This exciting tour combines two of Ecuador's most exotic landscapes: the Amazon rainforest and the Galápagos Islands. Start the trip in Quito, the country's capital, and take a self-guided tour before transferring east to the edge of civilization. Here you'll canoe to your lodge in the Amazon to partake in several days of excursions into the remote jungle. Then catch a flight to the Galápagos Islands to observe its extraordinary inhabitants and local culture, with plenty of time to relax at the tropical beaches.


  • Start each day in the Amazon with jungle walks while looking for colorful birds
  • Let an Indigenous family teach you how to make local bread called cassava 
  • Get close to giant tortoises in the highlands and learn about conservation efforts
  • Tour the first craft beer brewery on the Galápagos Islands (with tastings)
  • Search for white-tip sharks and blue-footed boobies on a guided boat tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, City Tour, Transfer to the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve Overnight Transfer
Day 2 Arrive at the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve Cuyabeno
Day 3 Explore the Amazon Cuyabeno
Day 4 Visit an Indigenous Community, Explore Laguna Grande & Igapó Cuyabeno
Day 5 Hiking & Canoeing Adventure Cuyabeno
Day 6 Sunrise Rainforest Walk, Transfer to Quito Quito
Day 7 Fly to San Cristóbal Island Isla San Cristóbal
Day 8 Visit a Tortoise Breeding Center, Relax on Puerto Chino Beach Isla San Cristóbal
Day 9 Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal Isla San Cristóbal
Day 10 Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Kayaking on Tortuga Bay Isla Santa Cruz
Day 11 Morning Bike Tour, Afternoon Bay Tour Isla Santa Cruz
Day 12 Explore the Cerro Mesa Reserve, Relax on Garrapatero Beach Isla Santa Cruz
Day 13 Transfer to Quito, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, City Tour, Transfer to Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Get a taste of Quito before your overnight transfer to the Amazon

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival in the capital of Quito, you'll begin exploring the city using the Hop-On Hop-Off Quito bus system. Depending on how much time you have, there are several stops that may interest you. The first stop is the Naciones Unidas Boulevard, the heart of modern Quito, where you can walk around the 165-acre (67 ha) La Carolina urban park.

Other stops to follow include La Mariscal, an area with cafés, museums, and galleries that show the culture of Ecuador. For souvenirs, head to the local artisan market, where you will find a variety of colorful crafts with unique designs. Another stop on the tour is La Basilica, the largest Gothic Revival church in South America. Here you can reach one of the highest viewpoints in the city by climbing the steps of one of its towers. You'll also want to dedicate time to Quito's UNESCO-listed Old Town for colonial architecture, churches, convents, museums, and charming restaurants.

In the evening, make your way to the Blue House Youth Hostel to board an overnight shuttle bus that will take you to El Puente del Cuyabeno. This is a small docking station for canoes that transfer visitors to the lodges in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Day 2: Arrive at the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Squirrel monkeys in the trees
Keep an eye out for squirrel monkeys in the trees as you canoe to your lodge

This morning, continue your overnight transfer until you reach the main entrance to the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the last point of civilization before you enter the Amazon. You'll be provided a box lunch before continuing the three-hour journey along the Río Cuyabeno in a motorized canoe to reach the lodge.

With a bit of luck, you'll spot some of the different species of monkeys, and tropical birds since this section of the river is narrow enough to observe wildlife closely. Once you arrive at the lodge, there will be time to rest, followed by an introductory tour of the area. Your bilingual tour guide will also supply you with information about the coming days' activities after dinner.

Day 3: Explore the Amazon

Parrot in the Amazon
Colorful parrots roam free in the Amazon

Wake up this morning in the Amazon and take advantage of the early hours of the day. This is the best time to observe the flourishing activities of the tropical forest. Your guide will share his or her knowledge with you during a walk in the rainforest, and you'll learn and understand how life in the jungle coexists in a fragile balance. Keep an eye out for amphibians, butterflies, centipedes, millipedes, birds, monkeys, and other mammals and insects along the trail.

After lunch at the lodge, make an excursion that will take you along the Río Cuyabeno to discover the animals that live in the dense forest on the banks of the river, especially monkeys, toucans, and sloths. There'll also be an opportunity to spot river dolphins in the magnificent fluvial landscape. Dinner will be served at the lodge, and then you'll take an exciting walk into the forest to find nightlife, such as insects, spiders, snakes, and colorful frogs, accompanied by the nocturnal sounds of the jungle.

