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Ecuador Galapagos Wildlife

Absolute Ecuador & Galapagos


  • Itinerary:
    Quito - Otavalo - Mitad del Mundo - Mindo - Cotopaxi - Alausi - Chimborazo - Baños - Galapagos
  • Duration:
    20 days / 19 nights (flexible)
  • Price:
    From £ 6,798.- per person (excluding flights)
Take in the Andean culture and dramatic landscapes of Ecuador, before setting sail on an in-depth Galapagos cruise with our partners at Intrepid Travel. With traditional towns, cloud forests, giant volcanoes and the unique, abundant wildlife of the Galapagos, this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of holiday.

**The minimum age for all cruises is 15 years old**
Otavalo town local woman at market
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Days 1-3 – ¡Hola Quito!

One of the highest capital cities in the world, and almost on the equator, Quito’s location surrounded by mountains is something to behold. The city itself has lots of Latin charm too, with plenty of colonial buildings and impressive cathedrals, as well a youthful edge which you’ll see in the street art and bars. You’ll be picked up from the airport by our local partner, spend a couple of nights in the trendy Mariscal district, and explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town and markets with a local guide. Welcome to Ecuador!

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Days 3-5 – Andean traditions of Otavalo

It’s time to explore the northern highlands of Ecuador. Today you’ll be collected from your hotel in Quito by private transfer and driven to Otavalo. This journey takes around 2.5 hours. This colourful town is most famous for its market where you’ll see the very best of Andean craftsmanship. The area also gives a glimpse into everyday life in the mountains, and the surrounding volcanoes provide a spectacular backdrop. You’ll take a tour around the surrounding indigenous villages during your stay, and will also have plenty of time to explore and enjoy the town independently.

You’ll be picked up by a private driver who’ll take you from Otavalo to Mindo. The usual drive time is around 3.5 hours, but you’ll break up the journey with a stop at Mitad del Mundo – a monument and surrounding park which marks the equator. Admittedly it’s a little touristy, but how often do you get the chance to stand with one foot in each hemisphere? Your driver will wait for you whilst you head into the park to explore and get that classic equator photo. There’s also an interesting museum and a place where they’ll demonstrate the different effects of gravity only metres apart.

The entrance fee of around £8 will need to be paid locally.
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Days 5-7 – Cloud forests of Mindo

Mindo is in the heart of the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest – a tranquil, almost mystical area full of lush green vegetation, waterfalls and hiking trails, as well as a huge variety of butterflies and birds. You’ll be staying in a cosy, rustic bungalow surrounded by tropical gardens. During your stay we’ll arrange a visit to a spectacular butterfly house. There are also plenty more adventurous activities on offer here like ziplining, along with hours of rural trails to explore.

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Days 7-8 – High times at the Cotopaxi volcano

Next, you’ll travel from Mindo to Cotopaxi by private transfer. This takes around 4 hours without stops. You’ll spend the evening in a peaceful hacienda set on a farm in the beautiful Cotopaxi National Park, surrounded by cattle, horses and alpacas grazing on the grassy plains. You first afternoon is free to relax and get used to the altitude, or perhaps take a walk through the countryside, before you head to the volcano cone the following morning. Your driver will wait whilst you take on the 300m scramble up the volcanic ash, to a viewpoint not far from the top where you’ll get a spectacular panorama of the national park and surrounding volcanoes.

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Days 8-9 – Chimborazo and the Devil’s Nose

Depart from Cotopaxi and as you travel south, you’ll stop to see the mammoth Volcán Chimborazo. Set in a beautifully desolate national park, it is arguably the highest mountain on Earth due to the planet’s imperfect shape. Next you’ll continue by road and spend the night in tranquil Alausi, before jumping aboard the famous Nariz del Diablo railway for a train ride through spectacular, untouched Andean landscapes.

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Days 9-11 – Wheels and waterfalls in Baños

Next you’ll travel from Alausi to Baños, this takes approximately 3.5 hours. Tucked away amongst the forests, gorges, hot springs and waterfalls of the Central Highlands, Baños serves as the perfect base to explore nature and get active in the great outdoors. The town itself is pleasant, if a little touristy, but the real reason to come here is the setting. During your stay, we’ll arrange mountain bikes and a route map so you can see what the region has to offer, and there are plenty of adventure activities you can arrange locally too! After your adventure through mainland Ecuador, you’ll return to Quito in time to travel over to the Galapagos Islands the following day.

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Days 11-20 – Ultimate Galapagos with Intrepid Travel

After a night in Quito where you’ll meet the rest of your group, you’ll fly to the Galapagos Islands to join your small group sailing trip aboard Le Grande Daphne, operated by our trusted partners at Intrepid. Your route takes you past 7 unique islands where you’ll meet many of the archipelago’s most iconic residents, accompanied by an expert naturalist guide. It’s a nature experience you’re unlikely to forget. Your trip brings you back to Quito for a final night in the city.

For full details on this part of your trip, see our Ultimate Galapagos trip page where you can read all about visiting these unique islands.

After your final night in Quito, you’ll be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight home.

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Absolute Ecuador & Galapagos


For this bite-sized trip we offer the following options

Scenic accommodation view forests and mountains
Ecuador Cotopaxi Accommodation Living Area
Ecuador Hotel Pinsaqui Courtyard Accommodation Exterior
Ecuador Galapagos boat accommodation
Intrepid travel Galapagos accommodation exterior Devils Crown Island
Living Area Ecuador Quito Accommodation

Upgrade to our In Style accommodation

  • Price:
    From £ 7,215.- per person (excluding flights)
  • Included:
    In Style accommodation, excursions, transport and meals as described above

For the locations included in this itinerary we have alternative options available in terms of comfort. Our In Style options can be more luxurious, offer something unique or offer a more comfortable transport option – all with that local flavour! If you would like to upgrade your itinerary select our In Style option below.

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