Ecuador highlands tour & Galapagos cruise

“One of our most popular and pampered 16 day trips that combines the heights of Ecuador’s mountains, high seas and high life around the Galapagos. A small group tour.”


Quito | Otavalo | Avenue of the Volcanoes | Alausi | Devil's Nose train journey | Cuenca | Las Cajas National Park | Guayaquil | Santa Cruz | Isabela Island | James Island | Rabida Island | Bartolome Island

Description of Ecuador highlands tour & Galapagos cruise

With all the fuss surrounding the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s mainland is so often ignored. If you are travelling all this way to see the Galapagos, it is more than worth spending a week exploring the incredible Andean landscapes and rich, Quichua culture before jetting west for an island cruise. This Ecuador highlands tour and Galapagos cruise combines both seamlessly, as part of a guided, small group tour. Ecuador is one of South America’s smallest countries, surrounded by veritable giants, but its biodiversity is astonishing, and makes a delightful snow-capped contrast to the Galapagos’s dark volcanoes.

Your journey begins in the UNESCO-rated capital of Quito, brimming with beautifully preserved colonial architecture and the bustle of Quichua life. Travel up to the equator, just a few kilometres to the north, to stand with one foot on each hemisphere. You’ll then travel south through the Avenue of the Volcanoes, passing giants such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, before embarking on the exhilarating Devil’s Nose train ride along a series of sharp switchbacks as you descend into a lush valley. A private bus takes you further south still, to Cuenca – another UNESCO World Heritage Site, where 16th century colonial architecture combines with 15th century Inca stonework, and the odd llama strolls around town.

Your next stop is the sprawling port city of Guayaquil, from where your flight to the Galapagos will depart. The next week is spent aboard a comfortable motor yacht as you cruise around this incredible archipelago, disembarking usually twice a day to get up close to the landscapes and wildlife. Encounter giant tortoises, trek around volcanoes, snorkel with sea lions and meet the most northerly penguins in the world during what is sure to be one of the most memorable weeks of your life.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Check dates, prices & availability

23 Sep 2021
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 23 Sep 2021 departure
04 Nov 2021
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 04 Nov 2021 departure
Our top tip:
Such a mammoth trip you can forget sending postcards. Just invest in one serious travel journal.
Trip type:
Small group tour.
Considerably high single supplement for own room.
Good standard hotels, and 7 nights in ensuite cabins.
Internal flights, other transport, accommodation, all breakfasts, full board days 9-15, guided tours.
Holiday type

Small group adventure holiday

This trip is run by a company which specialises in only Central and South America holidays. Typically you will be sharing your experiences with between 4-20 like minded travellers (depending on the trip and how many others are booked on it) and you'll have a group leader with you. Whether you are travelling alone, with your partner or with friends its good value, and a great way to meet new people! While itineraries are pre-planned there is some flexibility and you'll have plenty of privacy. This trip will appeal to travellers of all ages who enjoy meeting new people as well as seeing new places, whilst being led by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic leader.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

It is feared that tourism in the Galápagos Islands is putting the wildlife in danger. Park authorities have introduced strict measures limiting the number of visitors and ships and it is important to work with responsible companies who adhere to such measures, and go even further to ensure operations do not endanger this unique environment where species are unafraid of man. Our Galapagos operator has taken various measures to ensure the impact of visitors to the islands is kept to an absolute minimum – this includes using bio-degradable cleaning products, having a sewage plant on board the larger boats, water processing plants on board, strict briefings to guests about how to behave on the islands etc. Group sizes are kept small for excursions and the guides are well qualified naturalists, whose primary concern is for the sustainability of the islands.

Our yacht in the Galápagos is the Seaman Journey, a boat that has a history of strictly upholding the Galapagos Park rules which are designed to protect the natural resources and animals within the park. These include the prohibition of taking any flora from the islands, touching the animals and staying within carefully planned viewing areas and designated pathways. Before you set off on the cruise, the specialist guides will cover these aspects in detail and throughout the trip the passengers are sensitively reminded of these. The team on board also provides and recycles plastic bottles so that nothing need be disposed or left on the islands.

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) carries out scientific research and complementary actions with collaboration from local, national and international partners to conserve the Galápagos. Their focal point is the Charles Darwin Research Centre (CDRC) at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. We will visit this centre as part of the tour and learn from the carefully laid out resources. It is possible to view and support the conservation and breeding of the unique species of Galápagos Tortoise, as well as learning in depth about Foundation’s work in conserving the island’s fragile natural resources.

The Impacts of this Trip

We believe it is important to include the Ecuadorian mainland on this itinerary. Too often visitors to the Galápagos bypass this beautiful country, thereby not bringing benefits of tourism to the mainland. By visiting small towns and markets such as Otavalo, Riobamba and Cuenca, our clients can directly buy handicrafts from the producers and money spent filters down through the local economy through our choice of hotels and local restaurants our tour leaders chose to take clients to.


2 Reviews of Ecuador highlands tour & Galapagos cruise

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 06 Jan 2020 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was all memorable especially the Galapagos islands

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

None, go with the flow

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Great once in a lifetime trip provided by an excellent and highly recommended company

Reviewed on 13 Jan 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The Tour of The Galápagos Islands.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


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