Eco Tour

The Galápagos Islands & Ecuador

10 days / Land & Cruise Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Eco Tours
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About This Experience

Ecuador puts new meaning behind the saying, “good things come in small packages.” In terms of flora, fauna and opportunities for adrenaline-packed adventure (think zip lining through cloud forests and swimming alongside sea turtles), South America’s second smallest country runs the gamut. Journey to Quito for a taste of Ecuadorean culture and Incan legend. 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.

Your Tour Includes

  • Round-trip airfare & transfers

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

  • Breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 5 three-course dinners with beer or wine (on land)

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Select entrance fees

How's the weather?

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

Quito3 nights - hotel info

Day1

The sunsets, the volcanoes, the ceviche—start envisioning Ecuador

After your flight, arrive late this evening in Quito. A Go Ahead representative greets you as you clear customs, escorts you to your hotel and assists with check-in.

Day2

Stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern

Breakfast, Dinner

Equatorial Monument

Embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Quito, taking in views of the Tumbaco Valley before passing by the Legislative Palace, Independence Square and El Sagrario Church. Stop to view the 16th-century Monastery of San Francisco en route to La Compañia, the city’s baroque church. After your tour, you’ll head out on an excursion to the Equatorial Monument, where you can stand with one foot on either side of the equator. Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day3

Mingle with the locals, peruse the crafts, get a feel for Ecuador

Optional Excursion - Otavalo & Hacienda

Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Quito or join your group for a full-day optional excursion to the traditional crafts market of Otavalo, stopping at some of the indigenous villages along the way.

Optional Excursions

Otavalo & Hacienda $95* pp

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.

Galápagos Islands4 nights - hotel info

Day4

Set sail for Black Turtle Cove

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, fly to Baltra, where you’ll board your cruise. After getting settled in your cabin and enjoying lunch on board, cruise across the narrow channel separating Baltra from Santa Cruz Island. Then, cruise to Black Turtle Cove, where you should keep your eyes peeled for turtles, rays and sharks swimming among the mangroves.

Day5

Admire the red sand beaches of Rabida Island

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a wet landing on Santiago Island, spend the morning exploring the extensive lava flows and swimming and snorkeling in Sullivan Bay. Spot flamingos, sea turtles, seals and sea lions, as well as a wide range of coastal and migratory birds. Later, transfer to Rabida Island, where the volcanic geology creates an incredible landscape of unique, dark red-sand beaches. Take a dinghy ride along the cliffs to observe nesting seabirds and snorkel.

Day6

Swim with sea turtles and scout out blue-footed boobies

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Begin your exploration of Isabela Island, the largest in the Galápagos archipelago. This morning, set foot on the black sands around Urbina Bay, where you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel with the sea turtles that swim just off shore. Or, stay on land and pay a visit to the giant tortoises that live on the slopes of the nearby Alcedo Volcano. This afternoon, your naturalist guide leads a walking tour near Tagus Cove, where you’ll learn about the geological history of the Galápagos and see the blue-footed boobies that nest here. Your tour of Tagus Cove concludes with a dinghy ride and the option of deep sea snorkeling.

Day7

WALK ALONG THE IGUANA-LINED SHORES OF DARWIN’S YOUNGEST ISLAND

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

During this morning’s visit to Punta Espinosa, you’ll witness dramatic lava flows and the millennia-long processes that have formed these lands. Be on the lookout for the area’s marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and the fearless Galápagos hawk. This afternoon, a dinghy ride brings you to Vicente Roca Point and the Bolivar Channel. If you haven’t snorkeled yet, now’s the time: The cold waters of the Cromwell Current well up in the Bolivar Channel and attract dolphins and whales to this narrow strait.

Quito1 night - hotel info

Day8

All aboard the M/V Galápagos Legend to return to dry land

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. Later, return to Baltra and board your flight back to the mainland. Once in Quito, you’re free to spend the evening as you like.

Day9

Point your camera at Cotopaxi's dramatic volcanic landscapes

Optional Excursion - Volcanic Landscapes: Cotopaxi National Park

Breakfast

Explore Quito on your own today, or opt to join an excursion to Cotopaxi National Park to view its dramatic volcanic landscapes. Afterward, a Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your overnight flight home. If you’re joining the tour extension to Peru, you’ll fly to Lima where you will spend the night.

