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Private Journeys

Signature Ecuador and Galapagos: Volcanoes to the ocean

14 days from £7,950pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands / Galapagos Islands

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Essentials

Transport

2 flights (longest 2hrs); 5-day cruise.

Accommodation

You’ll be staying at popular mid-range hotels in the historic centres of Quito and Cuenca, as well as several traditional-style countryside properties (haciendas) with Spanish colonial character. In the Galápagos you’ll be on a 16-passenger motor yacht.

Meals

Breakfast daily; Lunch days 5,6,7,9; Dinner days 3,10; Full Board 11-13.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary Of Nights

14 days, 13 nights: Quito 2, Otavalo 1, Quito 1, Cotopaxi 1, Riobamba 1, Cuenca 2, Guayaquil 1, Galápagos 4.

Currency

The unit of currency in Ecuador and the Galápagos is the US dollar.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can spend as the dollar is the local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques (American Express are the most widely accepted), though these are gradually falling out of use. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of good quality meals on those days in the holiday itinerary when not on the cruise, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance pages.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey Grade

This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors.

The streets in Quito are cobbled and steep and you must be cautious taking these on at altitude (see “Altitude” below).

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Climate

Lying at 2,850m on the equator, the highlands have a permanent spring-like climate: altitude is the determining factor with regard to temperature. The rainy season in the Andes runs between January and April when there are showers most afternoons. The dry season is June, July and August when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (maybe as low as freezing point). May, September and October are less predictable, with both rainy and sunny spells. . In the mountains at any time of year you should expect a variation between 15°C and 25°C.3

In the Galápagos, from January to April it’s hot and the sun is relentless, with some sudden showers. May to July, and October to December is cloudier; August and September it’s often cloudy and cool, and a stiff breeze makes the waters choppier. High and Low seasons reflect demand rather than the best time to go. Many boats are in dry dock in September.

Altitude

Several days are spent at high altitude (over 2.500m). You may notice the effect of high altitude; symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches and breathlessness. If you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of being adversely affected.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Clothing And Special Equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a waterproof/breathable outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well on the Galápagos Islands and in the jungle. Long-sleeved shirts will protect you from insects.

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellant, sun block, hat and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for ocean swimming (Galápagos). Snorkelling equipment is included but you may prefer to bring your own. Aqua-socks or rubber sandals are useful for embarking and disembarking on wet landings.. For June to November departures, wetsuits are recommended, as the waters can be chilly for snorkelling. You can hire one on the boat at a rate of $US30 for 5 days.

Don’t forget your binoculars, camera, charger and cards.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America and Galápagos.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

For admission to the Galápagos a yellow fever certificate is required for anyone over 1 year old coming from an area with risk of yellow fever transmission.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Country info

When is the best time to visit Ecuador and Galapagos?

The country is an all-year-round destination. The highlands, at about 2,800m but astride the Equator, have a permanent spring-like climate. Most days have a sunny morning but there may be rain in the afternoon. The coast is very hot (30°C) and humid from Jan-Apr. It’s a bit cooler and drier from May-Dec. The jungle is hot and humid all year.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What is the official language of Ecuador and Galapagos?

The official language in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is Spanish.

What is the official currency in Ecuador and Galapagos?

The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in larger towns and cities using a UK credit or debit card.

What is the time difference between Ecuador and Galapagos and UK?

The time difference between the UK and Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is GMT-5 hours.

What places combine well with Ecuador and Galapagos?

The Galápagos Islands, (1.5 - 3 hours by air from Guayaquil of Quito); a tour in Colombia to the north, with daily flights from Bogotá to Quito taking just 1.5 hours; the Inca archaeological sites of Peru (daily flights Lima to Quito take 2 hours 20mins).

What are the festivals and cultural events in Ecuador?

There are carnivals throughout the country, usually around February-March. Be warned that the boisterous festivities include water fights from which no visitor is safe.

Semana Santa (Easter) takes place throughout the country usually between March-April. There will be religious processions throughout this period.

Todos los Santos (all souls day, day of the dead) is also celebrated throughout the country on the 2nd November. Flower laying ceremonies in will take place in cemeteries. These are particularly striking in rural areas.

How do I adapt to the altitude in Ecuador?

Ecuador’s high Andean spine is bookended by the Pacific coast and Amazon Rainforest, with Quito at 2,850m. Travel to high altitude can cause mountain sickness and even if you feel fighting fit it’s important to take things easy and stay hydrated (drink plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine) as you get used to the thin, dry air. You may initially notice a headache, dizziness or breathlessness and this usually improves with acclimatisation. If you are pregnant or taking the contraceptive pill, have a medical condition such as heart or lung condition, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure you should seek the advice of your GP before booking.  We also recommend you check your travel insurance covers travel to high altitude.  If you’re taking the family, remember small children may be less capable of communicating altitude-related symptoms effectively: keep an eye on them too. Rest assured we will plan your itinerary carefully, taking into account any time spent at altitude.  If you have any questions or concerns about altitude please speak to your travel expert.

Further advice on travel to altitude is available on www.travelhealthpro.org.uk

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Ingala (Galápagos National Park)fee
  • Excursions as specified
  • Snorkelling equipment in the Galápagos
  • Kayaks in the Galápagos

Included Excursions

  • Walking tour of colonial Quito
  • Visit Otavalo market
  • Cuicocha volcanic lake walk
  • Visit Cotopaxi National Park
  • See traditional Andean markets
  • Visit Ingapirca Inca ruins
  • Explore Cajas National Park
  • 4 night cruise in the Galapagos Islands

What's not included in the price

  • International flights to Latin America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Galápagos Park entrance fee

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Ingala (Galápagos National Park)fee
  • Excursions as specified
  • Snorkelling equipment in the Galápagos
  • Kayaks in the Galápagos

Included Excursions

  • Walking tour of colonial Quito
  • Visit Otavalo market
  • Cuicocha volcanic lake walk
  • Visit Cotopaxi National Park
  • See traditional Andean markets
  • Visit Ingapirca Inca ruins
  • Explore Cajas National Park
  • 4 night cruise in the Galapagos Islands

What's not included in the price

  • International flights to Latin America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Galápagos Park entrance fee

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

Papagaio

Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration
Bartolome, Galápagos

Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Ben
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

  • Juliet
    Juliet Ellwood - Travel Expert

    After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and History and having been fascinated by Latin America since childhood by the book featuring photos of Nazca, Juliet first visited the region in 2003. Since then, Juliet has visited the majority of countries in Latin America but has particularly extensive experience with Peru, a country she loves for many reasons but not least, its incredible archaeological richness and delicious food!

  • Kathryn
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Lina
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

  • Sallly
    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

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