Read our COVID 19 Travel Update
A wonderful holiday awaits on an Archipel Galapagos cruise, luxury yachts sailing this wildlife rich archipelago.
Archipel I and II – first class sister eco catamarans – offer luxury and adventure for a perfect Galapagos holiday.
Discovering the Galapagos Islands on an Archipel yacht ensures great wildlife, guides and accommodation all in one.
You can choose trips of 4, 5 or 8 days length (or longer) with kayaks also available.
Aboard, you can enjoy the Archipel’s spacious sundecks, bar, library and sun loungers in ample communal areas.
You sleep in beautiful and spacious cabins (twin and doubles available), all with a sea view, hot water and air conditioning.
Staff recycle organic and non-organic waste, helping to make your visit to the wildlife rich Galapagos as eco friendly as possible.
Upon arrival at San Cristobal, your guide will meet you and escort you to the yacht.
After lunch, the first island visit is made.
La Galapaguera Cerro Colorado (San Cristobal) is where the National Park has established a breeding program for the giant land tortoises that are repopulating the islands.
Here you learn about their origin, their evolution and the threats to them by animals introduced to the Galapagos.
Head to the yacht for dinner and briefing.
South Plazas is located to the east of Santa Cruz, and despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here.
Throughout the island we find several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana. These unique animals, recognisable at first glance by their black/grey colour, have the face and tail of the marine iguana.
We also find Swallow-tailed Gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs along with other sea birds such as Frigate Birds and Brown Pelicans.
We return to the boat for lunch.
Santa Fe Island is located in the south-eastern part of the Galapagos.
This island was formed by an oceanic floor uplift and not a volcanic eruption, which give it a flatter shape than neighbouring islands.
Santa Fe is home to a number of endemic species like the Galapagos Hawk, the Galapagos snake, the Galapagos Mockingbird and one of the two species of land iguanas in the islands.
After disembarking we visit one of the many sea lion colonies. There are also great opportunities for snorkelling with sea lions and tropical fish.
Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.
Asilo de la Paz (Floreana) is a 450m high hill located behind Cerro Straws, an agricultural area of Floreana.
Some areas, like the cave and the waterhole, are on private property, but the surrounding area belongs to the National Park. Within the park area there is a loberia – an area for sea lions – and a Scalesia forest. Petrels also nest here.
La Loberia is a small beach which is home to a colony of sea lions, as well as some marine iguanas. It is possible to get there with a small walk from the town for some snorkelling.
If you are lucky, the sea lions will join you! Fortunate snorkelers may spot a ray or a shark, too.
From the dry landing at Santa Cruz, we hop into a bus and drive up into the Highlands.
The scenery gradually changes as we wind our way through all seven vegetation zones found in Galapagos. Here more than anywhere, on the most populated islands on the Galapagos, the problems of introduced animals and plants are quite obvious. This part of the island is not National Park.
When we reach the highest point of the road, we are back in the National Park and we head to ‘El Chato’, a farm in the highlands where we can look out for the Galapagos Tortoises in their natural, and free, surroundings. There may be the chance to Los Gemelos, Spanish for ‘The Twins’, a pair of large pit craters where we find the bright red male Vermilion Flycatcher.
Next is our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. This gives you the opportunity to get to known the scientific work that’s currently taking place in the National Park, particularly projects raising the different subspecies of Galapagos tortoises. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research from anatomy to zoology.
It is also a good opportunity to observe the Galapagos tortoises close up.
In the Van Straiten Exhibition Hall, there is plenty of great information about the Galapagos Islands, replete with with photos and diagrams. The vegetation on the hike is an exuberant green colour and it’s a great place to spot Darwin’s Finches – those famous wee birds.
We are out west today, at Isabela, one of the best islands in Galapagos.
First is Tintoreras Islet, located south of Puerto Villamil. It has a small bay with completely calm turquoise waters, where you can see sharks, sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, rays and more. The sharks have nocturnal eating patterns – during the day (along with some marine friends) remain inside the marine pools and trenches to rest. This place is ideal for marine iguanas as a nesting site, and for this reason swimming is not allowed in this part of the island.
