Ecuador & Galapagos

Long isolated, its species are so rare that virtually all the reptiles and half the plants and birds are found nowhere else on Earth. Curious mockingbirds peck at your shoe laces, prehistoric land iguanas nibble on cactus while marine iguanas bask on the rocks.

See huge 600 pound tortoises, flocks of pelicans, blue-footed boobies, albatross and frigate birds…the variety is infinite. Snorkel with sea lions, swim with the penguins and be close to birds that just won’t fly away, you are in their world.

The Galapagos - The Enchanted Isles

In an uncommon mix of warm and cold waters, rich marine life thrives with dolphins, fur seals, sea lions, and whales frolicking in crystal clear waters. Each island is so different. There are moon-like landscapes and mist-covered volcanic peaks, scrublands, forests, green, white, and red sand beaches, and forests of prickly pear cactus that grow taller than a man.

This surreal setting is as mysterious as the creatures that inhabit it. No wonder the Galapagos Islands are called the Enchanted Isles……“everything they say about them is true”, they are just AMAZING!

  • The Cruise - a 7-night / 8-day cruise onboard a fully serviced 16-berth motor yacht, with 8 twin cabins, each with private facilities and all meals provided. Cruise from island to island and at least twice a day, go ashore for several hours to study the unique fauna and flora that each island offers. An English-speaking naturalist trained at the Darwin Scientific Station accompanies the group, adding greatly to our understanding of this remarkable environment. Our nature experiences are not limited to the land as we have many opportunities to swim and snorkel with sea lions, penguins, turtles, and fish of every size, shape, and hue. A Galapagos cruise is a truly remarkable experience. Think of it as a marine safari!

Main Land Ecuador - An Undiscovered Jewel

One of the most diverse, yet least visited regions in South America, Mainland Ecuador is a delight! An undiscovered jewel.

  • Spend 13  nights of the trip on the Mainland, visiting the tropical coast, the Andean Highlands, the beautiful Central Valley of the Volcanoes, and the edge of the lush Amazon Basin.

  • Travel north along the Avenue of the Volcanoes and see Mt Cotopaxi,  one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.

  • Visit Banos, a spa town on the edge of the Amazon Basin. Try on fine Panama hats in colonial Cuenca.

  • Visit colonial Quito, the architecture of the old city is stunning and well deserving of its UNESCO Heritage status. Stand in two hemispheres at the Equatorial Line which traverses the country.

  • Shop for weavings in the wonderful craft markets of Otavalo, for fashionable leather wear in Cotacachi, and remarkable wood carvings in San Antonio de Ibarra, you are sure to be tempted! 

  • Be fascinated by the way of life and rural economy of the beautiful Central Valle, so different from our own.

  • Together, the contrasting worlds of Mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, make for a most fascinating travel experience.

Draft Itinerary Outline (subject to change) 

Day 1. Auckland to Guayaquil – flight departs 18:20 and arrives after midnight (After crossing the date line)

Day 2. Guayaquil - a relaxing morning after the long flight, afternoon sightseeing. 

Day 3. Galapagos Islands - morning flight to the islands to begin the cruise. 

Day 4. Galapagos Islands - Please note, that the cruise itinerary is not listed as the itineraries vary each year. It is now available in our current notes, please ask for a copy, and we will email it to you. 

Day 5. Galapagos Islands

Day 6. Galapagos Islands

Day 7. Galapagos Islands

Day 8. Galapagos Islands

Day 9. Galapagos Islands

Day 10. Cuenca -  a morning flight back to the Mainland to begin the Land Tour

Day 11.  Visit the El Cajas lagoons, explore Old Town Cuenca, and visit a Panama Hat Factory. 

Day 12. Alausi - visit the Ingapirca Inca Ruins, hike 1 hr along the Humbolt/Bonplan Andean trail (easy)

Day 13. Banos - en route to Banos a spa town on the edge of the Amazon Basin, visit Ecuador's oldest church,  a Llama   Museum, and enjoy a short walk in the shadow of Chimborazo Volcano

Day 14. Banos - visit Puyo on the edge of the Amazon Jungle and the Avenue of Waterfalls.

Day 15. Cotopaxi - Travel through the beautiful Avenue of Volcanoes, Ecuador's high Central Valle and visit the Indian Village of Salasacas and Cotopaxi National Park. This is a region of Rose farms and traditional markets. 

Day 16. Otavalo - head to the famous craft towns of the Otavalo region, the weavings, carvings and leather products here make shopping a temptation. 

Day 17. Otavalo - visit a selection of craft towns and enjoy a walk along the rim of an ancient caldera.

Day 18. Quito - Equatorial visits - as we make our way to Quito. 

Day 19. Quito - city sightseeing, visit Old Town Quito, the famous Guayasamin Gallery,  and later take the Peak Cable Car to 4,000m to enjoy a spectacular view over Quito City. 

Day 20. Quito city -   late morning,  visit the world-famous Casa de la Cultura, a magnificent heritage museum, a free afternoon and in the evening attend an Ecuadorian Cooking Class and dinner.  

Day 21. Flight - depart for Santiago at 13:25

Day 22. Flight - departs for Auckland  at  00:35

Day 23. Arrive Auckland, very early morning (5:20)

Trip Data

Price will include flights Auckland return (not including any airport departing taxes that may arise) US$120 entry permits, English speaking naturalist/guide; 13-nights  in Mainland Ecuador, with breakfasts, transport, accommodation, entries, and English-speaking guides.  Although a  base group tipping fund is included it does not cover personal tips,  but a supplement per person will be required to cover the boat tipping. The Grassroots leader will accompany both sections of the trip. 

Trip Code:   GE 231

Projected Departure Date: 17 July 2023

Projected Return date: 8 Aug 2023

Duration: 23 days  

Party: 15 + leader max.,

Price Range Guide: the 2023 price range is $17500/17900, depending on the final flight price and the USD/NZD exchange rates we achieve. Our dollar is currently low against the USD which makes the NZ$ price much higher.