Tailor-Made

Ultimate Ecuador & Galapagos Islands Safari

Experience the vibrant markets of the Andean highlands, witness stunning waterfalls and colourful birdlife in the Mashpi cloud forest, and explore the Galapagos Islands aboard a luxury yacht on this incredible three week safari.

Duration 22 days
Price From $15,697
When Year Round
Destination Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Safari Overview

Ecuador is a diverse and fascinating destination offering travellers a variety of unique experiences, ranging from the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano and the vibrant Otavalo markets in the Andean highlands, to serene cloud forests bursting with wildlife and the remote Galapagos Islands, home to some of the most unique animals in the world.
 

This three week safari combines all of the above to create the ultimate Ecuadorian adventure. Staying in some of the most exclusive lodges in South America, you will encounter giant tortoises, sea lions and blue-footed boobies as you navigate the Galapagos Islands aboard a luxury yacht, experience authentic Andean lifestyles at a traditional hacienda, and marvel at the architectural and historical wonders of Quito, the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site. 

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Explore the Galapagos Islands aboard the Natural Paradise, a brand-new luxury yacht specifically designed for wildlife exploration.
  • Snorkel with reef sharks, marine iguanas and playful sea lions.
  • Marvel at the grandeur of Ecuador’s landscapes, including the breathtaking Cotopaxi volcano and lakes of the Andean highlands.
  • Stay at Mashpi Lodge, one of National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges of the World”, nestled in the cloud forest.

Three weeks, real ecuador, one life-changing adventure.

Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Quito

Today you will arrive in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where you will be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. In the evening you will have the chance to explore the historic sites of this colonial city, before enjoying a meal at the famous Theatrum Restaurant.

Overnight: Casa Gangotena D

Day 2

Quito

This morning you will head out on a half-day tour of Quito, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Admire the beautiful colonial buildings, including the cathedral and President's Palace on the Plaza Independencia, as you wander through the atmospheric streets of the city's old town. Much of the city was built on top of an ancient Inca settlement, with influences from both Spanish and Indigenous cultures visible in the architecture. In the afternoon, return to your hotel for some rest and relaxation.

Overnight: Casa Gangotena B, L

Day 3

Quito - Cotopaxi

After breakfast you will travel south to witness the incredible sight of Cotopaxi, the world's highest active volcano. Hiking up the dormant Ruminahui volcano, you will enjoy stunning panoramic views over the Andean landscape and the snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi, which forms part of the Avenue of Volcanoes. In the afternoon, you will return to Quito and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight: Casa Gangotena B, L

Day 4

Quito - Otavalo

This morning you will be driven north along the Pan American highway to the Otavalo region. Stopping en route to admire the views of Lake San Pablo, you will learn how to make Bizcochos, a traditional Ecuadorian biscuit that is usually enjoyed with a strong coffee, and enjoy a traditional lunch at Hacienda Pinsaqui, one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador. Upon arrival in Otavalo, you will settle in to your hacienda for a peaceful night in the highlands.

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta B, L, D

Day 5

Otavalo - Cuicocha

Today you will explore the colourful Otavalo Market, the oldest continuously running market in South America and a regional hub, where people from all over the Andes come to sell produce, fabrics, handicrafts and more. In the afternoon, you will travel to the Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve and set off on a three hour hike around Cuicocha Lake, on the southern slopes of Mount Cotacahi. Enjoy beautiful views as you hike past the surrounding volcanoes to the small town of Cotacachi, where you can experience a taste of rural Andean life. In the evening you will return to your hotel in Otavalo.

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta B, L, D

Day 6

Otavalo

You will have a free day today to explore the scenic Ecuadorian highlands around Otavalo at your own pace, whether you choose to head out on a horse riding excursion, take part in a traditional weaving workshop, or simply relax in the peaceful surroundings of your hacienda.

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta B, L, D

Day 7

Otavalo - Mashpi

After breakfast this morning you will set off (approximately three hours driving) for the cloud forests of Mashpi, one of the most wildlife-rich and diverse ecosystems in the world. After arriving at your lodge, you will enjoy lunch before receiving an introductory talk from your hosts.

Overnight: Mashpi Lodge B, L, D

Days 8-9

Mashpi Cloud Forest

Over the next two days you will explore the lush surroundings of the Mashpi cloud forest, heading out on forest walks and hikes to nearby waterfalls, and a visit to the "sky bike", which gives you the opportunity to explore the forest canopy from above. After spending the day marvelling at the natural wonders of the forest, you can spend your evenings enjoying the surroundings of your lodge, named as one of National Geographic's "Unique Lodges of the World".

Overnight: Mashpi Lodge B, L, D

Day 10

Mashpi Cloud Forest - Quito

On your final morning in Mashpi, you will enjoy an early morning excursion into the cloud forest to witness the incredible birdlife that this region is famous for. Returning to the lodge for breakfast, you will then set off on a two hour trek to the stunning Copal Waterfall, stopping to admire the moss-covered trees, bromeliads and orchids along the way. Return to your lodge for lunch before being transferred back to Quito, where the rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Casa Gangotena B, L

Day 11

Quito - Santa Cruz Island

Today you will be transferred to the airport where you will board your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Arriving into Seymour Airport, you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel on Santa Cruz island, where you can settle in and relax following your flight.

