Iguana Galapagos

Active Ecuador and Galapagos

16 days from £4,875

An active wildlife adventure

Trek volcano craters, white water raft through the Amazon, snorkel with sealions and spot blue footed boobies and giant tortoises.

Are you looking for a challenge? Ecuador is home to a treasure of unique climates with some of the most biodiversity and spectacular geography on the planet. Witness the spectacular Avenue of Volcanoes while hiking and biking on the slopes of the Andes, explore the waterfall canyons and raft along the Jatunyacu River whose waters flow into the mighty Amazon River. Trek the rim of the Cuicocha Crater Lake and spend an evening relaxing in the volcanic hot springs of Papallacta. Experience truly unique cultural encounters like spending an evening with an indigenous family in the Amazon, learning about their customs, food, knowledge and life-style.

Then, it is onto the Galapagos islands which offer endless opportunities to witness a unique abundance of wildlife in a setting unlike any other on the planet. This is one of the few places on earth that allows such close and intimate contact with the wildlife. Snorkel with sealions, multicoloured fish, hammerhead sharks and maybe even penguins. Bike along the coastline spotting giant tortoises, flamingos and marine iguanas. Spot a plethora of incredible birds from blue-footed boobies to frigate birds, and visit the Darwin centre to learn more about the endemic species found here and the conservation efforts in one of the most fiercely protected marine wilderness in the world!

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The itinerary…

Day 1: Arrive in Quito

San Francisco Quito

Basilica and Convent of San Francisco in Quito

Welcome to Quito! The largest, best-preserved colonial city of America - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and is located on the equator in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano.

Today is for acclimatisation and depending on arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area. In the evening, you will meet your trip leader who will talk you through your adventure and answer any questions.

Day 2: Trek in Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi 2

After breakfast, you leave Quito and be taken by private transfer southwards along the gorgeous Avenue of Volcanoes, getting the chance to see the colourful Andean fields, climbing upwards to reach 12,000 feet. (3657 meters).

After arriving at the Cotopaxi National Park, your leader will take you hiking around Limpiopungo lagoon at the foothills of the Rumiñahui volcano. From here, you have the best views of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world.

In the afternoon you continue driving onwards towards the Llanganates National Park, known as the sacred mountain until you reach the town of Baños, located at the entrance of the Amazon. Here you will stay at Casa de Luis for two nights where you can enjoy the nightlife drinking cocktails and dancing salsa.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Biking in the cloud forest

Biking In Llanganates

Biking in Llanganates National Park

This morning you will cross-country mountain bike from the Llanganates National Park down to the Pastaza River Canyon, enjoying the beauty of the special cloud rain forest climate. The road takes us through some Andean farms and a great canyon with many waterfalls. While descending into the jungle, you will have a breath-taking view of Baños, a town well known for its spectacular location right at the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, which has been active since 1999. The volcano is the main attraction of this region.

In the afternoon you will have some time to explore the town and also go to The Swing of the End of the World, where the winner of the 2014 National Geographic photo contest took his photo.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4: Canyoning in the rainforest

Cable Car In Baños

Cable car in Banos

This morning we will hit the road of the waterfalls. The first stop will be at the Bride´s Veil waterfall, where we will take the Tarabita (cable car) to get across the Pastaza River. Then we will hike down to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, the second highest in Ecuador, later, we will go deeper into the jungle inside the Llanganates National Park.

The name “Llanganates” comes from “beautiful mountain” in the local native language. Here, 600 years ago, the Incas hid their golden treasures. Many explorers have spent years looking for these treasures, some have even disappeared with no luck in this dense pristine jungle. During a hike through the tropical rainforest, we will climb through several waterfall canyons. Our local native guide will teach about the incredible flora and fauna that thrive in this unequalled habitat.

You will spend the night at the Local Basic Jungle Lodge run by a kichwa indigenous family who will provide you with dinner.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Day 5: Rafting at Jatunyacu River

Amazon Water Rafting

White water rafting in the Amazon

Today you will paddle the wild waves of the Jatunyacu River, located just a 5-minute drive from the homestead and graded class III. The beautiful Jatunyacu River flows through the amazon is well known for its clear waters and awesome rapids. We will have a lot of fun playing some games and also exploring one of the canyons. Afterwards we will stop for a picnic, prepared by our guides, before driving back up to the Andes to a spot called Papallacta, where we will stay the night at Termas Papallacta and recharge in the volcanic hot springs high in the midst of the cool Andes.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 6: Otavalo Indigenous Market

Otavalo Market

Otavalo Market

In the morning we will do a hiking exploration in the nearby Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve in the cloud forest, here there are beautiful flora that including colourful orchids, and if walking slowly and quietly, you may see some beautiful birds too.

