Ecuador Mainland + Galapagos Cruise

"It is not the strongest of species that survive...but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin

Galapagos…The mere mention of these islands conjures dreams of adventure, intrigue, and excitement. It’s a place of mystery that millions know about, but only a handful have explored. To visit is to live a moment like you never have before.

Our excursion of the islands begins on a first-class, luxury catamaran. With a limit of sixteen passengers, this state of the art vessel provides an intimate yet extravagant seafaring experience. Cabins built with relaxation in mind also offer spectacular views of the surrounding ocean as far as the eye can see. Have a drink while basking under the sun’s rays on the sundeck or pop into the jacuzzi for a soak and sip on your drink of choice to unwind. The Alia is a ship built for a trip of maximum comfort on an adventure of a lifetime. Check out the video below of The Alia :

The Alia Catamaran

The sights in store for you during this 5-day cruise include wonders like the famous Galapagos tortoises, which helped inspire Charles Darwin to write his infamous On the Origin of Species. These beloved animals live hundreds of years and are gargantuan rulers of their domain. Seeing them in their natural habitat is not to be missed.

These islands are special thanks in large part to the strong currents from Antarctica flowing towards the Galapagos bringing with them an abundance of plankton : the main food source for many ocean creatures. The billions of microscopic plankton which feed the huge shoals of fish also attract penguins, a rare vision this far north. Further up on the chain, larger species come to dine on these fish, creating a perfect ecosystem, as Darwin would say. The wonders under the water are equally impressive. Beneath the pristine waters you can explore an untouched haven of natural beauty swimming alongside reef sharks, manta rays, and tropical fish. If exploring the ocean depths is out of your league, don’t fret because above the waves, the exotic birds of the Galapagos await. Here your eyes will feast upon blue footed boobies, flamingos, albatross, and the strange frigate bird. Also worth exploring are the many lava tubes on Santa Cruz Island. Formed from the flows of molten rock, these tubes prove to be a fascinating, but haunting adventure.

The Galapagos Islands are the main draw of this tour, but Ecuador’s largely undiscovered mainland is also not to be missed. Nestled in the Andes Mountains amid the Amazonian rainforest, Ecuador’s Spanish roots are still evident. It is home to an array of diverse people with a rich history as well as fantastic adventures including nature hikes among fluffy clouds, soaring active volcanoes, cascading waterfalls and so much more. Thirteen days of exploration and adventure will be yours to treasure for a lifetime.

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Day 1 : Quito Arrival

Welcome to Ecuador! Today you arrive in Quito and settle into your accommodation in the city. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador, nestled high in the Andes Mountains and home to what is considered the best-preserved historic center of both of the Americas. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a multitude of 17th century Spanish colonial architecture. Quito’s Old Town is full of ornate religious edifices, stimulating museums, aristocratic houses frozen in time, and lots more for you to discover. Most of you will arrive in the evening, so once you have checked into the hotel, you can explore the neighborhood and get a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s activities!

Included :

  • Activities : Airport arrival transfer; Free time
  • Meals : None
  • Accommodation : Boutique hotel

Day 2 : Quito

Quito is one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador and its narrow colonial streets are full of history, culture and tradition. After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll take a ride around some of Quito’s more modern neighborhoods and also stop to admire panoramic views of the city from Panecillo Hill. From there, it’s a short drive to the historical center where you’ll visit some of the most traditional and cultural places in Quito such as the Basilica of the National Vote and the world-famous La Compañía de Jesus with its gleaming ornate gold interior. The tour will finish at San Francisco Church. Thereafter, you’ll have the rest of the day at your leisure to get some R&R at the hotel or explore the city some more on your own.

