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1 / 67

The Galápagos Islands & Ecuador

10 days Land & Cruise Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours
Ecuador puts new meaning behind the saying, “good things come in small packages.” In terms of flora, fauna and opportunities for viewing unique local wildlife, this South American country runs the gamut. Journey to Quito for a taste of Ecuadorean culture and Spanish colonial history. Then, island hop through the Galápagos, where you’ll move from mangrove swamps to lava flows to sunny shorelines, encountering scores of exotic creatures along the way.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Maximum tour group size: 35 travelers

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 4 nights in handpicked hotels & 4 nights aboard the M/V Galápagos Legend

  • Breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 4 dinners on board the ship, 1 three-course dinner with beer or wine on land

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Select entrance fees

Quito 3 nights Hotel info

Day 1: Flight & late-night arrival in Quito

After your flight, arrive late this evening in Quito and settle into your hotel.

Day 2: Sightseeing tour of Quito

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Quito before meeting your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

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

• Enter La Compañia, the city’s Baroque church, to view its gold leaf interior

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

• Visit the Equatorial Monument, where you can stand with one foot on either side of the equator

Day 3: Free day in Quito

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a full free day in Quito or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Otavalo & Hacienda $95*pp Details

Travel through the colorful Guayllabamba and Cayambe valleys, stopping along the way to sample some of the region’s celebrated fruit and to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes and San Pablo Lake. Then, make your way through the Andes to Otavalo, a traditional market town known for its knitted and leather goods. After perusing the vibrant market and visiting a local musical instrument factory, settle in for a lunch at a historic colonial-era hacienda. Incredible views of lush gardens, winding trails and the property’s roaming llamas make an idyllic backdrop for your meal.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)

Galápagos Islands 4 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Galápagos Cruise

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, fly to the small island of Baltra to board your cruise. 

• Boat aross the narrow channel separating Baltra from Santa Cruz Island

• Cruise to Black Turtle Cove, where you may see turtles, rays and sharks swimming among the mangroves

Day 5: Santiago Island & Rabida Island

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a wet landing, you’ll enjoy the southeastern portion of Santiago Island before continuing to Rabida Island.

• Spend the morning exploring the extensive lava flows, swimming and snorkeling in Sullivan Bay and spotting flamingos, sea turtles, sea lions and migratory birds

• Transfer to Rabida Island, where the volcanic geology creates red sand beaches

• Take a dinghy ride along the cliffs to snorkel and observe nesting seabirds

Day 6: Isabela Island

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a wet landing, begin your exploration of Isabela Island, the largest in the Galápagos archipelago. 

• Snorkel with the sea turtles that swim just off the shore of Urbina Bay

• See the giant tortoises that live on the slopes of the nearby Alcedo Volcano

• Tour Tagus Cove and see the blue-footed boobies that nest there

• Go on a dinghy ride and enjoy the option of deep sea snorkeling

Day 7: Espinosa Point & Vicente Roca Point

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today’s dry landing is at Espinosa Point, formed by lava flows over thousands of years. 

• View the area’s marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and the fearless Galápagos hawk

• Take a dinghy ride to Vicente Roca Point and the Bolivar Channel, where you can snorkel with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins

• View dolphins and whales that are attracted to the Bolivar Channel by the cold waters of the Cromwell Current (seasonal, June to September)

Quito 1 night Hotel info

Day 8: Transfer to Quito

Included meals: Breakfast

Journey to the Santa Cruz highlands, northwest of Puerto Ayora, to visit a giant tortoise nature reserve. 

• Walk through the humid forest landscape to see these slow-moving reptiles in action

• Return to Baltra and board your flight back to Quito on the mainland

Day 9: Free day in Quito & departure

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a full free day in Quito or add an excursion. Continue your adventure in Peru, or transfer to the airport for a late-night or early-morning flight.

Optional Excursion - Volcanic Landscapes: Cotopaxi National Park $95*pp Details

Take a light hike through Cotopaxi National Park, home to the autonymous snow-covered volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Keep an eye out for the park’s many bird species and abundant plant life as you make your way around the beautiful landscapes of the Andes. In the distance, you can see views of Limpiopungo Lake and various volcanoes. After your hike, enjoy lunch at Hacienda La Cienega. Please note: Layered clothing and comfortable shoes are recommended for this excursion.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 10: Arrival in the U.S.

Arrive home.

Please note: Due to varying flight schedules, some travelers may depart on the morning of day 10, arriving home later that evening.

Add Peru & Machu Picchu $1,299 pp

Please note: Extension is not available on all departure dates.