Optional Excursions

Volcanic Landscapes: Cotopaxi National Park $95* pp

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 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.

Overnight Flight1 night

Day10

Pack up your Galápagos memories and fly away home

Arrive home.

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

Extend Your Stay

Add Peru & Machu Picchu $1,299*

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.

Cuzco2 nights - hotel info

Day10

COLORFUL TAPESTRIES TO MOUNTAIN MAJESTY, SOAK UP THE ANDEAN CULTURE

Breakfast

Fly from Lima to Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital. After settling in to your hotel, the rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please.

Day11

Contrast Cuzco’s colonial architecture and Incan ruins

Breakfast, Dinner

Cuzco ruins, Cathedral of Santa Domingo

Join a local guide on today’s guided tour of Cuzco, which includes visits to the elegant Cathedral and Convent of Santo Domingo. Later, you’ll travel to three Incan archaeological sites near Cuzco, including Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco’s most impressive Incan ruins. In the evening, meet back up with your group for an included Peruvian dinner.

Aguas Calientes1 night - hotel info

Day12

Feel the spirit in the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Breakfast, Lunch

Ollantaytambo ruins

En route to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, stop to peruse the colorful stalls of the wide-open Pisac Market, where you’ll find local fare and traditional crafts on display. Next, continue to the ancient Ollantaytambo ruins to explore the area’s still-standing Incan homes. Afterward, board a train to Aguas Calientes, gateway to Machu Picchu.

Cuzco1 night - hotel info

Day13

Climb the ancient temples and green slopes of Machu Picchu

Breakfast, Lunch

Machu Picchu

Uncover the lost city of Machu Picchu, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites on the entire South American continent. Step back into the days of the Incan empire as you tour the ruins of the ancient ceremonial center. Later, you’ll return to Cuzco for the night.

Lima1 night - hotel info

Day14

Descend into Peru’s captivating seaside capital

Breakfast, Dinner

Fly back to Lima, where you’ll have time to settle in to the capital city before an included dinner.

Day15

Explore the collection of colonial churches in Lima’s historic center

Breakfast

Cathedral of Lima, Monastery of San Francisco, Huaca Huallamarca

Set out on a guided tour highlighting both the modern and colonial quarters of Lima. The afternoon is free for exploring or resting in your dayroom before your overnight flight home.

Overnight Flight1 night

Day16

Settle back into life in the Northern Hemisphere

Arrive home.

Print This Page

About This Experience

Ecuador puts new meaning behind the saying, “good things come in small packages.” In terms of flora, fauna and opportunities for adrenaline-packed adventure (think zip lining through cloud forests and swimming alongside sea turtles), South America’s second smallest country runs the gamut. Journey to Quito for a taste of Ecuadorean culture and Incan legend. 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.

Your Tour Includes

  • Round-trip airfare & transfers

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

  • Breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 5 three-course dinners with beer or wine (on land)

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Select entrance fees

How's the weather?

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

Quito3 nights - hotel info

Day1

The sunsets, the volcanoes, the ceviche—start envisioning Ecuador

After your flight, arrive late this evening in Quito. A Go Ahead representative greets you as you clear customs, escorts you to your hotel and assists with check-in.

Day2

Stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern

Breakfast, Dinner

Equatorial Monument

Embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Quito, taking in views of the Tumbaco Valley before passing by the Legislative Palace, Independence Square and El Sagrario Church. Stop to view the 16th-century Monastery of San Francisco en route to La Compañia, the city’s baroque church. After your tour, you’ll head out on an excursion to the Equatorial Monument, where you can stand with one foot on either side of the equator. Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day3

Mingle with the locals, peruse the crafts, get a feel for Ecuador

Optional Excursion - Otavalo & Hacienda

Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Quito or join your group for a full-day optional excursion to the traditional crafts market of Otavalo, stopping at some of the indigenous villages along the way.

Optional Excursions

Otavalo & Hacienda $95* pp

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.

Galápagos Islands4 nights - hotel info

Day4

Set sail for Black Turtle Cove

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, fly to Baltra, where you’ll board your cruise. After getting settled in your cabin and enjoying lunch on board, cruise across the narrow channel separating Baltra from Santa Cruz Island. Then, cruise to Black Turtle Cove, where you should keep your eyes peeled for turtles, rays and sharks swimming among the mangroves.