Included :

  • Activities : Quito city tour; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Boutique hotel

Day 3 : Otavalo (Travel time approximately 2 hours)

Today you will make your way to the city of Otavalo with a stop by San Pablo Lake. San Pablo del Lago is a tranquil, little village located near the identically named lake. The surrounding water, mountains and volcano provide breathtaking scenery. The village itself is quaint and quiet, the perfect place to get a taste of village life in Ecuador. Otavalo is perhaps best known for its market at which hundreds of merchants gather in La Plaza de los Ponchos making it one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. Every Saturday, you can find delicate alpaca sweaters, handmade mittens and hats, colorful tapestries, and much more. It’s a great place to buy the perfect souvenir to remember your journey to Ecuador. Today, there will also be a visit to the indigenous musical collective atelier, Nanda Mañachi during which, you’ll learn about this the concept of this school of music and how it is trying to rescue the art of ancient Andean instruments. This folklore is deeply rooted in the aboriginal culture of Ecuador.

Included :

  • Activities : Otavalo transfer; Otavalo market; Nanda Manachi atelier; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hacienda

Day 4 : Otavalo

After breakfast in the morning, you will receive an introduction to the healthcare culture of the region as you learn about the daily work of a midwife in the village of La Calera. Continuing on, pay a visit to a shaman who will explain Andean spirituality and cosmos vision. After a hearty lunch, there will be a hands on lesson about different medicinal plants in an organic garden. You’ll also be able to visit handicraft workshops and a local honey producer. Next up is Lake Cuicocha where you will have some free time for a short hike or a boat ride on the lake.  

Included :

  • Activities : Midwife visit; Shaman lesson; Organic garden; Local apiary; Lake Cuicocha; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
  • Accommodation : Hacienda

Day 5 : Quito (Travel time approximately 2 hours)

On the way back to Quito, you will stop by the middle of the world : the Equator. This location was determined to be the spot where the two hemispheres were divided in 1736. However, modern technology has proven that the actual Equatorial line is 240 meters north of the indicated line that you will see. Nonetheless, you will be close to and in one of the handful of inhabited cities in the world through which the Equator passes! The rest of the afternoon will be at your leisure and your Quiteño guide will be there to point you in the right direction. 

Included :

  • Activities : Quito transfer; Equator; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
  • Accommodation : Boutique hotel

Day 6 : Cloud Forest (Travel time approximately 1.5 hours)

Today you will make your way to the ethereal Cloud Forest of Tandayapa where you will spend two days and one night with your head (physically and literally) in the clouds! You’ll be staying in an eco lodge where you’ll be able to see over 500 species of hummingbirds as you explore this tropical wonderland and take nature walks throughout the Cloud Forest as you try to spot the brightly colored tropical birds hidden among the plant life. On arrival, meet your guide for a short briefing followed by a hike. Your guide will choose the best trails and hiking options based on the weather and trail conditions. After an approximately 2 hour easy and educational hike, you’ll return to the lodge in time for a delicious lunch. In the afternoon, there will be another forest hike where you can discover the ecology of this mysterious forest. If you’re lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the delightful Olinguito (Ecuadorian kitty bear) hanging around the lodge!  

Included :

  • Activities : Cloud Forest transfer; 2 nature walks; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : Cloud Forest Eco-Lodge

Day 7 : Quito (Travel time approximately 1.5 hours)

For those of you who are bird enthusiasts, you can wake up early for a morning bird hike. If you are not a bird lover, just sleep in and wake up with the forest as the sun appears and sets the world in motion. You have the option of more hikes to discover the exuberant forests around the lodge or you may just choose to relax in the lodge’s lounge. If you’re looking for something else to do, your guide can give you some options of other activities to do nearby!

You’ll return to Quito and on the way, visit the parish of San Antonio, which is home to a tall pyramid-shaped monument marking latitude 0°0 and a small town crossed by a line on the ground representing the equator. Here you can stand on two hemispheres at the same time. Don’t forget to bring your passport with you as you can get a stamp in it to show that you have been to the Equator! While here, you will visit the small, but very interesting and interactive Intiñán Museum as well.

