Print this trip dossier
Cookies

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, you accept that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more


Walking in Ecuador and Galapagos

12 days from £4,619pp

Dates & Prices Get in touch

Walking in Ecuador and Galapagos:
Trip Dossier

With gentle hillwalking and a couple of a bit more challenging climbs, this holiday offers a unique perspective on the deeply traditional rural lifestyle of the indigenous Andean communities in Ecuador while at the same time you appreciate glorious mountain scenery.   

Having explored the markets, craft villages and fertile valleys studded with snow-clad volcanoes, you will fly to the Galápagos Islands - rather than join as more conventional cruise you’ll spend for a few days discovering a select few of the contrasting islands from an intimate lodge-based perspective, with walks, water-based activities and short trips by motor launch.  The famous trusting wildlife is everywhere to be seen, both from afar and way up close.   

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Quito, continue by road to Otavalo.

Day 2

Visit Andean craft villages and Otavalo market.

Day 3

Trek from Zuleta to Cotopaxi.

Day 4

Climb Pasochoa peak 4,200m.

Day 5

Hike the Pedregal Trail in Cotopaxi National Park.

Day 6

Climb to the snowline on Cotopaxi volcano, 5,100m.

Day 7

Quito: walking city tour.

Day 8

Fly to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands.

Day 9

Explore a neighbouring island.

Day 10

Discover Isabela's giant tortoise breeding centre

Day 11

Hike to Sierra Negra Volcano.

Day 12

Return to the mainland for your international flight.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Quito, continue by road to Otavalo.
 
mojanda

Upon arrival at Quito’s lofty international airport you’ll be whisked off into the rugged Andean countryside beyond the capital en route to Otavalo, renowned market town in the north of the country.  Your rustic, family-run accommodation with its cottages and open fireplaces, provides a warm welcome and glorious views of the mountain landscape.

Show more Show less
mojanda

Day 2

Visit Andean craft villages and Otavalo market.
 
otavalo

Today you have a mixture of moderate hiking with visits to some of the little towns and villages which stud the plains and valleys of this picturesque region. The people here lead a slow-paced, traditional lifestyle, some raising hardy crops and livestock on their pocket-sized farmsteads while others are artisan craftsmen and women, producing intricate textiles and leather goods which are sold in the many local markets as well as on the international stage.

Walk an age-old track from Mojanda to reach the lively town of Otavalo. Your guide will help you understand more about the local economy, but you are at leisure to explore at your own pace. Otavalo hosts one of the largest and most vibrant indigenous markets in South America. Stalls are laden with tapestries and woollen goods, some intricate, some brash, and all in a wild array of colours, as well as traditional musical instruments and leather goods. You're bound to find something to take home.

Move on to explore on foot some small communities including Agato, where we will be hosted by a family which preserves the tradition of weaving on a backstrap loom. Later you will head deeper into the countryside, learning about small-scale agriculture and meeting local farmers. Spend the night at a lakeside resort and spa, Medina del Lago.

Show more Show less
otavalo

Day 3

Trek from Zuleta to Cotopaxi.
 
Zuleta Valley

Today you head out by road for the start of a day of fairly gentle high-altitude walking (4-5 hrs) across mountain trails and past remote homesteads into the Zuleta valley beyond. This agricultural area is famed for its traditional embroidery, dairy products, alpaca farming and highland crops such as wheat, maize, potatoes, lentils and quinoa.

The people of Zuleta jealously protect their culture and traditions, and wear a different costume from the striking blue and white attire of the Otavalo indians. The strong sense of community was fostered by the liberal reformist agenda of the aristocratic family who owned one of the larger haciendas in the area; their enlightened helped create a thriving local community which is now one of the country’s premier eco-tourism destinations. 

In Zuleta, you will learn how to prepare a typical Andean lunch, coached by a local family in their welcoming home. In the afternoon, you are driven south (2-3hrs) to Hosteria La Alegria, in the heart of Ecuador’s volcano country.