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 1 night Hotel info

Day 9: Fly from Quito to Lima

Included meals: Breakfast

After a free day in Quito, board your flight to Lima, where you’ll spend the evening.

Cuzco 2 nights Hotel info

Day 10: Free day in Cuzco

Included meals: Breakfast

Fly from Lima to Cuzco and spend the afternoon as you please.

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Cuzco

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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

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

• Travel to three Incan archaeological sites near Cuzco, including Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco’s most impressive Incan ruins

Machu Picchu 1 night Hotel info

Day 12: Aguas Calientes via the Sacred Valley

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, you’ll transfer to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. First, make a stop in the Sacred Valley to see the sights.

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

• Continue to the ancient Ollantaytambo ruins to explore still-standing Incan homes

• Board a train to Aguas Calientes

Cuzco 1 night Hotel info

Day 13: 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 (Intiwatana) Stone, the Temple of the Sun, the Rock Quarry, the Ritual Fountains and the Condor Temple

• Enjoy a scenic train ride back to Cuzco for the night

Lima 1 night Hotel info

Day 14: Sightseeing tour of Lima

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Fly back to Lima, where you’ll set out on a guided tour highlighting the capital city’s modern and colonial quarters. 

• Visit Miraflores and the Parque del Amor

• 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 to the catacombs

Day 15: Departure

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a free morning in Lima, then relax in a dayroom before boarding your overnight flight home.

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 16: Arrival in the U.S.

Included meals: Breakfast

Arrive home.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 4 nights in handpicked hotels & 4 nights aboard the M/V Galápagos Legend

  • Breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 4 dinners on board the ship, 2 three-course dinners with beer or wine on land

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Select entrance fees

Quito 3 nights Hotel info

Day 1: Flight & late-night arrival in Quito

After your flight, arrive late this evening in Quito and settle into your hotel.

Day 2: Sightseeing tour of Quito

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Quito before meeting your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

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

• Enter La Compañia, the city’s Baroque church, to view its gold leaf interior

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

• Take the Teleferico cable car up the east side of the Pichincha volcano for views of the city and surrounding volcanoes

Day 3: Free day in Quito

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a full free day in Quito or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Volcanic Landscapes: Cotopaxi National Park $95*pp Details

Take a light hike through Cotopaxi National Park, home to the autonymous snow-covered volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Keep an eye out for the park’s many bird species and abundant plant life as you make your way around the beautiful landscapes of the Andes. In the distance, you can see views of Limpiopungo Lake and various volcanoes. After your hike, enjoy lunch at Hacienda La Cienega. Please note: Layered clothing and comfortable shoes are recommended for this excursion.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)

Galápagos Islands 4 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Galápagos Cruise

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, fly to the small island of Baltra to board your cruise. 

• Boat aross the narrow channel separating Baltra from Santa Cruz Island

• Cruise to Black Turtle Cove, where you may see turtles, rays and sharks swimming among the mangroves

Day 5: Santiago Island & Rabida Island

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a wet landing, you’ll enjoy the southeastern portion of Santiago Island before continuing to Rabida Island.

• Spend the morning exploring the extensive lava flows, swimming and snorkeling in Sullivan Bay and spotting flamingos, sea turtles, sea lions and migratory birds

• Transfer to Rabida Island, where the volcanic geology creates red sand beaches

• Take a dinghy ride along the cliffs to snorkel and observe nesting seabirds

Day 6: Isabela Island

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a wet landing, begin your exploration of Isabela Island, the largest in the Galápagos archipelago. 

• Snorkel with the sea turtles that swim just off the shore of Urbina Bay

• See the giant tortoises that live on the slopes of the nearby Alcedo Volcano

• Tour Tagus Cove and see the blue-footed boobies that nest there

• Go on a dinghy ride and enjoy the option of deep sea snorkeling

Day 7: Espinosa Point & Vicente Roca Point

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today’s dry landing is at Espinosa Point, formed by lava flows over thousands of years. 

• View the area’s marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and the fearless Galápagos hawk

• Take a dinghy ride to Vicente Roca Point and the Bolivar Channel, where you can snorkel with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins

• View dolphins and whales that are attracted to the Bolivar Channel by the cold waters of the Cromwell Current (seasonal, June to September)

Otavalo 1 night

Day 8: Transfer to Otavalo via Quito

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Disembark the ship to further explore Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos before making your way to Otavalo, a market town in the Andes Mountains.