Day 4: Visit an Indigenous Community, Explore Laguna Grande & Igapó

Float down the Río Cuyabeno and take a swim in the Laguna Grande

Rise and shine for an early walk through the forest to see the morning wildlife, especially monkeys and birds. Return to the lodge for breakfast, then travel by motorized canoe along the Turtle Path to visit the Seoqueya community, where several families of the Indigenous Siona group live. One of the family members will demonstrate traditional cooking techniques, including yuca bread called cassava. You'll then try your hand at making this bread as your guide explains local traditions and cultures.

In the afternoon, continue by motorized canoe along the Cuyabeno to Laguna Grande. Here, you'll explore a unique rainforest ecosystem with an igapó (flooded forest) characterized by massive trees and lush greenery. After exploring the lagoon, cool off with a swim in the calm water and enjoy a leisurely sunset. Then head downriver to see more nocturnal wildlife, especially caimans, before returning to the lodge for dinner.

Day 5: Hiking & Canoeing in the Rainforest

Follow a hiking path through the rainforest followed by a canoe ride

After breakfast at the lodge, you'll have some flexibility to explore the rainforest a bit further with additional hiking and canoeing adventures depending on your preference and the weather. For example, you can explore a pristine stretch of the jungle with your guide as he or she tells you more about the medicinal use of the plants and how native cultures have used it for generations. This knowledge has been passed on from generation to generation and is still applied by the local population today. 

Return to the lodge in the early afternoon for lunch and a rest. Then you can explore another section of the Río Cuyabeno by canoe and enjoy the views of the exceptional scenery and listen to the sounds of the jungle as you watch out for the exotic local species.

Day 6: Sunrise Jungle Walk, Transfer to Quito

Return to Quito in time for dinner in the historic center

Start your final morning in the Amazon early with a sunrise jungle hike, spotting colorful birds as the forest comes alive. Take a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet in this natural paradise before it's time to say goodbye. After breakfast, you'll gather your belongings and prepare to return to civilization. Navigate the river in the opposite direction as you return to the main entrance to the reserve. This is where a shuttle will be waiting to transfer you back to Quito.

You'll arrive in Quito in the evening at the initial meeting point, the Blue House Youth Hostel, and then transfer to your hotel. If there's time, take a walk around the city's historic center and sample the local restaurant scene for dinner.

Day 7: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal

Finish the day at La Lobería beach and look for sea lions

Today you'll catch a flight to the Galápagos Islands! Your adventure starts on Isla San Cristóbal, the easternmost island in the archipelago. A private driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. From here, you can visit an interpretation center to learn about the island's wildlife and conservation efforts. In one area, you can see a presentation of natural history origins, while another area features human history since the Galápagos's discovery.

Then it's time to get close to some wildlife in their natural habitat at Las Tijeretas Hill, named after the distinct frigatebirds with their swollen red throats that inhabit and nest in this area. If you visit the island from June to October, you may also see whales. Finish the day at La Lobería, a beach that's home to sea lions and marine iguanas. 

Day 8: Visit a Tortoise Breeding Center, Relax on Puerto Chino Beach

Giant Galapagos Tortoise
Get up close to the Galápagos' most famous residents

Drive into the highlands of San Cristóbal today to visit La Galapaguera to witness the most iconic creature of the archipelago in its various life stages. The giant tortoises wander in a semi-natural habitat which lends itself to good photographic opportunities. The aim of the reserve is to help restore populations of the threatened San Cristóbal tortoise back into the wild.

On your way into the highlands, make a stop at El Junco Lagoon, a freshwater lake 2,297 feet (700 m) above sea level. It's one of the few permanent freshwater lakes in the Galápagos. Here you can see frigatebirds shower in the freshwater to remove salt from their feathers, as well as white-cheeked pintails and common gallinules. You'll also see the typical highland miconia vegetation and endemic tree ferns.

Afterward, make your way to the island's southeast coast to reach Puerto Chino Beach, with a variety of winged and flippered inhabitants. The fine white sand offers plenty of space to stretch out, while the calm water makes the beach a popular place to go swimming. In the mangroves that lie just behind the sand, you'll see finches, while the rocky outcrops to the left and right of the sandy beach are home to many sea lions. 

