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Highlights
  • San Cristobal Island
  • Santa Cruz Islands
  • Charles Darwin Research Center
  • Quito, Otavalo and Sante Fe
  • Four-night Galapagos Cruise
  • Galapagos National Park

Discover the wonders of Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, a remarkable collection of landscapes, people, cultures, animals, plants, and more. Our Ecuador & Galapagos Islands tour covers the highlights of this incredibly diverse country. You'll visit the capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Center of Quito and the colorful and bustling Otavalo market. Round out your tour with a guided cruise through the Galapagos Islands, the magical place that inspired Charles Darwin to propose his theory of evolution. All of this, plus airfare from Miami, is yours for an incredible price.

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  • Airfare included

12
Friendly Planet Travel Reviews & Ratings
75% Recommend

4.0 out of 5
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Value
4.0 Guide
4.0 Activities
4.0 Lodging
4.0 Transportation
3.9 Meals
3.8
Ecuador & the Galapagos

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CK

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A Taste of China January 2017

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In 2012, my family and I took a 10 day trip to Xian, Beijing, and Shanghai. Our trip included all our transportation, hotels, and most of our meals. We stayed in 4 star hotels where a breakfast buffet was always included. They severed a lot of "Eastern breakfast" items, but most was "Western breakfast" style food. In Xian, we visited the Terra Cotta warriors, and a couple other sites around the city. The only downside was that our hotel was located in a part of the city that did not seem very central. Due to this, there wasn't too much to see and explore on our own once the tour bus brought us back. In Shanghai, we had a guided tour of downtown, and took a day trip to a nearby city that was known for their water canals. While we were there, we all took a boat ride down a canal. Our hotel was directly on the Bund, so in the evenings, we were able to explore a lot on our own. The city was amazing, and our tour guide was as well. Definitely one of the most amazing cities I've visited. Finally, our trip ended in Beijing. While there, we made a day trip to the Great Wall of China. We also went to see the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven. Overall, the guided tour we went on was excellent. We had a great guide, and really got to see a lot of the most famous landmarks the country has.
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I highly recommend Friendly Planet Travel. January 2017

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I recently returned from the Exotic Peru tour with visits to Lima, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu. The first part of the trip went well, but mid-way in the tour, I lost my passport - a huge deal. My individual angst was then overshadowed by the travel challenges we all faced as a group - a railway strike, closure of shops and restaurants in Aguas Calientes, airport closure at Cuzco, affecting all travelers to scramble for lodging and transport home. Throughout both the individual and group issues, Friendly Planet and their local agents went above and beyond to assure the best accommodations possible. A special shout out to our tour guide, Jamie A. Caballero Perez, who maintained positivity, grace and poise throughout the circumstances that came our way. I was eventually reunited with my passport - wonderful news - but Friendly Planet was at my side every step of the way. A fabulous trip with challenges that were handled well.
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I took Friendly Planet's Taste of China tour last month, with the Hong Kong extension, and had a wonderful experience. It could not have gone more smoothly. The Chinese tour guides were terrific - friendly and knowledgeable and open to answering all of our questions. This was my first trip to Asia and I loved immersing myself in the history and culture and cuisine. The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors, Victoria Harbour, every day was something new and amazing. I'd definitely recommend Friendly Planet.
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Dazzling Dubai and India -- fabulous!! I went with my 91-year-old mom and the guides were great. We kept up, great pacing of the trip excursions, wonderful guides, great sites, small group, and just great. We love Friendly Planet and many in our group have traveled multiple times with FP. We will now too.
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I literally was able to enjoy the hospitality of Cubans who invited the tour group to see how they live. Amanda knew the history of Cuba and the tour guide, Alex, was very informative on his personal experience growing up and living in Cuba. You really get the chance to soak up the Cuban culture and see how they persevere despite their daily economical struggles. I also was able to enjoy a performance by the Buena Vista Social Club.
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Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA /Arrive Quito.

Accommodation: Hilton Colón or similar

Your exciting tour to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands begins today as you depart for Quito, Ecuador's capital city (9,500 feet above sea level). Upon arrival, after customs formalities, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in.

Day 2: Quito.

Meals: Breakfast

Today, enjoy a panoramic city tour of Quito. Arguably one of the loveliest of all South American cities, Quito enjoys a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still-active Mt. Pichincha. Begin your walking tour at Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Municipal Building and the Archbishops’ Palace. The next stop, La Compañía de Jesús, has an ornate and richly sculptured facade and interior, with colored columns, 10-sided altars, and gilded balconies. Continue to the Monastery of San Francisco, Quito's oldest church and the largest colonial building constructed in Latin America.

Next, drive 16 miles north of Quito to the Equatorial Monument, the Mitad del Mundo ("Middle of the World"), commemorating the exact place where Charles Marie de la Condamine established the Equator, where you can stand with one foot in the northern and one in the southern hemisphere.