Day5

Admire the red sand beaches of Rabida Island

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a wet landing on Santiago Island, spend the morning exploring the extensive lava flows and swimming and snorkeling in Sullivan Bay. Spot flamingos, sea turtles, seals and sea lions, as well as a wide range of coastal and migratory birds. Later, transfer to Rabida Island, where the volcanic geology creates an incredible landscape of unique, dark red-sand beaches. Take a dinghy ride along the cliffs to observe nesting seabirds and snorkel.

Day6

Swim with sea turtles and scout out blue-footed boobies

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Begin your exploration of Isabela Island, the largest in the Galápagos archipelago. This morning, set foot on the black sands around Urbina Bay, where you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel with the sea turtles that swim just off shore. Or, stay on land and pay a visit to the giant tortoises that live on the slopes of the nearby Alcedo Volcano. This afternoon, your naturalist guide leads a walking tour near Tagus Cove, where you’ll learn about the geological history of the Galápagos and see the blue-footed boobies that nest here. Your tour of Tagus Cove concludes with a dinghy ride and the option of deep sea snorkeling.

Day7

WALK ALONG THE IGUANA-LINED SHORES OF DARWIN’S YOUNGEST ISLAND

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

During this morning’s visit to Punta Espinosa, you’ll witness dramatic lava flows and the millennia-long processes that have formed these lands. Be on the lookout for the area’s marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and the fearless Galápagos hawk. This afternoon, a dinghy ride brings you to Vicente Roca Point and the Bolivar Channel. If you haven’t snorkeled yet, now’s the time: The cold waters of the Cromwell Current well up in the Bolivar Channel and attract dolphins and whales to this narrow strait.

Quito1 night - hotel info

Day8

All aboard the M/V Galápagos Legend to return to dry land

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. Later, return to Baltra and board your flight back to the mainland. Once in Quito, you’re free to spend the evening as you like.

Day9

Point your camera at Cotopaxi's dramatic volcanic landscapes

Optional Excursion - Volcanic Landscapes: Cotopaxi National Park

Breakfast

Explore Quito on your own today, or opt to join an excursion to Cotopaxi National Park to view its dramatic volcanic landscapes. Afterward, a Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your overnight flight home. If you’re joining the tour extension to Peru, you’ll fly to Lima where you will spend the night.

Optional Excursions

Volcanic Landscapes: Cotopaxi National Park $95* pp

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 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.

Overnight Flight1 night

Day10

Pack up your Galápagos memories and fly away home

Arrive home.

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

Extend Your Stay

Add Peru & Machu Picchu $1,299*

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.

Cuzco2 nights - hotel info

Day10

COLORFUL TAPESTRIES TO MOUNTAIN MAJESTY, SOAK UP THE ANDEAN CULTURE

Breakfast

Fly from Lima to Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital. After settling in to your hotel, the rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please.

Day11

Contrast Cuzco’s colonial architecture and Incan ruins

Breakfast, Dinner

Cuzco ruins, Cathedral of Santa Domingo

Join a local guide on today’s guided tour of Cuzco, which includes visits to the elegant Cathedral and Convent of Santo Domingo. Later, you’ll travel to three Incan archaeological sites near Cuzco, including Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco’s most impressive Incan ruins. In the evening, meet back up with your group for an included Peruvian dinner.

Aguas Calientes1 night - hotel info

Day12

Feel the spirit in the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Breakfast, Lunch

Ollantaytambo ruins

En route to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, stop to peruse the colorful stalls of the wide-open Pisac Market, where you’ll find local fare and traditional crafts on display. Next, continue to the ancient Ollantaytambo ruins to explore the area’s still-standing Incan homes. Afterward, board a train to Aguas Calientes, gateway to Machu Picchu.

Cuzco1 night - hotel info

Day13

Climb the ancient temples and green slopes of Machu Picchu

Breakfast, Lunch

Machu Picchu

Uncover the lost city of Machu Picchu, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites on the entire South American continent. Step back into the days of the Incan empire as you tour the ruins of the ancient ceremonial center. Later, you’ll return to Cuzco for the night.

