Absolute Ecuador & Galapagos

20-day Ecuador highlights and Galapagos adventure cruise

Prices from £5,358 pp

red plane icon All prices exclude international flights at the start/end of your trip. Let us book flights for you. 

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Duration20 days / 19 nights (flexible)

DepartureVarious departures throughout the year

ItineraryQuito - Otavalo - Mitad del Mundo - Mindo - Cotopaxi - Alausi - Chimborazo - Banos - Galapagos

Call us 01273 322398


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**

What's included

  • Accommodation – price based on 2 people sharing
  • Breakfast
  • Airport transfer in Quito
  • Excursions as described
  • Private transfers throughout
  • Galapagos cruise with Intrepid Travel, including domestic flights, excursions and meals on-board
  • Galapagos local taxes of approx US$120 will need to be paid on arrival

Our ready-made itineraries 1. Add your favourite itinerary to your travel plan  2. Send it our way 3.Our travel specialists will get planning and send you a quote

Location map

Your day-by-day itinerary

¡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!

Ecuador quito animal llama

Andean Traditions of Otavalo

Next, you’ll visit the northern highlands of Ecuador, and the colourful town of Otavalo. 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.

otavalo market

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, and 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.
woman with equator sign

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.

Ecuador mindo landscape waterfall

High times at the Cotopaxi Volcano

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.

Cotopaxi volcano at sunset

Chimborazo and the Devil’s Nose

Along the way as you travel south, you’ll stop to see the mammoth Volcán Chimborazo – set in a beautifully desolate national park, and 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.

train going through mountain

Wheels and Waterfalls in Banos

Tucked away amongst the forests, gorges, hot springs and waterfalls of the Central Highlands, Baños serves as perfect base to explore nature and get active in the great outdoors. The town itself is pleasant, if a little touristy, but 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!

Ecuador Banos Mountain Bike Waterfall

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.

Ultimate Galapagos with Intrepid Travel
Rob standing by tree

Speak to our travel specialist, Rob

"At first I was nervous about heading to the Galapagos as I had built it up so high in my estimations and thought it might not deliver. I shouldn’t have worried, the wildlife encounters were like no other I have experienced - on land and underwater."

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