As you delve into pre-Inca history, rub shoulders with Andean indigenous peoples, 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.
1-2 Hike in the snowcapped Andes and trace the orchid-lined caldera rim around deep-blue Laguna de Cuicocha | Wander through Cotacachi's colonial streets, renowned for their leather goods | Visit with master weavers and see their age-old techniques as you stroll through their studio | 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.
3 Check out Condor Huasi, a center reintroducing endangered condors into the wild | For new perspectives and breathtaking views, hike to archaeological sites and along winding roads through the Zuleta Valley's lush pastureland | Visit Zuleta's embroidery shop—local women are renowned for their fine needlework.
4-8 Fly to the Galápagos Islands for incredible up-close wildlife viewing | 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 with fluorescent fish, 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.