The Wetlands of Isabela Island are essential for the maintenance of biodiversity in the Galapagos. They are home to several species that depend exclusively on the wetland to fulfil their life cycles: Flamenco, Pintail, Stilt Oystercatcher, ghost crab, and fiddler crabs to name a few. The wetlands features a network of trails which are right next to Puerto Villamil – the water is usually sparkling.
In the afternoon, we visit the Tortoise Breading Centre where we can see different subspecies of the Galapagos Land Tortoises and the work in progress that aims to restore the population of endangered tortoise populations.
Punta Moreno is located on the northern coast of Isabela. A trail runs along a lava flow into a complex of coastal lagoons and the main attraction here are several species of birds which can be found around these lakes and mangroves.
We continue to Elizabeth Bay, a marine visitor site. The excursion is carried out in a zodiac and starts with a visit to the Marielas islets where we find the largest and most important penguin colony in the Galapagos Islands.
The excursion continues into the cove that is surrounded by red mangroves. It is here that you are able to observe sea turtles, Flightless Cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Brown Pelicans and sea lions.
Frequently visitors have been able to see Galapagos Hawks soaring overhead while schools of Pompano and Dorado fish swim below.
Tagus is a protected cove on the western side of Isabela and was a favourite anchorage site for the early pirates and whalers who, over the centuries, carved and painted their names in the high cliffs of the cove.
In the zodiac or kayak (if available), we can explore the coves here and look for Galapagos Penguins, Boobies, Pelicans and other seabirds.
There is a hike here too, and it’s a dry landing, then heading uphill with a scenic hike to a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. At the end of the trail there is a wonderful view over the lava fields of the Darwin volcano.
If the water is clear, Tagus Cove is a very interesting snorkelling spot – look out for marine invertebrates on the walls.
Espinoza Point is one of the highlights of a cruise in Galapagos. The dry landing is, depending on the tide, on lava or on the landing platform in the mangrove forest – and can also be a wet landing if the water is lively!
Fernandina is the youngest and most pristine of the Galapagos Islands, with no introduced animals. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast.
We head off on a hike that showcases huge marine iguanas in big groups. Take care to stay on the pathway because the sand dunes are nesting areas for the marine iguanas.
Dinner on the yacht completes your day, as we sail back towards Santa Cruz.
Our last visit today!
Bachas is a white coral beach to the north of the Santa Cruz island, requiring a wet landing then an easy walk along the beach.
There are small brackish water lagoons behind the sand dune where occasionally it’s possible to see Flamingos and other coastal birds like Black-necked Stilts, Whimbrels and White-cheeked Pintail Ducks.
After this visit we transfer to the airport for your flight back to the mainland.
Upon arrival at Baltra airport, all passengers have to pay the park entrance fee, collect any luggage and then head into the arrivals area.You meet your guide and it’s a short bus ride to the harbour and the Archipell.
North Seymour Island is generally flat and strewn with boulders.
There are good nesting sites here for a large population of Magnificent Frigate birds.
Blue-footed Boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open areas and Swallow-tailed Gulls perch on the cliff edges.
Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found bodysurfing.
Darwin Bay originated when the crater of the island collapsed below sea level. The wet landing (jumping from the panga to the shallow waters of the shore) is on a beautiful white coral sandy beach.
This island is a paradise for birdwatchers: Red-footed Boobies, Masked Boobies, Wandering Tattlers, Lava Gulls, Whimbrels and many more.
Continuing on the trail, we will climb to the edge of the cliff to see red footed-boobies nesting in the mangrove trees below. Bird watching includes sightings of sharp-beaked finches, large cactus and Ground Finches, Galapagos Doves, and Swallow-tailed Gulls.Return to the boat for lunch.
El Barranco is a visitor site located on the southern part of Darwin Bay. The trail is made of volcanic rock and has a length of 1.5 km, which we will walk slowly in about 2 hours.
The youngest area of the island, from a geological point of view, is found here. The natural erosion that has occurred in these lava flows has transformed the place into an ideal spot for nesting Storm Petrels. We will see two species of petrels that nest in cavities and holes in the lava. One of the main predators of this place is the Short-eared Owl. The Nazca Booby is also present on this island.
During the panga ride along the cliffs we have can observe sea lions and other several species of seabirds.
