- Yasuni National Park
- Wildlife of Galapagos
- Colonial Quito
- Colours of Ecuador
Ecuador: Andes, Amazon and Galapagos Islands
- VIP door to door
- Full board
Experience Ecuador’s unique ecosystems and culture
Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Ecuador’s varied ecosystems. Explore the high Andes, home to circling condors, villages renowned for their colourful textile markets, and the nation’s capital, colonial Quito. Head into the Amazon rainforest to meet the indigenous Añangu Kichwa community, and follow the jungle trails in search of sloths, monkeys, toucans and more. Finally, visit the Galapagos Islands, a paradise for wildlife-lovers. Meet the iconic Galapagos giant tortoise, snorkel with sea lions, and see Galapagos penguins up close.
In the Amazon basin you’ll stay in a remote eco-lodge on the banks of the River Napo, and in the Galapagos Islands, you can choose to explore the islands by staying in hotels of Santa Cruz and Isabela islands, or by combining a hotel stay with a four-night cruise on board MV Galapagos Legend.
14 nights in hotels and 1 in flight
41 meals: 14 breakfasts (B), 13 lunches (L) and 14 dinners (D)
Saga tour manager
- Return flights and transfers
- Welcome drink
- Porterage at all hotels
Excursions and visits
- Quito city tour
- Chocolate tasting session
- Otavalo market visit
- Pachamanka cookery experience
- Cuichoca Lake tour
- Condor Park
- River Napo clay lick
- Kuri Muyu Intercultural Interpretation Center visit
- Añangu creek boat trip
- Traditional Amazonian dinner
- Santa Cruz tour
- Santiago and Bartolomé tour
- Tintoreras boat trip
- Isabela tour
Experience the archipelago that famously inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and has since become a conservation template for the world. Located over 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, these volcanic islands, and the surrounding marine reserve, are known for their large number of endemic species. The islands’ location is the cause for their uniqueness, with three major ocean currents converging to create an array of habitats, and their isolation resulting in one of the most pristine ecosystems on Earth. This is the only place you’ll see seagoing lizards, cormorants that can’t fly, and penguins north of the equator. This itinerary offers the chance to see the islands whilst staying in hotels and venturing out on boat excursions during the day, or by combining a hotel stay with a four-night cruise aboard MV Galapagos Legend for a supplement.
- Day 1 UK-Quito
- Day 2 Quito-Otavalo
- Day 3 Otavalo
- Day 4 Otavalo-Quito
- Day 5 Quito-Coca-Yasuni National Park
- Day 6 Yasuni National Park
- Day 7 Yasuni National Park
- Day 8 Yasuni National Park-Quito-Papallacta
- Day 9 Papallacta-Quito-Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
- Day 10 Santiago and Bartolomé
- Day 11 Santa Cruz-Isabela
- Day 12 Isabela
- Day 13 Isabela-Santa Cruz
- Day 14 Santa Cruz
- Day 15 Santa Cruz-Guayaquil-UK
- Day 16 UK
Napo Cultural Center Lodge
Termas de Papallacta Hotel
Ikala Galapagos Hotel
Day 1 UK-Quito
After taking your VIP door-to-door travel service to the airport, fly to Tababela, Ecuador. On arrival, transfer to Quito (27 miles, one hour).
Stay overnight at the 4-star Hotel Colon (4Q). The hotel is centrally located, next to the Ejido Park, and features a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, gym and a gift shop. D
Day 2 Quito-Otavalo
Situated in the Andes mountain range, Quito is the world's second-highest capital city, with a climate that has been described as ‘perpetual spring’. The city's old town is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and filled with colourful, cobbled streets, busy with street vendors. Join an guided tour of Quito’s colonial centre this morning. See the neo-Gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional, Independence Square lined with the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral of Quito, Compañia Church, and Plaza de San Francisco. Finally drive to the top of El Panecillo hill for panoramic views over the city.
Next, experience a chocolate tasting session in Quito’s creative La Floresta neighbourhood. Learn the history of Ecuadorian cacao, focusing on chocolate cultivation, production and finally enjoying a tasting of the award-winning Pacari chocolate.
This afternoon, journey to the market town of Otavalo (56 miles, two hours). Stay two nights at the 4-star Hacienda Pinsaqui (3Q). The characterful colonial-style hotel has a restaurant, bar, and peaceful grounds. B, L, D
Day 3 Otavalo
The small town of Otavalo in the Andes is known for its indigenous market, which you’ll visit this morning. Spread over three main squares, the stalls sell a variety of colourful textiles and handmade artisanal products, such as ponchos, scarves, jewellery, spices, dreamcatchers, and musical instruments. Next, head to the town of Cotacachi, the centre of Ecuador’s leather industry where you can meet the local traders and browse the stalls of leather goods.
