- Make ceviche at an Ecuadorian cooking class in Quito
- Explore the Amazonian rainforest while staying at an ecolodge
- Boat between islands in the Galápagos archipelago
- Cycle past beautiful wetlands on Isla Isabela
- Spot rare birds and giant tortoises in their natural habitat
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, City Tour & Cooking Class||Quito|
|Day 2||Transfer to the Yacuma Natural Reserve via Papallacta||Tena|
|Day 3||Enjoy a Wildlife Hike & Indigenous Community Tour||Tena|
|Day 4||Visit a Parrot Clay Lick & Return to Quito||Quito|
|Day 5||Fly to the Galápagos & See Giant Tortoises||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 6||Visit Tortuga Bay & Interpretation Center||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 7||Sail to Isla Isabela & Hike at Las Tintoreras||Isla Isabela|
|Day 8||Trek Around Sierra Negra Volcano & Wetlands||Isla Isabela|
|Day 9||Return to Isla Santa Cruz, Visit Twin Craters & Dragon Hill, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, City Tour & Cooking Class
Welcome to Quito! You'll arrive at the airport and meet your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. After taking some time to get settled in, explore the historic center on a guided tour. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) and welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas between mountain peaks. Stroll through its narrow streets and visit some of the city's most important churches, such as the Baroque La Compañía de Jesus, with its incredible gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica del Voto Nacional.
Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city. You'll visit Independence Square, where the Presidential Palace and El Sagrario Church are located. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco (1535), the oldest church in Ecuador. Finally, drive up to the city's highest viewpoint, El Panecillo, for a spectacular view of Quito. In the evening, you'll head to a cooking class inside a colonial house in the historic center. Learn to prepare various traditional Ecuadorian dishes, then enjoy the meal.
Day 2: Transfer to the Yacuma Natural Reserve via Papallacta
Leave Quito this morning and begin the journey to Yacuma Ecolodge, located in the upper basin of the great Río Amazonas. Make a stop at the hot springs of Papallacta, where you'll have plenty of time to soak in thermal waters before getting back on the road toward the small city of Tena and onward to Santa Rosa. You'll board a dug-out canoe to navigate along the Río Napo in the Yacuma Natural Reserve, paddling for 30 minutes to reach your accommodations at the ecolodge.
The staff at the lodge will welcome you with a traditional drink, and after a short welcome talk, you can get settled in your bungalow. Later, venture to the Hidden Lagoon for bird-watching; spot kingfishers, egrets, blue herons, and more. You can also try fishing for piranhas, which you can have for dinner if you catch one! Head back to the lodge for dinner, and afterward, staff can arrange a 40-minute night walk, where you'll watch and hear the forest come alive with nocturnal wildlife.
Day 3: Enjoy a Wildlife Hike & Indigenous Community Tour
After a hearty breakfast, begin a two-hour hike in the forest reserve. Your local guide will point out various species of birds, and you might spot monkeys and capybaras along the way. You'll also see many species of plants used for medicinal purposes and learn about their usage in shamanic healing rituals.
In the afternoon, a remarkable experience awaits as you're welcomed into the home of one of the members of the Indigenous Kichwa Chontayacu community. During the walk there, you'll see local crops like coffee, bananas, cacao, cassava, papaya, pineapple, and oranges, which provide sustenance for the jungle's inhabitants. You'll also have the opportunity to purchase locally produced handicrafts and sample the traditional chicha drink during the excursion. Return to the lodge afterward and enjoy a bonfire with music after dinner.
Day 4: Visit a Parrot Clay Lick & Return to Quito
Get an early start this morning to punctuate your Amazon experience with an unforgettable bird-watching event. With your guide, walk for 30 minutes to a vertical cliff, where scores of parrots gather to lick the wall's clay. This natural phenomenon is a sight as the iridescent and emerald-colored flocks take wing and settle across the steep cliffside. After enjoying this spectacle, head back to the lodge for breakfast and prepare your luggage. Then you will board the canoe to navigate back to Santa Rosa and on to Quito, where you'll have the evening free to relax.