Sullivan Bay (Bartolomé) is inhospitable to most plants and animals and many visitors say walking here is like stepping into a different world.
The dry landing is on a jetty, then the summit trail and stairs lead us on a 30-minute climb to the top of Bartolomé, a once active volcano. Along the way, we pause to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones and cinder cones.
From the top of the wooden stairs, we can gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and Pinnacle Rock, an eroded tuff cone. Crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel from the beach with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos Penguins or take a zodiac ride to spot them.
The scenery gradually changes as we wind our way through all seven vegetation zones found in Galapagos. Here more than anywhere, on the most populated islands on the Galapagos, the problems of introduced animals and plants are quite obvious.
This part of the island is not National Park.When we reach the highest point of the road, we are back in the National Park and we head to ‘El Chato’, a farm in the highlands where we can look out for the Galapagos Tortoises in their natural, and free, surroundings. There may be the chance to Los Gemelos, Spanish for ‘The Twins’, a pair of large pit craters where we find the bright red male Vermilion Flycatcher.
It is also a good opportunity to observe the Galapagos tortoises close up. In the Van Straiten Exhibition Hall, there is plenty of great information about the Galapagos Islands, replete with with photos and diagrams. The vegetation on the hike is an exuberant green colour and it’s a great place to spot Darwin’s Finches – those famous wee birds.
At Punta Cormorant we find the probably best Flamingo lagoon in the Galapagos. It is located between two tuff lava cones that give the area a particular atmosphere.
Floreana has two very different and distinct beaches: “The Green Beach” (with a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the “Flour Sand Beach” which is made up of coral.
After lunch, we continue to the Post office Bay & Baroness Lookout. Historically, this site is the old location of a wooden barrel that was placed in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. It has been used since then by sailors and tourists as a post office. The idea is that each passing person carries the letters or postcards directed to his/her destination by hand.
We continue to the north of the island to then ascend to an elevated slope to enjoy a view from the Baroness lookout. It is said that Baroness Eloisa Von Wagner loved this place and spent several hours watching the landscape, which covers the coastline from the Enderby islet to Post Office Bay, as well as Cerro Pajas, the pool of flamingos and wide forest of Palo Santo.
Back aboard for dinner and briefing.
Sea lions will usually give a noisy greeting to us as we make a dry landing on a jetty at Punta Suarez and head to the beach. Curious Hood Mockingbirds may peck at our shoelaces.
From April to December, the Waved Albatross, found only on Española, perform their wild mating ritual. Colonies of Blue-footed Boobies show off for potential mates, Nazca Boobies care for their young while at night the stunning Swallow-tailed Gull – the only nocturnal gulls in the world that fish at night – take to the air. There’s more – Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks, plus a unique species of marine iguana with traces of red and green colourings.
A real highlight is the blowhole. Here, the seawater is pushed through a fissure in the cliff under great pressure. Depending on the waves and tide levels, the blowhole can force water up to 25m/82ft into the air.
Return to the yacht for lunch.
Wet landing on a wonderful, long, white beach made of coral sand at Gardner Bay (Española). For this visit you won’t even need shoes, it’s so soft underfoot, and there is no trail to follow so you can take a long walk and explore a bit. Playa Gardner is a very good place to observe finches and mockingbirds in the saltbush vegetation, and there is some great swimming and snorkelling from the beach, where curious sea lions are never far off. Some will even launch with you from the beach and into the water.
Punta Pitt is located on the northern part of San Cristobal Island.Here we can find endemic species such as the lava lizard and the Red-footed Booby. We walk to the high part of the island for an impressive view.
Cerro Brujo is a breathtaking white coral beach, considered one of the most spectacular in Galapagos and perfect for a peaceful walk with expansive views and good bird watching. There is the opportunity to snorkel or kayak from the beach or swim with sea lions as well as the Zodiac ride.
Back aboard for our farewell dinner!
Our last trip of the tour!
Isla de Lobos is a dry landing onto a jetty, and a small spittoon of beach and land with a lovely sheltered cove for snorkelling. Here you’ll see nesting Frigatebirds and Blue-footed Boobies and sea lions.
Alas, it’s time to say goodbye. Your guide accompanies you to the airport and you fly back to the continent, or stay on for more Galapagos exploration.
