Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands
You'll experience the fascinating culture and volcanic scenery of Ecuador before flying to the beautiful Galapagos Islands for a truly unforgettable opportunity to see some of the world's most interesting wildlife.
This stunning tour combines the highlights of Ecuador with the amazing nature of the Galapagos Islands. Experience culture and volcanic scenery of Ecuador before flying to the beautiful Galapagos Islands for a truly unforgettable opportunity to see some of the world's most interesting wildlife.
Highlights and Inclusions
- All rail and coach travel throughout your tour
- Scheduled flights from London to Quito and Guayaquil to London via Amsterdam and all internal flights
- 7 nights' hotel accommodation
- 4-night cruise on board the Galapagos Legend
- 28 meals including 11 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners
- 4 nights in the Galapagos
- Guided city tours of Quito and Cuenca
- Journey through the Avenue of Volcanoes
- Excursion to Cotopaxi National Park and Limpiopungo
- Tour of Sangolqui Market
- Visit to a Panama hat factory
- Journey aboard the Devil's Nose Train
- The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
Days 1 & 2 - To Quito
We depart London Heathrow and fly via Amsterdam to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. From here we transfer to our hotel. On Day 2 we embark on a guided city tour of historic Quito, which at 2,850m above sea level, is the highest capital in the world. Our tour takes us through the vibrant Old Town, the first location in the world to earn UNESCO Heritage status. The historic centre is rich in monuments and classical Latin American architecture. We pass a number of Quito's stunning religious buildings, including the 19th century Cathedral of Quito and the impressive Basilica del Voto Nacional. The highlight of the tour is arguably the 200-metre tall El Panecillo, a hill topped with a statue of a Madonna. We also make the short journey just outside of the city to visit the Middle of the World monument, an imposing structure that marks the location of the equator.
Day 3 - Cotopaxi National Park
Today we board our coach bound for Cotopaxi National Park, stopping en route for a guided tour of Sangolquí's traditional Andean market. Arriving at Cotopaxi National Park, we enjoy an accessible hike around the glacial lake Limpiopungo along with a lunch of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. Next is a journey by coach through the Avenue of Volcanoes to Riobamba. These volcanic ashfields rage for over 200 miles and are home to Chimborazo, the region's highest peak standing at 20,565 feet above sea level.
Days 4 - The Devil's Nose Train
This morning we board the 'Nariz del Diablo', or Devil's Nose Train, making the return trip to Alausi. Finally completed in 1902 after twenty-five years of failed attempts and frustrated plans, the railway line is a truly staggering feat of engineering. The most difficult stretch of track to build was the near-vertical wall of rock known as El Nariz del Diablo (The Devil's Nose). Facing a 130km wall of rock, engineers devised an ingenious and nail-biting switchback system to scale the summit. This involved carving a series of tight zig-zags out of the rock, allowing the train to climb the side of the mountain by going forwards then climbing backwards up the next section of the tracks. The Devil's Nose Train climbs 800m at a gradient of 1-in-18, one of the steepest rail climbs in the world. Continuing by coach to Ingapirca, we visit the ancient Incan ruins before making our way to Cuenca.
Day 5 - Cuenca sightseeing
Ecuador's third largest city is regarded as its most beautiful, retaining the charm of a small town despite a large a growing population. The city was founded partly on top of an existing Inca settlement, which itself had developed in place of a previous Cañari town. Today the city boasts a wealth of preserved colonial buildings and architecture which we explore on a guided tour that includes the Plaza of San Sebastian, Museum of Modern Art, a local flower market, as well as the city's main square, the landscaped Plaza Abdon Calderon. After lunch together at a local eatery, we explore Cuenca's long-lived crafting history with visits to both a ceramics factory and Panama hat workshop.
Days 6 & 7 - Cajas National Park & the Galapagos
Travelling by coach, we make our way to Cajas National Park, known for its high-altitude cloud forests and a plethora of intriguing wildlife. The native habitat of indigenous rabbits, ducks and trout, this enormous park also plays hosts to more intriguing species such as giant hummingbirds, bears, pumas, Andean tapir and condors. The history of this protected area is also captivating and has been visited for centuries, originally for religious purposes by the Cañari tribe who's people were moon worshipers and found this area an optimum spot for communing with both nature and the gods. Continuing to Guayaquil, we stop for lunch before checking into our hotel, the Wyndham, for 2 nights. We take a tour of Guayaquil on Day 7, visiting some of its main sights including Centenario Park and the Moorish clock tower. This afternoon is at leisure.
Day 8 - To Baltra & a Galapagos Cruise
This morning, we leave Guayaquil and fly to Baltra Island. We transfer to our ship, the Galapagos Legend. We begin our cruise of the incredible Galapagos Islands in Mosquera Islet, where we might see a large, resident colony of sea lions. There is also the chance to go swimming or snorkelling here, before re-boarding the boat for dinner.
