Ecuador and Galapagos: Quick Highlights Tour

The best of mainland and islands of Ecuador
FromUSD$1,525
The best of mainland and islands of Ecuador
FromUSD$1,525
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Build a Custom Tour



Looking for something a little different? At Impactful Travel, we specialize in crafting custom itineraries tailored to your unique travel desires and ethical values.

Build Your Trip

  • 11 Days, 10 Nights(Flexible: this is an example itinerary)
  • Group Size: 1 - 9(for bigger groups please enquire)
  • Price range: $ 1275 - 1905Single traveler: $ 2800

Our Ecuador & Galapagos: Quick Highlights Tour is designed to offer a swift yet comprehensive experience of the best of Ecuador and the Galapagos, all while upholding our commitment to sustainable travel.

If you find yourself with extra days at your disposal and the Galapagos Islands aren’t in your plans, our exceptional 22-day Complete Ecuador Adventure: Nature and Culture package, customizable to suit your preferences, may be the perfect fit. Alternatively, consider our 15-day Balanced Ecuador Trip, focusing solely on the mainland but definitely worth exploring.

We invite you to read the detailed Day-to-Day description further below.

Day by Day

Note:

If you enquire about this tour, we will ask you to allow us to connect with you through a video call. This enables us to gain a deeper understanding of your unique travel preferences, allowing us to tailor our services to your exact needs.

Once you book we will promptly send you a comprehensive PDF itinerary. This detailed document will provide you with helpful tips for upgrades and downgrades, valuable recommendations as well as options for domestic flights.

Day 1Quito arrival and transfer to Otavalo. Overnight at Hacienda Pinsaqui

Upon your arrival at Quito airport, you will be promptly transferred to your hotel in Otavalo (2 h).

Based on your arrival, take advantage of your leisure time to explore and enjoy the various amenities offered by the hotel.

Day 2Otavalo cooking class. Overnight at Hacienda Pinsaqui

Nestled amidst the majestic peaks of Imbabura, Cotacachi, and Mojanda volcanoes, Otavalo a enchanting town, located in Ecuador’s Imbabura province, is predominantly inhabited by indigenous communities. Immerse yourself in the rich ancient traditions and culture that permeate every aspect of life here. The Otavaleños take immense pride in their heritage, epitomized by their distinctive attire and hair dresses of the women. As you explore the city delight with occasional sights of local musicians and also farmers offering culinary treats and exquisite textiles.

Today, you’re set for a delightful and insightful cooking class. Take your time to fully enjoy this experience, which is not only rich in flavors but also steeped in cultural richness.

Day 3Otavalo - Tena. Overnight at Sayani Lodge

Before embarking on the journey to the Amazon, your first destination awaits with a delectable experience in the charming town of Cayambe. This quaint place is renowned for its traditional bizcocho, a local biscuit that, when paired with a steaming cup of coffee, promises an authentic gastronomic adventure. After this snack prepare for an approximately 5 h drive to the Tena region.

Experience the magic of the Sayani Amazon Lodge as night falls, unveiling a world of captivating activities that will fill the pages of your Amazonian adventure. Imagine embarking on a lantern-lit nocturnal walk, immersing yourself in the symphony of frog croaks and the subtle scuttle of forest creatures in their natural home. This way you put a end to your day of adventures.

Day 4Tena. Overnight at Sayani Lodge

Today’s itinerary is up to your preferences, offering a selection of activities that cater to your interests.
Dive into the tactile pleasure of a ceramics workshop, where you’ll be captivated by the skillful display of ceramic art, celebrating the rich heritage of the Kichwa culture.
Chocolate lovers will delight in a hands-on chocolate-making experience, where you’ll craft decadent bars using the finest cacao from the Amazon.
For those intrigued by culinary arts, a cooking class invites you to delve into local flavors and traditions, as you prepare delicious maitos wrapped in banana leaves.

Day 5Tena. Overnight at Sayani Lodge

Embark on a captivating journey along the river to the Monkey Reserve, where playful primates hide amidst vibrant foliage, including the world’s tiniest monkey. Explore the secrets of ancient trees and wildlife in the mesmerizing Primary Forest, guided by the wisdom of our Kichwa expert.
Immerse yourself in the rich traditions of the San Bartolo de Arajuno Community, embracing their dances, music, and the art of brewing traditional chicha, all these at your own cost for just $5.
Experience profound tranquility as you connect with the Community Shaman, absorbing centuries-old wisdom whispered by the rainforest.
And for an unforgettable experience, don’t miss the enchanting dawn chorus at the Parrot Clay Lick, available for $30 plus taxes.