Accommodation, all meals plus purified water, tea and coffee, snacks, naturalist bilingual Galapagos guides level II/III, shore excursions, snorkelling equipment, transfers in the islands between the airport and dock
International flights, Round trip flights to the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos National Park fee, Galapagos Ingala fee, soft and alcoholic drinks, personal items, souvenirs, tips, wetsuit hire, travel insurance, personal items, Ecuador services
The Archipels both have eight spacious cabins on the main deck, twin or double, all lower beds.
Every cabin includes windows looking to the ocean, private bathroom facilities with hot/cold water shower and air conditioning.
On the main deck, the Archipells also offer ample resting areas, library, TV-DVD room, comfortable dining room and lounge.
On the upper deck, or sun deck, area we find the ample sundeck for all to relax.
The crews are “Galapagueños”, guides, captains and crew members were born and raised in the Galapagos Islands.
They know the area well and are prepared to show you the islands only like a native can do it.
The Naturalist-English speaking guides have studied and been trained at Charles Darwin Scientific Station, and have long years of experience guiding at the Galapagos Islands.
The boat uses as much locally sourced produce as possible, including fish, coffee, eggs, fruits and meat farmed in Galapagos, to reduce carbon footprints and make sure the best ingredients are used.
The chef prepares three main meals a day, with snacks and drinks available after activities.
All dietary requirements can be catered for, vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant and more.
Breakfast usually features a juice, tea and coffee, toast, jams, eggs and pastries.
Lunch will include soups, then a main meal of rices, pastas, fish, omelettes and many more options, and often a small pudding.
Dinner will again be a hearty affair, with a starter, main meal and pudding, with water, teas and coffees available.
There is a bar with beers and cocktails available at extra cost.
Every visit to each island involves an easy or moderate walk, which can last between 2 to 3 hours, and are not considered strenuous. On these walks you will be led by an expert naturalist guides in a small group along clearly marked trails. They will explain in great detail all the wonders of each of our carefully selected itineraries. Most days there are two guided walks on a specific island where you will be able to walk and hike on beaches, lava fields, alongside cliffs and around mangrove estuaries.
Snorkelling in the Islands is the highlight of the Galapagos cruise for many of our guests. You have the opportunity to go snorkelling almost every day – snorkelling with marine iguanas and with playful sea-lions are some of the highlights, as well as with green sea turtles, penguins and an incredible variety of colourful reef fish. On the western islands the water is a little colder but teaming with life. There are beach snorkels for beginners and deeper waters.
Dinghies, or “Pangas” as they are known in Galapagos, are inflatable zodiacs that serve as the main transportation method from our Galapagos yachts to the visitor sites. At several times during your week-long Galapagos travel adventure, you will have the chance to enjoy dinghy (or panga) rides in shores, mangrove estuaries, coves and caves.
Classic catamaran with new ownership, this is a very stable boat with very comfortable, modern cabins.
These magical islands comprise of 50 volcanic islands of varying shapes and sizes, which lie 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador.
Here, unlike anywhere else on Earth, you can enjoy a thousand close encounters with a weird and wonderful variety of ‘friendly locals’, including giant tortoises, fur seals, sea iguanas, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
Read our Galapagos Islands Guide and more about diving.
In 1535, Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, floated into this archipelago and named it Galapagos after the giant tortoises he encountered. Pirates used the islands for refuge and to bury their stolen treasure after that.
The islands’ most celebrated visitor was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
It wasn’t until 1959 when it became part of Ecuador’s national park system that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species came under protection.
In 1979 the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Landscapes vary from the drier south to the more humid north.
The Highlands, or sierra, encompass two Andean Cordilleras (the Central and Western), which run north to south through the country. Ecuador’s largest volcano is Chimborazo (6,310m) whose summit, because of its proximity to the equator, is the closest point on earth to the sun. Several of Ecuador’s volcanoes are still active, and it’s a great area for trekking.
Descending the steep, east-facing slopes of the eastern Cordillera, one passes through a transition zone comprising dense cloud forest and humid high jungle, before entering the Amazon lowlands.
This mainly primary rainforest covers a third of the country, accounts for 5% of the population and stretches across Ecuador, from its Colombian to its Peruvian borders.
