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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 £5,560 pp for 2024 departures.

(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 Eco catamaran. 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.

Summary

  • Quito – 2 nights
  • Hacienda Zuleta – 2 nights
  • Quito – 1 night
  • Eco Galaxy – 5 nights

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Quito
DAY 1: MONDAY

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.

Quito
DAY 2: TUESDAY

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
DAY 3: WEDNESDAY

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
DAY 4: THURSDAY

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
DAY 5: FRIDAY

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
DAY 6: SATURDAY

After breakfast you make your way to the airport for the flight to Baltra in the Galapagos (about 4 hours). A guide from Eco Galaxy will greet you. In the afternoon you'll be visiting The Charles Darwin Centre. This gives you a great introduction to the conservation issues facing the archipelago and the world class projects which have helped tackle these issues. You’ll be on board the Eco Galaxy for dinner. Full board

pair-of-flamingos
DAY 7: SUNDAY

Today you’ll be exploring Isabela island. In the morning you’ll visit Moreno Point, a magical place with extensive lava fields which look lifeless at first sight. Once inland, scattered brackish lagoons form oasis of life where you can find flamingoes, gallinules, ducks and herons. Along the shore we will look for penguins, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, oystercatchers and other shore birds. There will be a chance to snorkel to see sea turtles, cormorants and many species of fish. 
The afternoon is at Elizabeth Bay a beautiful sheltered bay surrounded by large mangroves and barren lava fields. There is no trail here so you will take a dinghy tour to explore many channels, pools and coves teeming with life. This is one of the best locations in the islands to see Galapagos penguins, but don’t expect to see thousands of them, as the entire population of the islands is only about 3.000 of them. Flightless cormorants also nest in the area and blue-footed boobies and pelicans often fish in these shallow and rich waters. Rays and sea turtles are also very abundant. Full board

Galapagos Hawk
DAY 8: MONDAY

This morning is spent at Urbina Bay. This place is known for the dramatic uplifting that happened here during the 1950’s. A large portion of the coast was pushed up, exposing many hectares of previously submerged land. Look carefully along the trail and you will find small shells and corals, a proof that the area was underwater more than sixty years ago. The trail will give the opportunity to see land iguanas and, during certain seasons, giant tortoises. Galapagos hawks nest in the area and are often seen flying or perched on the trees. You can snorkel from the beach to see sea turtles, cormorants and penguins. Fish are also abundant in the area.
In the afternoon we head for Tagus Cove. This is one of the places Charles Darwin visited during his exploration of the Galapagos islands. A trail will take you through a dry Palo Santo forests where you can see Darwin finches and mockingbirds. You will get great views of Darwin’s lake and the large volcanos of northern Isabela. A boat tour along the shore will give you chances to see penguins, cormorants, marine iguanas and a very unique species: the Galapagos martin, a small endemic bird which is one of the most endangered species on the island. There will also be an opportunity for snorkelling. he nutrient-rich waters around Tagus Cove attracts a lot of sea turtles and a great diversity of fish, but also penguins, who feast on large schools of anchovies. It is common to see cormorants underwater as they chase fish through the reef. Full board

Marine iguanas
DAY 9: TUESDAY

Today sees a visit to Fernandina as well as more on Isabela. Espinosa Point is at the base of an imposing volcano (the most active in the Galapagos islands) this site is one of the jewels of the Galapagos National Park. As soon as you disembark you will be surrounded by hundreds of marine iguanas, as this is the largest colony for the species. Sea lions bask in the beaches while their pups play in tide pools. Along the shore you will see   flightless cormorants, which are restricted to the western areas of the archipelago. Surrounded by cold plankton-rich waters, Punta Espinosa is home for an array of species, including herons, pelicans, oystercatchers, sea turtles, shorebird and many more. Look up in the mangroves as Galapagos hawks often perch to look for their prey. If you go snorkelling you'll see that the nutrient-rich waters around Punta Espinosa attracts great numbers and diversity of fish and sea turtles.  Seaweeds are also abundant, making this place the best for seeing marine iguanas feeding underwater.  Following a cormorant underwater as it chases fish through the reef is one on the most amazing snorkel experiences you may have on your trip.
In the afternoon you visit Vicente Roca Point. Surrounded by some of the tallest cliffs in the Galapagos, Vicente Roca point is a great location to observe spectacular landscapes and interesting volcanic features. There is no trail here but you will take a dinghy tour along the shore to get a closer view of pelicans, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, boobies, Galapagos fur seal and marine iguanas. The area is also known to be a good location for whales and dolphins. Full board