Included :

  • Activities : Nature walks; Free time; San Antonio parish; Intiñán Museum; Quito transfer; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Boutique hotel

Day 8 : North Seymour Island

Today you will depart by plane to Baltra Island. Once you have collected your luggage at the airport and passed through immigration, you will be met by a boat representative and transferred to your luxury-class catamaran : The Alia, to commence your 5-day cruise around the Galapagos Islands. You will get settled into your rooms and meet your guide and crew. In the early afternoon, you will head to North Seymour Island, named after English nobleman Lord Hugh Seymour. Formed by uplifted submarine lava, the island is home to a huge colony of about 2,500 land iguanas and large populations of sea lions, blue-footed boobies, common noddies and frigate birds. Along the coast, it is possible to see land and marine iguanas and a large colony of the magnificent frigate birds.

The Alia is a brand new, top of the line motor catamaran with nine rooms, each room with a balcony offering views of the ocean. Additionally, all rooms are air-conditioned with their own private, full bathroom. The Alia also has a beautiful dining room where you will have your meals together each day. For some R&R, there is a spacious lounge area as well as a bar and jacuzzi located on the sundeck with panoramic views. If you would like to learn more about the The Alia, please click HERE.  

Included :

  • Activities : North Seymour Island transfer via Baltra Island (by taxi, plane, and boat); 1 dinghy ride; 1 guided hike
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : The Alia Luxury Catamaran

Day 9 : Genovesa Island (Darwin Bay & El Barranco)

In the morning, you will head to Darwin Bay on Genovesa Island, which was formed when a crater on the island collapsed into the sea. You’ll land on a white sand coral beach which heads a half-mile trail winding through mangroves filled with land birds. Bird watchers will be in paradise as you try to spot red footed-boobies, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels yellow-crowned, black-crowned and lava herons, and yellow warblers. At the end of the trail is a spectacular view off a cliff to see red-foots nesting in the mangroves below. This hike will allow you to see the local fauna and flora among the mangroves and coral pebble beaches. You will also be able to go kayaking or snorkeling where you can see rays, colorful reef fish and if you are lucky…hammerhead sharks!  

Next up is El Barranco, which is located on the southern part of Darwin Bay and it is also known as Prince Philip’s Steps. You will ascend to a plateau where it is possible to see a large population of masked boobies and red-footed boobies in the trees as well as storm petrels and short-eared owls that have found the ideal place for nesting in the lava flows.

Included :

  • Activities : Genovesa Island transfer; 2 guided hikes; 1 dinghy ride; Kayaking; Snorkeling
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : The Alia Luxury Catamaran

Day 10 : Santiago Island (Sullivan Bay) & Bartholomew Island

To start your day, you will head to Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, a volcanically active island with many young flows and cones which can even be seen from outer space! A coral beach landing will lead you towards a lava field that stretches as far as the eye can see. As you explore the island, hunt and peck through the two types of lava, pahoehoe and ‘a’a, for signs of plant life that have managed to emerge over the past 100 years since the most recent volcanic explosion. A truly amazing volcanic experience…up close and personal!

After lunch, you will make your way to Bartholomew Island, home of the famous Pinnacle Rock. Bartholomew consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations all lending to its moon like landscapes. A trail of stairs leads to the summit of the volcano, boasting one of the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for snorkeling and possible sightings of a small colony of Galapagos penguins who call this island home.  

Included :

  • Activities : Santiago & Bartholomew Island transfers; 1 guided hike; 1 dinghy ride; Snorkeling; Swimming
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : The Alia Luxury Catamaran

Day 11 : Santa Cruz Island (Dragon Hill & Black Turtle Cove)

This morning, you head to Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island. It is is one of the newest sites accessible to tourists in the Galapagos Islands having just opened in 1993. A walking trail will lead you along a beach and up a trail to the lagoon lookout where bright flamingos, pintail ducks, and land iguanas can be spotted.

In the afternoon, you’ll be off to Black Turtle Cove in the northern part of Santa Cruz. This inlet is surrounded by mangroves and is only accessible by dinghy. The shallow cove is surrounded by mangroves and provides a safe haven for young marine life. Juvenile black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and a variety of rays are often spotted here along with the occasional hammerhead shark. Pelicans and boobies also hunt here, diving gracefully into the water.