• Journey to the Santa Cruz highlands, northwest of Puerto Ayora, to visit a giant tortoise nature reserve

• Walk through the humid forest landscape to see these slow-moving reptiles in action

• Return to Baltra and board your flight back to Quito on the mainland

• On the way to Otavalo, stop to see the Quitsato Sundial, a monument located on the equator, where you’ll view a demonstration of equatorial effects

Later, enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers.

Day 9: Otavalo market visit & departure

Included meals: Breakfast

Visit the Otavalo market to browse the stalls, shop for indigenous crafts and attend a local weaving demonstration. Then, relax in your day room before transferring to the airport for a late-night or early-morning flight or continue your adventure in Peru.

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 10: Arrival in the U.S.

Arrive home.

Please note: Due to varying flight schedules, some travelers may depart on the morning of day 10, arriving home later that evening.

Add Peru & Machu Picchu $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 1 night Hotel info

Day 9: Fly from Quito to Lima

Included meals: Breakfast

After a free day in Quito, board your flight to Lima, where you’ll spend the evening.

Cuzco 2 nights Hotel info

Day 10: Free day in Cuzco

Included meals: Breakfast

Fly from Lima to Cuzco and spend the afternoon as you please.

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Cuzco

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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

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

• Travel to three Incan archaeological sites near Cuzco, including Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco’s most impressive Incan ruins

Machu Picchu 1 night Hotel info

Day 12: Aguas Calientes via the Sacred Valley

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, you’ll transfer to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. First, make a stop in the Sacred Valley to see the sights.

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

• Continue to the ancient Ollantaytambo ruins to explore still-standing Incan homes

• Board a train to Aguas Calientes

Cuzco 1 night Hotel info

Day 13: 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 (Intiwatana) Stone, the Temple of the Sun, the Rock Quarry, the Ritual Fountains and the Condor Temple

• Enjoy a scenic train ride back to Cuzco for the night

Lima 1 night Hotel info

Day 14: Sightseeing tour of Lima

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Fly back to Lima, where you’ll set out on a guided tour highlighting the capital city’s modern and colonial quarters.

• Visit Miraflores and the Parque del Amor

• 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 to the catacombs

Day 15: Departure

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a free morning in Lima, then relax in a dayroom before boarding your overnight flight home.

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 16: Arrival in the U.S.

Arrive home.

How's the weather?

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
  • Lima, Peru
  • Cusco, Peru
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

In order to enter Ecuador (and Peru on the extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.

About your Galápagos cruise

Your Galápagos cruise offers the latest in cruise comfort while also providing an intimate and environmentally safe look at the Galápagos Islands. The yacht features an outdoor pool, observation decks, solarium, library, bar and large restaurant. Choose from a wide variety of activities in your free time—everything from snorkeling to stargazing. Please note: Due to the ship’s itinerary, the order of days in Quito before and after the cruise could change.

Baggage allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.

Clothing & packing tips

For your Galápagos cruise, casual dress is appropriate. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a bathing suit, sunscreen and insect repellent are essential for your visit to the Galápagos. On land, you’ll want to dress in light, loose-fitting clothing suitable for exploring the sights and pack a sun hat, sunglasses, sturdy pair of walking shoes and rain gear. If you plan to visit an elegant restaurant, you’ll probably feel more comfortable with something more formal to wear. Also, remember that it’s preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).

Health

Travelers to Ecuador should be comfortable in high-altitude conditions. Elevation throughout the country varies widely. The altitude of Quito is close to 10,000 feet (Cuzco on extension is 11,000 feet). Travelers, especially those with heart or lung conditions, should consult with their personal healthcare providers before undertaking high-altitude travel.

Important health tips

In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:

  • Drink bottled water. Refrain from drinking tap water, including when brushing teeth.
  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
  • Bring a small first-aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication and any prescription medications.

Cuisine

Food in Ecuador relies heavily on locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with regional seafood and game. You’re likely to find local dishes featuring potatoes, yucca root, bananas and plantains. Seafood, including bass, trout and catfish, is also prevalent and served grilled, fried or marinated as ceviche. Ecuador’s tropical fruit is delicious—specialties include melons, papayas, passion fruit and tamarinds.

Transportation

Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Quito (or Lima on the extension). The tour also includes a flight to and from the Galápagos Islands and the four-night island cruise. The extension includes internal flights from Quito to Cuzco and from Cuzco to Lima. Most destinations on tour are walkable, including Quito, although local buses are available as well.

Electricity

Ecuador uses 110 volts, the same as in the U.S.

Time zones

Ecuador falls on a similar time zone to Eastern Standard Time, except it does not observe daylight saving time. Ecuador has the same time as New York from October to April, and is one hour behind New York from April to October.