The Galapagos Islands are simply unique. Lying 600 miles off the mainland, the archipelago comprises the summits of gigantic equatorial volcanoes.
The flora and fauna of the Galapagos, long separated from their continental cousins, have evolved differently. Charles Darwin used his observations there to develop his theory of Evolution.
When to visit Galapagos Islands: weather and wildlife
There is no real ‘best’ time to visit Galapagos on holiday as there is always wonderful wildlife and weather to enjoy. Read our blog for more.
Most animals – tortoises, sharks, sea lions and boobies – are found year round and many of the species here are non-migratory.
The Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator so air and water temperatures do not vary by much.
Having said that, there are two recognised seasons, and each months brings natural marvels for the visitor to enjoy.
Below is our quick guide to the weather and wildlife you can find on the Galapagos Islands.
General weather information
The warm season (Jan-Jun)
Sea temperatures: 22-25°C / 72-77°F
Land temperatures: 21-32°C / 72-90°F
The dry ‘garua’ season (Jun-Dec)
Sea temperatures: 15-22°C / 60-72°F
Land temperatures: 18-24°C / 65-75°F
Air and sea temperatures in Galapagos, month-by-month
You have to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil at least the night before your flight to the Galapagos.
Flights to Galapagos leave from from Quito or Guayaquil early in the morning on the first day of your tour, landing Galapagos around midday.
There are two intercontinental airports on the Galapagos one is on Baltra Island and the other is on San Cristobal Island and is also known as the Baquerizo Moreno Port.
Flights are usually included in your package to ensure all passengers are arriving at the same time on the same flight and into the correct airport.
On Isabela Island there is a landing area available only to inter-island flights for small planes.
Flights from the Galapagos back to Quito or Guayaquil usually leave around midday or later (depends on the vessel).
You can sometimes connect in Guayaquil with a flight home on the same day you leave Galapagos.
Please check times with us before booking any flights – you need to make sure that the Guayaquil departure is in the late evening / night. If you miss the connection in Guayaquil, your international airline may or may not switch you to the next available flight.
Before you fly from Quito or Guayaquil airport, you need to pay USD 20pp for a transit control card. Some cruises pre-pay this and include it in your trip cost.
On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be asked by a representative of the Galapagos National Park to pay the Park fee in cash (currently US$ 100 per person, USD 50 per person for under 12s).
The dock tax is US$5 on Isabela Island, and the airport tax is US$15 for flights between islands.
All National Park fees subject to change without prior notice.
Almost all boat cabins are for double occupancy, with only a few boats offering a single cabin with no supplement. Demand is high for these cabins, so you need to plan in advance.
The only other way to guarantee a double cabin for single occupancy is by paying at least a 50-100% supplement of the cruise rate, depending on the boat.
A single passenger can avoid the supplement by sharing a cabin with another single passenger. Most boats offer same gender cabin shares, but some offer mixed cabin shares.
Single supplements for hotel-based trips are usually a lot lower.
You will need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.
British nationals do not need a visa for Ecuador.
Non UK residents please check with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
ALL visitors to Ecuador and Galapagos must have valid health and medical insurance to cover their entire stay. Inability to show a valid policy on arrival at customs will lead to a refusal of entry.
Galapagos park rules
1. Visitors to any protected areas within the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorised by the GNPD.
2. Travel only with tour operators and/or boats authorised to work in the protected areas of Galapagos.
3. Remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife, and for your safety.
4. Maintain a distance of at least six feet (two metres) from wildlife to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you.
5. Never feed wildlife, as this can cause health problems.
6. Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife. Professional photography and videos recorded for commercial purposes must be authorised by the GNPD.
7. Camping is only allowed in a few authorised areas in the Islands. Request authorisation to camp at the Galapagos National Park’s offices at least 48 hours in advance.
8. It is your responsibility not to introduce food, animals, or plants into the Archipelago. Cooperate fully with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit.
9. Do not take or buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances, including black coral, shells, lava rock, animal parts, or any native wood or vegetation prior to leaving Galapagos. This is illegal and must be reported.
10. Practice “leave-no-trace” principles in order to maintain the beauty of the environment.
11. Pack out all trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat.
12. Smoking and/or campfires are strictly prohibited within the Galapagos National Park, as fires poses a serious risk to the flora and fauna of Galapagos.
