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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.

Otavalo and Galapagos

11 days from £7,220 pp for 2021 departures. 2022 prices on request.

(ex flights)

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.


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

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Your flight arrives into Quito where a local representative will be waiting to meet you and escort you to your elegant hotel in the Plaza San Francisco. The rest of the day has been left free, so you can recover from your journey, enjoying the hotel facilities and enjoying the city views from the rooftop terrace.


This morning your guide will collect you from the hotel to take you on a half-day city tour. This will introduce you to the history and culture of the Quito, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and will help you find your bearings. The tour starts near your hotel in the main square and concludes on El Panecillo, the ‘bread roll’, a hill that provides panoramic views of the city. Breakfast  

Otavalo market

After breakfast you’ll be collected for the drive north through the highlands to Hacienda Zuleta. You’ll stop on the way at Otavalo, a small town noted for its market. Although there is a market every day, the main event occurs on a Saturday, so you’ll be here to witness it! Locals shop for food, farmers trade animals, and there are all sorts of handicrafts, woven fabrics and jewellery which make great gifts. You’ll continue on to Hacienda Zuleta, a charming working farm in the Andes. Breakfast, dinner 

Hacienda Zuleta

You’ll have a wide choice of activities today. You can follow waymarked walking trails, do some bird watching, go mountain biking, have a guided tour of the farm and cheese factory, and spend time in the local village, all at no extra charge. Other activities such as horse riding are available for an additional fee. Of course you’re also welcome to relax in the hacienda, catching up with some reading and chatting to other guests. Breakfast, dinner 

Hacienda Zuleta grounds

You’ll have the morning free to explore the lovely grounds of the hacienda, or to visit the condor rearing centre nearby. In the afternoon you’ll be driven the 2 hours back to Quito and your hotel at the airport. Breakfast

giant tortoise

After breakfast you make your way to the airport for the flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos (about 4 hours). A guide from Sea Star Journey will greet you and accompany you to the vessel. Having lunched on board you’ll enjoy your first guided excursion, to the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Protection Centre. As well as watching the tortoises you can follow a trail for views of finches, flycatchers, Galapagos mockingbirds and yellow warblers. You’ll be back on Sea Star Journey for drinks and dinner. Full board

Gardner Bay

Today you’ll be exploring Espanola, the southernmost island. In the morning you’ll observe varied birdlife at Punta Suarez, both on the cliffs and high above you on the thermal currents. You’ll also witness an impressive blowhole, spurting water up to 20 metres into the air. Landing at Gardner Bay after lunch you’ll be impressed by the long stretch of sand and the basking sea lions, and you’ll be able to go swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. Full board


Today your guide will lead you inland from Punta Cormorant on Floreana, to a lagoon which attracts common stilts, white-cheeked pintail ducks and flamingos. In the afternoon you’ll visit Post Office Bay where historically sailors left letters in the hope of their being collected and delivered by fellow mariners. The day ashore finishes with sweeping views from Baroness Viewpoint, much loved by a noteworthy and notorious former island resident. Full board

Santa Fe island

You’ll visit 2 small islands today. The first, Santa Fe, is home to many endemic species including land iguanas, Galapagos hawks and mockingbirds. A path leads past prickly pear cacti and offers plenty of chances to see wildlife. The second island is tiny South Plaza with its distinctive, small land iguanas and plentiful birdlife including frigatebirds and red-billed tropicbirds. Full board

Blue footed Boobies

A circular walk from the beach on North Seymour offers excellent chances to see blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, ending back on the shore among sea lions. This afternoon you’ll visit Bachas Beach, where flamingos are frequently seen in the lagoon. The beach is named after the WW2 barges that were abandoned by the Americans when they closed their base on Baltra. Tonight you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner on Sea Star Journey, and a chance to thank your crew. Full board 

sally lightfoot crab

Mosquera Islet, between Baltra and North Seymour, will be your final shore excursion. You’ll be able to watch sea lions, shorebirds and colourful Sally Lightfoot crabs, and go for a swim. Later you’ll be disembark Sea Star Journey and will be taken to the airport n Baltra to board the flight back to the mainland. Breakfast    

2021 Price from (pp sharing): £7,220 (ex. international flights) 2022 price on request

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.

Casa Gangotena

Casa Gangotena was built by a wealthy local family in the 1920s, reflecting the gracious style of the city’s fine colonial palaces. Following meticulous restoration it opened as a hotel in 2011, allowing guests to sample life in this elegant townhouse and has since won many accolades and is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux association.
There are 31 rooms and suites in various categories. Though varying in size, all have high ceilings, plush carpets and curtains, Art Deco-style furniture and all mod cons you would expect to find.
The hotel has a ground floor sitting room that opens on to a glass-roofed patio, and a roof terrace on the third floor overlooking Plaza San Francisco. Meals are served in the Cedron Restaurant and showcase refined Ecuadorian cuisine with a choice of over 100 wines to accompany the food. Afternoon tea is something of an institution at Casa Gangotena, and is a good way to round off city sightseeing.

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.

Wyndham Quito Airport

Located in Mariscal Sucre Airport, this hotel is perfect for an overnight stay pre or post flight. You have all your need on site. Enjoy international cuisines at the restaurant and unwind over a drink in the lobby bar as you chat to other guests. Treat yourself to some pampering and well-being at the spa, sauna and jacuzzi, or give your body a workout at the gym. Rooms and suites provide comfortable accommodation and mod cons such as free Wi-Fi, TV, iPod dock, work desk and en-suite bathroom, and suites confer access to the executive lounge. Rooms service is available 24 hours a day.

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.

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.