Combine a luxury vacation with bucket-list adventures in one of the best places for it: Ecuador. First, walk amid fascinating colonial history in Quito and dine at some of the country's best restaurants before exploring the rugged volcanoes and frontiers outside the city. Next, spend a few days on rainforest hikes at an exclusive lodge in the Amazon before concluding the adventure in the famous Galápagos archipelago, where you'll embark on daily private yacht excursions around this biodiverse wonderland.


  • Enjoy fine dining in Quito as well as home cooking with local families
  • Stay at historic haciendas with views overlooking snowcapped volcanoes
  • Spot parrots and monkeys on nature hikes in the Amazon
  • Marvel at the Galápagos' famed biodiversity on an island-hopping yacht tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Welcome Dinner at Kriollo Quito
Day 2 Quito Old Town History Tour, Family Dinner with Locals Quito
Day 3 Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, Helicopter Tour Cotopaxi
Day 4 Rose Farm Tour, Transfer to Quito, Dinner at Urko Quito
Day 5 Fly to Yasuní National Park, Transfer to Sacha Lodge, Night Hike Yasuní National Park
Day 6 Day Trip to Observation Tower & Canopy Walk Yasuní National Park
Day 7 Visit Parrot Clay Lick, Amazon Nature Hike Yasuní National Park
Day 8 Morning Rainforest Activities, Fly to Quito Quito
Day 9 Fly to the Galápagos, Isla Santa Cruz Tour Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos
Day 10 Galápagos Hidden Gems Yacht Tour (Day 1) Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos
Day 11 Galápagos Hidden Gems Yacht Tour (Day 2) Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos
Day 12 Visit Charles Darwin Station, Tortuga Bay & Lava Tunnel Dinner Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos
Day 13 Fly to Quito, Afternoon at Leisure Quito
Day 14 Visit Papallacta Hot Springs, Depart Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Welcome Dinner at Kriollo

Welcome to your accommodation while in Quito (photo courtesy of Casa Gangotena)

Welcome to Ecuador! This South American country is a bucket-list destination for outdoor adventurers. Its varied ecosystems range from highland plains and volcanoes to the Amazon rainforest and beyond the coast to the legendary Galápagos archipelago. This itinerary includes all of the above, starting with your arrival in Quito. Ecuador's capital isn't only surrounded by the aforementioned highland scenery, but its Spanish colonial center is one of the most well-preserved in the Americas, thus earning it UNESCO World Heritage Status.

At the airport terminal, your driver will pick you up for the 45-minute ride into the city and Casa Gangotena. Located in Quito's historic Old Town, this luxurious 5-star hotel is situated in a beautifully restored mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco. Each of its elegant rooms and suites is outfitted with mod-cons and luxury amenities, from flat-screen TVs to plush bedding. You can dine at the hotel's gourmet restaurant, which celebrates traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, enjoy a smart cocktail at the classic mahogany bar, or relax in the garden amid lush greenery.

After settling in, you'll enjoy a very special welcome dinner at nearby Kriollo. Run by Michelin-starred chefs, this chic restaurant specializes in Ecuadorian cuisine, emphasizing traditional flavors and ingredients while presenting them with a modern twist. Within the cozy ambience, you'll dine on exciting plates of jazzed-up favorites, like ceviche de camarón (shrimp ceviche), locro de papa (an Andean potato soup), and seco de chivo (goat stew). The tempting dessert menu features Ecuadorian classics like tres leches cake, flan, and helado de paila (fruit sorbet).

Day 2: Quito Old Town History Tour, Family Dinner with Locals

Sample Ecuador's famed hospitality with a home-cooked dinner hosted by a local Quito family 

Rise and shine! This morning, you'll meet a bonafide historian for a private guided tour around Quito's UNESCO-listed Old Town. This jaunt will take you down cobblestone streets to famous landmarks, including the neo-Gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional and the 17th-century San Francisco church and convent. During the tour, you'll also see famous works by renowned local artists, like Oswaldo Guayasamín, who left an indelible mark on Quito's (and Latin America's) artistic heritage. And your guide will be there every step of the way to offer insight and historical perspective.

Later this evening, you'll enjoy a very special dining experience. You've sampled the elevated cuisine at Quito's fine restaurants; now, you'll visit the home of a local Quito family for a home-cooked meal. Located in the city's outskirts in the elegant district of Cumbayá, your friendly hosts will welcome you inside and share their generational recipes as they prepare a delicious dinner. Then, sit down and enjoy the meal as you hear some anecdotes and stories about life in this part of the world. Afterward, you'll say goodbye to your new friends and return to your hotel.

