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Home » Destinations » South America » Ecuador & The Galápagos Islands » Riviera Travel Ecuador and the Galapagos
Ecuador offers a diverse adventure, from its incredible wildlife and architecture to stunning landscapes. This tour explores the mainland’s highest volcanoes, vibrant colonial cities, and lush cloud forests before heading to the Galapagos for a unique island-hopping experience. Witnessing the archipelago’s remarkable flora and fauna is a dream for wildlife enthusiasts. Plus, savor the region’s cuisine, featuring locally caught seafood and exotic fruits. Ecuador promises a memorable journey of natural beauty, history, and culture.
Day 1 – Departure
Arrive at the airport for your overnight flight to Quito via Bogota
Day 2 – Arrival in Quito
Our city tour includes the lush Independence Square, adorned by the Presidential Palace, cathedral, and Archbishop’s Palace. Nearby, you’ll find the Jesuit church of Compania de Jesus, a baroque marvel with a stunning gilded interior. Don’t miss Quito’s treasure, the church and convent of San Francisco, the continent’s largest religious complex.
Day 3 – Cross Equator Line
Experience the unique opportunity to straddle the northern and southern hemispheres at the Equator line, where you’ll discover its intriguing history and the physics at play. Next, we journey to the charming town of Mindo, nestled amid lush, forested hills.
Our lodging for two nights is a cozy lodge, enveloped by the enchanting cloud forest and its captivating birdlife.
Day 4 – Mindo Cloud Forest
Today, explore Mindo’s cloud forests, hike by waterfalls, and observe its rich birdlife. Situated at 1,300m altitude, Mindo’s mild year-round climate results from abundant rainfall, mainly between January and April, nurturing lush forests boasting 140 hummingbird species. Soar through the pristine cloud forests on an open-air cable car, designed for unparalleled views. Absorb the breathtaking scenery and immerse yourself in the forest’s captivating wildlife sounds – a true sensory delight.
Day 5 – Pululahua Crater
Heading south along the Pan-American highway, journey through the Avenue of the Volcanoes, ultimately reaching Cotopaxi National Park. Along the way, pause at Pululahua, the world’s third-largest inhabited volcano crater. Standing at the rim of this dormant volcano, you’ll be treated to sweeping panoramic vistas of the lush farmland within the crater’s basin.
Day 6 – Cotopaxi and Riobamba
This morning, we arrive at Cotopaxi National Park to behold breathtaking vistas and witness the world’s highest active volcano at 5,900m. This perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone, crowned with eternal snow, ranks among South America’s most awe-inspiring sights.
After lunch, explore Ecuador’s status as the world’s leading exporter of roses with a visit to one of the local rose farms.
Day 7 – Riobamba and Cuenca
This morning, you have the option to unwind amidst the charming ambiance of your historic Hacienda hotel. Alternatively, you can choose to participate in a guided tour of the nearby area, gaining insight into the captivating life and culture of the local agricultural community.
In the afternoon, your journey on the Pan American highway leads us to the captivating colonial city of Cuenca
Day 8 – Cuenca
Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcases colonial charm with walkable churches, mansions, and squares. The town’s grand cathedral, resembling St. Peter’s in Rome, graces the main square. Cuenca is also renowned for crafting Panama hats, which are, interestingly, handmade in Ecuador
Today’s city tour covers these highlights, including a Panama hat factory visit and a stop at a vibrant local market, where you can admire fresh produce and traditional Andean arts and crafts. The remainder of the day is yours for exploration
Day 9 – Guayaquil
As you depart from Cuenca, traverse the breathtaking El Cajas National Park and descend to the balmy coastal plains, arriving at the port city of Guayaquil. El Cajas National Park is notable for its extensive valley area, boasting 786 interconnected lagoons linked by small streams.
