Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands

May 7-15, 2017 • 9 Days • $5500

Join us to experience the amazing animals, spectacular scenery and captivating culture of South America in Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands.

WATCH A BRIEF VIDEO

WAI Guide Scott Isom presents Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands 2017 at our most recent Tour Presentation.

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Combo Package:

Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands and Peru & Machu Picchu are offered separately as two distinct tours, or may be combined into one unforgettable Adventure of discovery!

View Daily Itinerary

Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands program begins in Quito, Ecuador with walks and sightseeing in the old town area of the capital, at the equator, and in the charming and scenically stunning regions of Otavalo, high in the Andes Mountains. After this immersion in the Andean world, we fly to the Galápagos Islands for 4 amazing days in one of nature’s most delightful menageries.

Highlights:

  • Quito – capital of Ecuador, with some of South America’s most enduring colonial ambiance
  • Otavalo area – walks to Peguche Falls and at Lake Cuicocha, and cultural connections with the Otavalo Indians, a resourceful indigenous group that have become a symbol of national Ecuadorian identity
  • Galápagos Islands – several hikes, accompanied by naturalist guides to help discover the less conspicuous island delights
  • Cruising the Galápagos – 4 nights aboard a well-appointed ship with excellent meals and the opportunity to both learn and relax between island visits

Our Ship ~ the M/V Galapagos Legend

The M/V Galapagos Legend is a lovely 90-passenger ship, great for plying the equatorial waters around the Galápagos Islands. We have booked passage in the standard plus category on the Sea Deck. These are exterior cabins with two portholes. A limited number of upgrades are available to Junior Suites, one deck higher on the Earth Deck with full-sized windows for an additional $331 per person. Other upgrades may also be available—please call for more information on cabin upgrades.

Check out the deckplan for M/V Galapagos Legend.

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day*
  • Round-trip airfare from mainland Ecuador out to the Galápagos Islands
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations (3 or 4 star)
  • 4 nights aboard the M/V Galápagos Legend in Main Deck standard cabins. A limited number of upgrades to other classes are available. Contact us for details.
  • 21 meals: all breakfasts & dinners, plus 6 lunches as listed (BLD) – two lunches are box lunches
  • Walks as outlined (application for IVV sanctioning will be made)
  • Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guides for Ecuador mainland portion
  • Naturalist guides for all Galápagos Island activities
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Tipping for local guides and coach drivers (Note: the pooled tip for ship staff is not included)
  • Single Supplements: A limited amount of single rooms are available for the four nights in hotels on Ecuador mainland for a supplement of $250. Single cabins on the ship may be available upon request for significant supplements ($1200 or more).

Visits to:

  • Otavalo Indigenous Market (Otavalo)
  • Company of Jesus Church (Quito)
  • Galápagos National Park
  • Galápagos Interpretation Centre (San Cristóbal Island)
  • Museum of Natural History (San Cristóbal Island)
  • Charles Darwin Research Station and Fausto Llerena Breeding Center (Santa Cruz Island)
  • Plus, more fun stops than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Yanacocha Cloud Forest Reserve (Day 4)

*Details of transfers provided are listed in Adventure Advice memo sent upon receipt of tour registration.

COMBO PACKAGE:
Travelers opting for both Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands and Peru & Machu Picchu will receive a complimentary flight between Guayaquil, Ecuador and Lima, Peru.

“The ability to walk close to wildlife on the Galapagos Islands takes one’s breath away. The snorkeling was fantastic!”

-Carolyn E; Grapevine, TX


 “I met some really delightful people who I enjoyed being with. I loved learning about the unique cultures of Ecuador & Peru. Getting so close to all those critters on the Galapagos Islands was great fun. Meeting and interacting with Ecuadorians & Peruvians was just lovely.”

-Martha A; Detroit, MI


“I knew about the variety of animals on the Galapagos but was awestruck by the quantity and their blasé attitude towards humans.”

-Arline L; Astoria, OR


 “Galapagos offered sightings of wild life beyond my imagination.”

-Margie M; Gaithersburg, MD


“Well organized – full use of the time in each country.”

-Diane J; Sundance, WY


“Pat & Denise were always helpful, flexible and informative. Great problem solvers and tuned in to the group needs & concerns. They were fantastic!”

-Sharon H; Ames, IA


“This was a “Bucket List” trip that ranks as one of the most uniquely beautiful! Both [Peru & Ecuador] were total opposites and yet similar in historical, natural vs man-made significance!”

