Ecuador: The Amazon Rainforest & Galapagos Islands

12 days Land & Cruise
From the Andes highlands of Quito to the lush forests of the Amazon basin, you’ll experience it all. Venture into the heart of Ecuador to encounter colorful birds and exotic animals and learn about indigenous Quichua culture firsthand. Then, snorkel with sea lions, spot blue-footed boobies and make your way past mangrove swamps, lava flows and sunny shores on a cruise through the Galápagos Islands.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Tour group size: 15 - 30 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including cobblestone streets, unpaved trails and sandy paths, with some hills.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 6 nights in handpicked hotels and 4 nights aboard the Galápagos Yacht Isabella II

  • Breakfast daily; 4 lunches and 4 dinners at sea; 3 lunches and 5 three-course dinners on land, with beer or wine included at the welcome and farewell dinners

  • Multilingual Tour Director on land and Wildlife Naturalist Guide on the cruise

  • Private deluxe motor coach, flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands and the Galapagos Islands to Guayaquil

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Map of Tour of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru

Quito 2 nights Hotel info

Day 1: Flight & late-night arrival in Quito

Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive in Quito late this evening and transfer to your hotel.

Day 2: Sightseeing tour of Quito

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Quito, the Ecuadorian capital.

• Marvel at the neo-Gothic Basilica of the National Vow

• Enjoy a walking tour of Old Town, passing by the Legislative Palace, Independence Square and the Metropolitan Cathedral

• Enter the Baroque Church of the Society of Jesus to view its famed gold-leaf interior

• Step inside the 16th-century Monastery of San Francisco

Then, make you way outside of the city for a visit to the Equatorial Monument. Stand with one foot on either side of the equator before exploring the museum and surrounding colonial town. Later, gather with your fellow travelers for tonight’s welcome dinner.

Amazon Region 2 nights Hotel info

Day 3: Transfer to the Amazon Region

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Pass through the Andes Mountains on your way to Punta Ahuano, located in the Amazon rainforest.

• View spectacular scenery, including volcanoes and cloud forests

• At Punta Ahuano, board a canoe for a short ride down the Napo River 

Later, journey on foot to the indigenous village of Ahuano to learn about the traditional culture of the Quichua, the Quechuas of Ecuador.

• Enjoy a tasting of chicha, a traditional corn beverage, and see how it’s made

• Witness ancient spiritual cleansing rituals still commonly practiced today

• Take part in a blowgun target-shooting contest

Day 4: Cosano, amaZOOnico & butterfly house

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, board an authentic dugout canoe and set out to explore the surrounding rainforest with a local guide.

• On a nature walk, keep an eye out for monkeys and the hundreds of tropical bird species that call the area home 

• See hunting traps traditionally used by local tribes and learn about how they work

Afterward, pay a visit to the amaZOOnico Animal Rescue Center, an institution for wounded and displaced tropical rainforest animals. Then, stop at a nearby butterfly house to learn about the life cycle of this beautiful insect.

Papallacta 1 night Hotel info

Day 5: Transfer to Papallacta

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a short canoe ride back to Punta Ahuano, take a scenic drive through the Andes highlands. Stop in the small riverside town of Baeza for photos and lunch, then make your way to the village of Papallacta for a relaxing soak in its thermal pools.

Galapagos cruise 4 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Flight to the Galápagos & embarkation

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Depart from your hotel early this morning to fly from Quito to the island of San Cristóbal in the Galápagos, where you’ll board your cruise.

• Explore Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, before sailing to Santa Cruz Island

• Take a panga boat ride along the coast or go for a trail walk that includes scenic views of the shoreline

• Try to spot the three species of booby birds that nest on the island

Day 7: Santa Fe & South Plaza islands

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, take a dinghy ride to Santa Fe Island, known for its large population of sea lions. 

• Follow your guide on a walk, passing beautiful scenery as you go

• Stay on the lookout for the endemic land iguana

• Take to the water for snorkeling and swimming or a ride on a glass-bottomed boat

Later this afternoon, explore South Plaza Island on a nature walk, keeping an eye out for sea lions, frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters.

Day 8: North Seymour & Santa Cruz islands

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a dry landing, spend a full day exploring the islands of North Seymour and Santa Cruz. 

• Walk along the coastline with your guide, keeping your eyes peeled for shore birds and flamingos

• Spend the afternoon sailing in a glass-bottom boat or explore the underwater world and snorkel off Las Bachas beach

Day 9: Bartolome & Santiago islands

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Enjoy a day discovering the unique ecology of the Galápagos Islands. 

• Take in Bartolome Island’s many unique seabird colonies, which include waved albatrosses, Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls

• Board a dinghy for a cruise around Pinnacle Rock, a towering geologic formation 

• Walk along extensive lava flows on Santiago Island, formed by volcanic eruptions at the end of the 19th century

Guayaquil 1 night Hotel info

Day 10: Guayaquil

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Disembark from your cruise on Baltra Island this morning. Then, board your flight to Guayaquil. Later tonight, gather with your group for a farewell dinner.