Day 6Tena - Quito full day tour with activities. Overnight in San Jose de Puembo

After breakfast, you’ll head back to Quito. Once there, you’ll explore the historic center of the city. Your knowledgeable guide will lead you through colonial streets and show you iconic sites. Don’t miss the chance to visit an authentic local market with over 250 stalls offering a variety of fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants, herbs, meat, and seafood. You’ll even get to taste some typical Ecuadorian fruits at the market.
As you wander the charming cobblestone streets, take your time to admire the colonial buildings and indulge in the local cuisine. Treat yourself to some canelazo and empanadas de viento, which will give you the energy and warmth needed to fully explore the captivating stories that the city has to offer.
During your visit, learn about Sinsoluka, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving a second chance to local street children and youth. Many of these children have had difficult beginnings, facing challenges such as being born to drug-addicted parents, living on the streets, experiencing violence, abuse, neglect, or being forced to work selling sweets.
Next is the visit to the Intiñan Museum, where you’ll have fun with various experiments showcasing gravity and physics. Try balancing an egg on a nail or observe water spinning in opposite directions. While some exhibits may be staged, the museum provides an engaging experience that also highlights Ecuador’s rich culture, including the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands and the traditions of Amazonian tribes.

Day 7Quito flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

Today, you’ll arrive at San Cristobal Airport after a three and a half hour flight.
Upon arrival, a private transfer will be arranged to take you to your hotel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Lunch comes next but first you have to earn it by immersing yourself in the rich culinary traditions of the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador by participating in a hands-on cooking class focused on Ceviche Galapagueño/Ecuatoriano. This delightful experience will be held at a local restaurant conveniently situated near the beach, providing a picturesque backdrop for your culinary experience.

Unlock the secrets behind achieving the perfect harmony of flavors using the finest seafood, zesty citrus juices, and a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. From handpicking the freshest ingredients to mastering the art of marination and presentation, you’ll gain invaluable insights into the cultural and gastronomic heritage of the region. After preparing your ceviche masterpiece, you’ll have the pleasure of savoring your culinary creation and then, the rest of the day is yours.

Day 8Free day to discover San Cristobal island

Today, the magic of San Cristóbal is yours to explore at your leisure. You have a free day to immerse yourself in the island’s enchantment, or simply relax.

Please read our FAQ below to discover valuable tips on how to enjoy free activities and make the most of your time.

Day 9Galapaguera - Puerto Chino - Finca Mandinga

Galapaguera is an ecological sanctuary with an interpretation center that reveals fascinating details about the Geochelone chatamensis, commonly known as the giant tortoises of the enchanted islands. Engage with these gentle giants in their natural habitat and delve into their history, evolution, and significance to the Galapagos ecosystem.

Then discover Puerto Chino a serene coral sand beach offering breathtaking coastal views. Located at the eastern end of the island, this remote beach awaits you with its pristine white sand, turquoise waters, and stunning lava rocks and mangrove forests, it serves as the perfect haven for sea lions, turtles, and diverse seabirds.

The day comes close to its end with a visit an organic farm (Finca Mandinga) nestled within a lush, humid forest, teeming with unique fauna. Explore the vegetable fields, coffee plantations, and bamboo forest during a delightful and invigorating walk. Then,enjoy a refreshing snack prepared with seasonal ingredients, while learning about sustainable farming practices of this project.

Day 10Another free day to keep discovering San Cristobal island

Today, you have an extra free day to explore at your leisure or simply relax.

Please read our FAQ below to discover valuable tips on how to enjoy free activities and make the most of your time.

Day 11San Cristobal - Quito or Guayaquil

Today, we say our goodbyes. By this point, you should be aware of your next stop—either Quito or Guayaquil. From there, you’ll continue your journey or begin your journey back home.

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Why is this experience impactful?

Although our Ecuador and Galapagos: Quick Highlights Tour deviates from our usual slow travel offerings, featuring a brisk itinerary that includes a domestic flight to Galapagos’ San Cristobal Island, we are excited to introduce it.