13. Fishing is only permitted on recreational tour boats authorised by the GNPD.
14. Motorized aquatic sports, mini-subs, and aerial tourism activities are not permitted in the Galapagos National Park or Marine Reserve.
The Galapagos Islands are a suitable destination for most ages and fitness levels. Walks are generally short, although some volcano hikes are more challenging and may involve 2-3 hours of walking. Snorkelling is a real highlight on the Galapagos, so the ability to swim and snorkel is recommended. Snorkelling is suitable for those that have never tried before.
You need to be able to make some wet landings i.e. stepping out of a panga onto a sandy shore, and you may need to ascend or desend small ladders when getting on or off boats at docks or to snorkel.
The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the Islands, but they really are accessible to all. You can choose to skip any activities you do not wish to partake in.
Read more in our blog about a typical day on Galapagos.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.
Galapagos – general advice
Galapagos is warm and humid, and you will need t-shirts (moisture wick-away or breathable t-shirts can be very useful, it can get very hot in the day), shorts, lightweight skirt or trousers and bathing suits.
One or two cotton shirts can be used to protect you from sunburn, especially when snorkelling (not very elegant worn in the water over a swimsuit, but practical – and Galapagos is NOT an elegant place!).
You may want to change into different clothes for the evening, but don’t take anything dressy or smart – there really is a very relaxed atmosphere on board.
Pack something warm for going on deck in the early morning or evening a fleece, maybe, and a sweatshirt – and a waterproof for the Highlands.
Strong sandals, trainers, or light hiking boots are ideal footwear – you may like to have something suitable for easy walks and another for tougher terrain – your guide will advise you daily what the walking will be like. Most boats ask passengers not to wear heavy shoes on board.
Do take a hat!
Seasickness tablets if you think you will have problems – i.e. Sturgeon, or Mareol if you buy them in Quito. The sea can be choppy, so it is recommended to take them as a precaution.
Galapagos – detailed kit list
The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact.
Please try to minimise your impact by:
Pleasantly warm during the day, but can be quite chilly during the morning or at night when you might want a jacket or a fleece, plus a waterproof.
You may want to dress up a little more in the evening here, depending on where you are staying, and what sort of restaurant you like.
Conditions here are similar to Galapagos – hot and humid. T-shirts and shorts in the day, and like Quito, something smarter for eating out in restaurants at night.
We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Ecuador visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.
For people travelling to the Amazon/coast and regions below 1,500m (excluding Galapagos, which is malaria free):
Official name: Republic of Ecuador
Country population: 15,000,000
Capital city: Quito (2.51 million)
Largest cities: Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Machala
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua
Latitude/Longitude: 2º S, 77º 30 W
Official currency: US dollar
Major industries: bananas, shrimp, oil, gold, roses
Time zone: GMT-5 (Galapagos GMT-6)
Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.
International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.
Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.
Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.
Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.
Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.
The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.
How do I check in?
Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.
If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).
To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.
Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.
Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).
The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.
More information can be found on their ESTA website.
Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.
Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.
This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).
Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.
We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.
We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.
When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.
You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.
What is ATOL?
The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.
And ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.
Who is covered?
To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).
If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.
If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.
Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.
I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?
If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.
We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.
If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.
You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.
In large cities such as Quito and Guayaquil, you should guard against bag snatching, bag slashing and pick-pocketing.
Highway robbery should also be guarded against. We strongly recommend you take the following precautions:
Currency & Money Exchange
Ecuador and Galapagos use the US dollar as currency.
On Galapagos, there are a few ATMs on Santa Cruz island and San Cristobal islands, although they do not always work and you may not ever go near them as part of your tour.
Galapagos park entry fees and most Galapagos boats, hotels and restaurants only accept cash payments for food, drinks, tips, kit rental etc, so you need to arrive with plenty of USD cash.
There are ATMs at Quito and Guayaquil airports that dispense USD.
Take small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills, 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s being the best. You will find it hard to use 50s, and 100s are seldom accepted anywhere.
On the mainland in Ecuador, ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees), and there are ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines widely available in towns and cities.
Don’t forget to read our Guide to Tipping in Ecuador, too.