-Rick L; Lakewood, CO


 “Enjoyed all the wildlife we were able to see up close. We did all the snorkeling and this is a real highlight.”

-Clyde F; Anchorage, AK


“I had a great time. You can look for me in the future.”

-Bill F; Silver Spring, MD


 “Thoroughly enjoyed pre-day in Quito – going on the gondola & botanical gardens [and] later to dinner overlooking Old Town all lit up – good weather/good company.”

-Valerie N; Camano Island, WA


“If our guide gets any better, I won’t be able to stand it!”

-Paul H; Portland, OR


“I’ve enjoyed all of my trips with WAI.”

-Betty P; Silver Spring, MD

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Lodgings

4 nights in Superior Tourist Class (3 star) or better hotels; 4 nights in Standard Plus cabins aboard the M/V Galapagos Legend

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of lunches and dinners. Letters BLD indicate which meals are included.

Airfare

Round-trip airfare from mainland Ecuador to Galapagos Islands included; international airfare not included

Transportation

Included. We use full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats and our 90-passenger ship, the M/V Galapagos Legend.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

WAI Guide Scott Isom on Ecuador & Galapagos Islands Cruise

Scott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. Currently living in Puyallup, Washington, Scott loves to explore the unknown, knows how to have a good time, and enjoys including others in the fun! Scott has led tours on all 7 continents and is one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners. Scott will be guiding Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands along with an assistant.

 

Itinerary

Day 1-May 7: Arrive Quito, Ecuador

Upon arrival at Quito’s international airport late this evening, a representative of Walking Adventures will arrange your transfer to a hotel near the airport. Due to late arrival times, the first official group activity is breakfast on the morning of May 8.

Day 2-May 8: Quito–Otavalo (BLD)

Otavalo elevation: 8,441 feet

We drive north this morning, stopping for a surprisingly educational visit at the equator before arriving at the pleasant Andean town of Otavalo. Following time to explore the colorful indigenous markets of Otavalo, we lunch together in a nearby hacienda before continuing outside town to a traditional rural inn tucked away in a garden of verdant equatorial foliage. At the close of our first relaxing day at high altitude, we rendezvous for a Welcome Orientation followed by dinner together.

Day 3-May 9: Otavalo–Quito (BLD)

Laguna de Cuicocha Crater Walk – 5 km, rated 3C
Quito elevation: 9,350 feet

Today’s main activity takes us to spectacular Lake Cuicocha—one of Ecuador’s most photographed lakes. We enjoy the panoramas from multiple angles during a rim hike above the crater of this volcanic gem, stopping for a picnic lunch en route. This afternoon we head south to Ecuador’s capital city of Quito for a 2-night stay. Our hotel in Quito is a colonial-era gem located a stone’s throw from Presidential Square and the heart of Quito’s old town.

Day 4-May 10: Activities in Quito (BD)

Colonial Quito Walk – 3 km, rated 1A

The morning is free today to rest or explore the colorful environs of our hotel. Or, consider joining us for an excursion to Yanacocha Cloud Forest Reserve. As the name implies, high altitude cloud forests derive their moisture from frequent blankets of clouds. Morning is typically a good time to see this verdant environment, offering fewer clouds and better visibility. Abundant plant and bird life, especially the 20 odd species of hummingbirds, are the main features of an easy 1.5 to 2 hour stroll here. Estimated price: $80. Back in Quito this afternoon, our walk explores the vibrant historic district. Chief among the picturesque reminders of the Spanish colonial period is the impressive Company of Jesus Church, a masterpiece of baroque architecture overlaid with gold.

Day 5-May 11: Quito – San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos (BLD)

We depart early this morning for a flight to the Galápagos Islands. Arriving just after noon, we are welcomed aboard the M/V Galápagos Legend for lunch and an introductory briefing. Strict regulations within the islands protect this amazing environment by requiring the use of dinghies (inflatable rafts) for all island landings. This afternoon we explore the small and cozy capital of the Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, by dry landing (stepping from the dinghy onto a dock or dry land). The Interpretation Centre and the Museum of Natural History provide a good introduction to the Islands of the Galápagos. Afterwards, we stroll along a boardwalk to Cerro Tijeretas, an area teeming with life—Darwin’s finches, San Cristóbal mockingbirds, marine iguanas, sea lions—framed around a turquoise bay.