Currency

The U.S. dollar (USD) is the currency you’ll use in Ecuador. On land, you’ll find that ATMS are widely available. During your cruise, any onboard charges can be billed to your credit card. Please note that U.S. bank notes with denominations higher than $20 may not be accepted in some areas of Ecuador. If you’re joining the tour extension to Peru, you’ll also use the Peruvian sol. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Peru, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

Please Note: If you will be exchanging U.S. dollar bills in Peru, we advise that they be in new condition, as most vendors will not accept bills if they are wrinkled or dirty.

Tipping

On your cruise, tipping your waiter, busser and cabin steward is customary if you’re pleased with the service. Gratuities are generally given at the end of the voyage. We recommend $15 per traveler per day, to be divided among your waiter, busser and cabin steward. Separate tips are recommended for the naturalist guides. We recommend $8 per person per day. All cruise tipping can be handled by cash or by credit card. At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director.

How's the weather?

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
  • Lima, Peru
  • Cusco, Peru
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

In order to enter Ecuador (and Peru on the extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.

About your Galápagos cruise

Your Galápagos cruise offers the latest in cruise comfort while also providing an intimate and environmentally safe look at the Galápagos Islands. The yacht features an outdoor pool, observation decks, solarium, library, bar and large restaurant. Choose from a wide variety of activities in your free time—everything from snorkeling to stargazing. Please note: Due to the ship’s itinerary, the order of days in Quito before and after the cruise could change.

Baggage allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.

Clothing & packing tips

For your Galápagos cruise, casual dress is appropriate. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a bathing suit, sunscreen and insect repellent are essential for your visit to the Galápagos. On land, you’ll want to dress in light, loose-fitting clothing suitable for exploring the sights and pack a sun hat, sunglasses, sturdy pair of walking shoes and rain gear. If you plan to visit an elegant restaurant, you’ll probably feel more comfortable with something more formal to wear. Also, remember that it’s preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).

Health

Travelers to Ecuador should be comfortable in high-altitude conditions. Elevation throughout the country varies widely. The altitude of Quito is close to 10,000 feet (Cuzco on extension is 11,000 feet). Travelers, especially those with heart or lung conditions, should consult with their personal healthcare providers before undertaking high-altitude travel.

Important health tips

In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:

  • Drink bottled water. Refrain from drinking tap water, including when brushing teeth.
  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
  • Bring a small first-aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication and any prescription medications.

Cuisine

Food in Ecuador relies heavily on locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with regional seafood and game. You’re likely to find local dishes featuring potatoes, yucca root, bananas and plantains. Seafood, including bass, trout and catfish, is also prevalent and served grilled, fried or marinated as ceviche. Ecuador’s tropical fruit is delicious—specialties include melons, papayas, passion fruit and tamarinds.

Transportation

Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Quito (or Lima on the extension). The tour also includes a flight to and from the Galápagos Islands and the four-night island cruise. The extension includes internal flights from Quito to Cuzco and from Cuzco to Lima. Most destinations on tour are walkable, including Quito, although local buses are available as well.

Electricity

Ecuador uses 110 volts, the same as in the U.S.

Time zones

Ecuador falls on a similar time zone to Eastern Standard Time, except it does not observe daylight saving time. Ecuador has the same time as New York from October to April, and is one hour behind New York from April to October.

Currency

The U.S. dollar (USD) is the currency you’ll use in Ecuador. On land, you’ll find that ATMS are widely available. During your cruise, any onboard charges can be billed to your credit card. Please note that U.S. bank notes with denominations higher than $20 may not be accepted in some areas of Ecuador. If you’re joining the tour extension to Peru, you’ll also use the Peruvian sol. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Peru, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

Please Note: If you will be exchanging U.S. dollar bills in Peru, we advise that they be in new condition, as most vendors will not accept bills if they are wrinkled or dirty.

Tipping

On your cruise, tipping your waiter, busser and cabin steward is customary if you’re pleased with the service. Gratuities are generally given at the end of the voyage. We recommend $15 per traveler per day, to be divided among your waiter, busser and cabin steward. Separate tips are recommended for the naturalist guides. We recommend $8 per person per day. All cruise tipping can be handled by cash or by credit card. At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director.

