On this Ecuadorian journey, start out in beautiful Quito, touring the capital and its surrounding region to experience local history and culture. You'll see colonial architecture, visit an indigenous market, and try traditional cuisine. Then, go on a true adventure of a lifetime in the Galapagos Islands. These famed islands provided Charles Darwin with the research and inspiration for his Theory of Evolution, and boast endemic species such as the blue-footed booby, marine iguanas, and giant tortoises.

Highlights

  • Go on a chocolate tasting tour in Quito
  • Shop at the famous Otavalo Indigenous Market Town
  • Snorkle around Kicker Rock in the Galapagos
  • See endemic Galapagos species like the giant tortoise

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito & Old Town Tour Quito
Day 2 Otavalo Day Tour Quito
Day 3 Arrival to the Galapagos San Cristobal Island
Day 4 Española Island Day Tour San Cristobal Island
Day 5 Kicker Rock & Cerro Brujo Day Tour San Cristobal Island
Day 6 Departure from San Cristobal  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Quito & Old Town Tour

Historic center of Quito
Historic center of Quito

Upon arrival to Quito airport, you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel.

After you've gotten some rest, head out on a special tour of the historic center, which includes a delicious chocolate tasting. Start at the Café Galería for your first chocolate tasting, then go to the Quito Cathedral and the Street of the 7 Crosses. Officially called Calle García Moreno, this street follows a former Inca path, and received its nickname from its seven stone crosses erected by the Spanish during colonial times. 

Continue the tour with even more chocolate tasting at the new Chez Tiff craft pastry shop, then visit La Compañía and San Francisco churches. The tour ends on a high note with a stop at El Panecillo Hill, which provides one of the most spectacular panoramic views of Quito.

Day 2: Otavalo Day Tour

Textiles at the Otavalo Indigenous Market
Textiles at the Otavalo Indigenous Market

Today, you'll leave Quito behind as you drive north to the city of Cayambe to try its famous biscochos biscuits. Then, you'll continue to Otavalo, whose famous indigenous market is considered one of the biggest and most colorful in South America. Sharpen your bargaining skills and shop for local crafts.

Your next destination is the beautiful Cuicocha Lake, and the nearby town of Cotacachi, which is renowned for its quality leather goods. Finally, you'll visit the indigenous village of Peguche, where you will meet members of the Otavalo Indigenous people and enjoy a cultural exchange.

Enjoy a free evening back in Quito.

Day 3: Arrival to the Galapagos

Sea lion underwater
Sea lion underwater

Rise and shine for an early breakfast before flying to San Cristobal Island on the Galapagos.

Upon arrival, your guide will transfer you to your hotel for a quick rest before lunch at a local spot. Your adventure will then begin with an afternoon tour to the Galapaguera. This giant turtle breeding center allows you to observe giant tortoises (endemic to San Cristobal) in their natural habitat and learn about their breeding process. You'll then visit El Junco Lagoon, a sweet water lagoon where frigate birds clean their wings from sea salt.

Rest from the days activities back at the hotel.

Day 4: Española Island Day Tour

Giant marine iguana
Giant marine iguana

Today, you'll explore the magnificent Española Island. The island is home to several species of animals of interest, such as the Galapagos turtles, lava lizards, and marine iguanas. Given its location, Española maintains a high percentage of endemic fauna, which makes it quite popular with tourists as well as research scientists.

The island boasts a significant albatross colony of about 15,000 couples. Many nest close to tourist trails, so it is quite easy to see them without bothering them.  You might also be lucky enough to see some masked boobies, whose nesting areas are different from the blue-footed boobies. The scenery in Española is unique, with its rocky formations rising from the deep blue waters of the pacific, protected wildlife trails, and sea geysers.

After a full day spent on this magical island, you will return to San Cristobal.

Day 5: Kicker Rock & Cerro Brujo Day Tour

Kicker Rock
Kicker Rock

Get hyped for a day tour to Kicker Rock and Cerro Brujo, two of the most interesting spots in the Galapagos.

Kicker Rock's almost-surprising sharpness gives a touch of roughness to the Pacific scenery that surrounds it. Enjoy snorkeling around this impressive geological formation and observe marine turtles, sea lions, and tropical birds. From here, head go to Cerro Brujo, where you will do some additional swimming and snorkeling.

If playing in the water with sea animals does not appeal to you, you can opt for a walking tour accompanied by a Galapagos Naturalist Guide. The first stop will be Playa Mann, a frequented beach where you might share sand space with sea lions. Then, go to the Interpretation Center and learn about the ecosystem and history of the islands, as well as conservation efforts. You will also be making a quick stop at the Charles Darwin Monument—a must since the islands inspired the scientific theory that made him famous! From here, walk to Cabo de Horno, an ideal place for snorkeling (in case you've changed your mind) and/or wildlife watching. The final spot of your walking tour will be Cerro Tijeretas, a viewpoint with an absolutely marvelous view of the landscape.

(Kicker Rock day tour includes lunch)

Day 6: Departure from San Cristobal

Lion seals in the sand
Lion seals in the sand

Enjoy your last breakfast on this beautiful island before transferring to the airport for a connecting flight into mainland Ecuador. From here, you can continue your journey onto your next adventure. 

Safe travels!

Map

Map of Ecuador Highlights: Quito & the Galapagos - 6 Days
Map of Ecuador Highlights: Quito & the Galapagos - 6 Days