Lima1 night - hotel info

Day14

Descend into Peru’s captivating seaside capital

Breakfast, Dinner

Fly back to Lima, where you’ll have time to settle in to the capital city before an included dinner.

Day15

Explore the collection of colonial churches in Lima’s historic center

Breakfast

Cathedral of Lima, Monastery of San Francisco, Huaca Huallamarca

Set out on a guided tour highlighting both the modern and colonial quarters of Lima. The afternoon is free for exploring or resting in your dayroom before your overnight flight home.

Overnight Flight1 night

Day16

Settle back into life in the Northern Hemisphere

Arrive home.

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 and Packing Tips

For your Galápagos cruise, casual dress is appropriate; however, shorts and sandals aren’t allowed in the dining room during dinner. 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.

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.

One more off the bucket list!

We did the Ecuador and Galapagos Islands tour with the extension to Peru and Machu Pichu. The whole trip was fabulous, well planned, saw and did alot. It was all we expected and more. Had a great ship, good accomodations and great food. Our tour director was with us every step of the way (as well as 2 Go-Ahead employees!) . Our naturalist guide was very knowledgable and helpful on all our outings. Did the extra excursions around Quito...they were great too. The city is huge, so getting from point A to point B took time. Our buses were comfortable and we were well supplied with water every day. We had a large group (44), but Juan Carlos did a fabulous job of keeping us together and moving! Our extension trip to Peru was equally good, great trour director there also (only had 17 on the extension). He even put together an extra outing for us in Cuzco, which was very good. The night in Aqua Calientes was great...wished we had one more night there. That was an exhausting day... being at Machu Pichu at 6am, then the long train and bus ride back to Cuzco. All in all...fabulous...highly recommend this trip!

5 / 5

Traveled On: 2/24/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Juan Carlos best tour director

WOW! What we saw was amazing and MAYBE worth the money and torture of the trip. It is not a trip for the weak or faint at heart. At least 7 flights, 7 check in and out of hotels not including the check in for cruise. Lots of repacking and early departures. Even without the physical activities, it was exhausting. Surely there is a more efficient way to see these sights. We spent a couple of days in Quito adjusting to the altitude and then went to sea level in Galapagos so when we came back to Quito, we had to start over with the altitude. challenge. They warned us to drink lots of water and then would not give us what we needed. Arriving at hotel after long day at Machu Picchu, found no water provided, and when I called the tour director he said," "no water tonight, I'll give it to you tomorrow on the way to the airport". We didn't need it then. We needed it NOW so had to drag out to the store at 8PM and buy water. I would only recommend this tour with lots of warnings about the difficult logistics.

3 / 5

Traveled On: 6/2/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: TN

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

physically challenging

Overall, the tour was fine but there were times that I was wondering if I could continue climbing and walking, given the terrain, heat and incline. I feel that the experience was a good one but a bit pricey for what we received.

3 / 5

Traveled On: 5/19/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: PA

Tour Director: 3 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Breathtaking, Fabulous, The Best Ever

Where do I begin. My trip was to Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Machu Picchu. I want to commend our Tour Directors. They took care of us, everything was explained perfectly, very professional, fun to be with, and cute. Fabricio in Ecuador and Roberto in Peru. I can't say enough about both of them. They were the best. We were kept busy all the time. Tours, visits to shops, market places, walking, hiking, etc. The Galapagos Islands was a great experience. Beautiful!!! Tour Guides great!!! Animals were amazing!!! Can't say enough. Machu Picchu.....Breathtaking....There are no words to explain.....Most beautiful place I have ever seen. Thanks to everyone for making this the best vacation ever.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/5/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: RI

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

This should not be "Once in a Lifetime."