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.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/15/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: PA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Fabulous Fabricio

This tour covered two locations-Ecuador and the Galapagus Islands. While in Ecuador, Fabricio not only provided insightful information on the locations on the tour agenda but also was constantly providing information about the country and the wonderful people who live there. He also managed to always be available to help with suggestions for dining and shopping and any other needs for our "free time". Fabricio is conscientious and sincere and witty and fun. He created a magical trip filled with wonderful memories. While in the Islands, Fabricio's Tour Director capacity was replaced with a Naturalist. Although no longer guiding, he was always available to help with the various questions or issues that popped up. He truly became a friend during the cruise.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 6/15/2015

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: CA

Tour Director: 3 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Great wildlife

The Galapagos Islands portion of this tour was fantastic - the snorkling was second to none! We saw penguins, turtles, sea lions, rays in multitude. The guides were funny and fact filled and the boat was top notch. The crew and food were terrific. The land animals were enormous and plentiful and we had a very educational trip. I wore a patch and no one got sea sick. The quinto portion was alright too-although it is a stretch to say we visited a musical instrument factory on our Otavalo trip. I was expecting more of a luthier. Our Go ahead guide was alright -he seemed to know all about the history of Quinto and Equador. Hotel was very nice.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/15/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Trip of a lifetime!

I know, all trips are trips of a lifetime. This one was exceptional. I am practically speechless about the Galapagos. Ecuador is the country of my heart, and tour director JuanCarlos was spectacular. Peru, not so much. Machu Picchu was crowded and touristy, and Lima was too "haves vs havenots." However, I wouldn't give back the experience to save my life.

3 / 5

3 / 5

Traveled On: 5/18/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: VA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Not enough information

While we generally enjoyed the tour, detailed information/itinerary about the Galapagos portion of the tour was not provided until we arrived in Ecuador, Including the 4 am departure for the Galapagos , the heavy emphasis on water sports and deep sea snorkeling when my husband doesn't swim, and the real lack of alternatives on the ship (other than relatively basic lectures). Had we known all this ahead of time we might not have gone. The Galapagos boat was a it long in the tooth which we expected, but the beds were uncomfortable, rooms frigid, and the food was pretty bad. The final tour was a waste of time. Our naturalist, who was good during our previous tours, decided he was done working, after getting his tips, and left us to tromp around the muddy turtle preserve by ourselves while he stayed behind for a smoke. None of the other naturalists allowed us to join their groups. Really made us angry. Eduardo our tour director was great, more of an educator, which was a refreshing change of pace. Side trip to Octavalo was great and lunch at the hacienda was superb, best of the trip. Quito hotel was fine. overall if more information provided ahead of time such as flight details, and Galapagos itinerary we might have made a different decision on booking the tour

 

Thank you for taking the time to provide valuable feedback about your tour, The Galapagos Islands & Ecuador. We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed your time with your Tour Director Eduardo! Here at Go Ahead Tours we pride ourselves on working with Tour Directors who will provide unique and memorable tour experiences for our travelers. We have contacted our Operations Team with your feedback about the naturalists that were part of your tour. Our Operations Team will be following up with your naturalists to ensure that they are meeting the high quality standards that we have set at Go Ahead Tours. We are glad to hear that overall you enjoyed the Ecuador portion of your tour and especially the optional excursion to Otavalo. We do hope that you will give us the opportunity to welcome you back on tour with us again. If you have any questions or wish to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-597-0350. Thank you!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | June 05, 2015

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/23/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MD

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

A wonderful, educational tour Ecuador Galapogoes islands.

The tour was extremely smooth, from the booking to having my questions answered promptly to the flights, meeting our tour director Rodrigo and fellow travelers and returning home. Thank you, Go Ahead tours. We left Baltimore,MD , had a wait in Atlanta, Ga and flew into Quito, Ecuador arriving late in the evening where we where met by our Tour Director, Rodrigo and fellow travelers. We boarded a comfortable bus for our hour plus ride to our hotel in Quito. Our rooms were already assigned to us and we received the schedule for breakfast time and a tour of the old city of Quito the next day. The breakfast was buffet style and delicious. we boarded the bus and did a wonderful tour of the city. Rodrigo is a native of the area and told us of the history of Ecuador and the buildings and areas we visited. We also visited an area that the equator crossed, everything was amazing and i had one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere. Amazing. Next we had the bus ride back to the Quito airport for a 600 mile flight to the Galapagos islands. We boarded "zenith boats" to our home for the next 5 days. The ship was the LEGEND, a 300 foot long vessel that was very comfortable and smooth sailing. Our cabin was very adequate for the 2 of us, Everything on the ship was clean and comfortable. The crew and the staff were very helpful and attentive to our needs. The food was excellent. 3 meals a day. the ships "passengers' were divided into groups (such as albatross , boobies, dolphins etc) to make it smother to board the zeniths when we went did our daily visits to the islands and their marvelous wild life.Each group had its own naturalist to lead the group. The naturalists really knew what that were talking about. We were up close to the hugh Turtles, sea turtles, pelicans, blue footed boobies, sea lions, penguins thousands of iguanas, lizards, colorful crabs and meany other birds. We learned much as we walked across the lava fields. Valero was our (I was in the boobies group) very knowledgeable. The water was choppy, but ship was smooth. A footnote: Before the trip i checked weather.com for Quito and the Galapagos weather. For the time we would be there, every day was predicted to have 80 to 100% rain and most showed thundershowers. The fact is 1 night it rained in the Galapagos and the last day we were in Quito There was a brief downpour. Do It.

