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Essential Ecuador

- Best bits of this fascinating country and a mini Galapagos cruise

  • 8 days / 7 nights
  • Quito - Santa Cruz Island - Galapagos cruise - Quito
  • from £3800 per person

Day 1 and 2

Arrival at Quito Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Rich in history, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world, founded in 1534 by Spanish Conquistador Sebastian de Benacazar. Due to the city’s preservation of its blended past, UNESCO declared Quito a World Heritage Site in 1978. The next day, begin your tour of Quito with a stop at Panecillo Hill. With spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the city below, Panecillo Hill also hosts a statue of Quito’s "Winged Virgin". Marvel at the city’s ornate churches, cathedrals and baroque architecture, and experience a long history of local culture in Quito’s Old Town. Visit San Francisco Church, rich in art treasures, fine woodcarvings and altars of gold leaf. You will also see La Compañía Church, a Jesuit church with an elaborate façade, whose glittering interior was created with seven tons of gold. The City's Museum has a splendid exhibition of the history of Quito since pre-Inca times to the 20th century. Dinner at your hotel or one of the many restaurants around.

Day 3

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Galapagos (via Guayaquil). Arrival in Galapagos and transfer to the Royal Palm Hotel. Visit the breeding centre and Giant Tortoise pens located at Puerto Ayora, where you will witness the various stages of development of these huge indigenous tortoises. While enjoying a close encounter with these impressive animals you will hear all about their fascinating life history and the story of Lonesome George, one of the more famous island residents. Dinner at the hotel.

Day 4

Board the M/Y Nortada vessel this morning. You will spend the day at Bartolome Island - famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge. Galápagos penguins walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water. A perfectly crescent, pink and white sandy beach lies just to the east. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and can sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand. The next landing site the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. This dry landing is the entrance to a 600 metre pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents a museum of volcanology and at the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, Pinnacle Rock and the beach and crystal blue waters of the bay.

Lunch will be on board the yacht. Return to your hotel around 5:30 pm.

Day 5 and 6

South Plaza Island (Plaza Sur) is the southern partner of two small crescent-shaped islands that lie just a few hundred metres off the east coast of Santa Cruz, it’s one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago. Only 130 metres wide, it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a titled table top quality. The rocks here are speckled with bright orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Look out for red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies riding the windy currents. It’s a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. At the western corner of the island, where a colony of sea lion bachelors make their home on the rocks. The shoreline of Las Plazas makes for excellent snorkelling amongst a massive sea lion colony. Your guide will find the right spot to swim with youngsters.

Lunch will be on board your yacht. Return to your hotel around 5h30 pm. The next day you have at leisure.

Day 7

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito (via Guayaquil). Upon arrival in Quito drive to Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, built on the site of an important Inca ruin. The original Inca walls have been incorporated into the structure of this unique colonial hacienda, which offers a glimpse into a glorious past. Since the 15th century it has served as an Inca fortress, Agustinian monastery and temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission’s Von Humboldt, and permanent country home for two ex-presidents of Ecuador. Dinner at the Hotel.

Day 8

After breakfast, wave farewell and transfer to Quito airport for your flight home.

Options and extensions

Day 8 to 10 - Cotopaxi

This morning you will be driven to the Cotopaxi National Park, the most visited in the whole of Ecuador. The park offers an excellent opportunity to see the Andean páramo (high grasslands) and its interesting flora and fauna. The park’s centrepiece, Mount Cotopaxi (19,300 feet) is Ecuador’s second highest peak and one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. Be on the lookout for highland hummingbirds. In the area around the lake and the ruins it is common to see wild horses and llamas. Spend the next day at leisure, you can choose between different activities offered by the hotel like trekking, horse-riding and visiting the Indian market.

What's great about it?

  • See the cultural city of Quito at leisure
  • Bartolome Island and Pinnacle Rock
  • Cruising around South Plaza Island
  • Spotting the Galapagos penguins
  • Volcanoes, islands and city experience all in one

where will I stay?

  • Swissotel Quito – 2 nights B&B
  • Galapagos - The Royal Palm – 5 nights D,B&B
  • MY Nortada boat – 2 full days cruising
  • Option – Cotopaxi area - Hacienda San Agustin de Callo 2 nights, DB&B

Destination Map

essential ecuador



Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House
Chada Katavi Beach House



+44 203 137 1247 Wedge and Wildlife Ltd, 208 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9PJ,