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge B, L, D

Days 12-13

Galapagos Islands

Over the next few days you will join local naturalist guides to explore parts of the Galapagos, including hikes through the highlands of Santa Cruz, kayaking, snorkelling, or cruising on your lodge's exclusive expedition yacht, giving you access to the more remote areas of the archipelago.

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge B, L, D

Day 14

Baltra

This morning you will be transferred to Baltra where you will board your luxury yacht - the Natural Paradise - your home for the next week, and set off on your marine expedition. After enjoying lunch on board, your first landing is at Eden Islet off the western coast of Santa Cruz, where you will get to experience snorkelling and view unique bird species such as Nazca and blue-footed boobies. In the evening, return to your yacht for dinner.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 15

Isabela & Fernandina Islands

Today you will visit the wildlife-rich Vicente Roca Point, a large bay comprised of two separate coves offering spectacular snorkelling opportunities. Slip on your fins and dive into the water in search of seahorses, sea turtles and the mysterious mola mola or sunfish. After lunch back on board, you will head towards Espinosa Point, where you will enjoy a short hike past a colony of marine iguanas and sea lions basking in the afternoon sun. Other potential wildlife sightings include the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin and Galapagos hawk.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 16

Isabela Island

This morning you will board a dinghy to Urbina Bay, where you will have another opportunity for some incredible snorkelling alongside sea turtles, stingrays and an abundance of tropical fish. Afterwards, take a short hike inland to observe a colony of land iguanas, as well as giant tortoises. In the afternoon, you will head to the unique craters and tide pools of Moreno Point, where you can witness marine life including white-tip reef sharks and sea turtles, as well as diverse birdlife such as flamingos, white-cheeked pintails and common gallinules, before returning to your yacht for the evening.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 17

Isabela Island

Today you will head ashore on Isabela Island, where you will ascend the slopes of the Sierra Negra Volcano for dramatic views over the surrounding landscapes. Look out for the seven species of the famous Galapagos finches that can be found on the island! From here you will travel to the "Wall of Tears", the site of the historic penal colony on the island, with the surrounding mangrove swamps home to an abundance of birdlife including stilts, whimbrels and gallinules. End the day with a visit to the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Centre, where over 300 juvenile tortoises are cared for before they are ready to be reintroduced into the wild.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 18

Chinese Hat & Mosquera

Today you will visit Chinese Hat Island, so-called for its distinctive conical shape. Galapagos penguins can often be seen on the rocky shoreline of nearby Santiago Island, and later in the morning you will have the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters alongside penguins and sea lions. This afternoon, the Natural Paradise will drop anchor at Mosquera Islet, a rocky coral reef that is home to one of the largest populations of sea lions, along with many shorebirds. Orcas have also occasionally been spotted hunting sea lions in the area. Return to the yacht in the late afternoon for a sundowner on the deck.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 19

Floreana Island

This morning you will visit the fascinating Post Office Bay, where you will learn more about the history of the region. According to the stories, a wooden barrel in the bay was used as an unofficial mailbox by whalers in the 18th century, whereby passing ships would collect and deliver messages to the whalers' families, which could take many years to arrive. This custom has continued to this day, and you will have the opportunity to post your own message back home. After lunch on board the yacht, head to Cormorant Point for a short hike to a nearby lagoon and swim in the clear waters of Devil's Crown, an extinct volcano off the coast of Floreana offering incredible snorkelling opportunities.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 20

Espanola Island

Today you will pay a visit to Punta Suarez, home to the highest rate of endemic species across the Galapagos islands. Between April and December waved albatross, found only on Espanola, can be observed performing their incredible mating ritual, and colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in 'sky-pointing' to show off for potential mates. Other species found on the island include sea lions, hood mockingbirds, Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, marine iguanas and Darwin's finches. In the afternoon, stroll along the seemingly endless white sandy beaches of Gardner Bay, home to large colonies of sea lions, before returning to the yacht for sundowners and an 'al fresco' dinner out on the deck.

Overnight: Natural Paradise B, L, D

Day 21

San Cristobal - Quito

Your final stop on your Galapagos expedition is Lobos Island, named for the sea lions that come to rest along its rocky shoreline. Lobos is also home to blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds and pelicans, as well as offering excellent snorkelling in its clear waters, with the chance swim alongside sea lions. Afterwards you will head back to the airport for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for your final night in Ecuador.

Day 22

Depart Quito

Today you will bid farewell to Ecuador, as you are transferred back to the international airport in time for your flight home.

Trip Details

About Tailor-made Safaris

A tailor-made safaris is one designed specifically for you, around your taste, budget, people travelling, interests and more. This itinerary is just an example and can be refined and changed to make it perfect for you

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