Day 10 – Fly to San Cristobal Island, Galapagos
This morning, take a 1hr.50 flight to San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, the easternmost island visited by Charles Darwin in 1835. After settling into our hotel, venture to La Loberia’s nearby white sand beach, where you can swim, snorkel, and encounter marine iguanas, sea lions, and abundant birdlife. You’ll spend two nights in Puerto Moreno, the island’s central town, and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
Day 11 – San Cristobal & Isla Lobos
Today, embark on a short boat ride to Isla Lobos to observe frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. While the island’s terrain may be uneven and rocky in places, the chance to get up close to these iconic birds is rewarding. Lunch is served on board, followed by an opportunity to swim or snorkel in the lagoon, where friendly seals may join us. In the afternoon, gain insights into island conservation at the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre.
Day 12 – Santa Cruz Island
This morning, we take a speedboat ferry to nearby Santa Cruz Island, a journey lasting approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Upon arrival, you’ll visit the renowned giant tortoises at the beautiful El Chato highland reserve, an unforgettable experience. Within the reserve, you can also explore underground lava tubes, remnants of the island’s volcanic activity.
Delve further into the natural wonders of El Chato Reserve as you stroll along its scenic trails, encountering the legendary giant Galapagos tortoises. After working up an appetite, indulge in a hearty traditional lunch at a local farm, followed by a visit to a distillery
Day 13 – Santa Cruz
This morning, embark on a boat tour of nearby Academy Bay, offering a chance to snorkel alongside the Galapagos’ unique marine creatures, such as sea lions, rays, and even sharks.
Following a provided lunch, your journey continues with a visit to the renowned Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, you can view the preserved remains of ‘Lonesome George’ on display, and witness baby giant tortoises being cared for before their eventual release into the wild
Day 14 – Optional Trips
Today, you have the freedom to explore Santa Cruz at your leisure. Stroll through Puerto Ayora, unwind at the pristine Tortuga Bay, or enhance your experience with a pre-bookable boat excursion to nearby North Seymour Island or Bartolomé Island for an additional cost, subject to weather and availability.
Day 15 – Return Home
Fly home via Guayaquil and Bogota, arriving the next day.
Day 16 – Arrive home
Arrive back in the UK
Swissotel Quito, Quito
The Swissotel offers a range of amenities including a swimming pool, sauna, spa, outdoor pool, lounge, restaurant, fitness center, and 24-hour front desk. Guests can also make use of services like ATM, currency exchange, and a gift shop. The comfortable rooms are equipped with a TV, air conditioning, safe, minibar (with local charges), and room service.
Colonial Carvallo, Cuenca
The Colonial Carvallo, a charming and quaint hotel, provides a delightful experience with its elegant decor and luxurious furnishings. Guest rooms are well-equipped with amenities like a television, telephone, complimentary bottled water, and toiletries. Additional services include a 24-hour front desk, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry service.
Hacienda La Andaluza
The spectacular hotel in Riobamba offers exceptional service and features a fascinating art collection throughout the property. Guest facilities include a restaurant, BBQ area, spa & wellness services (local charges apply), and a gift shop. Rooms are equipped with a safe, TV, telephone, and complimentary toiletries. The hotel, surrounded by beautiful views, is an ideal choice for travellers and offers a lounge & bar, 24-hour front desk, laundry service, snack options, and a terrace for relaxation.
Blue Marlin Hotel, San Cristobal
The Blue Marlin Hotel, an intimate accommodation with 14 rooms and a capacity for 29 guests, provides comfortable amenities including a swimming pool, breakfast restaurant, and air conditioning. Rooms are equipped with a mini-bar and refrigerator for added comfort.
Fiesta Hotel, Santa Cruz
The hotel in the ecological neighborhood of Puerto Ayora offers air-conditioned rooms with amenities like satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, game room, and dine at the restaurant with expertly prepared dishes. The hotel is conveniently located opposite the beautiful Lagoon of the Nymphs.
*All transfer times listed here are approximate and dependent on traffic
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