Show more Show less
Zuleta Valley

Day 4

Climb Pasochoa peak 4,200m.
 
Lodge to lodge trek Ecuador Tropic

Today is a serious hiking day, where you’ll be on foot for a total of around seven hours, including a climb up to Pasochoa peak, which is measured at a challenging 4,200m. However you’ll be walking at a leisurely pace, initially over grassland trails. Your efforts to reach the peak will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Pasochoa crater, and beyond you’ll survey the mountains surrounding Quito, including identifiable snow-draped volcanoes including the imperious Cotopaxi.

Later you descend to the Pita river canyon, a downhill walk of about 3 hrs through grasslands and low forests, ending at your rural lodge, Chilcabamba, situated at an altitude of about 3,500m, with tantalising views of Cotopaxi beyond. 

Show more Show less
Lodge to lodge trek Ecuador Tropic

Day 5

Hike the Pedregal Trail in Cotopaxi National Park.
 

Today is a definite highlight: you head into Cotopaxi National Park, one of the most delightful protected areas of Ecuador.  When the weather cooperates, views of the volcano Cotopaxi ‘s ice-clad, near symmetrical cone are awe-inspiring. You start at the Pita river, fed by the volcano itself and which you follow for much of the walk.

 The hike enters the Cotopaxi National Park near an archaeological site - Pucara de Salitre - where you will be able to observe a variety of migrant and resident Andean birds. On the way, you might also spot some of the wild horses, deer or llamas which make the park their home, as well as gorgeous seasonal mountain wildflowers and wild and remote highland scenery. Finish your walk at Lake Limpiopungo, speckled with birdlife. During this adventure, you will stop to enjoy a picnic in the crisp alpine environment, and return by road after the day’s exploration to your cosy mountain lodge, Chilcabamba.

Show more Show less

Day 6

Climb to the snowline on Cotopaxi volcano, 5,100m.
 
Cotopaxi

This is the culmination of all your efforts: the final push up to the snowline on the majestic slopes of Cotopaxi. From the lodge you will drive in your private vehicle to the parking area of the Cotopaxi mountain refuge. You will then walk for approximately an hour before reaching the mountaineers’ lodge, and hike from there to the edge of the glacier, a further hour beyond.

From this point the northern side of the mountain offers a spectacular panorama. You will be able to identify (with the help of your guide) all the ground you have covered since the first day of your adventure.

For many of you, this will be the highest place on earth you have ever reached, some 5,100m above sea level and the sense achievement will be great. The descent, which will take approximately 2 hrs, follows the same route back to the vehicle and we head back to Quito.

Show more Show less
Cotopaxi

Day 7

Quito: walking city tour.
 
quito

The active volcano Pichincha glowers over Quito, a dynamic city which, at 2,850m, is one of highest capital cities in the world. Quito is divided into two contrasting districts. The modern zone is characterised by towering glass buildings and houses banks, international companies, hotels, shops and restaurants, while the central colonial area where your hotel is located has well-conserved and recently spruced-up white-washed architecture, open air markets and graceful Spanish-style mansions and churches.

In the morning there’s a walking tour of colonial Quito, where you will survey the grand buildings of the cathedral and government palace, as well as some of the other ornate baroque churches which cluster in the historic core. You have the afternoon at leisure to continue exploring, or just relax.

Show more Show less
quito

Day 8

Fly to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands.
 
Giant tortoise-spotting

Today you head off to the airport for our jet flight to the Galápagos Islands, which takes from 2-3 hours, depending on whether there is a stop in Guayaquil.  Baltra is a tiny island which hosts the Islands’ principal airport.

You dive straight into your Galápagos adventure exploring the turquoise waters of the Itabaca Channel. You can kayak, snorkel and practice stand-up paddling while observing for the first time some of the uniquely adapted wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea-lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. Glide serenely through red mangrove forests and alongside lava rock cliffs.

