorkeling time near the cliffs, where you can marvel at the richness of the underwater world. Later, after or before Kicker Rock, you'll head for one of the nearby beaches for a swim or another snorkeling session. Return to Puerto Baquerizo mid-afternoon.

Day 18: Back to the continent and off to Europe

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You will be able to enjoy this exuberant, uninhibited nature a little more this morning before departure. Transfer to San Cristobal airport for departure to the mainland. Arrival in Guayaquil. Late afternoon departure from the same airport (Guayaquil recommended) for your flight to Europe.

End of our services.

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Dates of the next departures

Departures possible all year round, please contact us.

You want a personalized departure date? Contact us. Request a personalized date

Prices per person

2 travelers 4 travelers 6 travelers 8 travelers
4,035 US$ 3,315 US$ 3,075 US$ 2,950 US$

You are a group of travelers and want a special rate? Contact us. Request a personalized quote

Included

  • All airport transfers (round trip - with Spanish-speaking driver),
  • Accommodation in double rooms with private bathroom and breakfast included in the accommodations mentioned,
  • On the mainland:
  • Guided tour of Quito on D2 (includes ½ day transportation and guide's lunch, entrance fees not included),
  • 4-day 3-night stay in the Amazon (Cuyabeno reserve) including transportation (land and river), full-board accommodation, group excursions with bilingual English/Spanish guide, loan of boots, poncho, etc.
  • Private transport with English-speaking driver from day 7 to day 14 inclusive, including fuel, tolls, parking fees, vehicle and passenger insurance, meals and driver's accommodation,
  • Horseback riding (approx. 3 hours) in Cotopaxi Park (with local Spanish-speaking guide),
  • Rafting excursion (approx. 3 hours total) including transport, all equipment, bilingual English/Spanish instructor and snacks.
  • Mountain bike excursion around the Chimborazo volcano (full day) including latest-generation equipment, knee and elbow protectors, helmet, bilingual English/Spanish mountain bike guide for the duration of the excursion and support vehicle, there may be other participants (up to 5) on this excursion, tea, coffee or hot chocolate at the refuge, purified water throughout the trip,
  • Guided walking tour of Cuenca (approx. 3 hours) - English or French-speaking guide subject to availability,
  • Hiking in Cajas Park (approx. 2h30) with local guide (compulsory).

In Galápagos:

  • Excursion to the upper part of San Cristobal in private package (full day), including private transport, bilingual English/Spanish Galápagos park guide and lunch in a local restaurant
  • Group excursion to Kicker Rock (12-person boat), including sea transport, bilingual guide
  • English/Spanish Galápagos naturalist guide, lunch on board, snorkeling equipment and wetsuits
  • Information and maps on free-access sites in San Cristobal
  • Details of meals provided are shown in blue in the itinerary above (lunch, dinner included or not)
  • A list of recommended restaurants on the mainland and in San Cristobal
  • 24-hour assistance from our French-speaking team in Ecuador.

Note: Daily excursions in the Galapagos are subject to last-minute changes decided by the Galapagos Park.

Not included

  • International flight
  • Meals not included (allow between 8 and 20 USD for a simple meal in town)
  • Entrance fees to the museums and sites mentioned (allow around 37 USD per person on the mainland: 12 USD for entrance fees to Quito, 10 USD for participation in the Siona community in the Amazon, 5 USD for entrance fees to Baños, 6 USD for the Ingapirca site and 4 USD for entrance fees to Cuenca. The mule ride from Quilotoa lagoon (optional) costs 10USD per person
  • Galapagos
  • Galápagos National Park entrance (currently 100USD per person)
  • Galápagos transit tax (20 USD per person)
  • These taxes must be paid personally in cash on arrival in the Galapagos.
  • Alcoholic and bottled beverages for all meals included
  • Snorkeling equipment (except on organized excursions)
  • Alcoholic and bottled beverages for all meals included
  • Personal expenses and tips
  • Commissions for payment by bank transfer to our agency's USD bank account in Ecuador, or by credit card
  • Travel, cancellation and accident insurance (recommended)

Payment and reservation terms

To book your tour, please confirm your agreement in writing to the local agent.

  • A deposit of 30% of the invoice amount is required at the time of booking (payment to the USD bank account of our agency in Ecuador).
  • The balance must be paid no later than 45 days before arrival in Ecuador in the same way.

The agency declines all responsibility for the provision of confirmed services in the event of non-compliance with the above payment terms.

Cancelation terms

All cancellations must be made in writing, indicating the references of the trip to be cancelled.

  • For cancellations made more than 90 days before the start of the trip, a penalty of 10% of the total value of the trip excluding domestic flights will be applied, with a minimum of 200 USD to cover the agency's administrative costs.
  • For cancellations made between 90 and 61 days before the start of the trip, a penalty of 30% of the total value of the trip, excluding internal flights, will be applied.
  • For cancellations made between 60 and 31 days before the start of the trip, a penalty of 50% of the total value of the trip, excluding domestic flights, will be applied.
  • For cancellations made between 30 and 8 days before the start of the trip, a penalty of 80% of the total value of the trip, excluding domestic flights, will be applied.
  • For cancellations made less than 8 days before arrival in Ecuador, a penalty of 100% of the total value of the trip per person will be applied.

For reasons of regulations and standards internal to the archipelago, the cancellation conditions for stays in the Galapagos are distinct and are as follows (in case of cabotage stays):

  • More than 60 days from your arrival date: penalty of 50% of the invoiced amount, excluding internal flights.
  • Between 59 and 30 days from your arrival date: penalty of 80% of the invoiced amount, excluding internal flights.
  • Less than 30 days from your arrival date: penalty of 100% of the invoiced amount.

In the event of cancellation by one of the participants in a group trip, the final price of the trip for the other participants will be revised pro rata on the basis of the number of confirmed travelers.

Important note

Itineraries may be subject to last-minute changes due to natural events or changes in domestic legislation. The operator therefore reserves the right to make any changes necessary to guarantee the safety and integrity of travelers and to comply with current legislation. Hotels are subject to availability at the time of booking. In the event of unavailability, a hotel of the same category will be offered whenever possible.

Formalities

Formalities: Passport valid 6 months after your return date. No visa currently required for French and Belgian nationals.

Vaccines: You are advised to be vigilant when traveling, especially during the rainy season (when infectious outbreaks can occur) in the coastal provinces and in Amazonia. Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquito bites, requiring the use of personal protective measures such as sprays, creams, electric diffusers and mosquito nets.... Quito and the center of the country are not affected by malaria. In fact, very few areas are actually affected by these parasitic diseases. The majority of these high-risk areas are not in the zones we visit on our itineraries. However, if you decide to take a course of treatment, beware: some people react badly to it. Although no vaccinations are compulsory, we advise you to consider vaccinations against tetanus and hepatitis A and C as essential. We also recommend that you consult your GP before departure, and take out insurance to cover medical expenses and repatriation.

* Rates in US dollars. These rates are valid for the dates selected, but may increase at the time of booking, depending on the tourist season and local holidays. Our quotations are calculated in US Dollars and our commitment is to this amount. The equivalent value in Euros or any other currency is therefore indicative and calculated on the basis of the exchange rate on the day of the offer.

** Air fares are estimated and may vary according to availability at the time of booking.

Characteristics of the trip

Travel theme

Discovery, landscapes, nature, culture, sports

Group

With your family

Arrival city

Quito

Departure city

Quito

Accomodation

Charming standard category, rustic lodge in the Amazon

Physical condition

easy to moderate (some walks at altitude, although slow, can be tiring)

Best season

All year round
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