Eating and drinking
Galapagos has a growing range of places to eat and drink. They are not cheap due to the high costs of living on the remote islands, and almost everywhere will ask for payment in cash. Some more top end places take card payments on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.
Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Ecuador.
Beer/soft drink: USD 3-4
Menu del dia: USD 8-15
Coffee: USD 2
Tourist style restaurant
Beer/soft drink: USD 3-5
Main dish: USD 15 upwards
Coffee: USD 3
On cruises, you must take sufficient cash (USD) with you. You will most likely not have an opportunity to get to an ATM and most boats do NOT accept credit card payments or traveller cheques.
On board you will need to budget for drinks (soft drinks from US$1, beer from US$3), extra snacks, souvenirs. Snorkelling gear and wet suits can be hired on most boats if not included in the price, but again anything hired needs to be paid for in cash. Tips (USD 50-100pp) also payable in cash.
Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.
This is a rough guideline – please note that all Galapagos tips must be left in USD cash.
And then throughout mainland Ecuador:
On the coast
Ceviche de pescado Raw marinated fish, served with tostado (roasted maize).
Ceviche Popular everywhere, is best on the coast.
Ceviche de mariscos Marinated shellfish. Most varieties of shellfish ceviche – e.g. camaron (prawn) and langostino (king prawn) – are cooked before being marinated. The exception is ceviche de conchas (clams) which is marinated raw.
Langosta Lobster (Increasingly endangered, but is still fished illegally).
Empanada de verde Ground plantain pasty filled with meat, cheese or shrimp.
Sopa de bola de verde Plantain dumpling soup
Encocadas Dishes prepared with coconut milk. Can be shrimp, fish etc.
Patacones Fried plantain chips
In the Highlands
Locro de papas Potato and cheese soup.
Mote Burst maize.
Caldo de patas Cow-hoof soup (with mote).
Llapingachos Fried potato and cheese patties.
Empanada de morocho Ground maize shell filled with meat.
Sancocho de yuca Vegetable soup with manioc.
Cuy Guinea pig
Fritada/Chicharron Fried pork
Hornado Roast pork
Humita Ground maize meal wrapped in maize leaf and steamed (sweet or savoury).
Quimbolito Similar to humita, but made from maize flour and steamed in a banana leaf (sweet or savoury).
Jugos Fruit juices are very good, including naranjilla, maracuya (passion fruit), tomate de arbol (tree tomato – like a sweet tomato) and piña (pineapple).
Aguardiente Unmatured rum (Cristal is nice). Also known as paico, trago and trago de caña.
Cerveza Lager-type beer is very popular. Several brands, including Pilsener and Club.
Ecuador uses 120 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hz.
Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.
Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.
Ecuador and Galapagos boats mainly use two-pin, flat-pronged Type A plugs and some sockets take Type B plugs.
Type A plug
Type B plug
The international code for Ecuador is +593.
Regions have dialling codes, with a 0 prefix – Galapagos is 05.
Galapagos is a very remote destination and your mobile phone will most likely be out of range.
People on cruises will almost certainly be out of contact for most of the time aboard. Some boats are starting to offer Wi-Fi at expensive rates.
People in hotels will be able to access phones and very slow internet.
Ecuador’s landlines have 7 digits, and to call landline-landline in the same city, simply dial the 7 digits.
If calling landline to another regional landline/city, start with a 0 then the regional code.
If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Galapagos (code: 05), dial +593 5 1234567.
Mobiles have 8 digits, and start with 09 to make a total of 10 digits;
If you are dialling Ecuador mobile to mobile, simply dial the full number, including the 09.
If using your own mobile phone to call an Ecuadorian mobile, dial the country code, then omit the 0 of 09, then the 8 remaining digits e.g. +593 9 1234-5678.
Almost all unlocked phones will work in Ecuador with a local SIM, however – check with your provider before arrival if your phone will work.
Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.
To send postcards, you can leave them at Post Office Bay for fellow travellers to pick up and send on.
Otherwise, head to the official postal service, Correos del Ecuador, on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal.
Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.
Below are some basics to get you started.
Good morning Buenos días
How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
Good afternoon Buenas tardes
Good bye Adiós
Most frequently asked questions (theirs):
Where are you (plural) from? ¿De dónde eres (son)?
