Otavalo & Galapagos holiday

Combining the appeal of a 16th century hacienda in the Andes and a luxurious modern motor yacht in the Galapagos, this holiday is a real winner.

Room with view of garden
Market stall
frigatebird on nest
galapagos yacht

Otavalo and Galapagos

Prices from: £6,375 pp for 10 nights

From the outset you can tell this is a special holiday. Warmly greeted at Quito airport, your guide will convey you to your first hotel, an historic jewel of a mansion in the city’s main square. .

Having had time to explore the capital you’ll head north into the highlands, via the famous market at Otavalo, to your hacienda, owned by the family of a former President of Ecuador no less! In fact this is still very much a working farm and one you are welcome to look round, even lending a hand should you wish. And don’t miss the cheese museum! Lovers of the great outdoors will be in their element, whether on foot, by bike or horse, there’s something for everyone.
Just when you think it can’t get any better you’ll be whisked off to the far flung Galapagos Islands, to your top-of-range motor yacht, with stylish interiors, spacious decks, twin Jacuzzis and a smiling crew. You’ve got 6 days to appreciate all this and the natural wonders and wildlife of the Galapagos.

It’s a heady combination of first class accommodation, top quality service, stunning scenery and animals and birds you’ll see nowhere else.

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Summary

  • Quito – 2 nights
  • Hacienda Zuleta – 2 nights
  • Quito – 1 night
  • Sea Star Journey – 5 nights
Quito
DAY 1: MONDAY

Having landed at Quito airport you’ll be met and transferred to your charming city centre hotel. Nothing has been arranged for the remainder of the day, so you can unwind after your journey, enjoy some food and drink and look forward to the holiday to come!

Quito
DAY 2: TUESDAY

Your guide will meet you at the hotel at a pre-arranged time to escort you on a tour of the city. This generally begins in the old town, with visits to a handful of Quito’s historic churches and the cathedral which dominates Plaza de la Independecia. The tour ends at the top of El Panecillo from where you can take in a wide angle view of the city and valley. The afternoon is free for further exploring or relaxing. Breakfast

Otavalo market
DAY 3: WEDNESDAY

You’ll take a flight from Quito to Coca this morning, where you’ll be shown to the waiting motorised canoe for the first part of the journey to Napo Wildlife Centre, which will take about 2½ hours. Transferring to a smaller dugout canoe you’ll be paddled the rest of the way (about an hour) to the lakeside lodge. Depending on when you arrive there may be time for a nature walk, though today’s journey is quite an adventure in itself! Full board  

Hacienda Zuleta
DAY 4: THURSDAY

The Amazon awaits! There are all manner of activities to choose from, such as walking trails, boat rides and canopy tours. You’ll have 2 main activities each day, in the morning and afternoon, in a small group led by a resident guide. The abundant wildlife includes several species of monkey, some of which are found only on the south side of the Napo River, caimans, lizards, frogs and turtles, as well as plentiful birds. For a different perspective you should climb the canopy tower to gain commanding panoramic views out over the treetops. Full board

Hacienda Zuleta grounds
DAY 5: FRIDAY

Another full day in the Amazon. Today you might want to visit one of the clay licks where you can see hundreds of brightly-coloured parrots feasting on the mineral rich clay. Activity is at its height in the early morning and is weather dependent as the parrots will not visit in the rain. Later you might want to take a canoe ride along narrow water channels and around the lake. If you’re lucky you may see the resident giant otters. Full board

giant tortoise
DAY 6: SATURDAY

After breakfast you’ll begin the journey by water and air back to your hotel Quito. The canoe ride will give you a last chance to spot some the Amazon’s wildlife. Once back at the hotel you can relax and look forward to the next big adventure, in the Galapagos! Breakfast

Gardner Bay
DAY 7: SUNDAY

You’ll be transferred to the airport for the 4-hour flight to San Cristobal, where a crew member will transfer to your waiting yacht, Eric or Letty (both are identical). After lunch you’ll set off for La Galapaguera Cerro Colorado where there’s a giant tortoise breeding centre. You’ll be able to observe these gentle giants up close, a great introduction to the wildlife of the islands. Later there’ll be welcome cocktails with the captain before dinner. Full board

Flamingo
DAY 8: MONDAY

Genovesa is one of the best bird watching sites in the Galapagos, and at Darwin Bay you should see swallow-tailed gulls and lava gulls by the shore, while amongst the mangroves you may catch sight of frigatebirds. In the afternoon you’ll land at the foot of Prince Philip’s Steps for the climb up to a lava field. On the way you should see nesting sea birds, and at the top there are often flocks of storm petrels. There should be time for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking before returning to the yacht. Full board