Day 3: Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, Helicopter Tour

Experience the majesty of Ecuador's highlands on a thrilling private helicopter flight

Leave Quito after breakfast on a 1.5-hour ride south to Cotopaxi National Park, a pristine nature reserve covering 129 square miles (334 sq km) in the Andean highlands. When you arrive, you'll leave the car and take to the skies on a private one-hour helicopter ride over these awe-inspiring highland landscapes. Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the soaring peaks and snowcapped cone of the iconic Cotopaxi volcano, as well as other landmarks like Laguna La Micacocha and Laguna Muertepungo. This thrilling outing offers a perspective that will forever linger in your memory.

After touching back down on land, you'll transfer to Hacienda San Agustín de Callo. Situated in the foothills of the iconic Cotopaxi volcano, this rustic yet comfortable hacienda is built on the site of an Inca palace and later a colonial estate. It offers a variety of rooms and suites, each uniquely decorated with a blend of colonial and Indigenous styles. The rooms feature antique furnishings, luxurious linens, and modern comforts such as private bathrooms and heating. Of course, the real star is the property itself, whose gardens and trails you'll explore on a guided tour when you arrive.

More splendid scenery awaits when you sit down for a private sunset dinner at the hacienda. Marvel at the volcano and mountain panoramas through glass windows as you dine on authentic Andean cuisine prepared fresh from locally sourced ingredients. A real treat is watching the last rays of the sun descend behind the volcano's pinnacle, painting the sky with vivid shades of pink and orange. 

Day 4: Rose Farm Tour, Transfer to Quito, Dinner at Urko

Enter the world of Ecuador's booming rose trade on a plantation tour

Step into the colorful world of Ecuador's renowned rose farms this morning on a private guided tour. This country is one of the world's leading exporters, and on a visit to a rose plantation, you'll see firsthand the process of cultivating these prized blossoms. Gain insight into the meticulous care that goes into nurturing these captivating flowers, known for their vibrant colors and exceptional fragrance.

Later, enjoy one last hike around Cotopaxi, stopping at volcanic lagoons like Limpiopungo. With any luck, you'll spot an Andean condor (or two) soaring overhead. Afterward, meet your driver for the return trip to Quito. There, you'll check back into Casa Gangotena.

Another 5-star meal is in store tonight, this time at Urko. Located in the colorful neighborhood of La Floresta, this popular eatery takes a holistic view of the dining experience. Savor the delicious results of this ethos as you enjoy its famous tasting menu, which changes regularly to reflect the freshest ingredients determined by optimum agricultural cycles. Expect variations on tasty morsels like fresh ceviche, Amazonian fish, quinoa risotto, and a celebration of tubers like root vegetables and potatoes.

Day 5: Fly to Yasuní National Park, Transfer to Sacha Lodge, Night Hike

Sacha Lodge
Leave the bustle of the city for the remote wilds of the Amazon (photo courtesy of Sacha Lodge) 

It's time for a change of scenery! Rise early and transfer back to the airport for the 40-minute flight to Coca. Located in the northeastern Amazon region, on the Río Napo, this small city is a transport hub for excursions deep into the jungle. That's exactly what you'll do when, upon arrival, transfer to the dock and hop on a private canoe for the two-hour ride downriver to Sacha Lodge.

This remote jungle lodge is the perfect escape for those who want to mix adventure with comfort. Sacha lies within a 5,000-acre ecological reserve, blending seamlessly into the heart of the rainforest. All around the rustic (yet well-equipped) property are fun natural attractions, like nature trails, a suspended walkway over the trees, and the "Canopy Exploration Crane"—a metal basket suspended from a jib 140 feet (42 m) above the ground and which offers panoramic views over the jungle canopy.

The lodge is also adjacent to Yasuní National Park. The equator, Andes, and Amazon biomes meet within this 3,792 square mile (9,820 sq km) protected area, home to thousands of species of mammals, plants, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. You don't have to wait to enjoy these natural wonders, either. After dinner, you'll set out on a nocturnal nature hike with an expert guide. Equipped with a headlamp, you'll hike through the forest and ride a canoe on the lake to spot exotic animals like bats, ocelots, sloths, snakes, and caimans.