NOTE: Walks in the Galápagos Islands differ from typical WAI walks. Walking is the natural way to see most of the islands (though in some cases, humans are not allowed ashore and we may only cruise the shorelines in our dinghies) so our mode of exploration of the islands will be mostly on foot. The islands are protected by Galápagos National Park, however, and licensed park naturalists will be our guides for all shore activities. As a result, WAI has no ability or authority to determine either where or how far we walk. Your WAI guide will record an estimate of the distances we walk, and we plan to apply for two IVV stamps for those of you who are tracking this part of the experience.

Day 6-May 12: Galápagos Islands (BLD)

Española Island

Two different options—either Gardner Bay or Osborn lslet—are in play for this morning, and our itinerary will be decided by the crew. Gardner Bay is a wet landing (stepping from the dinghy into shallow water) on a beautiful white coral sand beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. Here, our guide leads us along the shore in search of nesting sea turtles, Galápagos hawks, American oystercatchers, Galápagos ground doves, Hood mockingbirds, yellow warblers, lava lizards, and marine iguanas, to name a few of the local species. This is also a great place for snorkelling. Osborn Islet is a marine visit with a one-hour walk and time for snorkelling. Following lunch aboard ship, the afternoon visit is likely to be a highlight of the trip! Suárez Point, on Española Island, is one of the most popular sites in the Galápagos due to its abundant contact with wildlife. Star of the show is the waved albatross of which Española Island has the world’s largest colony. With luck, mating season will have started, and we’ll witness one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world.

Day 7-May 13: Activities in the Galápagos Islands (BLD)

Floreana Island

Floreana (wet landing) is one of the Galápagos’ most famous islands due to its connection with past settlers. Post Office Bay earned its name when, in 1793, Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel to serve as a de facto post office for sailors passing through. Outbound sailors left letters in the barrel and inbound crews delivered any addressed mail to nearby towns. While here, we may encounter Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, flamingos, and lava lizards. There is also good snorkelling with the likelihood of interaction with playful sea lions and majestic green sea turtles. Three afternoon options (decided by the ship’s crew) include an encounter with the largest flamingo populations in the Galápagos, a visit to an almost completely submerged volcano offering one of the better snorkelling sites in the Galápagos, or a small islet located just off the coast of Floreana Island in the southern part of the archipelago—also considered a beautiful place for snorkelling and dolphin watching.

Day 8-May 14: Activities in the Galápagos Islands (BLD)

Santa Cruz Island

A 45-minute morning bus ride takes us to the Santa Cruz highlands to walk with Galápagos giant tortoises. These enormous, slow-moving reptiles can weigh more than 500 pounds and live up to 200 years. We also look forward to the possibility of exploring lava tubes in the highlands. Our afternoon continues the tortoise theme with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Fausto Llerena Breeding Center where the Galápagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place. This fascinating center is set in a prickly-pear cactus forest where we encounter Darwin’s finches and a variety of other land birds.

Day 9-May 15: Galápagos – Guayaquil, Ecuador (B)

Daphne Major Islet

Our last excursion in the Galápagos Islands is a dinghy cruise around Daphne Major, an eroded tuff cone formation located between Santa Cruz and Santiago Island. This little island has become famous for important research on its varied bird population. Your guide will point out blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and brown noddies. Later this morning, we board a flight for Guayaquil, Ecuador, on the mainland. Our time in the fascinating land of Ecuador has been an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience we will cherish forever.

NOTE: Travelers continuing on to the Peru & Machu Picchu adventure will stay at the airport to catch the ongoing flight. Travelers returning home at the end of the Ecuador Adventure will either catch a homeward bound flight or overnight in Guayaquil in preparation for tomorrow’s return. WAI offers a package for those staying the night in Guayaquil that includes a hotel, dinner, a walking tour of Guayaquil, breakfast the following morning, and a transfer back to the airport. Details will be made available in the Adventure Advice memo that follows registration.

More Details

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us with a $500 payment as soon as possible. Reservations will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted.

Already Early Birded

If you are among the travelers who submitted a $50 Early Bird deposit, you have until September 8 to secure your spot with an additional $450 (total of $500) registration.

Cancellation Policies in the Galápagos Islands

Because of the high demand for cruising in the Galápagos Islands, and the relative challenge cruise companies face in reselling cabins on ships when travelers cancel within months of departure, cruise cancellation policies carry higher penalties than land-based travel services. Normal WAI cancellation policies (see the General Tour Conditions form) are therefore superseded by those of the ship. We will use the following tour payment schedule for Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands—all payments made are non-refundable at time of payment:

  • At time of registration: $500 deposit—non-refundable
  • November 1, 2016: Additional $500 deposit—non-refundable
  • January 11, 2017: Balance of tour price due—non-refundable

First Time Traveler Savings

In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on international tours!