Santa Fe island
DAY 9: TUESDAY

The sandy beaches at Las Bachas are backed by a lagoon where flamingos congregate. You’ll have a panga (dinghy) ride at Black Turtle Cove, watching out for rays, turtles and white-tipped reef sharks. After lunch your guide will lead you a trail at Cerro Dragon, viewing flycatchers, yellow warblers, Darwin’s finches and land iguanas on the way. The trail ends at the top of a hill where there are wonderful views over the bay. Full board

Blue footed Boobies
DAY 10: WEDNESDAY

Punta Espinosa on Fernandina is a great place to see marine iguanas, sea lions and flightless cormorants. After a refreshing swim you’ll head back to the yacht for lunch. Later you’ll land at Urbina Bay (Isabela), to view the exposed reef. You may see giant tortoises here, plus land iguanas and an array of birds. Time permitting you’ll take a panga ride at Punta Vicente Roca looking for turtles. Full board

sally lightfoot crab
DAY 11: THURSDAY

Isabela is the largest of the islands and you’ll have more time to explore here today. The mangroves by Elizabeth Bay are perfect for a panga ride. Turtles, rays and shore birds can be seen, while further off shore you’ll observe a penguin colony. This afternoon you’ll land at Tagus Cove, once a mooring site favoured by pirates, who left graffiti on the rocks. You can explore by panga or kayak, and hike up a hill for views of other-worldly lava formations. Full board

Price from (pp sharing): £6,375 (ex. international flights)

Includes: Airport transfers, 10 nights twin share accommodation (3 nights hotel, 2 nights hacienda and 5 nights Sea Star Journey), ground transport, half-day guided tour of Quito, tour of Otavalo town and market, meals as shown, guided excursions on cruise as offered by Sea Star Journey, drinking water, tea and coffee on cruise, snorkelling equipment and kayaks on cruise, return flights to the Galapagos Islands from the Ecuadorian mainland..

Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas (not currently required by British passport holders), travel insurance, Galapagos National Park tax currently US$100 payable locally in US$, meals not shown as included, drinks, tips, items of a personal nature.

Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in Quito. Flight prices from the UK start from around £675. We normally book these for you.

Departure dates: If you take this exact itinerary you need to start in Quito on a Thursday due to the departure days of Sea Star Journey in the Galapagos.

NOTE: We can also arrange this trip using different cruise vessel if you prefer, in which case a different departure day might be required and the price will alter according to the yacht chosen. Please click here for the full collection of Galapagos yachts.

Plaza Grande

Plaza Grande

Plaza Grande is an elegant five-storey building on the main square and retains many of the original features such as elaborately carved ceilings, glistening crystal chandeliers and fine wood panelling. You’re right in the heart of the city, perfect for sightseeing. This is an all-suite hotel, with modern features like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, cable TV, a minibar and a jacuzzi. Gorgeous gourmet meals based on Ecuadorian cuisine are served in La Belle Epoque, the main restaurant with decor reminiscent of 1940s France. If you want something a little more casual the Cafe Plaza Grande offers a variety of regional dishes. After a busy day sightseeing and shopping you’ll be glad to head back to the comforts of the hotel, to unwind in the lounge, enjoy a drink and maybe relax with a visit to the sauna.

Hacienda Zuleta

Hacienda Zuleta

This luxury 17th century hacienda is set in vast grounds and is owned by the family of a former president of Ecuador. Relaxing in the living room furnished with antiques and family portraits, browsing through a book in the library and enjoying home-cooked meals and the delicious cheese made on the farm you will soon feel part of the family. There are numerous patios and terraces where you can savour the mountain views and watch hummingbirds feed. Your room has a wood burning stove, ideal for cool evenings, and when you retire for the night you will find a hot water bottle warming your bed. Games, DVDs and Wi-Fi are provided for indoor entertainment, but you probably spend most of your time outside, walking, trekking, horse riding or just chilling.

Sea Star Journey

Sea Star Journey

Sea Star Journey, launched in 2011, is a sleek motor yacht offering stylish contemporary accommodation. There are 9 spacious suites, all with picture windows, air conditioning, TV, minibar and a bathroom with hot and cold running water ensure a more than comfy stay. Social areas include the dining room and lounge with books and DVDs. Outdoors there are open and shaded areas and 2 jacuzzis. If you want to do some exploring of your own the Sea Star Journey has snorkelling equipment and kayaks available at no extra charge. For sheer indulgence you can’t beat a visit to the mini spa for a soothing massage.

walking across lava flow rock

Take the next step...

We know and love the Galapagos Islands, and would delighted to help you plan your perfect Galapagos holiday. Call 01473 599082 and speak to one of our Galapagos travel specialists today.