Ecuador & The Galapagos11 Days • 4 Cities Ecuador & The Galapagos
Ecuador is four different worlds, straddling two different hemispheres, with one set of islands (re: the Galápagos Islands) that are unlike anywhere else you’ve been. Get closer to giant tortoises and seals than you ever thought possible, climb volcanoes, swim in some of the most picturesque places, and hike through the Amazon Rainforest. It’s Mother Nature meets Animal Planet meets secluded paradise. It’s the feeling you get when you clean your room, take a step back, and it seems like no one has ever lived there—that’s Ecuador and the Galápagos. Untouched. Unbelievable. Unparalleled to anywhere else in the world.
What are the top highlights?
- Explore jungles, mountains, beaches, and more
- Get your heart rate up as you white water raft through the Amazon Rainforest
- Swim with many, many, many seals on San Cristobal Island
- Escape from the urban jungle and head to an actual jungle in Tena
- Feel tiny as you hang with giant tortoises
- Snorkel the crystal-clear blue waters of Santa Cruz Island
- Hike up Tijeretas Hill for epic views of…everything
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
- Private motorcoach
- 9 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
- Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Click **here **for examples of where you'll stay.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
Day 1: Fly to Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! You’re landing in Quito, the capital city and home to the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get ready to feel like you’re on top of the world—because you kinda are; Quito is 2,500 meters above sea level. Deep breaths everyone, you’re in for an adventure (and because the air is thinner).
- Meet a trip representative at the airport.
- Transfer to your accommodation in Quito via private coach.
- Receive the latest schedule and trip updates from your Tour Director.
- Greet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
Day 2: Explore Quito
Quito’s a bit of modern-day meets traditional. As you get to know the area with a guided tour from a local guide, be sure to keep a look out for people wearing traditional Ecuadorian clothes, including ponchos, long dresses, and lots of jewelry. When you’re not enjoying the rather distinctive dress code, be sure to look up at the sky. Is it a bird? Possibly. Ecuador is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Is it a plane? Maybe. It’s one of the busiest airports in South America. But, more than likely, you’re looking at one of the eight volcanoes that surround the city.
- Join your Tour Director on a brief tour of the city and get acquainted with your new favorite city.
- Fulfill your dream of standing in two places at once at Mitad del mundo, the line that divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (AKA the equator).
Free Time Suggestion
Plaza Foch: This is one of the busiest areas in Quito for party, fun, and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for a more chill-type bar or a dance club to get your groove on, in Plaza Foch, the choices are endless.
In the evening, it's time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with your new friends and travelers. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!
Day 3: Transfer to Tena
Welcome to the jungle…literally. Today, you’ll descend from the Highlands of Quito to the peaceful town of Tena, nestled in the Amazon rainforest. Yep. We know it feels like you’re in an entirely different world, but it’s still good ol’ Ecuador. Just a much more rainforest-y part of it. En route, stop at a local spa with natural hot springs and plenty of places to kick back say “ahhhhhhhh.”
- Soak in the beauty around you (and in the multiple pools with different types of hydro massage) at a local hot spring and spa on your way to Tena.
- Say “see you soon” to Quito, and head to a white-water rafting hotspot: Tena.
- Learn what’s just around the river bend, exploring the two rivers that divide Tena.
- Sip on chica de yucca, a fermented beverage made from mashed yucca and grated sweet potato. It’s thick, it’s goopy, and it’s a must-try.
Day 4: Go White Water Rafting + Free Time in Tena
There’s nothing quite like riding some rapids and Tena has some of the best in Ecuador, and, dare we say, the world (insert evil laugh here)? Judge for yourself, because today you’re suiting up and going white water rafting with an expert guide in the heart of the jungle. Afterwards, bring your heart rate down and your “city time” up as you spend the afternoon exploring this quintessential South American jungle town.
- Embrace jungle life as you prepare for an epic adrenaline ride.
- Learn the basics of rafting with some pros and prepare to get wet.
- Enter the splash zone—it's time to ride some rapids.
- Dry off and enjoy some free time in Tena. Or, don’t dry off and head straight to the small pebble and sand beaches lining the riverbeds.
Free Time Suggestion
Go for a stroll: Walking around and simply enjoying this small town is the perfect evening activity. Stroll by the river, partake in some people-watching, and pop into some of the local, rustic bars.
Day 5: Travel to Quito
You’re headed back to Quito before heading out to the Galápagos Islands tomorrow. Where Quito is filled with people, the Galápagos are isolated. Where Quito is lively with people filling the streets, the Islands are lively with seals and other animals hanging out on beaches. So, get your human interaction in, because tomorrow, you’re going to experience an animal adventure. Note: the bus ride back to Quito will take approximately five hours.