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4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 3/9/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Great Tour

Very much enjoyed the unusual animals. Wish we had opted for a longer visit to the islands. There is so much to see and every island is different.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 2/23/2015

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: ON

Tour Director: 2 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Galapagos - A Dream Come True

Overall this tour was fantastic. The Galapagos was unbelievable. The Cruise ship and local guides were excellent. Our concerns lay with the tour director and the bus. The tour director did not demonstrate the same level of knowledge, experience or understanding of travelling as did the other tour directors that we have had with GoAhead. For example: he encouraged the group to drink the water (did not provide bottled water on the bus) and to eat the local fruits and vegetables. However, the most disappointing aspect of the tour was the bus. It was not air conditioned, it did not have tinted windows and it did not have curtains on the windows! It was hot, hot, hot! Moreover, the bus was badly in need of new shocks or a suspension overhaul. It definitely was not a "deluxe" motor coach! I got so bus sick (as it also always smelled of diesel) that we had to cancel the last excursion (to the volcanoes)! But...the blue footed boobies and snorkelling with sea turtles and penguins made up for these two deficiencies.

 

Cynthia, Thank you for sharing your review and for discussing your feedback with us further this week. We are thrilled to hear you had a good time on tour! We have already shared your feedback regarding the bus with our Operations Department, and they are addressing these concerns with the agent in Ecuador. We apologize for this unpleasant experience. Also, Go Ahead Tours always recommends that our customers in Peru & Ecuador refrain from drinking tap water (except while on board the Galapagos cruise). While most locals find the water perfectly harmless to drink, for the safety of our customers we always recommend drinking bottled water when possible. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. We will be sure that our tour directors are explaining this information in a clear and consistent manor in the future. Thank you for traveling with Go Ahead, and we hope to see you back on tour soon!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | March 19, 2015

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 11/3/2014

Number of Past Tours: 6

From: MI

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Turtles, Sea Lions, Boobies. Oh my

Galapagos super-exceded my expectations. Being from the islands itself, Ramone shared his expertice of the flora nad fauna, Antonio, the best panga driver, kept us safe and secure. Nature at its best. I swam/snorkled with sea lions, turtles, penguins and different kinds of fish. Thank you Rodrigo for your expert "directing". You made the trip special.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 11/3/2014

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: OH

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Expectations for the Galápagos surpassed!