Day 3: Quito, Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal & Punta Pitt.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: M/V Santa Cruz

Transfer to the airport for your flight to San Cristobal Island, gateway to the Galapagos Islands to begin your adventure. Upon arrival, transfer to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to board your first-class cruise ship, the M/V Santa Cruz, your home for the next 4 nights. Settle into your cabin, and enjoy an introductory briefing and lunch.

In the afternoon, disembark on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, and walk along the trail with spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, and you may be lucky enough to view all three! After a walk along the trail, weather permitting, there will be a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets.

Day 4: Galapagos Cruise: Sante Fe Island & South Plaza Island.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: M/V Santa Cruz

After breakfast, take a dinghy to Sante Fe Island, where you'll find an idyllic sandy white beach populated by many sea lion harems. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Here, you may snorkel and swim from the beach, or explore the water from a glass-bottomed boat.

After lunch on board and a chance to rest, disembark in the South Plaza Island channel, where turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. A carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. You may see yellow-grey land iguanas patiently waiting for pears to drop. Along the coastline you may find sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and shearwaters glide above, playing with the thermals.

Day 5: Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora, & Charles Darwin Research Station.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: M/V Santa Cruz

In the morning, disembark (dry landing) to visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoises within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, also home to many land birds. The Research Station is the headquarters of scientific exploration, conservation and the National Park administration. Later, board our transport to travel to the cooler highlands of the island, a completely different ecosystem, to enjoy lunch.

This afternoon, there are several options to choose from, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader:

1) Trek along trails amid the miconia forests in the highlands, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel.

2) Mountain bike (mostly downhill) to Garrapatero Beach.

3) Sea kayak and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach.

4) Experience sustainable agriculture at an organic coffee plantation. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the M/V Santa Cruz.

Day 6: Galapagos Cruise: Española (or Hood) Island, Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: M/V Santa Cruz

This morning, enjoy an exciting walk at Punta Suarez, to see its colonies of unique sea birds, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tail gulls. You'll also see the famous Galapagos "blow-hole," and keep an eye out for the famous marine iguanas with their interesting red, green and black coloration. Return to the ship for lunch on board.

In the afternoon, the picturesque white coral beach of Gardner Bay provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches. Enjoy an opportunity to snorkel or ride aboard a glass-bottomed boat.

Day 7: Galapagos Cruise, Baltra Island & Quito.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hilton Colón or similar

Your cruise comes to an end as you disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 8: Quito, Otavalo, & Departure.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

This morning, check out from your hotel and then set out on the Panamerican Highway to Otavalo. After driving through dramatic Andean scenery, arrive at the famous Indian fair and the textile market of Otavalo, undoubtedly one of the best in all of Latin America.

The beauty of Otavalo lies in its people, the Otavaleño Indians. Unlike other indigenous groups who have given up their traditional dress for modern jeans and t-shirts, Otavaleños are true to their ancestral cultural heritage, and are still easily identified by their distinctive dress. Women wear intricately embroidered blouses and a wealth of beaded necklaces, while men have long, braided hair and wear calf-length white trousers, ponchos and sandals. Stroll by their many stalls filled with ponchos, scarves, blankets, hats, handbags and more, and observe as the Otavaleños barter in silence.

Then proceed to Peguche, a nearby Indian village, where local artisans weave in their homes. Learn about their culture and everyday life. Later, return to Quito for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Day 9: Arrive USA.

Transfer to the airport for your return flight

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 4,799

Price Per Day:

$ 533 per person
 
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • Round trip flights from Miami via LAN Airlines including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees, with other gateways available on request
  • Flights between Quito & the Galapagos Islands
  • All ground transportation and transfers
  • Accommodations in a Deluxe hotel
  • Four-night Galapagos Cruise aboard the M/V Santa Cruz in standard outside cabins with portholes
  • Meals as mentioned in the Itinerary
  • Comprehensive guided sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Galapagos National Park Fee ($100) & Transit Control Card ($10)
  • Professional English-speaking tour directors & guides
Trip Excludes
  • Entry visa fees
  • Optional extensions & excursions
  • Personal, baggage & travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Beverages
  • Items not specifically mentioned in the itinerary
  • Any items of a personal nature
Meals Included:

7 Breakfast daily, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Airfare included
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
Start City
Quito
End City
Quito
Additional Information:

IMPORTANT NOTES:

The high altitudes reached on this trip (Quito is at 9,200 feet above sea level) and the amount of walking involved, often on uneven terrain, require that you be in good physical condition to fully enjoy the trip. We strongly suggest that you consult your physician if you have any concerns regarding your ability to handle these conditions.

Please remember that the exact route and program may vary according to weather and ocean conditions, and the wildlife encountered. There is no guarantee that all the possible species mentioned will be seen.

Itineraries and program are subject to change without previous notice due mainly to readjustment of the National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes or safety reasons.

Trip ID#: EcuGalFri

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