Included :

  • Activities : Santa Cruz Island transfer; 1 guided hike; 1 dinghy ride
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : The Alia Luxury Catamaran

Day 12 : Santa Cruz Island (Highlands) – Papallacta Lagoon

On your last day in the Galapagos, you will stop by the highlands of Santa Cruz whose deep green landscapes contrast beautifully with much of the dry, lower islands. The dominant vegetation in the highlands is the forest of scalesia trees creating the lush green color. The lava tubes, over half a mile long, are underground and walking through them is a unique, surreal experience. You’ll also have the chance to see wild tortoises as well as the tortoise breeding center on the island. After your adventure on Santa Cruz Island, you will say goodbye to the Galapagos Islands and all of its inhabitants as well as your catamaran crew and then head toward the Baltra Airport to catch your flight back to Quito.

After having arrived at the Quito airport, you’ll visit the Papallacta Lagoon located in the beautiful area of Paramo. The hot springs provide an anti-stress environment and ample health benefits, perfect for relaxing after an active cruise around the Galapagos Islands. Soak in the different spas in waters of varying temperatures and massage your muscles with the various water jets in the pools. On arrival at the spas, you will receive a towel, bathing cap and locker with key where you can store your belongings. After some much deserved R&R, you’ll have the evening at your leisure to laze about the jacuzzi or get one last hike in the surrounding entrance of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest.

Included :

  • Activities : Santa Cruz Highlands; 1 guided hike; Tortoise breeding center; Papallacta Lagoon transfer (by boat, plane, and van); Spa session; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
  • Accommodation : Papallacta Lagoon

Day 13 : Quito

Today is your last day in Ecuador and you will be transferred back to the Quito airport to catch you flight back home.

Included :

  • Activities : Free time; Airport departure transfer
  • Meals : Breakfast

*Itinerary subject to change.

Regular Season 13-Day Tours

$5,100 – Trip cost per Person (based on double occupancy)

$500 – Upgrade to Main Deck Room (per person)

Main Deck rooms are on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 4 Main Deck rooms on the boat and they offer direct access to the lounge area as well as more space than Upper Deck rooms.

I’m a single traveler. Will I be charged a single supplement?

If you wish to be paired up with someone of the same gender on the trip to avoid paying the single supplement, we can arrange this for you. If there is no one with whom to pair you up, you WILL have to pay the single supplement. Pairing with another person of the same gender comes on a first-come, first served-basis. After you reserve your spot, you will receive a questionnaire pertaining to this.

If you would like a single room throughout the tour, you can purchase the “single supplement”.  The single supplement fee for this trip is $1,650. If you prefer your own room, you can buy the additional supplement at check-out.

What is included :

  • 8 nights accommodation in Ecuador
  • Activities as indicated on itinerary
  • Round-trip flight: Guayaquil – Baltra / Baltra – Quito
  • Ground & sea transportation
  • 5-day cruise on The Alia (all-inclusive)
  • Bilingual national park guide & local Ecuador guide
  • Use of snorkeling equipment and wetsuits
  • All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 4 dinners
  • $20 Transit Control Card

What is not included :

  • Optional excursions and activities
  • Some lunches and dinners
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities
  • International flight
  • Insurance
  • Airport transfers
  • $100 Galapagos National Park fee *Subject to change
  • Souvenirs
Cost

The highlight of this tour will be the 5-day cruise among five of the islands. Travel to the Galapagos Islands is quite expensive. Each year, only a certain number of passes are made available in an effort to moderate the human impact on and preserve these beautiful islands. We have selected a luxury class catamaran that has been newly built (constructed in 2017). We opted for this boat because of its quality and because it has one of the best itineraries available. Taking into consideration our time in Ecuador, flights and the top notch quality of the boat, our tour is very reasonably priced.