This review includes only information about travels in Ecuador, not the Peru extension. We had traveled to Peru with Go Ahead two years before. The trip began with flights from the US that landed most members of our group of 41 (our largest ever Go Ahead tour group) in Quito in the middle of the night. The airport is almost one hour outside the city. We were in the room with our luggage at 2:00 am. The Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito was lovely, and overall, the staff was quite accommodating. There was a well-appointed breakfast buffet in the ground floor restaurant, and service began at 4:00 am. The hotel provided a complimentary bottle of water to each traveler each day (although our Tour Director had to round up a few bottles for those rooms that had been skipped). There is a convenience store (Okidoki) for beverages and snacks located within about one block of the hotel. We had one evening meal at the hotel (Welcome Dinner), for which Go Ahead provided a complimentary beverage; the food was well prepared. The first full day in Quito was one of sightseeing, mainly in the historical center, but also to the Equator Monument outside the city. Our Tour Director, Rodrigo, spoke very knowledgeably about all places visited, both that day and during the rest of the tour. We felt that the optional trip to the Otavalo market was well worth the three-hour drive, not just for the market, but because it enabled us to see a lot of countryside outside of Quito. We traveled the Pan-American Highway through an area that continues to recover from a recent earthquake. After having had a full two hours at the handicraft market in Otavalo, we visited the home of a musician / instrument maker who demonstrated multiple instruments for us; we had a brief stop in Cotacachi, famous for its leather goods. Our delicious lunch was served in the Hacienda Pinsaqui, a charming colonial-style house and one of Ecuador’s oldest haciendas. The Galapagos Island cruise on the Galápagos Legend was a dream come true… surpassing expectations! Transportation from the Baltra Island airport to the dock and then to the ship was well organized. For the cruise, passengers were divided into groups of 16, each group being assigned to a naturalist guide. We traveled from the ship to the islands and back in our groups aboard pangas. There were generally two important visits per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, as well as additional opportunities to snorkel (beach, deep sea). Our itinerary took us to six different islands (Baltra, Santiago, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Rabida), including the westernmost islands of the main group (Isabela, Fernandina). The ship covered longer distances at night. Each visit highlighted specific island features: geology, flora, and fauna. All were wonderful! There was some rough terrain for some of the walks. It was genuinely exciting, however, to see the animals in their natural habitat and to have the opportunity to photograph them! This surpassed our expectations! Our guide, Roman, was exceptional: amazingly knowledgeable, articulate, thoughtful, entertaining, and passionate about the islands and the protection of the natural treasures they hold. Our panga pilot, Antonio, made every effort to accommodate photography for everyone, turning the boat from one side to the other. Fabulous opportunities to view the wildlife! The ship staff was extremely helpful; meals were delicious; cabins were well-appointed (safe, hair dryer). The ship social area provided 24-hour access to hot beverages and snacks. Purified water was provided free of charge. As the groups toured the islands, the guides took photos. The ship staff offered each cabin a free CD with those photos at the end of the cruise. There was a delay for our flight back to Quito but through no fault of Go Ahead or our Tour Director. Upon our return to Quito, we participated in a second optional excursion to the national park of the Volcán Cotopaxi. Again, it was interesting to travel through other towns and the countryside with information about all provided by our Tour Director. A guide traveled into the park area with us to provide further information about plants, animals and the park. Those who felt up to it (at an altitude of 12,700 ft) walked along a path around part of Laguna Limpioponga. We had some rain; cloud cover hid the volcano; birds were too far away from the path to be recognized and/or photographed. Lunch was provided at Hacienda La Ciénega, a truly lovely spot. The meal was not as good as the one we had had at the Hacienda Pinsaqui and the cost of beverages, even water, was not included. We got back to the hotel at about 4:15, and our flight home wasn’t until almost 1:00 in the morning. Arrangements had been made for us to be able to keep our hotel room until our departure for the airport at 8:00 pm. This was truly appreciated. A few additional notes: 1. Bring a small amount of toilet paper with you. Available most places, but needed in some. Used paper is thrown in bins next to the toilets. 2. During our day tour in Quito, postcards were found in only one place. We didn’t find stamps until we got to the town of Otavalo, and this with the help of the Tour Director. 3. If you have polarized sunglasses, you’ll see marine creatures much better. 4. You may wear shorts and sandals in the ship restaurant. Dress on board is casual. 5. As you prepare for an excursion in the islands, keep in mind that there are NO restroom facilities on any of the islands you visit. Gauge your consumption of liquids accordingly. 6. There is no reasonable internet service on the ship ($32.00 for 10 minutes). 7. There are no cash payments on the ship. Everything is handled by credit card. 8. We had calm waters during our cruise. If you are prone to motion sickness, however, come prepared for choppier waters and for the twisty roads taken on bus rides (including to and from the airport outside of Quito). Several people in our group regularly demanded up-front seating for this problem. 9. Go Ahead provided information about tipping the bus drivers, tour directors and ship staff. I don’t recall that information being provided for nature guides on the ship. The suggested tip was $8.00/person/day. 10. As for any trip in any country, always be aware that there could be pickpockets. One member of our group had his wallet stolen (back pocket) at the Baltra airport while making a purchase in a souvenir shop. 11. Efforts were made to meet special dietary needs (vegetarian, gluten-free). There is no low-fat milk available. It was a truly outstanding trip! We definitely recommend this tour. You will see amazing sights!

