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Ecuador natural landscape panorama

Ecuador & Galapagos in a nutshell


  • Itinerary:
    Quito - Otavalo - Mitad del Mundo - Mindo - Cotopaxi - Galapagos Islands
  • Duration:
    13 days / 12 nights (flexible)
  • Price:
    From £ 3,715.- per person (excluding flights)
Get a taste of mainland Ecuador and the incredible Galapagos Islands in under 2 weeks. You’ll visit Quito and the equator line, experience Andean traditions in Otavalo, relax in the cloud forests of Mindo and set foot on the huge Cotopaxi Volcano, before setting sail on a pocket-sized Intrepid cruise to see the unique wildlife of the Galapagos.

**The minimum age for all cruises is 15 years old**
Ecuador Cotopaxi Tourist Photo
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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 of 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

Today you’ll be picked up by a private driver for the journey from Mindo to Cotopaxi, the journey takes around 4 hours. 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. After your time at the Cotopaxi volcano, you’ll be transferred back to Quito to start your Galapagos adventure.

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Days 8-13 – Galapagos at a glance 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 partners at Intrepid. This mini Galapagos adventure packs a lot into just a few days on the water. You’ll stay 3 nights aboard the Daphne and stop off at 5 unique southern islands, encountering incredible wildlife both above and below the water along the way. It’s an ideal way to see the Galapagos Islands if you’re in a little bit of a hurry.

Want to know more? You can find a detailed description on our Galapagos at a Glance page.

After your time exploring the Galapagos Islands and a night back in Quito, you’ll be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your international flight home.

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Ecuador & Galapagos in a nutshell