- Head back to the place where it all began: Quito.
- Kick it old school in Centro Histórica, the largest and best preserved colonial center in Latin America.
- Go big at Plaza Grande, also known as Independence Square, in the heart of the city. The plaza is home to the city’s cathedral, Catedral Metropolitana, and the President’s palace, Palace de Gobierno, so it’s truly the place to be.
- Tour the most ornate church in Quito, La Compañía de Jesús, and consider redecorating your room to match its green and gold aesthetic.
Free Time Suggestion
La Ronda: This cobblestone street, located in Quito’s Old Town, is home to dozens of stores, art galleries, and restaurants.
Day 6: Travel to Santa Cruz Island
As you head to Santa Cruz, the most populous of the islands, get ready for some of the best views of the Galápagos. When you think of the Galápagos Islands, you probably think of giant tortoises. Which is good, because that’s exactly what’s there (among other animals). Get ready for all kinds of animals, including tons of birds. Be sure to look up and spot the different kinds that you can’t find in the U.S.—but probably best to keep your mouth shut.
- Take a flight and then water taxi to Santa Cruz for your island adventure.
- Enjoy a guided tour of the highlands and its lush forest compared to the lowlands and beaches that are to come.
- Head underground into lava tunnels and explore the various passageways.
- Get ready to meet the self-proclaimed chillest animals ever—giant wild tortoises.
- Go on a quick hike to Las Grietas, where the earth has literally cracked open, and lucky people like you get to snorkel in between the two cliffs.
Day 7: Travel to San Cristobal Island
Follow in Darwin’s footsteps (although he most likely didn’t travel by speedboat like you’ll be doing) to San Cristobal, the first island he explored back in 1835. With only 7,000 people living on this island, it’s one of the quieter ones, so feel like you’re on your own private paradise for two days.
- Take a speedboat ride to San Cristobal, the oldest island in the Galápagos.
- Join a local guide and head to Junco Lagoon, a freshwater lake where you’ll see birds on birds on birds.
- Visit the Galapagueras de Cerro, a tortoise reserve focused on helping increase the tortoise population.
Day 8: Snorkeling + Free Time
Get ready for more animals, snorkeling, and hiking during another epic day on San Cristobal Island.
- Go on a quick hike in the morning for more breathtaking views of the island.
- Gaze at the fish swimming below you during your snorkeling adventure.
- Spend the afternoon exploring the island on your own.
Free Time Suggestions
Interpretation Center: Want to learn about the history and significance of the Galápagos? Enter the Interpretation Center. Near the center, there are also a number of nature trails that give you epic views of the surrounding area and coast.
Beach it: Head to one of our favorite beaches, Playa Mann, for fine white sand and calm turquoise waters. It’s a great beach, you know, if you’re into great beaches and relaxing without a care in the world.
Day 9: Return to Quito + Farewell Dinner
You’re headed back to the mainland. Spend today exploring more of Quito. You still have so much to see, do, eat, drink, and every other type of verb imaginable. At night, enjoy a farewell dinner with the rest of your fellow travelers.
Free Time Suggestion
La Foresta: Explore this up-and-coming neighborhood with awesome street art and plenty of places for you to up your Instagram game.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
Day 10: Free Day in Quito + Optional Cotopaxi Volcano Hike + Overnight Flight Home
Your time is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Make today count and head back to some of your favorite places or explore some new ones. There are no wrong choices.
- Spend the day hanging with your group before you leave tomorrow.
- Walk around and stop in some of your favorite cafes, bars, and restaurants.
- Take more pictures, make more memories. You know, the usual.
- Head to the airport and board your overnight flight home.
Free Time Suggestion
Museum me: Quito has some of the best museums in South America. Whether you want art, history, or a little of both, there’s no shortage of options for you to choose from. Our favorite? Museuo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City) that details the life of Quito from 10,000 BCE to today.
Cotopaxi Volcano Hike(extra cost)
Cotopaxi is probably Ecuador’s most iconic natural landmark, and for good reason. Not only is it extremely good looking, but it also offers exceptional hiking opportunities. Travel two hours by bus to Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, where your bus will drop you off part-way up the mountain. Once you get off the bus, you can hike 1–2 hours with a local guide. Spoiler: the views of the mountain and surrounding park are enough to make you wish you could stay in Ecuador forever. Don’t forget to bring layers, rain gear, and a good pair of walking shoes!
Please note: Depending on your departure time tonight, you may need to go straight to the airport after the excursion.
Day 11: Arrive home
Your next destination awaits—home. Arrive in the late morning or afternoon from your overnight flight.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
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