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Guayaquil & departure

  Included meals: Breakfast

With your Tour Director as your guide, set out on a walking tour of Guayaquil, the largest and most populous city in Ecuador.

• Starting in Centennial Plaza, drive along 9th of October Boulevard to the Plaza of the Administration, home to the city’s government and municipal buildings

• Pass by the Moorish Clock Tower and enter Bolívar Park to view the famed statue of  Simón Bolívar and the neo-Gothic Metropolitan Cathedral

• Drive to the Malecon 2000 to see the Crystal Palace, Integration Square, Plaza of the Flags and Plaza Olmedo before walking to La Rotonda

• Make your way through Barrio Las Peñas, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods

Later, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home or connecting flight to Lima if you’re extending your stay to explore Peru.

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 12: Arrival in the U.S.

Arrive home.

Add Peru Starting from $1,299 pp

Experience Peru in all its diversity. Wander the colonial cities that display the legacy of Spanish conquistadors, explore the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco and visit the lost city of Machu Picchu.

Lima 2 nights

Day 11: Flight to Lima

  Included meals: Breakfast

After a day of sightseeing in Guayaquil, board your flight to Lima this evening.

Day 12: Sightseeing tour of Lima

  Included meals: Breakfast

This morning, set out on a guided tour highlighting the capital city’s modern and colonial quarters.

• Explore the Miraflores District and Love Park

• Stop in the San Isidro District to visit Huaca Huallamarca temple and its museum

• View Plaza Mayor and the Municipal Palace in Lima’s historic center

• Enter the Cathedral of Lima and the Monastery of San Francisco, where you can descend into the catacombs

• Visit the Larco Herrera Museum, known for its collection of pre-Columbian art

Cuzco 2 nights

Day 13: Flight to Cuzco

  Included meals: Breakfast

Board your flight to Cuzco this morning, then enjoy a free afternoon to explore the city on your own.

Day 14: Sightseeing tour of Cuzco

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Join a local guide on today’s tour of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca people.

• Stop to view the Cristo Blanco, a thank-you gift from the Palestinian refugees who took shelter in the city during World War II

• Admire the old Spanish cathedral, La Merced Church, Plaza de Armas and the Convent of Santo Domingo

• Travel to three of the area’s Inca archaeological sites, including Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco’s most impressive Inca ruins

Machu Picchu Region 1 night

Day 15: Aguas Calientes via the Sacred Valley

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Stop in the Sacred Valley to see the sights en route to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

• Peruse the colorful stalls of the wide-open Pisac Market, where you’ll find local fare and traditional crafts on display

• Continue to the Ollantaytambo ruins to explore still-standing Inca homes

Cuzco 1 night

Day 16: Sightseeing tour of Machu Picchu

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

On today’s guided tour, you’ll uncover the lost city of Machu Picchu, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites on the entire South American continent.

• Tour the ruins of the ceremonial center, cultivation terraces and guard house

• Visit Funeral Rock, the Main Temple, Temple of the Three Windows, Chamber of Ornaments, the Sacred Plaza, the Intihuatana Stone, the Temple of the Sun, the Rock Quarry, the Ritual Fountains and the Condor Temple

• Enjoy a scenic train ride through the Sacred Valley on your way back to Cuzco

Day 17: Flight to Lima & departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Board your flight to Lima this morning, then relax in a dayroom before your overnight flight home.

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 18: Arrival in the U.S.

Arrive home.

How's the weather?

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Guayaquil
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

About the cruise ship

  • The Yacht Isabela II is a sustainably-built expedition vessel with the amenities of a luxury liner. You’ll enjoy a comfortable sailing experience for an unparalleled look at the wildlife of the Galápagos Islands. Download a detailed summary of the ship’s amenities and available cabins [PDF].            

Passport & visa requirements

  • In order to enter Ecuador (and Peru on the tour extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.

  • We recommend having at least two blank passport page for entry stamps.

  • There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.

  • Upon arrival on the tour extension in Peru, you will receive an Andean Immigration card that you will need to present when visiting Machu Picchu.

  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.


Tour pace

  • You will walk for about 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including cobblestone streets, unpaved trails and sandy paths, with some hills at high altitudes

  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.

  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of small boats.

  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.        

Transportation & arrival information

  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive in and depart from Quito (or Lima on the tour extension). A Go Ahead representative will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.

  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead for an additional cost.

  • Flights from Quito to the Galápagos Islands, the Galápagos Islands to Guayaquil and Guayaquil to Quito are included in the price of your tour. (The tour extension also includes flights from Guayaquil to Lima, Lima to Cuzco and Cuzco to Lima).

  • A four-night Galápagos Islands cruise and other boat rides are also included in the price of your tour.

  • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.      

Baggage allowance

  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs.

  • Contact your airline for detailed information regarding baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.

  • One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height).

  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

  • On the tour extension in Peru, you will need a small overnight bag (such as your carry-on bag) for your stay in Machu Picchu, as most luggage will need to be stored in Cuzco.      

Clothing & packing tips

  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. Comfortable, casual clothing, a lightweight jacket and a sturdy pair of walking shoes are a must for sightseeing.

 * Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended for daily activities.

  • Binoculars are handy for a closer look at local wildlife and scenery.

  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.

  • It is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).        


  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at

  • Please be aware that you will be traveling at altitudes as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. These high altitudes can sometimes cause difficulties for travelers who have heart problems or respiratory ailments. If you suffer from any of these conditions, please speak to your healthcare provider regarding any potential health risks.

  • Even healthy travelers may sometimes experience altitude sickness, a temporary condition featuring symptoms of headache, fatigue, nausea and light-headedness. Until your body acclimates to the higher altitudes, we suggest that you stay hydrated and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.

  • Take proper care with sun exposure, as the sun can be especially strong in some of the regions on this tour.

  • Seasickness while on board the cruise ship is uncommon, but medication will be available if needed. If you are particularly prone to seasickness you may want to bring your own medication and take it at least 24 hours before the cruise starts.

  • Drink bottled water only. Refrain from ingesting tap water, including when brushing your teeth. Ice on board the cruise ship is made with purified water.

  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.

  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.

  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to My Account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.



  • Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, reflecting the availability of ingredients across the country. At higher elevations, meat-based dishes are more popular, while along the coast you’ll find seafood in abundance. Traditionally, meals are served with soup and rice, and many feature starches like potatoes and yucca root. Bananas and plantains are also a major Ecuadorian export, appearing in many recipes. You might try patacones, a fritter made with mashed plantains, which is a popular Ecuadorean side.

  • On the tour extension, Peruvian cuisine reflects both the country’s indigenous cultures as well as European colonial and Pacific Rim influences. Staples include grains such as quinoa, maize and rice, as well as beans, potatoes and meat. Ceviche, traditionally raw sea bass marinated with lime and chilies, is a national dish. Adventurous eaters may want to try cuy, or roasted guinea pig that’s cooked over an open fire. You can also raise a toast with Peru’s famous pisco, the delicious (and sour) white-grape brandy.



Electricity & air conditioning

  • Ecuador operates on 120 volts and uses Types A or B plugs with two flat pins or two flat pins and one round pin, respectively.

  • The cruise ship operates on 110 / 220 volts. Both European and American outlets are available on the vessel. The frequency is 50 Hz.

  • On the tour extension, Peru operates on 220 volts and uses Types A or C plugs with two flat pins or two round pins, respectively.

  • We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter.  

  • The strength of the air conditioning in some hotels in this region may not be as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.

  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.



  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. In more remote locations, internet access may be limited and is not guaranteed.

  • A low-bandwith Wi-Fi connection is available on board the cruise ship, but may be unavailable at times. Satellite phone service is offered while at sea.

  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches

  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.


Time zones

  • Mainland Ecuador (and Peru on the tour extension) is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the same as Eastern Standard Time (EST). Ecuador and Peru do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

  • The Galápagos Islands are six hours behind GMT, but your cruise ship will operate on Ecuador’s mainland time.

  • From March through November, when it’s noon in New York City, it’s noon in Ecuador and Lima on the tour extension. From April through October, when it’s noon in New York City, it’s 11am in Ecuador and 11am in Lima.  


  • You will use the U.S. dollar in Ecuador (plus the Peruvian sol in Peru on the tour extension).

  • Please note that U.S. bills in denominations higher than $20 may not be accepted in some areas of Ecuador.

  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.

  • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.

  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees.

  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.

  • On your cruise ship, you may open an account at reception to pay for on-board expenses with a credit card; Visa, Mastercard, American Express and U.S. dollars are accepted. You can select your payment method upon arrival.  


  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.

  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $7USD/CAD to $10USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver. These tips can only be paid in cash.

  • On your cruise, tipping your waiter, busser and cabin steward at the end of the voyage is customary, if you’re pleased with the service. We recommend the equivalent or $20USD/CAD per traveler per day, to be divided among the crew on the cruise ship.

  • Separate tips are recommended for the naturalist guides. We recommend the equivalent or $8USD/CAD per person per day.

  • All gratuities on board the cruise can be handled by cash or by credit card.            

Purchasing excursions on tour

  • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.

  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for excursions.

  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged.

  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.       

Shore excursions

  • While on the ship, you'll have the opportunity to follow expert naturalists to discover the unique beauty of the Galápagos Islands. These knowledgeable guides lead excursions ranging from snorkeling to bird-watching, giving you the chance to get closer to the incredible animals that make the Galápagos their home.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.