Day 9: Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal

Spend time in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno or choose between a range of excursions

Make the most of a free day on Isla San Cristóbal. This easternmost island of the Galápagos comprises four fused volcanoes, all extinct, with the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the southwestern coast. Nearby is Naufragio ("Wreck") Bay—the spot where the English naturalist, Charles Darwin, landed in 1835 and compiled data that he later incorporated into his "On the Origin of Species" scientific report (1859). 

If you want to relax, spend the day on the beach at Playa Carola or Playa Mann, and sunbathe beside friendly sea lions and paddle in the warm ocean. For something more active, arrange a boat excursion to Pitt Point, where you can hike on a trail among tough shrubs that manage to survive in this barren volcanic landscape. You'll be rewarded with magnificent viewpoints overlooking the beach. 

Day 10: Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Kayaking on Tortuga Bay

Speedboat to Santa Cruz Island & Kayaking on Tortuga Bay
Take a 45-minute hike to this photogenic beach and jump in a kayak

This morning you'll speedboat to your next destination: Isla Santa Cruz. Upon arrival, take a 45-minute hike from your hotel in Puerto Ayora to get to Tortuga Bay. Then feel free to grab a kayak to see the coastline from the sea and explore mangroves, cacti forests, and marine bird habitats with flamingoes, pelicans, and finches. Take a kayaking break to relax on the beach, and then put on your snorkeling gear.

Later in the day, you'll transfer from your hotel to the Santa Cruz Brewery Production Plant, the first craft beer company in the Galápagos. After a tour, you'll participate in the production process by riding the coffee grinder that's actually a bike! The next part of the tour will take you to the brewery's restaurant and pub for appetizers and beer tasting, along with free time for board games or beer pong. You'll be transferred back to your hotel when you're ready. 

Day 11: Morning Bike Tour, Afternoon Bay Tour

Finish the afternoon with a swim in Las Grietas

Today you're free to explore the island's beauty on two wheels. A bike will be reserved and waiting for you at your hotel, so you can set off on an adventure when ready. Santa Cruz is actually a dormant volcano that last erupted over 1.5 million years ago, and you'll find black and rusty colored volcanic rocks across the island, along with lava tunnels to explore.

For a break, pay a visit to the Lava Java organic coffee farm and enjoy a snack as you look out to the Pacific Ocean. Eventually, make your way back to Puerto Ayora and cycle near the sea lions, pelicans, and marine iguanas. There's very light traffic across the island, so you'll often have the roads to yourself. Once you're done, leave the bike at your hotel.

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After lunch, you will be taken on a small boat to visit exotic places along the bay of Santa Cruz, including a small islet called La Lobería, which, like San Cristóbal, is named after its sea lion community. You can snorkel around sea lions and tropical fish who display a dazzling show beneath the surface. Afterward, it's on to the Shark Channel, where you may spot harmless white-tip sharks and blue-footed boobies. You'll also come upon the Canal del Amor, where there are sea turtles and many different species of tropical fish. 

You'll then take a 10-minute walk and see marine iguanas in their natural habitat, with plenty of opportunities to take pictures along the way. Last but not least, you'll visit Las Grietas, two large cliffs filled with fresh water at the surface (and salt water below), providing a fantastic place for a swim. 

Day 12: Explore the Cerro Mesa Reserve, Relax at Garrapatero Beach

Garrapatero Beach
Spend time relaxing at Garrapatero Beach before tomorrow's departure

Head into the highlands of Santa Cruz today to visit the Cerro Mesa Reserve, where you can see a huge crater. This is a remnant of a time when Santa Cruz was still a volcanically active island. Head to the extraordinary viewpoint, where you will be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the entire island. 

Afterward, continue to Garrapatero Beach, where you will have the chance to relax, observe animals, and swim. The beach is accessed by a short walk along a trail through diverse vegetation and mangroves, while flamingoes often frequent a small lagoon near the beach. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure.

Day 13: Transfer to Quito, Depart

Fly into Quito for your international connection
The day has come to say goodbye to Ecuador! If time allows, you can fit in some souvenir shopping or take one more stroll through Puerto Ayora. At the designated time, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for your departure flight to Quito, where you'll connect to your international flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Ecuador Adventure in the Amazon Rainforest & Galápagos Islands - 13 Days
Map of Ecuador Adventure in the Amazon Rainforest & Galápagos Islands - 13 Days