This was 6th international tour for my wife and I and 2nd with GoAhead. What an absolutely super experience. The time of the year was perfect, our fellow travelers were a joy to be with and our tour guide, Rodrigo ranked with the best we have ever experienced. He is very knowledgeable, has a great sense of humor, extremely accommodating and became a friend. Our stay and tour in Quito provided exceptional insight into the mainland culture. Our hotel, The Alameda Hotel Mercure, was excellent and conveniently located to restaurants and a shopping market. The greatest highlights of the overall trip were the experiences stemming from our ship, The Galapagos Legend. The naturalists, Panga (zodiac) drivers and crew members went out of their way to successfully provide an “over the top experience.” The daily schedules were full of activities on the Pangas from snorkeling (twice a day) to coastal boat tours to walks on lava flows or inland walks with iquanas and tortoises. Wildlife was abundant. Swimming with penquins, large turtles, sea lions and manta rays never got old. Walking among hundreds (if not thousands) of marine iquanas provided memories of a lifetime. Some thoughts and recommendations: If you fly through Atlanta, be aware there is only one flight per day to Quito. Make sure you arrive in Atlanta with plenty of time to make your connection. GoAhead scheduled us to arrive 90 minutes before the departure to Quito. With a travel delay and mechanical problem, we were fortunate to make our flight with 12 minutes to spare. There were 4 earlier flights from our home to Atlanta that were available. Heavy coats are not necessary. Layered clothes work just fine. In Quito: A convenience store named, “Okie Dokie,” is across the street from the hotel and provides water and drinks instead of the hotel’s high priced mini bar items. Don’t consume or brush your teeth with hotel tap water. One of our fellow travelers paid the price. Hair dryers are provided in the hotel (and on the ship). Wash cloths are not provided at the hotel (or on the ship). Internet connection is free and solid in the hotel. Taking toilet tissue is advisable on the bus excursions as a number of rest stops did not provide it. Otavalo Market provided some terrific shopping opportunities. If you want one of the small guitar-like string instruments, buy it there. The visit to the guitar maker after Otavalo had a smaller and much more expensive selection. There was time after returning from Galapagos to shop at the market 4 blocks from the hotel (curios, sweaters, hats, soccer shirts, etc, all at great negotiated prices). In Galapagos: As the staterooms on the boat are small, we found it helpful to consolidate our clothes into one checked bag. The clothes we did not need for the boat, we placed in the other bag and stored at the hotel. Take about 15 feet of clothes line and a dozen clothes pins. Placing a clothes line in our room was very helpful (there are no laundry facilities available on the ship). Pack “quick dry” shorts, shirts and underwear. They will dry in a few hours on the clothesline. GoAhead’s “Packing Tips” on its website states, “…shorts and sandals aren’t allowed in the dining room during dinner.” This is absolutely not true. Internet usage on the boat is EXTREMELY expensive. Snorkel, mask and fins are all provided on the ship at no charge. For land hikes, we did take small spray bottles of 100% Deet (Repel 100 @ Home Depot) At the Baltra Airport there is a plethora of shops around the corner from the obvious (and expensive one) you first see. Tips on the ship can be placed on a credit card. This is a super trip for the adventure traveler who wants to experience great views, invigorating activities and phenomenal wildlife. As there are four different itineraries offered by the Galapagos Legend, we are planning a return trip to see more and different aspects of this enchanting group of islands.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

"Excelente" Tour Director

Juan Carlos was the real excellent Tour Director! He managed a group of 44 like we were his own family. Took care of details.Gave us advise on the best to see and buy in every place. He even brought to our bus a precious girl from Otavalo (Meche) to show us how the proper indigenous dress is worn by single and married women in that wonderful region of Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands were not exactly what I have expected . However the amount of native species we saw and the spectacular pictures we could take soon erased my first impression. The crew of the Galapagos Legend was really nice. Specially the waiter Christian and bar tender Jaime.I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Pelusa our boat "captain" (panga driver). So I really recommend this trip if you get Juan Carlos as your Tour Director. My pictures represent a Galápago tortoise and a land iguana at Urbina Bay, Isabela Island and marine iguanas at Espinosa Point, Fernandina Island.

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 2/24/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: TX

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Best Trip Ever

The entire trip was excellent. Rodrigo,our tour director, did a tremendous job. Great sense of humor and very attentive to all the travelers. Very knowledgeable..The snorkeling in the Galapagos with sea lions, penguins, sea turtles and fish, fish, fish was world class. The accommodations, staff and food on the ship in the Galapagos were excellent. It was simply about the best organized trip we've ever taken, and the outdoor and water-related activities in the Galapagos were "once in a lifetime" type of experiences with animals that had no fear of humans.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: NE

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Wonderful Tour!!!

This tour was amazing from seeing the different areas of Quito and then the breathtaking views of the Galapagos Islands. It was so neat to see the animals so up close. Juan Carlos really made the tour the best it could be. He knew so much history about the area and just took great care of making sure everyone had a great time. Great trip!!!!