Day 6: Day Trip to Observation Tower & Canopy Walk

Sacha Lodge Canopy Walk
Immerse yourself in the splendor of the rainforest on a canopy hike (photo courtesy of Sacha Lodge)

Your first full day in the Amazon begins at dawn. It's a great time to embark on a nature hike around the lodge to spot the rainforest animals when they're most active. After breakfast, you'll appreciate the Amazon from a different vantage point when you transfer to a tower built around a vast kapok tree. You'll enjoy panoramic views of the jungle canopy and the surrounding Amazon wilderness from the tower's observation deck.

It's a perfect spot for nature photography and to spot endemic birds like toucans and macaws. You might even spot the famously strange hoatzin, or, as it's known locally, the "stinkbird." This bird earned this moniker from the unpleasant odor it emits due to its diet of swamp plants.

The rest of the day is yours to create your own itinerary with your dedicated guide. If you like, go for a canopy walk on suspension bridges and take a ride on the Exploration Crane. The lodge is also home to one of the largest butterfly farms in Ecuador. Designed as a live exhibition conservatory, the Butterfly House breeds nearly 40 native butterfly species, which you can see on a visit. You can also head to Laguna Pilchicocha and take a swim in a section protected by a mesh cage—you might spot caimans and giant river otters swimming on the other side of the net!

Day 7: Visit Parrot Clay Lick, Amazon Nature Hike

Parrot Clay Lick
Witness flocks of parrots enjoying their morning feed at a clay lick

Today starts with a 30-minute hike along a nearby trail to reach one of the highlights of Yasuní National Park—the parrot clay licks. Hundreds of birds flock to these small cliffs on the banks of the Río Napo to feed the mineral-rich soil, creating one of the most captivating displays in the birding world. Make sure to bring your binoculars to view the 11 species of parrots and parakeets that frequent the cliffside, and keep an eye out for the other animals like howler monkeys, tapirs, and peccaries that come here to drink.

Later in the afternoon, embark on another guided nature hike to discover more flora and fauna. Within this natural menagerie, you'll spy all manner of exotic creatures, including monkeys, sloths, tree frogs, toucans, and (if you're lucky) the elusive jaguar. After the hike, explore the nearby lake and creeks by dugout canoe. There's a high chance you may run into a giant otter family on the way.

Day 8: Morning Rainforest Activities, Fly to Quito

Cabin at Sacha Lodge
Spend one last morning hiking Sacha's walkways around the Amazon rainforest (photo courtesy of Sacha Lodge)
Spend your final morning in the Amazon on nature hikes around the lodge. After snapping some final photos of rainforest and wildlife pics, you'll travel by canoe back up the river to Coca and catch your return flight to Quito. Tonight, you'll stay near the airport at EB by Eurobuilding. This 5-star hotel's well-appointed rooms feature adjustable beds with luxury linens, minibars, and flat-screen TVs. There's also a swimming pool where you can relax in a lounger amid views of Quito's surrounding hills. And in case you want a midnight snack, the hotel offers 24-hour room service.

Day 9: Fly to the Galápagos, Isla Santa Cruz Tour

Welcome to your stylish, luxury villa in Isla Santa Cruz (photo courtesy of Villa Escalesia)
Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Say goodbye to mainland Ecuador as you catch a four-hour flight to the Galápagos, one of the most biodiverse spots on Earth. You'll arrive on Baltra, an islet adjacent to Isla Santa Cruz, one of the 13 main volcanic islands that comprise the archipelago. At the airport, your guide and driver will pick you up for the ride to Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz's south side.

Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel for the next few days, Villa Escalesia. You're in for a treat, as this luxurious and sprawling manor is one of the few private homes in the Galápagos available for exclusive hire. The property offers all the creature comforts of home, with grand suites featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a lagoon-like pool on site. It's an ideal base for a Galápagos holiday, and after each day indulging your inner naturalist on outdoor excursions, you can return to Villa Escalesia for a relaxing soak in the Jacuzzi.

You can relax later because after checking in, you'll head right back out on a private tour of Santa Cruz's highlights. Venture to the interior highlands, where you can observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. You can explore lava tunnels and visit Los Gemelos (Twin Craters). These volcanic sinkholes are home to various bird species like flycatchers, Galápagos doves, Darwin's finches, short-eared owls, and more. After a home-cooked meal at a local farm, your guide will take you back to Villa Escalesia.