Day 5: Fly to the Galápagos & See Giant Tortoises
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Early in the morning, your guide will pick you up from your hotel lobby and transfer you to Quito's airport, where you will board your local flight to the Galápagos Islands. Arrive at the Baltra airport and take a ferry across the beautiful Itabaca Canal to the city of Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz.
Explore the highlands of Santa Cruz in the afternoon. Start on a remote farm, enjoying a hike and the chance to observe giant Galápagos tortoises in their natural habitat. In this area, you'll also have your first opportunity to spot diﬀerent species of Galápagos birds, including the tiny Galápagos rail and, with a bit of luck, various kinds of endemic ﬁnches. Afterward, it's on to your hotel in Puerto Ayora to get settled in and spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Day 6: Visit Tortuga Bay & Interpretation Center
After an early breakfast in the hotel, start your day hiking toward the shores of the Paciﬁc Ocean to the shores of Tortuga Bay and one of the most breathtaking beaches in the archipelago. The soft coral sands and lovely scenery make this a perfect location to kick back and relax while observing some of the most iconic species of the Galápagos—famously unbothered by the presence of humans. Swim in the calm waters, then keep an eye out for colonies of marine iguanas, colorful blue-footed boobies, brilliant red-chested frigatebirds, and countless other avian species. When you're ready, return to town by boat, where you'll have free time for lunch.
In the afternoon, take a stroll to the Fausto Llerena Interpretation Center to see tortoises of diﬀerent species and sizes. Learn more about these fascinating creatures, then duck into a special air-conditioned chamber where you can observe the embalmed body of the world-famous Lonesome George, who lived over a hundred years and became an emblem of the Galápagos.
Day 7: Sail to Isla Isabela & Hike at Las Tintoreras
Arrive early at the pier of Puerto Ayora today for a scenic sailing trip to Puerto Villamil, the largest town on the island of Isabela. During the 2.5-hour journey, you'll have plenty of chances to observe the area's rich marine life, like sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and whales (from June to September). Upon arrival, get settled into your accommodation and then spend some time exploring your new base.
In the afternoon, set out on a hike to explore Las Tintoreras, a small group of islets formed by lava that provides a remarkable haven for wildlife. Spot marine iguanas, penguins, and sea lions as you traverse this otherwordly volcanic landscape, and observe how cooling magma formed the area's distinctive lava tunnels, now a favorite spot for white-tipped sharks (known locally as "Tintoreras") to bask.
Day 8: Trek Around Sierra Negra Volcano & Wetlands
A transfer takes you into the highlands of Isabela this morning, from where you'll start an easy 1.5-hour walk to reach the rim of Sierra Negra. This spectacular active crater volcano is the second-largest in the world and spans over 6 miles (10 km) at its widest. Its rich soils provide the perfect ecosystem for rare and remarkable flora—make sure to bring along your binoculars to catch some of the unique birdlife that thrives here.
In the afternoon, discover another of Isabela's distinct ecosystems as you bike along a well-maintained trail to the island's wetlands, where you'll find a series of peaceful lagoons surrounded by mangroves. Look out for flamingoes, lava gulls, and blue-winged teals among the plentiful birdlife in the lagoons. Finish your cycling tour at the beach, where you'll have free time to relax before heading back to town.
Day 9: Return to Isla Santa Cruz, Visit Twin Craters & Dragon Hill, Depart
After returning to Santa Cruz this morning, you'll still have time to visit two spectacular destinations before departure. First up is Los Gemelos (Twin Craters), lush sinkholes created when the volcanic roof of an empty magma chamber collapsed from tectonic shifts. The area is now a prime habitat for bromeliads, orchids, mosses, lichens, and many birds, including the vermillion ﬂycatcher, several species of Darwin ﬁnches, and short-eared owls.
Next, continue to Cerro Dragon ("Dragon Hill"), an aptly-named boulder-strewn slope that's one of the best places on the island to see land iguanas. Watch these prehistoric-looking creatures sun themselves on the rocks as you wind through a trail between cacti and palo santo trees. Nearby you'll find a lagoon that draws pintail ducks, flamingoes, and endemic birds like flycatchers and warblers. When the time finally comes to say your goodbyes to the Galápagos, you'll transfer back to Baltra and catch a flight to the mainland to connect with your departing flight. Safe travels!