Private Journeys

Signature Ecuador and Galapagos: Volcanoes to the ocean

16 days from £6,820pp

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands / Galapagos Islands

ShutterStock ©

Essentials

Transport

2 flights (longest 2hrs); 6-day cruise.

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates a small mid-range hotel with character and some history and special features. First class 16-passenger motor yacht in the Galápagos.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch days 9, 12, dinner day 10, full board days 3, 5, 6 and 11-14.

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

15 days, 14 nights: Quito 2, Otavalo 1, Quito 1, Cotopaxi 1, Riobamba 1, Cuenca 2, Guayaquil 1, Galápagos 5.

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. 

Water To Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.

Country info

When's 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.

What's the official language of Ecuador and Galapagos?

Spanish

What's the official currency in Ecuador and Galapagos?

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 Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in larger towns and cities using a UK credit or debit card.

What's the time difference between Ecuador and Galapagos and UK?

GMT -5 hours

What places combine well with Ecuador and Galapgos?

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).

Key Events

Carnival: Many places throughout the country, Feb-Mar variable. Be warned that the boisterous festivities include water fights from which no visitor is immune. 
Semana Santa (Easter): Many places throughout the country, Mar-Apr variable. Religious processions.
Todos los Santos (all souls day, day of the dead): Many places throughout the country, 2 Nov. Flower laying ceremonies in cemeteries, particularly striking in rural areas. 

A Note About Altitude

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

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

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

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    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.

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    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 Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

Meet the team