For lunch, join a Pachamanka cookery class. This ancestral cooking method is used for special occasions and involves heating the pot with volcanic stones and then burying it in the ground to cook. The site is then adorned with flowers and transformed into an Andean altar where thanks are given to the Earth Gods.
This afternoon visit Cuichoca Lake. The lake lies in an ecological reserve and is a great opportunity to see the endemic flora of the region, as well as taking in the views – on a clear day you can see the Imbabura and Cayambe volcanoes in the distance. B, L, D
Day 4 Otavalo-Quito
After breakfast, visit the workshop of a local family, specialising in the production of musical instruments, such as panpipes, and charangos – a small, stringed instrument in the lute family.
Continue past the picturesque San Pablo Lake to Condor Park, a bird of prey rehabilitation sanctuary. Here you’ll get close-up views of owls, eagles, hawks and the Andean condor. En route back to Quito, stop at the Quistato Equator Monument, a 100-foot monument marking the equatorial line.
Continue to Quito where you’ll stay overnight at the 4-star Hotel Colon (4Q). B, L, D
Day 5 Quito-Coca-Yasuni National Park
Transfer to the airport and take an internal flight to Coca (45 minutes), the gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Continue to the Yasuni National Park by boat (90 minutes), where you’ll stay three nights at the Napo Cultural Center Lodge (2Q). This eco-lodge sits in the dense Amazon rainforest on the shores of the River Napo, and offers direct contact with the Añangu Kichwa community. The lodge has a restaurant and a bar, and cabins are en-suite with balconies.
This afternoon, hike along the ‘Playas’ trail in search of Amazon wildlife, with the option to try kayaking on the river as the sun sets. B, L, D
Day 6 Yasuni National Park
Enjoy an early breakfast this morning, then take a boat ride along the River Napo, a tributary of the Amazon River, to view two clay licks.
Hundreds of parrots, macaws and parakeets flock to these clay patches for the sodium, a vital supplement to their diet. Continue to the Kuri Muyu Intercultural Interpretation Center, which is managed by the women of the Añangu Kichwa community. Here you can learn about the Kichwa culture, customs and traditional use of natural resources.
Return to the lodge for lunch and a break, then join a hike through the rainforest to a 118 foot-high observation tower, from where you’ll have the chance to spot a variety of birds, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys and sloths. This evening, head back out on the river for a unique cultural experience with the Añangu community. B, L, D
Day 7 Yasuni National Park
This morning, visit the sustainable community projects run by the Añangu people, then take a walk along the Mama Kuna trail, which provides an excellent opportunity to see the native wildlife.
After lunch, take a boat trip along Añangu creek, a black water ecosystem, home to monkeys, caiman and giant river otters. Look forward to a traditional Amazonian dinner, then join a night walk around the lodge in search of nocturnal mammals, insects and reptiles. B, L, D
Day 8 Yasuni National Park-Quito-Papallacta
After an early breakfast, head out in the canoe for a final chance to spot wildlife in the Amazon basin. Many animals are more active early in the morning, so you’ll have a better chance of spotting them.
Return to Coca by boat (90 minutes), take an internal flight back to Quito (45 minutes), then transfer by road to Papallacta (43 miles, 90 minutes). Located high in the Andes, the village of Papallacta is known for its thermal hot springs.
Stay overnight at the 3-star Termas de Papallacta Hotel (3Q). The hotel boasts beautiful mountain vistas, a spa and wellness centre, and a hot spring bath. Spend the afternoon at leisure, making the most of the hotel’s facilities. B, L, D
Day 9 Papallacta-Quito-Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
Begin your journey to the Galapagos Islands, 620 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador. This volcanic archipelago has a unique ecosystem, and is home to an array of wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. Transfer back to Quito (43 miles, 90 minutes), then fly to Baltra airport (three hours and 45 minutes). Continue by boat to the island of Santa Cruz, taking a tour of the island en route to your hotel.
Start at Los Gemelos, the Twin Craters, created by the collapse of empty magma chambers, then head into the highlands to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. These enigmatic creatures are the islands’ most famous resident and are threatened by introduced species and changes to land use. Finally, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Founded in 1959, the centre focuses on the conservation and restoration of the islands.