Continue to Santa Cruz Island. You head inland, up to the grassy highlands to one of the private reserves bordering the Galápagos National Park where giant tortoises roam in the wild.

Perched high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, Magic Galápagos Tented Camp will be your base for the next two nights. Feast your eyes on the rugged mountains and forest surrounding the lodge, and enjoy the tranquillity of having the entire hillside to yourselves (with the exception of the resident tortoises).

A favourite after dinner activity is to take a walk to the natural lava tubes on the reserve for a night cap in the one-of-a-kind Lava Lounge.  It’s the perfect spot to relax around an open fire.

Show more Show less
Giant tortoise-spotting

Day 9

Explore a neighbouring island.
 
Galapagos Sealions

Board a small motor yacht, Sea Finch, for a trip to a neighbouring island. The Sea Finch, which carries up to 16 guests, has outdoor seating areas and an air-conditioned dining lounge. Where you will go depends on the day of the week, but will be one or two of the following islands:

Mon & Thu - North Seymour and Bachas beach

North Seymour is a tiny, boulder-strewn island home to large colonies of seabirds, including frigate birds and blue-footed boobies, and there is always a courting, mating or nesting ritual to see. Other inhabitants of this wildlife-rich Island include sea-lions, marine iguanas, lava lizards and Galápagos snakes. At Las Bachas beach the stretch of white sand is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles. Land iguanas dot the shoreline and flamingos feed in the lagoon behind the beach.

Tue & Fri - South Plaza Island

South Plaza is one of the smallest islands in the archipelago and home to a large colony of sea-lions and a small cactus forest populated by land iguanas. Swallow-tailed gulls, tropicbirds and shearwaters nest along the cliff edge.

Wed - Santa Fé Island

Santa Fé may well be the oldest island in the Galápagos and some of the best snorkelling and swimming is here. The crystal clear waters abound with sea lions, Galápagos white-tipped shark and sea turtles.

Sat & Sun - Bartolome and (Sat) Sullivan Bay

The small island of Bartolomé  is just off Sullivan Bay. A viewpoint atop the summit, accessible via a wooden walkway, offers views of Santiago Island and Sullivan bay to the west and the island's strange lava 'moonscape' and Pinnacle Rock far below. On the east coast is Sullivan Bay, where solidified black lava flow stretches to the sea; there is a white sand beach with excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkelling.

Show more Show less
Galapagos Sealions

Day 10

Discover Isabela's giant tortoise breeding centre
 
Isabela

Take an early morning speed boat to Isabela Island. Once you have checked in at your accommodation you will visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre, a 1km walk along a hand built walkway from Puerto Villamil, passing salt water mangrove lagoons inhabited by flamingos and marine iguanas. Isabela is the only island with several species of tortoises. The distances between the volcanoes and the different environments have allowed five different species to evolve. At the breeding centre you can see these different examples of tortoises up close at various stages of development from small hatchlings, to juveniles, to sub adults until they are eventually ready to be introduced to the wild where they can live to be over 100 years old and weigh a hefty 200kg.

Show more Show less
Isabela

Day 11

Hike to Sierra Negra Volcano.
 
sierra negra hike

Volcanic eruptions created all the islands of the Galápagos, and you will get to witness this geologic process first-hand as you explore Isabela, one of the youngest and most volcanically active islands of the archipelago. This 16km hike usually begins with some morning fog and rain but not to worry, the sun will be shining by the time you reach the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano. This vast crater which is the largest in the archipelago and the second largest in the world is one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos, last erupting in 2005.

The crater views are so expansive photographs struggle to convey its size, but you should bring your camera and binoculars anyway. Head towards Volcan Chico through a martian landscape of black and pinkish rock desolate of vegetation and at first appearance void of all life, though on closer inspection reveals small lizards scurrying among the rocks. Enjoy a picnic lunch with spectacular views over central and northern parts of Isabela and in the distance the islands of Fernandina to the west and Santa Cruz to the east before returning to your hotel.

