Compact and diverse, Ecuador is like a tasting menu for South America. There are Andean mountains, complete with glacial volcanoes. At Otavalo, site of the largest market in South America, Ecuador's numerous indigenous groups come to barter for both crafts and staples. There are Amazonian jungles and charming colonial cities, like cobblestoned Cuenca. Best of all, all these flavours are packed together, so you can be in the jungle in the morning and at the foot of a glacier by the evening. Ecuador also has one gem found nowhere else: the pristine and fragile Galapagos islands, made famous through the writings of Charles Darwin.
This ten-day adventure is perfect for those who want to experience the incredible wildlife and scenery of the Galápagos Islands but prefer to sleep on shore – so your time on the water is limited to commuting between islands. Go ashore at the lesser-visited island of Isabela and spend your days with playful sea lions, giant manta rays, and the Galápagos giant tortoise. This adventure offers a great balance of guided excursions and free time – and optional activities abound.
Highlights: Encounter incredible wildlife, snorkel and swim with sea turtles and manta rays, race a bike downhill in San Cristóbal, search for whitetip reef sharks in "Shark Alley", hike the Sierra Negra Volcano, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
The Amazon Rainforest is so full of life; embrace it for yourself during a week unlike any other. From Quito, you’ll travel to your new home in the jungle and meet the Quichua family who will host you in their home for the next four nights. Discover waterfalls on jungle walks and travel to an animal rescue centre by canoe. You’ll learn about medicinal plants and how to use a blowgun, experience a shaman ceremony, and visit a local school. Most importantly, you’ll befriend a people few outsiders have the honour to even meet.
Highlights: Live like a local in the Amazon Rainforest, learn Quichua traditions by interacting with your local hosts, visit an animal rescue centre, hone your blowgun skills, experience a shamanic ceremony.