We have chosen the luxury catamaran, The Alia, as our means of transportation during the cruise around the Galapagos Islands. It is a smaller sized boat that can accommodate only 16 passengers maximum and has just 9 rooms. On bigger boats, it can take as long as two hours for all passengers to board and disembark from the boat, which in turn, takes away from the time to explore each amazing island. Another reason that we have decided upon a sea-based tour in the Galapagos as opposed to a land-based tour, is that on day trips from a base island to other various islands, it can take three or more hours to arrive at each destination. This leaves only an hour or so to explore before returning to the base island. A cruise is optimal because it allows us to sail to our destination at night and when we wake up in the morning, we will have already arrived at our destination! This means we can explore less visited islands that have a more bountiful quantity of wildlife and plant life and less tourists.

To see the layout and specifications of the boat on which we will be sailing, please click on the following link : The Alia.

With all of this in mind, we planned this trip to ensure that you experience the best that the Galapagos Islands have to offer as well as fantastic adventures in mainland Ecuador.

While this is one of the more expensive trips we offer, you will not be disappointed in this once in a lifetime experience! You will spend five days on a first-class luxury catamaran chosen because of its exceptional quality and itinerary. Additionally, all in-country flights, most activities and meals are included. Taking all of this into consideration, you will find that our pricing for this tour is very competitive!

Group Size

Our tour groups have a maximum of 12 travelers plus Galapagos field guides as we explore various islands as well as a local Ecuador mainland guide. We prefer small group travel because based on our experience, large groups are less easily able to integrate into a society and generally have less authentic contact with the locals. The more people in the tour group, the more the group experiences their own “group culture” rather than the one of the country that they are visiting.  

A small group number also means that tour group members will receive more personal treatment by the tour guide who can more thoroughly attend to the needs of each person. Small tour groups are also more mobile and can be easily integrated into a social scene. In this way, the traveler is more likely to be treated as an individual rather than a tourist ready to be exploited for his or her money.

Small tour groups are more flexible as travel plans can be more easily changed or altered en route. If the group discovers a special event or festival in Ecuador that they would like to attend, and it is not covered in the original tour itinerary, it is possible to change the itinerary. As a small group, it is easier for the group to come to an agreement and for the tour guide to alter the reservations.

Small groups are low-impact because they don’t introduce a large number of foreigners to a local scene where they can have adverse impacts on the local society and other travelers. For example, a large tour group can take up all the seats on a local bus, or fill an entire restaurant forcing locals and other travelers away from their preferences.

Physical Difficulty

This tour is rated 6.5/10 in terms of physical difficulty with 10 being the most difficult. During most of the trip you will be escorted around in a luxury, first-class catamaran, so you won’t have to exert yourself physically very much while traveling. You may find that some hikes in areas with rougher terrain may be more difficult depending on your level of fitness. You may also find walks on hotter days to be a bit tiring. Other than these things, this trip is pretty accessible for everyone. Remember, if you’re not feeling up for a particular activity, you don’t have to do it!

Currency

In Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, all notes are U.S. currency, while U.S. and Ecuadorian coins can be used interchangeably. (The Ecuadorian coins are in the same denominations and sizes as their U.S. counterparts). Do not be surprised to receive U.S. Sacajawea $1 coins as change; they are very common and legal tender. Euros can be changed at a few places, British pounds less so; it’s advisable to have a little bit of U.S. cash on you on arrival. *Please note that traveler’s cheques are not advised and nearly impossible to use anymore.

ATMs are readily available in most towns. They will be part of the Plus or Cirrus systems and use a four-digit PIN. They usually dispense the full amount in $20 bills. Some may dispense some tens and fives.

If possible, bring at least $50 worth of one-dollar bills to use for tips, cabs, and small purchases in markets. Making change is sometimes a hardship for small vendors and cab drivers. A good rule of thumb for using larger bills is not to use a bill larger than 50% of your tab. (i.e. Don’t pay a $6 tab with a $20 bill). Even restaurants can have a hard time making change for a large bill and you may have to wait while an employee runs out to neighboring businesses to scrounge up your change.