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
Where have you come from? ¿De dónde vienes?
Give me (frequent, unwelcome question) Dáme / regálame
Most frequent questions (yours):
How much is it? ¿Cuánto vale?
What is this place called? ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?
What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas?
Do you have a map? ¿Tienes un mapa?
In the street / places:
Where can I find a currency exchange? ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?
Where is there a cash machine? ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?
Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?
Where can I find a taxi? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?
Where can I find a Supermarket? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?
Where is the hospital? ¿Dónde esta el hospital?
Where can I find a restaurant? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?
In the hotel:
What floor am I on? ¿En qué piso estoy?
Where are the elevators/lifts? ¿Dónde están los ascensores?
How do I access the Internet? ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?
How do I call for room service? ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?
How do I call down to the front desk? ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?
In the restaurant:
A table for two/four please Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor
I would like to drink… Me gustaria tomar….
May I see a menu? Puedo ver la carta/menu?
I would like to order.. Me gustaria pedir…
Can you bring me the check/bill please. Me trae la cuenta por favor
I need help. Necesito ayuda.
I have lost my passport. He perdido mi pasaporte.
Someone stole my money. Alguien robó mi dinero
I have been robbed. Me han robado
I need to call the police. Necesito llamar a la policía
I need to call the (country) Embassy Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)
Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.
Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.
We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.
We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.
With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.
Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.
Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.
Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:
All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).
We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.
In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.
Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.
We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.
We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.
If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.
When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.
Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.
When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.
A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.
You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
Many of our tours travel through remote areas.
We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.
Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.
This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.
Also, shared tours may include travellers from all over the world whose native language is not English.
What's a group trip?
Join a small group of like-minded travellers on a guided trip.
Prices From $5,620 / £4,496 per person
Dates: From January 2019 to December 2020
Capacity: 16 per person
Enquire about booking
Prices From $4,320 / £3,456 per person
Capacity: 14 per person
Prices From $4,850 / £3,880 per person
Prices From $3,914 / £3,131 per person
Dates: From January 2020 to December 2020
Capacity: 20 per person
Prices From $4,700 / £3,760 per person
Select an available date to view pricing and information for that particular trip.
8 days (Mon-Mon/Thu-Thu) USD 4,595 per person
5 days (Mon-Fri) USD 2,850 per person
4 days (Mon-Thu) USD 2,050 per person
2020 prices, per person, shared room basis
Single supplement applies - ask about cabin shares
$4,595 / £3,676
Enquire about booking
Prices From $4,595 / £3,676 per person
Ask a question and our expert in this area will have your answer.
Can’t find what you’re
looking for? Get in Touch
+44 (0)131 467 7086
+44 (0)131 554 6025
We both felt our South America holiday was the highlight of 2012, and it was easy to see why people travel halfway across the world to see the sights of Peru and Ecuador. Our highlight overall was probably the Galapagos cruise and we never guessed how fascinated we’d become by the landscapes, the island and sea animal life, and the history of the islands. Guide was excellent in the Galapagos. From an organisational point of view, it was such a relief that everything worked; as we were trying to pack so much in to a tight timescale it seemed risky that had anything gone wrong it could have been difficult to get back on track. All the information given out beforehand was very comprehensive and I can’t think of anything on the ‘we wish we’d known that before leaving’ list. We were shocked how much and how high quality the food on both the Inca Trail and Galapagos cruise was.
R. Brackenbury, UK, 2012
» Archipel, First Class Galapagos Catamaran
Whale watching on your bucket list?
Here's what you need to know to witness the migration of Humpback Whales in Ec… twitter.com/i/web/status/13170…
16th October, 2020 10:44 am
Whale watching is on most people’s bucket list – unsurprisingly! Read on to find out all about the whale watching season in Ecuador, the best places to see whales in Ecuador and get our travel information an expert tips to help plan your trip. Ecuador Whale Watching Guide: Season and Best Places to go Humpback Whales migrate from Antarctica to the shores of Ecuador every year, from June to September. They come in search of warmer currents, and an abundance of food. For 2 months they will feast, creating thick layers of fat before returning to icier waters. Pregnant …
Sign up here to receive the latest news and info from Andean Trails