Why should you holiday in Ecuador and Galapagos?
Ecuador might be the smallest of the Andean countries, but its wildlife and nature are some of the most varied in the world. Discover stunning landscapes, hot springs, white sandy beaches, mountains, volcanoes and, not least, unique biological ecosystems and animal species on the Galapagos Islands.
What’s more, Ecuador offers historical experiences and the legacy of the Spanish colonial era, traditional indigenous cultures and beautiful towns and cities.
We currently offer two tours to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Both tours start on the mainland, followed by a cruise to selected Galapagos Islands.
Read more below about what you can experience.
Quito, the capital
Quito is the capital of Ecuador, located 2,850 metres above sea level, making it the second highest capital in the world.
The city nestles beautifully between the mountains with a gem of a historic city centre, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The area is teeming with colonial buildings and architectural treasures from the 17th century, including the beautiful church La Compañia de Jesus and the central square Plaza de la Independencia, where you can see the cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Presidential Palace.
Quito is just 20 km south of the equator, and when you are in the city, the Equatorial Monument (La Mitad del Mundo) is a must-see. The monument stands 30 metres high and marks the equator or the middle of the world. Posing for a photo with one foot on either side of the equator is popular here!
A few hours away from Quito, in Cotopaxi National Park, you will find Cotopaxi, one of the world’s tallest active snow-capped volcanoes, located at an altitude of 5,897 metres. The volcano last erupted in 2006, but the last violent eruption was back in 1940. Discover the volcano and the amazing view from a height of 4,600–4,800 metres.
The park itself is home to many different species of plants and animals. Inhabited by condors and humming birds, it is the perfect destination for bird lovers.
The indigenous town of Otavalo
About 100 km north of Quito, you will find Otavalo, an ancient indigenous town.
The town is especially well known for its colourful market, one of the most important markets in the Andes for centuries.
The welcoming locals are often dressed in the village’s traditional costume. At the market, you will find some of the locally produced crafts, including ceramic figurines and textiles as well as fruit and vegetables.
The Galapagos Islands
About 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador are the Galapagos Islands, a group of islands large and small. The islands form the top of a long volcanic chain rising 2–3,000 metres above sea level.
The Galapagos Islands were really brought to public attention when Charles Darwin used them in his research for his book “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”, published after his visit in 1835.
The islands, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are one of the most unique and biologically outstanding areas of the world. With its own fragile ecosystem, each island has something unique to offer.
It is believed that one of the reasons for the unique ecosystem is that the islands have emerged as volcanic islands, and have therefore never been part of the mainland.
Life on the islands probably originally arrived via the water or the air before evolving further. The Galapagos Islands are home to the most species not found elsewhere in the world, e.g. the Galápagos turtle, which the islands are named after.
Both of the tours we offer take you on two different, but unforgettable, cruises between Galapagos’ beautiful islands.
Read more about what you can experience on selected islands below. However, one thing is for sure. No matter which islands you visit, you are guaranteed to experience unique nature and wildlife.
Isabela is Galapagos’ biggest island, where you can visit Tagus Cove, which was popular with pirates and whalers in the 19th century. Many people wrote the names of the ships on the rocks, as you can see in Tagus, the oldest dating back to 1836. You are also in with a really good chance of seeing penguins, pelicans and crabs.
Urvina Bay is located at the foot of the Alcedo volcano. Until 1954, the bay was seabed, before being raised 5 metres above sea level. See some of the largest populations of land iguanas, Darwin’s finches, giant turtles and the Galapagos cormorant, the only cormorant that cannot fly.
Off the coast of Isabel, you can visit the small lava island, Las Tintoreras, which is surrounded by beautiful turquoise blue waters and inhabited by sea lions, sea turtles, sea iguanas, penguins and rays.
Santa Cruz is the second-largest island in the archipelago.
In the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest town on the island, is the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is one of the island’s highlights.
The station, which has existed since 1960, is committed to preserving Galapagos’ unique ecosystems. It is also home to Darwin’s finches and 11 different turtles. You can also see large land turtles, estimated to be between 100 and 150 years old.
On the northern part of the island, you will find Las Bachas, a white sandy beach which is one of the most important breeding sites for the sea turtles. You can also swim and snorkel here.
Rábida is one of the most colourful and volcanically-varied of the islands.
Most of the island consists of rocks, and Rábida is especially well-known for its reddish brown sandy beach on the north-eastern side of the island, where there are some amazing viewpoints for the island’s wonderful landscapes.
The island offers a rich bird life, with nine different finches, the Galapagos hawk and brown pelicans, to name but a few. In fact, Rábida is one of the best places to see the brown pelican breeding.
Genovesa is a horseshoe-shaped island in the north-eastern part of Galapagos.
The island got its special shape after a volcanic eruption, which also created Darwin Bay, surrounded by steep cliffs. Darwin Bay is home to countless different birds, including frigate birds, Darwin’s finches, swallows, red-footed boobies and many more besides, hence its nickname “Bird Island”.
You come ashore on the sandy beach of Darwin Bay, where you will see sea lions basking in the sun. It is also possible to swim in the water with the colourful fish, sea turtles and sea lions.
Want to know more?
To view the specific itineraries of each tour, click “Read more” further up the page, where you can see the highlights and itinerary, etc., of each tour.
If you would like to obtain a no-obligation quote on one or more of the tours, simply fill out the form under “ENQUIRE NOW”. We will then send you a quote for the tour(s) selected.
If you then wish to book the tour, follow the instructions in the quote.
We’ve compiled all the travel information you need about Ecuador and Galapagos on our “Practical information about Ecuador” page.
You are also very welcome to contact our travel consultants who know everything there is to know about our tours to South America and Central America.
They are on hand to take your call from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 4 pm on telephone 0800 121 4744. You are also welcome to contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to sending you on your journey of a lifetime!
Llamatours.co.uk – The Latin American Experience.