If you need to get smaller bills ($5s and $10s) as well as coin change, the Banco Central (Central Bank of the Government of Ecuador) will make change for you free of charge. Bring your passport to prove identification. Hours are typically from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday.

Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted by many hotels, travel agencies, and larger restaurants. Smaller or budget hotels and other vendors will probably not accept cards, nor will many restaurants off the tourist circuit. Be aware that Discover cards and American Express are not widely accepted.

Be prepared to pay a foreign transaction fee depending on your credit/debit card. Check with your bank before the trip to find out what their foreign transaction fees are. When using any kind of card, we recommend obtaining a receipt.

Souvenirs

There are plenty of souvenirs to be found in Ecuador. Dozens of souvenir shops line the main drags of each town you visit and the Galapagos’ bigger towns. You can spend hours browsing for that perfect souvenir. Local craft markets are found on several of the islands as well. The Galapagos also have local artists and artisans that craft the Islands’ inspiration into one-of-a-kind works. Their creations will make a special gift for your loved ones – or yourself!

Galapagos National Park regulations prohibit the sale of souvenirs made from banned materials like sea shells, coral, lava rock, animal parts and any endemic species, plant or animal, unique to the Galapagos Islands. Please make sure not to buy any souvenirs made from these items.

A good rule of thumb in responsible traveling is to buy locally. Keep in mind the source of the souvenirs. It is obvious that some are not from Galapagos or Ecuador at all, but clearly marked China or some other foreign country.

Communication

If you have a smart phone, it will likely work in Ecuador, but coverage may be spotty if not absent in the Galapagos Islands. Be sure to check with your provider to get informed about data and call roaming while abroad. You also may consider contacting your service provider to learn about what kind of international plans they offer for calls, texts, and data.

Wifi

In general, hotels and restaurants in just about any tourist city or town in Ecuador now offer wifi. Internet cafes can also be easily found. Bear in mind that although it’s available, it’s not always as fast as you may be used to, especially on the islands.

There will be no wifi on the cruise ship, so if you don’t have an international plan on your phone, we recommend purchasing a local SIM card for your phone or tablet in Quito for approximately 6 USD. You can add credit so that you will be able to have Internet on your device when you are close to Santa Cruz Island. Access to Internet may be limited or completely absent when further away from this island.

At the airport, you can purchase a SIM card from either CLARO or MOVISTAR. CLARO usually seems to work best, but sometimes MOVISTAR has better reception while CLARO has none. If traveling with another person, we recommend having your companion get one and you get the other. Again, remember that access to Internet may be limited or completely absent during the cruise. Again, please remember that while in the Galapagos, call reception and Internet access will be severely limited if not completely absent. 

What to Bring

November temperatures in Ecuador will vary depending on the region, but are generally are cool/warm during the day and cold at night. November has generally lower temperatures with average daily highs in the mid- to high 60s°F and the possibility of temperatures in the mid- to low 40s°F at night.

November still brings warmer weather to the Galápagos. Highs average in the low- to mid 80s°F and lows in the mid- to high 60s°F. Although there is also a greater chance of rain, this is one of the best months to visit because in November, the Humboldt Current flows to the Galapagos from the south. It carries cold water and cooler weather as well as water rich in nutrients and plankton, which attracts fish and birds. This period is also rather windy, which lends to rougher seas.

The ocean temperature is cooler for swimming and snorkeling, but the boat will have wetsuits for you to borrow. Great wildlife is guaranteed no matter when you visit.

