The Best of Ecuador –  14 nights / 15 days

(This itinerary will be customized to suit your personal interests and budget.)

Day 1 ~ Quito

International flight arrival Quito, Ecuador (UIO).

Most international flight arrivals are very late evening or very early morning into Quito.

Personal greeting at the airport and transfer to a boutique hotel located in the heart of Quito.

GL Tours works with a variety of hotels in Quito.  Discuss the different hotel styles and price point options with our travel planners to find the right match for you.

Day 2 ~  Private City Tour 

Enjoy the highlights of Quito with your personal guide.  Quito has the best preserved city-center in Latin America.  An UNESCO World-Heritage Site, Quito features interesting history & architecture.   Highlights of your tour include visits to the historical center in “Old Town” and Plaza San Francisco, colonial city-center Plaza Grande, museums & churches.

Includes lunch at a popular local restaurant.

Day 3 ~ Amazon Jungle 

Today we begin your adventure into the heart of the Amazon rainforest basin of Ecuador.

La Selva Amazon Ecolodge  – 4 night / 5 day program – all meals and guided excursions are included

This classic ecolodge is located on the border of Yasuni National Park around sixty miles from the town of Coca, down the Napo River (one of the main tributaries of the Amazonas River) and one mile inland from the river itself.

To begin your journey, take a 30-minute flight from Quito to the village of Coca (flight departs approx. 10am) where our representative will help you with your luggage and transport you to the city’s main dock.

At the dock, a motorized canoe will be waiting to take you down the Napo River (approximately 2 .5 hours, box lunch included). A short hike follows this trip to finally board a paddle canoe to cross Garzcocha Lagoon before arriving at the lodge.   Upon arrival to La Selva’s main dock, our staff will help you carry your luggage (carry-on baggage as well as camera gear will be the guest’s responsibility). You will be greeted with a complimentary cocktail as well as introduced to your bilingual naturalist guide.

Get settled in your room, rest or explore a bit before dinner at 7:30. During dinner, your group and guide will discuss the activities for the following day. After dinner, depending on the weather and the will of the group, there may be a short activity such as night wildlife walk or canoe ride near the lodge to see some wildlife.

Days 4, 5, 6 ~ Amazon jungle

There are a number of activities that you might do, including a visit to the parrot clay lick, a trip to a local community, or an excursion to the observation tower to see birds and monkeys. A list of activities will be provided to you. What activity you do will depend on many factors, including the weather and what the group wants to do. If you do not wish to do the morning activity, you are under no obligation to do so. Many guests prefer to remain in our comfortable lodge and relax. A delicious lunch is served in the dining room at 12:30.

After lunch, guests can take a nap or read a book during the hottest hours of the day. Afternoon activities tend to be more low-key than morning ones. You might go for a canoe ride around the lagoon, take a short trail to hopefully see pygmy marmosets, or visit the nearby butterfly farm if it is raining very hard. Again, the activity will be decided at the last moment by the guides, depending on conditions. A gourmet dinner awaits in our dining room as afternoon turns into evening.

Day 7 ~  Amazon Jungle to Quito 

Early breakfast before departing from the lodge.   You’ll go out the way you came: a canoe ride, followed by a short walk, and then a two-hour ride on the motorized canoe to Coca. Once you reach Coca, you will be taken to the airport, checked in and directed to the waiting room for your return flight to Quito.

Personal greeting by your guide upon arrival in Quito.  Transfer to your hotel – overnight 1 night in Quito.

Day 8 ~  Highlands, Otavalo 

Depart with your guide who will take you to the northern highlands, stopping at the Middle of the World monument along the way.   (Drive time is approximately 2 hours, plus the stop at your leisure.)

Continue to the town of Otavalo, featuring the famous Otavalo Market.  Located 70 miles north of Quito on a scenic highway, Otavalo is home to the most colorful Indian market in South America. The mountain Indians, brightly attired in blue, purple and scarlet ponchos, stream into town for market.  (Market is open every day, but Saturday is the largest and most impressive.)   The Otavalenos, a pre-Inca tribe with a thousand-year heritage as farmers and artisans, offer a great variety of homespun woolen material, tapestries, embroidered blouses and skirts and filigreed silver.

Finally, your guide will deliver you to a charming hacienda for overnight.   Spend 2 nights at a charming hacienda or other local-style accommodations.
GL Tours works with a variety of hotels and resorts in this area.  Your travel planner will make recommendations to best suit your preferred travel style.

Day 9 ~ Cuicocha Lake & Cotacachi 

Today with your private guide, visit the scenic Cuicocha Lake (“guinea pig lake”) – Hike or Boat ride?    How do you prefer to experience the lake?    One option is to take a 20-40 minute motorized boat ride out and around the two islands in the middle of the lake, although you can’t get off and hike on them from the boat. Along the shores and in the shallows, you will see totora, the reed used in this area for making baskets and floor coverings.    Another option – hiking.   An 8km (5-mile) trail loops around the rim of the crater, which takes about 4 hours to circle.  But even if you walk along it for only 5 or 10 minutes, you’ll be able to see Otavalo, Cotacachi, Cayambe, and all the volcanoes of Imbabura province. The setting and views are amazing.

Stop for lunch and continue your cultural tour of the villages in this area.   Then, visit the Indian town of Peguche, where textiles are woven in old-fashioned shuttle looms, and also the town of Cotacachi, an entire town dedicated to fine leather products.  Visit the studio of our favorite local weaver and learn the traditional designs and techniques from this master weaver.

Day 10 ~ Cayambe – Quito

Make your way back to Quito with a private guide, stopping along the way in local villages of interest.  Calderón, a small town where bread dough figurines are made in many shapes and sizes.  Continuing along the valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe, known for tasty traditional baked biscuits.

Return to Quito for overnight 1 night.

Day 11 ~  Galapagos Islands    

Private transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to the Galapagos Islands.   Flight time to Galapagos is approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Airport assistance in Galapagos, then transfer to the ship for boarding.  Enjoy a 4 night / 5 day cruise of the Galapagos Islands.  Your cruise will include daily guided excursions with expert naturalist guides, opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking and plenty of walking & nature contact.­

GL Tours works directly with a wide-variety of ships and hotels in the Galapagos.  Discuss your ideal Galapagos Cruise with one of our Galapagos experts, who can make more recommendations for your trip.

Day 12,13,14  ~   Galapagos Islands

One of Ecuador’s most famous natural treasures is the archipelago called the Galapagos Islands.  Located 600 miles off Ecuador’s Pacific coast, these volcanically formed islands are inhabited by endemic creatures found nowhere else on earth.  To visit these islands is an experience like no other.  Because of their remoteness, untouched landscapes, native plants, tame animals and dramatic seascapes, these islands have been titled “Las Encantadas” (“The islands lost in time”).

Day 15  ~  Departure

After morning excursion, disembark from the ship.  Transfer to the airport for flight to Quito (or Guayaquil).   Connect to your International flights home.