This tour caters to those who, despite tight schedules, are eager to dive into the magical allure of Ecuador and the Galapagos. Rather than discouraging this enthusiasm, we aim to make the best of it.

We have carefully crafted an enlightening and educational voyage across Ecuador’s varied landscapes, leading you from the majestic highlands through the lush jungle, culminating in the serene beauty of San Cristobal Island. Our thoughtfully planned itinerary ensures you witness essential sights while steering clear of the ecologically harmful practice of island hopping.

Embarking on this journey, you’ll engage with Ecuador’s rich culture, spotlighting social initiatives that benefit from support and recognition. Moreover, you’ll explore and learn the country’s verdant jungle and its remarkable marine biodiversity gaining a broaden understanding of their threats and oportunities to preserve them. This tour promises a profound connection with Ecuador’s vibrant ecosystems and communities, offering a meaningful and memorable experience.

Details

Please note that this Ecuador and Galapagos: Quick Highlights Tour is just a proposal that serves as a source of inspiration, and we are fully aware that adjustments will be made to tailor it to your preferences and possibilities.

Price Includes

  • Day 1Private transfer with Spanish speaking driver; Accommodation in Otavalo. Meals: None
  • Day 2Private transfer with English speaking driver/guide, Kawsaymi cooking class; Accommodation in Otavalo. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 3Private transfer with English speaking driver/guide, Bizcocho tasting; Accommodation in Tena. Meals: Breakfast, dinner
  • Day 4Activities coordinated with lodge staff, entrance to the community, bilingual guide traveling with you; Accommodation in Tena. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 5Activities coordinated with lodge staff, bilingual guide traveling with you; Accommodation in Tena. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 6Private transfer with English speaking driver/guide, Fruit tasting, Sinsoluka visit, Intiñan Museum entrance fee. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 7Shared shuttle transfer to Quito airport, Private transfer to San Cristobal hotel with Spanish speaking local driver, Cooking class; Accommodation in San Cristobal. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 8Accommodation in San Cristobal. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 9Private excursion with English speaking guide and local transportation, Finca Mandinga visit and entrance fee; Accommodation in San Cristobal. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 10Accommodation in San Cristobal. Meals: Breakfast
  • Day 11Private transfer to San Cristobal airport with Spanish speaking driver. Meals: Breakfast

Price Excludes

  • There are many minor items that are not included in the price, either because they are optional or easier for you to pay on site. Some general exclusions on this trip, are:
  • Meals not included and snacksWe recommend bringing some snacks for the many days and hours of travel and to share with your guides and drivers.
  • FlightsEither domestic or international.
  • Optional items or direct paymentOptional excursions, additional services and entrance fees can be paid on site in cash (or booked in advance with us).
  • Other items not specifically indicated as includedLike early check-ins or late check-outs, souvenirs, laundry, tips, insurance and other personal expenses.
  • Read our Terms and Conditions (click here).

What to Bring

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Ecuador and Galapagos: Quick Highlights Tour

I'm traveling with children but I can't include them in the booking, now what do I do?

We’re thrilled that you’re planning a trip to Ecuador with your kids! We understand that traveling with children can be challenging, so we’re here to help make it as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

It’s important to note that due to the nature of Ecuador as a travel destination, we don’t recommend it for children under 8 years old. With the changes in altitude and sometimes the long distances involved, it can be quite intense – but don’t worry, this particular trip has shorter distances.

If you have questions about child discounts or accommodation options please don’t hesitate to reach out with any request or concern.

I would like to add a trip extension or make some changes to the proposed tour. Is that possible?

Absolutely! At our core, we specialize in custom itineraries, and have been doing so for over a decade! So, making changes to your trip or extending it is definitely possible.

Contact our travel designers and let us know what changes you’d like to make. You have two options to get in touch with us:

  1. Simply send us an email and mention the trip you’re interested in from our platform. You’ll find our contact details here.

  2. If you have more elaborate ideas about your trip and would like to start from scratch, you can fill in this form and we’ll get to work on your customized itinerary right away.

We’re here to help you create the trip of your dreams!

What should I pack for this tour?

Please refer to our article Essential Packing Tips for Your Ecuador and Galapagos Adventure for all your questions about packing for your Ecuador trip. Whether you’re going to the jungle or the mountains, you’ll find the answers you need. You can also download a full Packing List for free.