Later we will travel across the Andes stopping as we pass the equator where you can stand on both hemispheres at the same time. Your guide will suggest a place to eat lunch before going to the Otavalo Indigenous Market where you will spend some time shopping and learning about this ancient culture that is still alive here today.

In the late afternoon, we will be transferred to the Pinsaquí Haciendaand enjoy a welcome cocktail and a delicious dinner.

Meals included: Dinner.

Day 7: Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve

Sacha Warmikuna

Sacha WarmiKuna

Today we have a very short drive to the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, the main attraction here is the Cuicocha Crater Lake. Our adventure will take us on a trek around this still active volcano, seeing many stunning flowers on route and ending with a boat ride to the centre of the crater to witness bubbles coming up from the caldera.

For lunch, we will head to Pijal, a small village located in the heart of the Andes to visit a project called Sacha WarmiKuna (women from the mountain). This project provides women with alternative work besides housekeeping, as a new opportunity for income so they can support their families. Once at the project you will experience an unforgettable cultural encounter, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American woman and their skills for textiles and a deep culinary knowledge coming from the past generations. You will be part of the preparation of “Aji”, a local spicy salsa which is part of their identity, you will also share precious time with them and a tasty traditional lunch in which local women have used the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields. Later we will learn more about the weaving process of their textiles. You will also have a chance to give back, by buying handmade scarfs here.

In the afternoon we will return to Quito, ready to depart to the Galapagos tomorrow.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 8: Snorkelling on San Cristóbal Island


Underwater sealion

Today we get ready to explore the most amazing archipelago on the Pacific coast and the place where Charles Darwin based his theory of the evolution of species. After a morning flight from Quito to the island of San Cristóba, you will be transferred to the hotel Seaside Inn where you will stay for two nights in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

In the afternoon we will head to "La Loberia" beach which is home to large Galapagos sea lions. You can spot them while snorkelling, as they are very curious and approach to swim next to you underwater. They may also be lazing over rocks or just lazy dozing in the sand. You will also get to see yellow warbler birds, frigate birds, and several species of Darwin’s finches along the beach. In between the rocks you can find marine iguanas, which you can only see in Galapagos.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9: Snorkelling at Kicker Rock

Galapagos Kicker Rock

Kicker Rock

In the morning, we will take a boat to Kicker Rock, located off the coast of San Cristóbal, also known as the Sleeping Lion (Leon Dormido) because of some resemblance. This is the remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea, two vertical rocks rising 500 ft (150 m) above the ocean form a small channel that is navigable by small boats. This Galapagos Island’s natural monument is even more spectacular due to the many tropic birds, frigate birds and boobies that fill the sky in this area. Beneath the sea, the crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colourful fish, such as rainbow fish and sharks, like the hammerhead and white tip (both harmless). After lunch, we will spend some time on the beach and travel back to the hotel where you can relax.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 10: Biking on Isabela Island

Galapagos Penguins In Isabela Island

Penguins on Isabela Island

In the morning, hop to Isabela Island, the largest island in the archipelago, and where the most of the volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported. The island was formed by six shield volcanoes, Alcedo, Cerra Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf; five of them are still active which makes the island one of the most volcanically active places on earth.

In the afternoon, we will explore the beautiful coastline on an exclusive trail on our bikes, taking us through an incredible ecosystem where you can spot a wide variety of wildlife including flamingos, marine iguanas and giant tortoises. We start with a visit to the Wall of Tears, a massive wall built with lava rocks. This site dates back to the 1950s, when Isabela was used as a penal colony and prisoners were forced to build the wall to keep them from going mad because of the isolation they experienced. As we continue our ride along the coast, we will explore pristine, white sand beaches, mangrove forests and lagoons. This area is filled with a plethora of bird life, including American oyster catchers, herons, flamingos, finches and many other shore birds, as well as the ubiquitous sea lions and marine iguanas.