5 / 5

Traveled On: 12/2/2013

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: NC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Wide range of activities

Overall, this was a great tour with a good range of activities, from snorkeling with sea turtles and sea lions in the Galapagos to shopping in Lima. The main tour guide was perfect. In the midst of airport commotion, he was calm and organized, really helped reduce any travel stress. Great with questions, knowledgeable and warm. The local tour guide for Lima was wonderful, too - she approached things academically, and really got me thinking more about the situations that led to conflicts between the Incas and others, for instance. Very thought-provoking and warm. A keeper! The hotels were fine, with the one in Quito being truly exceptional. We also had a great combination of structured tours and free time. I need to mention the skilled bus drivers, too - some of the streets in Cusco were tiny and our driver managed to ferry us around without any mishaps. I would have left a path of carnage. Unbelievable talent in our drivers. The Galapagos tour was great. I had been concerned about being on a relatively large ship (The Galapagos Legend), but it was fine. Yummy food, friendly staff, comfortable rooms (we didn't upgrade - not in the room enough to use a balcony). The departures were well-organized, so there wasn't a lot of waiting around. All the guides were fantastic, knowledgeable, and respectful of the environment.

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4 / 5

Traveled On: 11/18/2013

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Great Tour Guide

We had a fabulous time on our tour due in large part to our tour director, Juan. Every detail was planned and executed by Juan. We had a great tour group and made some fast friends. Quito was interesting but the Galapagos Islands were fantastic. The animals were so fascinating that we wanted to hug them. We also were fortunate to have an experienced naturalist who was outstanding in everyway. He really had a love of the animals of the islands. The crew of the Legend were friendly and handled the morning and afternoon tour excursions with efficiency. I would recommend this tour to anyone.

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5 / 5

Traveled On: 12/2/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: SC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

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MAKE AN IMPACT

 

Get to know some of the conservation areas helping to preserve nature and wildlife in Ecuador.

 

Galápagos Islands

Galápagos, Ecuador

On the shores of the Galápagos Islands, you’ll find giant tortoises roaming, iguanas sunbathing and Sally Lightfoot crabs sidling along just as they have for centuries. Consisting of 13 main islands and three smaller islets, the “Insulae de los Galopegos” (Islands of the Tortoises) were formed around 8 million years ago, and have spent the majority of their existence in complete isolation. The archipelago is one of the only places on earth without an indigenous population, which is why its ecosystem remains one of the world’s most unique and untainted. The islands and their endemic wildlife gained much of their notoriety from their starring role in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, in which he introduced his evolutionary theory. In 1959, 100 years after Darwin’s work was published, 97.5 percent of the archipelago’s land area was declared a national park. In the same year, the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) was founded. In its early years, the CDF initiated the conservation programs now carried out by the National Park Service, such as reproduction, breeding and monitoring initiatives for the islands’ native and endangered species. Today, the national park is committed to educating visitors about the ecology of Ecuador’s only UNESCO World Heritage site by providing opportunities to explore 70 terrestrial sites and 75 marine sites with more than 320 naturalist guides qualified by the Directorate of the Galápagos National Park.

COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK

Napo, Ecuador

Towering almost 20,000 feet above sea level, Cotopaxi Volcano is the centerpiece of this vast protected area. As one of Ecuador’s most active and destructive volcanoes, the magnificent peak has long been a source of wonder and fear, inspiring indigenous peoples to worship the volcano as a deity. The mighty mountain has been relatively quiet in the past century, but that does not make her perfect snow-covered cone any less impressive. The peak is often hidden by cloud cover, but every year, thousands of intrepid hikers climb through the clouds to reach the summit. In addition to Cotopaxi itself, the national park contains three other volcanoes, putting the park at the center of Ecuador’s so-called “Avenue of Volcanoes.” On their slopes, the humid mountain forest and rainy Andean tundra contain many species of flora and fauna that are unique to these altitudes, including Paramo grasses and mosses. In the past, these ecosystems have been impacted by human encroachment, especially due to burning and grazing. Fortunately, the establishment of the national park has slowed this destruction, at the same time allowing visitors to marvel at the striking landscapes and their illusive inhabitants.

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