Group Travel Credit

If you are part of a Group, remember that your full deposit of $500 is still required to hold your spot on either Adventure. Your group leader is responsible to submit your name in writing to us before you register, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit, but a full deposit is needed to officially reserve your place. Your Group Travel Credit will be reflected on your final statement.

Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.

Aboard the M/V Galapagos Legend

The M/V Galapagos Legend is a lovely 90-passenger ship, great for plying the equatorial waters around the Galápagos Islands. We have booked passage in the standard plus category on the Sea Deck. These are exterior cabins with two portholes. A limited number of upgrades are available to Junior Suites, one deck higher on the Earth Deck with full-sized windows for an additional $331 per person. Other upgrades may also be available—please call for more information on cabin upgrades.

Check out the deckplan for M/V Galapagos Legend.

NOTE: The Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands Adventure price is based on two people sharing a standard plus cabin on the Sea Deck. Our booking provides a limited number in each cabin category. Though our desire is to accommodate all travelers in their cabin category of choice, cabins must be assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis! Single cabins in some categories may be available but supplements for these cabins start at about $1200. If you are interested in rooming single on the ship, please call for more details.

Jack be Nimble!—Especially in the Galápagos

National park regulations forbid the docking of any ships, and require that we use inflatable rafts for shuttling back and forth between the ship and the islands. Disembarking ashore is accomplished either by a “dry landing,” stepping from the raft onto rocks or steps, or a “wet landing,” rolling from the raft into knee deep water or higher and wading ashore. More details will be available, but travelers need to be prepared for this element of the Adventure as your experience with us in the Galápagos remains distinctly different from our flagship motorcoach mode of transport.

Andean Mountain High—A word of caution about altitude

NOTE: the information below applies to both Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands and Peru & Machu Picchu.

Otavalo and Quito, Ecuador, and Urubamba and Cuzco, Peru lie at elevations of around 10,000 feet (contrary to common belief, Machu Picchu is situated at a much lower elevation than Cuzco.). As mentioned above, we have designed the flow of the program to provide altitude acclimation during the first four days in Ecuador, then an oxygen-rich cruise at sea level for four more days before arriving in Peru. Our program in Peru starts in the Sacred Valley, at the relatively lower elevation of 9000 feet before moving down to about 6700 feet at Aguas Calientes (base town for Machu Picchu) then back up to Cuzco at around 11,000 feet at the end of the program when most travelers have acclimated. It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities. However, acclimation to these altitudes is an important aspect of a successful visit to the Andes for most of us who live near sea level.

How should I arrange air transportation?

The official start point for Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands is the Quito airport; the official finish point is the Guayaquil airport.

We will be recommending that you contact the travel agent we work with to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, available after registration.

NOTE: Travelers opting to combine both tours into one 16-day Adventure will receive a free flight between Guayaquil, Ecuador and Lima, Peru. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!

What about the walks?

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Many walks on this trip are oriented towards history, culture, or nature, which slows the average pace to allow for guide commentary. Walks with less commentary generally continue at a steadier pace. In most cases, we are not “strolling”; we are walking at a relaxed but steady pace.

Walks in the Galápagos Islands differ from typical WAI walks. Walking is the natural way to see most of the islands (though in some cases, humans are not allowed ashore and we may only cruise the shorelines in our dinghies) so our mode of exploration of the islands will be mostly on foot. The islands are protected by Galápagos National Park, however, and licensed park naturalists will be our guides for all shore activities. As a result, WAI has no ability or authority to determine either where or how far we walk. Your WAI guide will record an estimate of the distances we walk, and we plan to apply for two IVV stamps for those of you who are tracking this part of the experience.

Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Walks on this Adventure are guided walks. The success of the walks is therefore predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to enjoy the trip, to avoid medical issues due to overexertion, and to be sensitive to fellow travelers who came prepared to walk at our typical group pace noted above. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please contact our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure.

Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507 -OR- email debbi@wtpdx.com). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Here are some additional options for travel insurance:

  • Allianz
  • Travel Guard
  • Betins
  • Travel Insured International
  • Travelex

We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice flyer with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for this Adventure is due January 11, 2017. You will receive a final billing about 2 weeks prior the due date, along with a factsheet of additional information about your Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Ecuador is a beautiful country, brimming with a diverse array of attractions—amazing animals, spectacular scenery, captivating cultures, and spellbinding accounts of the story of South America. Join us for a walking adventure that will take you behind the scenes on a journey of discovery!