Before dinner we can enjoy a breathtaking sunset on the beach of Puerto Villamil. You will spend three nights at Cormorant Beach House.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Day 11: Snorkel at lava tunnels

Come And Explore The Wonderful Galapagos

Snorkel with turtles

Explore the amazing formations of lava created by the last eruptions of the volcanic island along the seashore; a magical place which has been filmed by both the BBC and National Geographic It is a labyrinth of lava arches comprised of crystal clear water full of sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions, sharks and more which makes for magnificent snorkelling. The turtles navigate their own highway from the mangroves to the open sea through "Los Tuneles". If you're lucky, you will also spot Galapagos penguins playing around.

Before or after the trip, you can enjoy some optional activities such as snorkelling at "Concha de Perla", biking or just relaxing on the exotic white-sand beaches of Isabela Island. We recommend you to take some time to visit the giant tortoise breeding centre located within walking distance from the your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 12: Hike Sierra Negra and Kayak at Tintoreras

Mg 5853

Today we will drive from Puerto Villamil to the trailhead, where we will prepare our backpacks for the hike into a young forest ecosystem, a world of recent geological history. Our destination is the rim of Sierra Negra Crater, an active volcano which last erupted in June 2018.

Upon arrival, we take in breathtaking views and explore the circumference of the massive, lava-filled crater, a caldera that is over six miles across at its widest point. If we feel energetic enough, we can continue our hike to Volcan Chico, a secondary crater that has a wild landscape of puffing fumaroles and colourful lava formations; great examples of the dramatic geological events that have formed the Galapagos Islands over millennia.

In the afternoon we will visit Tintoreras Islet by kayak, located at a short distance from Puerto Villamil and home to a great variety of wildlife. Its turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos Penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches, surrounded by mangroves, is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 13: Santa Cruz Island

El Chato Galapagos Tortoise

El Chato Galapagos Tortoise

Today we will travel from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island, checking into La Casa De Judy where you will spend two nights.

We will then visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about many of the endemic species seen in the wild, as well as the ongoing conservation and management efforts on the Galapagos Islands.

In the afternoon, we will head to the 'El Chato' reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz, home to the famous Galapagos tortoises. Hiking through El Chato's beautiful landscape with these lumbering giants is an unforgettable experience. We will also see other highland wildlife such as pintail ducks, egrets, flycatchers, finches and frigatebirds, which gather to wash the salt off their feathers at a freshwater lake.

Later, there is an optional activity to visit Pan Animalia Project, a veterinary program that aims to promote animal health and welfare through the services it provides at its veterinary clinic in Puerto Ayora with the main goal to reduce the percentage of stray dogs & cats in different towns throughout Santa Cruz Island. Afterwards, return to Puerto Ayora to spend the evening in Galapagos' most populous town.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14: Free day on Santa Cruz

Cópia De Original

Diving with turtles

Today, you can experience the Galapagos at your pace, whether that be scuba diving (request in advance) or just time to relax on the beach!

As an option, you can go on a self-guided exploration walk through a dry forest to Tortuga Bay (3.5 mi/ 5.6 km), a beautiful white sand beach and a nesting site for thousands of marine turtles. This is a beautiful place for swimming or snorkelling.

Alternatively, you can join any of the optional activities (at an extra cost), such as a trip to Floreana Island, Bartolome Island or a scuba-diving day trip, just to mention a few.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Day 15: Fly back to Quito

Quito City 1


After our final breakfast on the Galapagos Island and the last photos taken of sea lions, we have a transfer to Baltra's airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland.

In the afternoon you can explore Quito's many museums, cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Day 16: Fly home

Today our trip will end and you will catch your flight home, taking with you memories and photos of this enchanted land.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Duration: 15 nights

Location: Galapagos Holidays, South America Holidays

Price: £4875pp

16 days from £4,875pp excludes international flights.

Also excludes INGALA transit card: $ 20 USD per person (cash only), Galapagos National Park fee: $ 100 USD per person (cash only), Pier-use fee at Puerto Villamil: ($ 10 USD), wetsuit for rent: $ 10 USD.

Meals and activities are included as detailed above.

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