Continue to either the 3-star Hotel Solymar (3Q) or the 4-star Ikala Galapagos Hotel (3Q) in Puerto Ayora where you’ll stay for two nights. Your accommodation is small and friendly, and centrally located in Puerto Ayora which is pleasant to explore on evening strolls. B, L, D
Day 10 Santiago and Bartolomé
Today, rise early to tour the islands of Santiago and Bartolomé by boat.
Visit Santiago first, landing in Sullivan Bay. The visitor’s site here is of great geological importance, featuring extensive lava flows. Here you’ll have the chance to follow a one mile trail exploring the lava flow, before continuing to Bartolomé Island, a tiny barren islet in Sullivan Bay. Despite its size, Bartolomé is the most visited and photographed island in Galapagos. Follow the boardwalk to the highest point for panoramic views of the island and Pinnacle Rock. Along the coastline, you’ll have the opportunity to see Galapagos penguins and sea lions, and depending on timings, there may be time to snorkel. B, L, D
Day 11 Santa Cruz-Isabela
Travel by boat to Isabela island where you’ll stay two nights at either the 3-star Hotel Albemarle (2Q), 3-star Hotel Isamar (2Q) or the 3-star Hotel Casita de la Playa (2Q) in Puerto Villamil, the only settlement on the island. Each hotel has a beachfront location where local wildlife, including marine iguanas and sea lions laze in the sun. Infrastructure on the island is basic, and each simple hotel has a small restaurant and reception.
Alternatively, begin a four-night cruise of the islands aboard MV Galapagos Legend 3⚓.
This afternoon visit Tintoreras, an islet off the coast, whose calm waters are inhabited by turtles, marine iguanas, sharks, rays and sea lions. On land you may spot blue-footed boobies, Sally Lightfoot crabs, pelicans and Galapagos penguins. Dine at a local restaurant this evening. B, L, D
Please note: Occasionally your tour group may be divided between two hotels, however you will always dine together, either in a local restaurant, or at one of the hotels.
Day 12 Isabela
Embark on a three-hour hike to the Sierra Negra volcano. One of the most impressive volcanoes in the archipelago, its caldera is the second largest in the world, measuring six miles in diameter. As you walk, admire the colourful landscapes, look out for native flora and fauna, then head into the fresh lava fields. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with views across the island to Elizabeth Bay. B, L, D
Please note: today’s hike is seven miles, but inclines and declines are gradual.
Day 13 Isabela-Santa Cruz
This morning, visit the wetlands located just outside of Puerto Villamil. These brackish lagoons are one of the best sites in the archipelago to view migratory birds, such as whimbrels and pintails. It’s also home to the largest concentration of flamingos in Galapagos.
Continue to the Wall of Tears. The wall was constructed as punishment in the 1940s and 50s by prisoners held in a penal colony on the island. Standing at 65 feet tall and 300 feet long, the construction of this pointless barrier took the lives of thousands of prisoners, and is a reminder of the cruelty that took place here.
On the way back to Puerto Villamil, visit the Tortoise Breeding Station. The centre opened in 1994 to protect the giant tortoise populations of Isabela from the threats of invasive species. Here you’ll be able to see hatchlings and older breeding tortoises.
This afternoon, return to Santa Cruz by boat, staying another two nights at the 4-star Ikala Galapagos Hotel (3Q). B, L, D
Day 14 Santa Cruz
Today is free to spend at leisure in Puerto Ayora, or you could join an optional excursion visiting another of the archipelago’s islands. The town is easy to explore on foot, perhaps head down to the fish market to see the sea lions impatiently waiting for scraps. B, L, D
Day 15 Santa Cruz-Guayaquil-UK
Return to Baltra and fly to Guayaquil (two hours).
From here take your overnight flight back to the UK. B
Day 16 UK
Arrive in the UK and take your VIP door-to-door travel service home.
See the Galapagos archipelago in luxury aboard the expedition ship MV Galapagos Legend 3⚓. Graced with the amenities of a cruise ship, but small enough to cruise to the magical secret spots of the Galapagos, the MV Galapagos Legend is the best way to explore one of the most important and notorious ecosystems on the planet. Discover the giant tortoises of the Santa Cruz highlands, after whom the archipelago is named; see yellow-crowned night heron and colonies of fur seals frolicking in the clear waters of the Pacific and perhaps even swim with Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and whitetip reef sharks. As you cruise between islands enjoy panoramic views through picture windows, learn about this unique ecosphere from your onboard Naturalist guides or relax in the pool and boutique. There is no better way to discover the islands that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The unique ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands is highly protected by the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, who constantly monitor and control visitor sites and numbers. As such, this part of the tour is subject to change. There will also be a few challenging walks, so a good level of fitness is required.