Day 9 - Santiago & Rabida Islands
This morning, we journey to Puerto Egas on Santiago Island, where we swim and snorkel with marine turtles. We then take a walk on the Island to witness the incredible array of birds that live amongst the rippling black lava flows. Then, following lunch on board, we land on Rabida Island and take a boat ride along the shore, soaking in the almost martian red sands of the beaches, and looking out for seals, yellow warblers, and the Darwin finch, named for naturalist Charles Darwin, whose exploration of the Galapagos Islands helped inspire his revolutionary book, 'On the Origin of Species'.
Days 10 & 11 - Isabela & Fernandina Islands
A highlight of our time on the Galapagos Islands is today's stop at Urbina Bay, the natural habitat of the indigenous giant tortoise, as well as many other unusual animals. On the other side of the Isabela Island, this afternoon we learn about the topography of the area. Day 11 includes time at Espinosa Point and the opportunity to snorkel in the rich waters of the Bolivar Channel.
Days 12 & 13 - The Journey Home
This morning we enjoy a final excursion into the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, the best place to spot the largest tortoise species in the world. That afternoon we transfer to Baltra for our flight to Guayaquil. Here we join our flight to London, via Amsterdam, arriving on Day 13.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Train and Hotel Accommodations
The Galapagos Legend
For our cruise, we will be on board the excellent Galapagos Legend. Features on board include a restaurant, cocktail bar and a library. 24 hour room service is available and there are also numerous viewing platforms, from where it is possible to look out over the incredible scenery and to try and spot the varied wildlife. Up on deck there is a pool with a nearby bar as well as al fresco dining spots. Each cabin is enjoys a marine theme, and includes air conditioning, a safe, television, mini bar and private bathroom.
Hotel Carvallo, Cuenca
Located close to the centre of Cuenca, the Hotel Carvallo is the ideal 4-Star base from which to explore this beautiful region of Equador. The hotel itself is set in a lovely 19th century house that has been lovingly refurbished to provide guests with a comfortable experience. The comfortable rooms are decorated in a traditional and elegant style and come with an in-room safe, an en suite bathroom, a television, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a minibar.
Wyndham Guayaquil Hotel, Guayaquil
We stay at the 5-Star Wyndham Guayaquil Hotel in Guayaquil, a modern hotel within walking distance of many of the city's main attractions, including the historic Santa Ana Hill with its famous lighthouse. The hotel boasts a spectacular range of wellness facilities, with a rooftop pool, spa and a fitness centre all available for guests to enjoy. The hotel's à la carte restaurant, Restaurante Rio Grande, offers expertly prepared local and international cuisine, and the relaxing lobby bar serves a range of tempting cocktails. The large guest rooms are sophisticated and well designed, with plush bedding, a minibar, bathrobes, flat-screen televisions and complementarity Wi-Fi.
Swissotel Quito, Quito
A modern and luxurious hotel, the 5-Star Swissotel Quito is located in the peaceful Floresta neighbourhood of Quito. The en suite rooms provide free Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions, minibars and safes as well as views either out of the city or surrounding mountains. On site there are five different restaurants as well as a spa, gym, both indoor and outdoor pool and a sauna and hot tub.
Hacienda Abraspungo, Riobamba
Situated at a height of 2754 metres in the Andes, Hacienda Abraspungo is a charming mountain resort in colonial style close to Riobamba, the capital of Ecuador's Chimborazo provice. The modern rooms have access to the hotel's beautiful gardens and social areas, and offer room service. A spa, games rooms, tennis and volleyball courts, and laundry service are available. International chefs offer excellent meals using local produce in the authentically Andean restaurant.
Devil's Nose Train
Guests enjoying an escorted rail tour of Ecuador with Great Rail Journeys may experience an exhilarating ride on the Devil's Nose Train. The train takes its name from the towering rock face of Cóndor Puñuna (Condor Mountain) which presented a seemingly impassable obstacle during the construction of Ecuador's first railway line at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Nicknamed El Nariz del Diablo - 'the Devil's Nose', the troublesome mountainside and the problem it posed were finally surmounted in 1908 by an ingenious feat of railway engineering. A series of long, curving switchbacks were carved directly into the face of the rock, allowing the train to gradually ascend or descend the Devil's Nose for more than eight hundred metres by slowly shunting backward and forward to negotiate the steep switchbacks. Today, the twelve-kilometre stretch of the original railway between Guayaquil and Quito which features the Devil's Nose forms part of an exhilarating journey through beautiful, verdant mountain scenery and traditional market towns. Naturally very popular with tourists, the line is also a favourite of rail enthusiasts, who appreciate the outstanding engineering skill required to complete the line.
Dates & Prices
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|12th September 2019||£5,795||Book Now|
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: Departs 12th September 2019 (£5,795)
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Prices are per person based on double occupancy. Prices are correct at the time of this web page going live; however are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
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