How can I see the prices for this tour for my amount of travellers?

If you want to see the price for your situation, please select an amount of travelers (number of adults, children, etc) on the right side of the website (or the bottom on the mobile version). You will then see that total price for your party right above it. For some tours, the price will change according to the amount of people. 

It is advised to book this tour through our Custom Itineraries department, instead of direct booking here on the website, so that we can adapt the itinerary to your liking before you book. You can enquire by filling out this form

Is it appropiate to take pictures of the local people I meet during this trip?

Everyone directly involved in your visit, like the hostfamily, the local guides or families you visit during excursions, are usually fine with pictures. If you make a really nice (family) portrait and you promise to send it to them, make sure to fulfill that promise!

As to anyone not directly involved, like other community members you meet on a hike, it would be kind to ask them first if it’s OK to take a picture. If the picture is great and/or they’re a little uncomfortable, it’s OK to give a little tip if they are doing you the favour of posing or allowing you to take your photo. Something between 1 to 2 dollars is fine. Don’t exaggerate. 

Showing the resultant picture is always nice if you have the time! 

Do the local families speak English?

No, they don’t. However, our host families are very used to having guests that don’t speak Spanish and their Spanish is easy to understand for those who speak other Latin languages. 

Of course, learning Spanish beforehand is always a good idea! Use an app like Duolingo to learn the basics before leaving and enhance your experience whilst traveling.

 

What kind of weather should we expect during this route?

Anything really! since you’re visiting many ecosystems, you will experience heat and drougth, as well as the cold. So, like we mention in our article Essential Packing Tips for Your Ecuador and Galapagos Adventure, be flexible and prepared for anything. 

Find more info about climates in Ecuador in our blog The Best Time to Travel to Ecuador.

Is this a private tour or will I share with other travelers?

This is not a group trip: most transfers and excursions are fully private. On some excursions, you will meet other travelers, of course! You can find more details in the separate PDF we can send you once you enquire.

Why visit only San Cristóbal island?

By focusing on a single island, you ensure the footprint you leave is kept to a minimum. Sustainable travel is about balance – experiencing the wonder of new places while preserving their beauty for future generations. Also, San Cristóbal offers a wealth of experiences that don’t require motorized transport. From snorkeling with sea lions to hiking through its diverse landscapes, the island can be explored and appreciated at a slower, more mindful pace.

What can I do for free during my free days/hours?

Playa Carola is known for its surfing and sunsets.
Laguna el Junco.
For bird-watchers, Punta Pitt is a paradise.

Can I buy additional / separate activities for my free day(s)?

Yes this is our selection of day tours available from San Cristóbal:
Isla Lobos
Kicker Rock (León Dormido)
Tour 360
Española Island
Highlands

Which flights should I buy to San Cristóbal? Any recommendations?

All flights (operated by Latam and Avianca) arrive on the island in the morning. Just make sure to purchase tickets with destination SCY (San Cristóbal) and not Baltra; because that’s the airport of Santa Cruz island.

What luggage should I carry with me considering the small airplanes?

Travel light! Small planes have limited luggage space. A duffle bag or soft-sided suitcase is recommended, along with a backpack for day trips. Pack only essentials, and remember that reusable water bottles, sun protection, and binoculars can be invaluable on the island.

Here are our Essential Packing Tips for Your Ecuador and Galapagos Adventure

General questions

For questions about booking a tour, prices, preparation for your trip, health and safety or other themes, please check our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you can’t find your question & answer, email us and we’ll add it!

Reviews
Your Travel Designer

Alejandra Jimenez

Travel Designer

Discover the transformative journey that awaits you with my inspirational and customizable short itinerary across mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos island of San Cristobal.

This travel experience is designed for those on the go who also care deeply about responsibly integrating the stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Ecuador. It aims to support and preserve local communities and biodiversity.

Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast, cultural connoisseur, or looking for a way to make a positive impact while exploring new horizons, this trip is for you. My expertise in curating travel experiences that are not only memorable but also meaningful ensures that every step you take contributes to the local ecosystems and economies.

Join me (as your omnipresent guide) on a voyage where you become part of a larger story, one that celebrates responsible tourism and the spirit of Impactful Travel.

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