Below are a few things that we suggest bringing to make your trip more comfortable :

  • Good comfortable walking shoes/hiking boots
  • Deck shoes (i.e. Crocs or flip flops)
  • Snorkeling mask, snorkel and fins (Optional – boat will offer free of charge)
  • Waterproof day pack
  • Rain jacket
  • Light and warm jacket or fleece
  • Quickly drying clothes
  • Water shoes 
  • Bathing suit
  • Diarrhea/constipation medicine
  • Sunscreen (biodegradable, if possible)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Camera
  • First aid kit
  • Warm pajamas
  • Seasickness medicine (if needed)
  • Altitude sickness medicine
  • Waterproof case for phone and/or camera

A comfortable and securely closable bag is also a good idea if you have a camera or other travel items while out and about on excursions. Finally, it is advisable to avoid flashy, expensive accessories and/or jewelry that are valuable or precious to you.

Please be aware that if there is rain, wind or any other weather conditions that nature decides to throw at us, all activities and excursions will continue as planned unless the weather is deemed unsafe for any reason.

Ecuador’s outlets are like those in North America : two flat, parallel prongs (type A). Be prepared to pack the necessary adapters and converters if you plan on bringing electronic devices. A converter is necessary only if the voltage requirement of what you are plugging in is different from Ecuador’s electrical voltage of 120 (110 is fine). Most modern electronics such as digital cameras, cell phones, computers, and battery chargers are dual voltage, so a converter is no longer necessary if you are visiting from a country that uses 220 or 240v. Check each of your gadgets to ensure that they are dual voltage. This information will sometimes be in raised letters or printed on a tag on the AC adapter or affixed to the device itself; it will say something like “Input : 100-240v”.

Laundry

The hotels in Ecuador offer laundry services if needed.

Safety

As with most travel destinations, it is important to exercise caution and to be aware of your surroundings while traveling in Ecuador. We suggest not wearing expensive jewelry when walking around and keeping an eye on your bag while out and about. Wearing your bag on the front of your body is also advisable. Traveling at all times with one other person or more is also a good idea, especially at night. It is always a good idea to store portions of your cash in different places. (i.e. $100 in your purse, $100 in your suitcase, $100 in your carry-on, etc.) Finally, it’s also a good idea to carry a color copy of your passport and keep the original in a safe place.

Most travelers to Ecuador do not have any problems. As long as you remember to keep a watchful eye on your belongings and stay aware of your surroundings, you will have a safe and memorable trip!

The United States State Department offers general travel information about Ecuador. Click on the link below for more information.

U.S. State Department Travel to Ecuador

Guides

Your guides are handpicked for their expertise and are an excellent resource for questions about Ecuadorian society, history, and culture. Your guides will work to ensure that each individual has the most rewarding experience possible. Like local friends, our guides show you the best of the country by providing direct access to the people and places less traveled. While on the various islands in the Galapagos, you’ll have naturalist guides who will show you around and help you learn all about the wildlife on the islands. Most travelers tip the guides anywhere from $10 ~ $15 USD per day, especially if they their guide and thought that he or she helped them have the trip of a lifetime!

Drinking Water

Most will agree that the drinking water in Ecuador is not safe for consumption. Thus, drinking tap water anywhere in Ecuador is not advisable and drinking only bottled water is highly recommended. Bottled water will be provided to you on The Alia at no extra cost.

Medical Facilities

Should you fall ill during your trip, there are pharmacies that can be easily located during your stay in Ecuador. If you have specific medical requests, the brand names may be different, but knowing the ingredients’ chemical names is helpful as most pharmacists worldwide will know these names. Be aware that many medicines that are over the counter in the U.S. may only be by prescription in Ecuador. If you have prescriptions, bring them with you in the original bottle with the prescription from your doctor and in your name.

Altitude sickness is also common among travelers to Ecuador. It usually comes in the form of fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and/or nausea. To prevent altitude sickness or lessen its effects, try to ascend to higher levels gradually so that your body can adjust to the change. As you’ll be flying into Quito, which has an altitude of around 9,000 feet, (3,000m), you should drink lots of water, get lots of rest and take some pain relief medicine. If you are prone to severe altitude sickness or have pre-existing medical conditions that might cause the effects to have a stronger hold on you, we highly recommend consulting your physician to get a prescription to help with oxygen perfusion in high altitude locations.

