Region Overviews: Ecuador Travel Guide: Overview
Ecuador is home to Amazonian jungle, mountainous Andean sierra and stunning Pacific coastline. Ecuador even boasts the wildlife-abundant Galapagos Islands.
Traverse the Amazon on a river cruise, each bend uncovering exotic sights and species. Witness snow-covered volcanoes on walks in the towering Andes. Discover the Galápagos Islands by kayak and on foot, revealing a white-sand wonderland teeming with life. One trip. So many ways to explore.
THIS ITINERARY: 11 days, 10 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Premiere Hotels & Ship*
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
Journey to the Amazon and board the luxurious Anakonda ship | Voyage into the rain forest before an evening walk among the nocturnal jungle life | Explore Pañayacu River Delta's unique ecosystem | Kayak through a flooded forest, looking out for toucans, squirrel monkeys and endangered Amazon river dolphins | Walk remote jungle trails of Yasuni National Park, designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve for its staggering biodiversity | Visit one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles in all of Amazonia—a salt lick that attracts flocks of parrots and parakeets | Engage with a group of indigenous Kichwa women who share their customs, cuisine and stories | Climb a canopy tower high above the treetops.
A luxurious custom-designed ship with an expansive observation deck, large panoramic windows, spacious staterooms and an outdoor whirlpool.
Deep in the Andean highlands, you're welcomed at spectacular Hacienda Zuleta by Fernando Polanco, grandson of an Ecuadorian president | Experience history and warm hospitality at this exclusive 4,000-acre working farm | Hike through the Zuleta Valley's lush pastureland amid volcano vistas and pre-Inca ruins to a project that reintroduces captive Andean condors into the wild | Visit Zuleta's embroidery shop—local women are renowned for their fine needlework | Visit a family in Zuleta and learn about the local cuisine, artisan traditions and Andean history.
Luxuriate at this idyllic 17th century hotel, 4,000-acre working farm and living museum owned by a former Ecuadorian president and his family.
Travel from the Ecuadorian mainland to the Enchanted Islands of Galápagos National Park | Board a yacht to explore an uninhabited isle that is home to land iguanas and colonies of frigate birds | Walk through Santa Cruz Island's lush highlands for an encounter with prehistoric-looking giant tortoises | With an expert local naturalist, hop into a kayak to paddle in search of marine iguanas, sea lions and blue-footed boobies | Explore a lava tunnel, one of the unique geological features on the island | Snorkel among colorful fish and keep an eye out for sea turtles and reef sharks.
A beautiful waterfront lodge near the heart of Puerto Ayora and a designated National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. (pool, spa)
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Click on dates for pricing, itinerary variations and to book your trip. Price is per person, double occupancy.
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. LEARN MORE.
Note: The terrain on this trip includes cobblestone paths, dirt roads, unpaved trails, grassy paths, beach walks and jungle trails that could be muddy. Please note we provide rubber boots in the Amazon.
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.
In order to fully experience the best of three incredible regions, this trip involves an ample amount of travel to and from the Ecuadorian mainland, the Amazon and the Galápagos Islands (including two round-trip flights, one of which requires us to get going as early as 3 a.m.). We take commercial flights on one or more of the following planes, depending on your departure date: twin-jet planes operated by LATAM Ecuador or Avianca, and twin-jet or turboprop planes operated by Tame Airlines or Avianca.
The wildlife in the Amazon is at its liveliest early morning, late afternoon and evening, so our activities line up accordingly, allowing optimal animal encounters in the cooler hours while giving you some time to relax midday. Galápagos activities are a full morning and a section of the afternoon, leaving you with a good portion of the evening to enjoy the hotel and the local town.
The main form of travel for activities in the Amazon and Galápagos is by boat. Our Amazon ship cruises on calm river waters while our Galápagos boats sail through open ocean, so bring medication if you're prone to motion sickness.
The Amazon and Galápagos Islands are fascinating places, yet at times logistically challenging, especially with national park regulations in the Galápagos. Itinerary changes are quite common. In the Amazon, our daily itinerary is based on scheduled sailing and port arrival times, which in turn are determined by the naturally shifting water level of the Napo River. Low water levels result in slower sailing, extra cruising time or possible shifts in activity timing. As a result, some days have more opportunities for land exploration while others have a little more sailing time. Should any unforeseen change happen during your river cruise, we'll work closely with the Anakonda's captain and staff, who are very experienced in going with the flow. And if we encounter changes to planned activities, your Trip Leader will be at the ready to adjust or find alternate activities.
Although Galápagos is part of Ecuador, the islands can feel worlds away from the mainland, including slow or no internet connectivity and ATMs possibly running out of cash. Service at hotels 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.
Some hikes on this trip are remote and do not intersect with roads. We get to trailheads by vehicle or boat, but we won't see our vehicles along the route. Ample trail support in the form of water, snacks and encouragement is provided by your Backroads leader and local guides.
We provide plenty of walking options so that you can walk at your chosen pace throughout the trip. However, in the Amazon and Galápagos, in accordance with the national park's environmental protection regulations, hikers must stay in designated areas and be accompanied by our local naturalist.
During the river cruise portion of your trip, the Anakonda ship is your floating luxury hotel, letting you visit many locations along the Amazon's Napo River without having to pack up your bags! We've limited our Backroads group size to 20, but just like any hotel, we'll be sharing the ship with other guests. This 40-passenger ship is custom-designed with inviting common spaces so you'll have room for relaxing and socializing with other guests.
In contrast to our usual land-only based trips, which have similar room categories, the Anakonda offers two suite stateroom categories: Deluxe and Standard. The four top-tier Deluxe Suites often fill fast so book as early as possible if this is important to you.