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Classic Ecuador in 10 days


A fantastic introduction to Ecuador – visiting the capital Quito, the world renowned Galapagos Islands and Cotopaxi National Park.

If you have more time, this itinerary can easily be combined with the Classic Peru itinerary, or shortened if you just seek a few days in the Galapagos Islands, and hotel accommodations can be modified to suit your budget.

Day 1 - Arrive QuitoDay 2 - QuitoDay 3 - Quito - GalapagosDay 4 - Galapagos - Bartolome IslandDay 5 - Galapagos - South Plaza IslandDay 6 - GalapagosDay 7 - Galapagos - Quito - CotopaxiDay 8 - CotopaxiDay 9 - Cotopaxi - QuitoDay 10 - Depart Quito
Arrival at Quito Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Rich in history, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world, founded in 1534 by Spanish Conquistador Sebastian de Benacazar. For nearly three centuries, the arts and intellectual societies flourished under Spanish colonial rule until 1809, when Quito established the first self-governing junta in the colonies. Liberator Simon Bolivar led the country as part of the Republic of Greater Colombia until 1830, when the Republic of Ecuador announced its independence with the adoption of the Constitution signed in Riobamba. Due to the city’s preservation of its blended past, UNESCO declared Quito a World Heritage Site in 1978.

Overnight: Swissotel Quito

Begin your tour of Quito with a stop at Panecillo Hill. With spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the city below, Panecillo Hill also hosts a statue of Quito’s “Winged Virgin” visible from almost anywhere in the city.

Marvel at the city’s ornate churches, cathedrals and baroque architecture, and experience a long history of local culture in Quito’s Old Town. Visit San Francisco Church, dedicated to Quito’s patron saint, and rich in art treasures, fine woodcarvings and altars of gold leaf. You will also see La Compañía Church, a Jesuit church with an elaborate façade, whose glittering interior was created with seven tons of gold.

The City’s Museum has a splendid exhibition of the history of Quito since pre-Inca times to the 20th century. The museum is located at the San Juan de Dios building which was the first hospital of the city back in the 16th century. The building has been completely restored and adapted to host the interesting history of Quito.

After lunch rest of the afternoon will be at your leisure.

Overnight: Swissotel Quito
Meal Plan: B,L

Ecuador; Ecuador Highlands

Ecuador; Quito; Plaza de la Indepencia








Transfer to the airport for your flight to Galapagos (via Guayaquil). Arrival in Galapagos and transfer to the Royal Palm Hotel.

Visit the breeding centre and Giant Tortoise pens located at Puerto Ayora, where you will witness the various stages of development of these world renowned indigenous tortoises that can easily outlive us. While enjoying a close encounter with these impressive animals you will hear all about their fascinating life history and the story of Lonesome George, one of the more famous island residents. Don’t forget to ask your guide to visit the interpretation centre showing the natural history of the islands.

Overnight: Royal Palm
Meal Plan: B,D

Board the M/Y Nortada this morning. You will spend the day at Bartolome Island – famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the islands. Galápagos penguins, the only species of penguin found north of the equator, walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Just below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones. A perfectly crescent, pink and white sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and can sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand to recover from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them.

Penguins dot the nearby rocks of the next landing site, less than a kilometre along the eastern shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. This dry landing is the entrance to a 600 metre (2,000 foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents a museum of vulcanology; a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and the beach, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle your yacht.

Lunch will be on board your yacht. Return to your hotel around 5:30 pm.

Overnight: Royal Palm
Meal Plan: B,L



















South Plaza Island (Plaza Sur) is the southern partner of two small crescent-shaped islands that lie just a few hundred metres off the east coast of Santa Cruz. The northern island is used for scientific purposes only. South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago. Only 130 metres wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a titled tabletop quality. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island tilts toward the water.

The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Further up the shore a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath, waiting patiently for pears to drop.

The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies ride the windy currents. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. Surf pounds an inlet at the western corner of the island, where a colony of sea lion bachelors make their home, accounting for the surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur. The shoreline of Las Plazas makes for excellent snorkeling in a sea lion colony of nearly a thousand. Your guide will find the right spot to swim with youngsters away from areas claimed by the surly bulls.

Lunch will be on board your yacht. Return to your hotel around 5h30 pm.

Overnight: Royal Palm
Meal Plan: B,L











Day at leisure.

Overnight: Royal Palm
Meal Plan: B










Transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito (via Guayaquil).

Upon arrival in Quito drive to Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, built on the site of an important Inca ruin. The original Inca walls have been incorporated into the structure of this unique colonial hacienda, which offers today’s astute traveller an unrivalled glimpse into a glorious past. Since the 15th century it has served as an Inca fortress, Agustinian monastery, temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission’s Alexander Von Humboldt, and permanent country home for two ex-presidents of Ecuador.

Overnight: San Agustin de Callo Hacienda
Meal Plan: B,L,D

This morning you will be driven to the Cotopaxi National Park, the most visited in the whole of Ecuador. The park offers an excellent opportunity to see the Andean páramo (high grasslands) and its interesting flora and fauna. The park’s centrepiece, Mount Cotopaxi (5,897 m / 19,300 ft) is Ecuador’s second highest peak and one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.

On arrival in the park, your guide will point out the typical plant species and indicate some of the wildlife native to the park, including highland hummingbirds.

After a short visit to the Information Centre, make your way towards Lake Limpiopugno, located on the northern slopes of Mount Cotopaxi at 3,800 metres above sea level. Take a walk around this lake and also visit the Inca Salitre ruins. In the area around the lake and the ruins it is common to see wild horses and llamas.

After lunch, continue your exploration of Cotopaxi’s flora and fauna. You may even attempt to climb up to the Cotopaxi’s base camp, 4,800 meters / 15,750 feet above sea level and with excellent views out over the National Park.

Late afternoon back to your hacienda.

Overnight: San Agustin de Callo Hacienda
Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day at leisure, you can choose between different activities offered by the hotel.

The high paramo with its unique abundance of flora, fauna is within easy reach of the Hacienda. Day trips can also be arranged to the nearby Cotopaxi National Parkwhose spectacular habitat is home to the elusive condors, wild horses and Andean wolves. Excursions can also be arranged to the twin-peaked Ilinizas across the way.

Horse Riding
Trails range from a few hours in length, taking you through typical high Andean villages such as Ticatilin with its whitewashed colonial church, to longer day trips following little used Inca trails.

Mountain Bike
The Hacienda is ideally situated for off road riding in and around Cotopaxi National Park or the mountain range above the Saquisili market place. For those who wish to enjoy a spectacular down hill ride, four wheel drive transport takes you to the ‘Refugio’, located just below Cotopaxi’s snow line at 4800 metres. Riders can then make the exciting descent to the park entrance where transport will be waiting to take you back to the hacienda and to a well-earned dinner.

Indian markets
Several Indian Markets are within a twenty minute drive from the hacienda and include those of Pujilí and Saquisilí, one of the most authentic markets in Ecuador, with their colourful displays of spices, fruits and hand woven ponchos.

Afternoon drive back to Quito and check-in to your hotel.

Overnight: Swissotel Quito
Meal Plan: B,L,D

Ecuador; Cotopaxi













After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meal Plan: B


Pacific Destination Center South America Specialists are here to help personalize your holiday for the Most Memorable Experience – Just give us a call at 800-227-5317, or email us at with your desired destinations and focused activity wish list, or special occasion celebration and we will get started on your personalized dream holiday.


Phone one of our South America Specialists at 1-800-227-5317 to start planning your Ecuador Holiday now!

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