As you delve into pre-Inca history, rub shoulders with indigenous Otavaleños, commune with condors, hike a volcano’s rim, snorkel with sea lions, and encounter blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises, you'll realize that something has happened. You’ve been forever changed by Ecuador’s amazing Andes and islands.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
Travel Time & ComfortPlease note that there is a substantial amount of travel time on this trip, and we may have earlier mornings than you are used to on Backroads trips—including as early as 4 a.m.—due to our flights between the Ecuadorian mainland and the Galápagos Islands. Once in the Galápagos, the main form of travel is by boat, so be prepared for occasional wet, windy conditions and bring seasickness medication if you think you'll need it. Also, in summer months the waters can be a bit rougher.
Itinerary ChangesThe Galápagos Islands are a welcoming and fascinating place, yet complex and at times logistically challenging due to national park regulations. Mid-trip itinerary changes are quite common. Rest assured, if we encounter changes to our planned activities, your Trip Leaders will find alternate activities that you're sure to enjoy.
Service StandardsAlthough the Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador, they can feel worlds away from the mainland, including slow or no internet connectivity and ATMs possibly running out of cash. Service at inns and restaurants can lack a sense of urgency when compared with other regions. Your best bet is to sit back, relax and soak in the island way of life.
Terrain & Trail SupportThe hikes on this trip follow rocky and sometimes uneven paths, many of which are remote and do not intersect with roads. Vehicles will get us to and from the trailheads, but the nature of these trails is such that we won't see our vans along the route. Ample trail support in the form of water, snacks and encouragement is provided by your Backroads leaders and local guides.
Hiking on Your OwnWe provide plenty of hiking options and ample trail support so that you can hike at your chosen pace throughout the trip. However, in the Galápagos, in accordance with the national park's environmental protection regulations, hikers are not allowed to hike alone or in non-designated areas.
Days 1-2 Hike in the Andes with spectacular views of snowcapped mountains and trace the orchid-lined caldera rim surrounding deep blue Laguna de Cuicocha Spend time exploring Poncho Square, the heart of Otavalo's world-famous artisan market, and visit with Ecuador's foremost master weavers Fernando Polanco, grandson of an Ecuadorian president, welcomes us at Hacienda Zuleta, a 4,000-acre working farm set amid volcano vistas and pre-Inca ruins.
Day 3 Check out Condor Huasi, a center reintroducing endangered condors into the wild Fuel up with a breakfast of organic tropical fruits, fresh dairy products and mouthwatering pastries—virtually everything on the table is homemade and grown on-site at our hotel For new perspectives and breathtaking views, hike to archaeological sites and along winding roads through the Zuleta Valley's lush pastureland Stroll to embroidery workshops—Zuleteña women are renowned for their fine needlework.
Days 4-8 Get set for incredible up-close wildlife viewing in the Galápagos Islands, an isolated sanctuary with a stunning array of unique plants and animals With an expert local guide at your side, marvel at blue-footed boobies, Darwin's finches, magnificent frigate birds and lava lizards Boat from island to island, stopping to kayak, hike, bike and swim Snorkel through a living aquarium teeming with fluorescent fish, and swim alongside sea lions, sea turtles and even white-tipped reef sharks Hike through rich Scalesia forests and witness giant tortoises wallowing in mud puddles Late afternoon, kick back at our lodges or stroll in laid-back port towns.
- Hike in the Andes with spectacular views of snowcapped mountains
- Explore small highland villages, where Otavaleño Indians continue centuries-old traditions
- Condor Huasi, a center that reintroduces Andean condors into the wild
- Incredible up-close wildlife viewing in the Galápagos with an expert local guide
- Bike in the highlands down to white-sand beaches, and snorkel and kayak with tropical fish, sea lions and white-tipped reef sharks
Hacienda Cusín (1 night): Located in the Ecuadorian sierra, this restored Andean estate traces its history to 1602, when the land was purchased from the King of Spain.
Hacienda Zuleta (2 nights): Luxuriate at this 4,000-acre working farm and living museum open only to select groups of travelers. Our host is Fernando Polanco, the great-grandson and grandson of former Ecuadorian presidents.
Casa Playa Mann (2 nights): Just steps from the beach, this charming bed-and-breakfast is surrounded by lush gardens.
Finch Bay Eco Hotel (2 nights): A beautiful waterfront lodge near the heart of Puerto Ayora.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of
interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one
day to the next-and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat
from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each
day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do.
Routes For All Abilities
|Daily Route Options|
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3||Level 4||Level 5|
|miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain||miles||feet gain|
|Other||Otavalo Market Visit (1 Hour)|
|Other||Weaver`s Studio Visit (1 Hour)|
|Other||Optional Hiking, Horseback Riding or Embroidery Shop Visit|
|4||Other||Loberia Hiking & Snorkeling (3 Hours)|
|5||Other||Kayaking & Snorkeling (6 Hours)|
|Other||Interpretive Center & Frigate Hill Walk (3 Hours)|
|Other||Giant Tortoise Walk (1.5 Hours)|
On this trip, we'll be using titanium mountain bikes that are just right for the non-technical dirt road riding as well as the paved riding. (approximately 15% dirt and 85% paved).
* Includes a shuttle
2015 Dates & Pricing*
*Prices may change. Once you book your trip, your price is guaranteed.
2016 Dates & Pricing*
*Prices may change. Once you book your trip, your price is guaranteed.
Private Trips Options & Pricing
Gather your favorite people to share a Backroads adventure on a ready-to-book Private Trip - featuring all the legendary Backroads hallmarks from expert leaders to unforgettable activities.
You can pick from a large selection of dates for your group of 8 or more. Call us for date availability.
If your party has fewer than 8 guests, or if your preferred date is not available, we'll create a departure just for you.
Pricing for Private Trips (prices may vary based on departure date)
|8 - 9 guests from $6,098 pp dbl. occ.||12 or more guests from $5,298 pp dbl. occ.|
|10 - 11 guests from $5,598 pp dbl. occ.|
All Private Singles-Solos trips require a minimum of 16 guests.
For groups of 2 to 7 guests, please call for Custom Trip pricing.
Guest Trip Reviews
What could be better than biking, hiking, snorkeling and kayaking your way through two of the most spectacular regions of South America: the Andes Mountains and Galápagos Islands of Ecuador? And you'll be sharing the experience with other fun-loving, like-minded travelers. Talk about instant camaraderie! We've hand-picked this trip - one of Backroads most popular adventures - for its appeal to adventurous families with older kids.- Regional Manager, Latin America