Show more Show less
sierra negra hike

Day 12

Return to the mainland for your international flight.
 

UK clients arrive home the following day. 

Show more Show less

Essential information

Transport

1-2hr drives by private vehicle in and around Quito. 2 flights (3.5hrs and 2hrs). 2 speedboats (2hrs each). 

Accommodation

You'll be staying at countryside lodges and a colonial style hotel in mainland Ecuador, a beachfront hotel and a tented camp in the Galápagos Islands.

Meals

Full board days 2-5 and 8-11. Dinner day 1. Breakfast and lunch days 6 and 7. Breakfast only day 12.

Included excursions

• Mojanda to Otavalo Market walk, with community visits.
• Zuleta Valley hike with Andean cookery lesson.
• Climb Pasachoa peak.
• Hike Pedregal trail in Cotopaxi National Park.
• Climb to the snowline of Cotopaxi volcano.
• Walking city tour in Quito.
• Full programme of daily activities in the Galápagos.

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Otavalo region 2, Cotopaxi region 3, Quito 2, Galápagos 4 (Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands).

Included in the journey price

• Qualified bilingual local guides.
• All land transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees
• International departure tax

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions

Currency

The unit of currency in Ecuador is the US dollar.

Budget

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses, but as most meals are included you should only need an extra $20-30 a day for drinks and souvenirs.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in Quito, 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 especially in the Galápagos. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling or euros, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $US5-10 per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.

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 page. 

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, fit visitors who have hiking experience and are used to an active lifestyle at home.

Climate

Lying at over 2,500m on the Equator, the highlands have a permanent spring-like climate. The rainy season in the Andes runs between November and April when there are showers most afternoons, so this departure falls in the height of the dry season when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (maybe as low as freezing point.). Given the proximity to the equator, altitude is the determining factor with regard to temperature. In the mountains at any time of year you should expect a variation between 15°C and 25°C.

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. 

Altitude

Your hikes are at high altitude (2,800-5,100m). A small minority of visitors may suffer temporarily from altitude sickness. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to our representatives; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. Most people are unaffected and 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 suffering any symptoms.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information. 

Clothing and special equipment

You should go prepared to encounter all seasons. A light fleece jacket and a waterproof waterproof/breathable shell makes a good combination for highland regions. You will need good walking boots, waterproof trousers, scarf, hat and gloves. Some trekkers like to use trekking poles: best to bring your own.

Sun screen and sunglasses are also highly recommended.

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.

Vaccinations

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

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in parts of Latin America. If you’re pregnant, or planning to be, you should follow the advice of the  National Travel Health Network and Centre

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. Clients with a different nationality should enquire or check with the Ecuadorian Consulate.

Esta - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be digital e-passports with embedded chip. Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.
Close

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our twice monthly newsletter and be the first to know about our latest news, offer and competitions.

Sign up with...

Your email

Or...

Using a social account is fast and means you don't need to remember a password.

We never share your data either - see our terms & conditions

Facebook Connect

Remember, you can unsubscribe at any time.

To see how we take care of your data please review our Privacy Policy

Thanks for subscribing – we’ll be in touch!

You are not subscribed. Some error happened.

Share this Page

Social share page will open in new window

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/destinations/ecuador/holidays/walking-in-ecuador-and-galapagos/trip-dossier

Page ID: {61FEED7A-8E15-4CE3-A1F4-938F05F1AA8F}

Page Name: trip-dossier

Page Display Name: Trip Dossier

Page Template Name: T054-TripDossier

Page Template ID: {4B17EDBB-85D2-4A79-B178-A0CE05055C05}

Parent ID: {7865D847-8C7D-4676-9606-FD139F5A17B2}

Parent Name: walking-in-ecuador-and-galapagos

Parent Display Name: Walking in Ecuador and Galapagos

Parent Template Name: T013-Tour

Parent Template ID: {9701B79C-85FD-4A45-8072-3FFF55338F72}