Sea-lions-rabida
DAY 10: WEDNESDAY

This morning is at Puerto Egas.

Despite its name, there is no “port” at Puerto Egas, but you might see a few remains of the last attempts to colonize the island during the 60’s.  The trail goes along the coastline which is rich in wildlife, with marine iguanas basking in the sun everywhere, Galapagos sea lions, herons, oystercatchers and many shorebirds. At the end of the trail an area called “the grottos” is home for a small colony of the endemic Galapagos fur seal, much more difficult to see at close range than its cousin.  As recently as 2019, land iguanas where re-introduced to the area, so look around for these impressive reptiles which where extinct from Santiago for over a century. You can snorkel from the beach and explore an area of rocky bottoms which is excellent for fish, turtles and reef sharks. Often, sea lions are also present and are happy to interact with divers.
In the afternoon we go to Rabida island. Rabida is a small island famous for its reddish lava rocks (rich in iron) which gives it a unique look. The beach is also red and hosts a small colony of sea lions. There is a small salt water lagoon where we will see ducks and stilts and sometimes flamingoes. The trail will take you inland to get beautiful views of the beach and the lagoon. Look for Darwin finches, flycatchers and mockingbirds. In the cliffs along the coast you can find Nazca & blue-footed boobies, brown noddy, herons and the two species of sea lions: Galapagos and fur seals. You can snorkel from the beach and explore a sheltered rocky area, which is excellent for fish, sea lions and reef sharks. Look at the high diversity of small invertebrates attached to the vertical walls. Full board

sally lightfoot crab
DAY 11: THURSDAY

You'll have an early morning visit to Black Turtle Cove. It gets its name from the abundance of green see turtles, locally known as: “tortugas negras”. There is no landing here so you will be doing a boat tour on the dinghies, exploring shallow channels and small coves surrounded by beautiful mangrove forests. Reef sharks, sea turtles and several species rays inhabit this beautiful area which is considered an important mating area for turtles and a nursery for several species of sharks. Herons, pelicans and boobies are also common here as they prey in schools of anchovies. Later you’ll be disembark the Eco Galaxy and will be taken to the airport in Baltra to board the flight back to the mainland. Breakfast

2024 Price from (pp sharing): £5,590 (ex. international flights)

Includes: Airport transfers, 10 nights twin share accommodation (3 nights hotel, 2 nights hacienda and 5 nights Eco Galaxy), ground transport, half-day guided tour of Quito, tour of Otavalo town and market, meals as shown, guided excursions on cruise as offered by Eco Galaxy, 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 £955. We can book these for you.

Departure dates: If you take this exact itinerary you need to start in Quito on a Monday due to the departure days of Eco Galaxy 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.
Galaxy-II-EcoCatamaran

Eco Galaxy

The Eco Galaxy has been designed and built according to the highest ecological standards, to minimise negative environmental impact. With the clever use of energy saving devises, low fuel consumption and treatment and re-use of water, she is a fine example of ecotourism. There are 8 cabins, all with windows and en-suite bathrooms with running water and biodegradable toiletries. All cabins have drawers for clothes storage, mirrors and colourful wildlife photographs. The lounge has chunky sofas for relaxing, socialising, reading and watching DVDs.

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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.