Day 10: Galápagos Hidden Gems Yacht Tour (Day 1)

You'll spot plenty of famous Galápagos wildlife, like blue-footed boobies

Spend the day cruising around some of the Galápagos' hidden gems in style on a private yacht. This full-day tour begins early at the port in Puerto Ayora, where you'll board the luxury charter vessel and set sail to the uninhabited islands and islets around Santa Cruz. Depending on the specific itinerary, these might include Seymour Norte, Bartolomé, Plazas, and Santa Fé.

At each one, you'll immerse yourself in the archipelago's unspoiled natural beauty and encounter the iconic wildlife that has made the Galápagos a bucket-list travel destination. Watch for the famed blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and playful sea lions that relax on the beaches and occupy the rocky coastline. Lunch will be a delectable spread served on board, refueling you for the adventures ahead.

As the afternoon sun dips, don your snorkeling gear and hop in the water to spend time with marine animals like tropical fish, sea turtles, sea lions, and perhaps even Galápagos sharks. Not to worry, though, as in the entire recorded history of these islands, there has never been a fatality due to shark attacks. Afterward, return to the ship and relax on deck as you cruise back to Puerto Ayora.

Day 11: Galápagos Hidden Gems Yacht Tour (Day 2)

Enchanting Encore: Another Yacht Day Trip to Captivating Uninhabited Galápagos Islands (Charter)
Combine wildlife and nature hikes with tropical cocktails on the yacht
Return to the port this morning and embark on day two of your luxury island-hopping experience. Cruise between more uninhabited islands, enjoying the views from the sun deck and stopping on shore to enjoy nature hikes and do some wildlife photography. Just like yesterday, a decadent lunch will be served on board, complete with tropical cocktails. More snorkeling is in store later in the afternoon, after which you'll return to Santa Cruz and your hotel.

Day 12: Visit Charles Darwin Station, Tortuga Bay & Lava Tunnel Dinner

Tortoise hatchling at the Breeding Station
See tortoise hatchlings at the breeding station on Isla Santa Cruz

Immerse yourself in the natural history of the Galápagos with a morning visit to the famous Charles Darwin Research Center. Here, scientists worldwide work together to protect the flora and fauna of the Galápagos. Environmental projects include water analysis, protection of endemic wildlife, effects of tourism on nature, and other pressing issues. Visit the Galápagos tortoise rearing station to see where these animals are raised before being released into nature, and keep an eye out for land iguanas who live around the station.

Later, you'll return to Puerto Ayora and the heavenly Tortuga Bay Beach. Famed for its soft coral sand and spectacular scenery, this stretch of coast is considered one of the archipelago's most picturesque spots. The first part of the beach has strong waves, so it isn't recommended for swimming, but continue walking west to reach a tranquil bay of calm, welcoming water. Here, you can observe colonies of marine iguanas and birds, mangroves, cactus forests, and fascinating coastal flora.

Your final dinner in the Galápagos is a special affair indeed. This evening, you'll head over to an actual volcanic tunnel in the highlands, where your private table awaits. Here, amid the splendor of the islands, you'll enjoy a tasting menu of gourmet Ecuadorian cuisine prepared by your personal master chef. After this memorable experience, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 13: Fly to Quito, Afternoon at Leisure

Walk the historic streets of Quito one more time
Say goodbye to the Galápagos as you catch a flight this morning back to Quito. A driver will pick you up at the airport for the ride to Casa Gangotena, where you'll spend one more night enjoying colonial-era opulence. You can spend the rest of the day sightseeing in Old Town and shopping for last-minute souvenirs.

Day 14: Visit Papallacta Hot Springs, Depart Quito

Reward yourself with a nice long soak in Ecuador's famous hot springs

Cap this grand adventure in style with a bit of relaxation. Before flying out of Ecuador, you'll transfer about 1.5 hours southeast of Quito to the famous Papallacta hot springs, where you'll soak in volcanic waters. Situated at 12,100 feet (3,700 m) in an evergreen páramo (Andean high grasslands) landscape, this area is renowned for its healing waters. You'll spot the giant Artisana volcano looming above if the weather is clear.

You'll also spend time at the Termas de Papallacta Resort and Spa, which offers nine warm and three cold pools at various temperatures, plus an on-site spa with multiple health and beauty treatments, including hydromassage, a Turkish steam bath, and a mud wrap. It's also a great spot to have lunch with local dishes such as fresh-grilled trout. When the time comes, you'll get back on the road and return to Quito and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Luxury Journey Through Ecuador & the Galápagos - 14 Days
Map of Luxury Journey Through Ecuador & the Galápagos - 14 Days