Tipping

Tipping is commonplace in Ecuador, but the amount of the tip tends to be less strict than what most North Americans are used to. We recommend only tipping what is fitting and what you feel the quality of the service merits. For most family-run restaurants, fifty cents to a dollar is plenty unless you feel that the service exceeded your expectations. It is a good idea to keep spare change in a coin purse as this will come in handy in situations where you leave a tip. Below is a basic guide of who and how much to tip :

  • Bellhops : 0.50 ~ 1 USD per piece of luggage.
  • Taxi : While not customary, it is acceptable to round up to the next USD. (i.e. If the fare is 4.50 USD, give 5 USD)
  • Hotel maid : 0.50 ~ 1 USD a day daily or at the end of your stay in cash.
  • Waiter : 10 ~ 15% of the bill at restaurants unless it is already included.
  • Tour guide : 10 ~ 15 USD per day or more, especially if you feel that your trip was enhanced by the guide’s services.
  • Boat crew : 10 ~ 15 USD per day or more, especially if you feel that your trip was enhanced by the crew’s services.
Arrival

In your pre-departure notes you will receive the name of the hotel in both the local language and English as well as pertinent phone numbers.  

Visa

Most visitors to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for less than 90 days in each country DO NOT need a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your travel dates. A round/onward trip ticket is needed to prove the length of your stay.

Nationals of the following countries require a visa to enter Ecuador for any reason and should approach the Consulate of Ecuador in their home country before traveling (list may change without notice) : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia.

Flights

Your arrival and departure city is Quito. Once you book your flights, please forward your flight information to us. You will be given the hotel name and address in both English and Spanish prior to arrival to show the taxi driver.

*Please do not book any flights until you receive a confirmation from us which will be sent to you 24 hours after paying your deposit. 

June to November  At this time, the Humboldt Current flows to the Galapagos from the south. It carries cold water and cooler weather as well as water rich in nutrients and plankton, which attracts fish and birds. It tends to be overcast and cloudy, but does not often rain. This period is also rather windy, which lends to rougher seas.

December to May — While the water and air are warmer in these months, it is the rainy season. Rain comes and goes quickly though. This is also the sunniest time of year. December and January are the high season with lots of tourists.

The waters are warmer in these months, so swimming and snorkeling are more bearable. However, there aren’t as many fish to see. As it is breeding season for land birds, it’s a good time to watch some unusual mating rituals. This is the period in which sea turtles nest on the beach. Sea lions also mate in the rainy season and you’ll be able to see males fight for the females.

Galapagos Cruise 

Ecuador Mainland

Galapagos Islands Cruise : Luxury class catamaran (The Alia)

Constructed in 2017, The Alia is a modern, top of the line 16 passenger catamaran with nine rooms. All of its equipment and safety features exceed the international safety standards.

Each room is equipped with a private bathroom, cold/hot water, and air conditioning. Additionally, each room has a balcony offering views of the surrounding ocean.

The Alia also has a beautiful dining room where you’ll have your meals together each day. For some R&R, there’s a spacious lounge area, bar and jacuzzi located on the sundeck with panoramic views.

Visit the following link for more information on The Alia : CLICK HERE.


Quito


Otavalo


Cloud Forest

 


Papallacta Thermal Spa

 

*Hotels are subject to change.

Insurance

Due to the nature of this trip, we require that you purchase trip/travel insurance. We work with Travelex, which offers travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more. Otherwise, you are welcome to shop around online for a provider and policy that best suits your needs.

For more information on the recommended plans or to enroll, click on the image below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792. Globe Drifters’ reference location number is 09-0984.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. 11.17 E7N

Vaccinations

Below is information from the CDC and its recommendations regarding vaccinations for travel to Ecuador :

CDC Ecuador

Trip Date

NOVEMBER 8
NOVEMBER 20, 2018
SOLD OUT
Book
USD $5,100

Total price per person on a twin share basis. Superior rooms are an extra $500 per person and can be purchased at check-out. Single Supplement can be purchased for an additional $1,650.


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