1 / 5

1 / 5

Traveled On: 9/8/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: AZ

Tour Director: 1 / 5

Tour Value: 1 / 5

Worst trip ever - a complete and utter disappointment

I went to Peru (with Edwin as our Tour Director) a few months ago and it was absolutely fabulous (I posted a 5 star review on this site). I was so excited that I booked this trip two months later. Unfortunately, it was the worst trip ever and was a complete disappointment. I'd give it zero stars if I could. I am very sad to post this review. Our Tour Director had literally NO experience as this was her first tour. Not only did she not know much about the history and culture of Ecuador, she miscounted and left one person behind at a rest stop (thankfully, his spouse noticed and stopped the bus). I travel alone and could have easily been left behind for hours without anyone noticing as it was early on in the trip and I hadn't met many people yet. We were several hours away from our hotel and my cell phone did not work there. She did not let us stop and shop with the locals but said to wait for the Otavalo market. Unfortunately, she did not cancel the tour to Otavalo market which was a complete waste of time because there was a recent earthquake so none of the indigenous vendors could get there due to the highway being blocked. (She did let us vote and or course we wanted to go because we did not realize the impact of the earthquake on the market because she did not know or explain it to us.) The market was tiny and disappointing and there were few if any handcrafted goods there. (Another tour group we met later on the ship said their company cancelled the trip and they spent the day in Quito instead which was an excellent use of their time.) We were charged extra for this excursion, wasted an entire day, and spent 9 hours on the bus for this market when we could have easily spent the day in the old city and gone to the museum instead. Worse yet, our Naturalist on the Galapagos Legend was a complete jerk and was extremely rude and condescending to our group. He was assigned to our group for the entire time in the Galapagos and made it quite miserable as we had two outings a day with him. He kept saying to us, "I can't believe you asked that question" when someone would ask a very good question, or rudely retorted, "I'll answer that question when the rest of the group catches up" which is fine but why be so nasty? I asked one question and he retorted, "I don't know and you wouldn't understand it anyway" (I am an MD and have an MBA and went to vet school for 3 years and don't think I am stupid.). On top of that, he gave us WRONG information about basic information about the Galapagos (such as the number of species of Giant Tortoises and about Charles Darwin's contributions), etc, etc. etc. He disappeared completely on one of the shore snorkel excursions, leaving me and a few others to yell at the other tourists who were literally stepping on baby sea lions to take photos of them. Last, the previous reviewer is correct about the snorkeling (no, the issue had not been corrected). I am a seasoned snorkeler and there is no one to assist. (Thankfully, I brought my own wetsuit and gear.) They do not use a buddy system (which is the first rule of snorkeling), the deep water snorkeling gear is unsafe as some of the life vests did not hold air and did not have emergency whistles, and it is difficult snorkeling due to the cold water and rough current. On our last deep water snorkel trip, our Naturalist swam very quickly ahead of the group as "it was his favorite snorkeling spot". I had to swim very fast to keep up with him and I am a good swimmer. One person had some sort of problem so raised their hand to get help (which they told us to do) and non one responded because the Naturalist was so far head of the group! The rest of us saw her and started waving as well. I told my snorkeling buddy to blow the whistle which she did and our Naturalist finally swam back to help. I am a physician and I became very alarmed when I learned that some life vests did not hold air and some did not have whistles. They are very lucky that no one has drowned or had major issues as this is not easy snorkeling and the safety equipment is faulty. Six of us left for home and did not do the Peru extension. The minute I got home after my red eye flight home, I dropped my bags on the floor and called and Go Ahead to let them know of the problems we had. One other person had already called to complain. Another passenger called within a day or two to complain. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, Instead, it was so ghastly that 50% people called to complain within 1-2 days. It was that bad. It was a complete waste of a LOT of money. After an extensive review of the situation which took several one hour phone interviews and prolonging the misery of this trip by asking us to rehash it again and again, Go Ahead offered a tiny discount off my next trip. This experience was so bad that I don't think I'll be using them again. The quality of their trips is almost completely dependent on the Tour Director so if you get a bad one, you're stuck on a miserable (and possible unsafe) trip. It's too expensive to take that kind of risk as there is no quality control of the Tour Directors, and they don't assign them until one month before the trip so you can't count on who you are going to get. I was hoping to do two international trips a year for the next 10 years with Go Ahead but I refuse to use them again, as did several other people I met on this trip. We are researching other tour companies that are more reliable and dependable and whose quality is more dependable.

 

Dear Debora, We apologize that your trip to The Galapagos Islands & Ecuador fell short of your expectations. We do pride ourselves in having the most dynamic and knowledgeable tour directors in the industry, but as this was your tour director’s first trip with us, we apologize if she was not up to your satisfaction. She also received positive feedback from your fellow travelers, and we made sure to share all feedback with her supervisors. Also, we were aware that the earthquake had taken place weeks prior to your arrival in Ecuador and we made the decision to give your group the option of attending the Otavalo Market after explaining the circumstances. As you know, travel can be very unpredictable, but please know that if customer safety was ever in question we would not have made this trip. In addition, we have swiftly addressed your safety concerns regarding The Legend with our agent in Ecuador. We truly value every one of our customer’s feedback as it is the best way we can improve our service. Thank you for your review, and we truly hope you were able to enjoy the magnificence of the Galapagos Islands & Ecuador.

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | November 19, 2014

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