The epic scenery, rich traditions and welcoming people of the highlands. And of course, those incredible islands, where tortoises lumber and blue-footed boobies dance. In Ecuador, it's not just the thin Andes air that leaves you breathless. To experience this land firsthand is to feel a sense of wonder in one of the world's last great wild places.
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 tripsincluding 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.
Day 1 Trace the orchid-lined caldera rim surrounding deep-blue Laguna de Cuicocha Otavalo's market is a colorful bustling whirlrevel in it! Musicians serenade you with handcrafted instruments.
Days 2-3 Hike through quinoa fields and cloud forests as condors ride the thermals high above you 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 Visit with Ecuador's foremost master weavers Feast on fresh cheeses, vegetables and trout prepared using Polanco family recipes Walk or horseback ride on trails flanking Imbabura Volcano in the spectacular Zuleta Valley Visit a project managed by Hacienda Zuleta that reintroduces captive Andean condors into the wild and educates local children about the importance of preservation.
Days 4-8 Boat and fly between the Galápagos Islands Hike in the company of expert local guides as fascinating wildlife behaviors occur right before your eyes Watch giant frigate birds with six-foot wingspans soar like Triassic Period pterosaurs View marine iguanas basking on warm rocks, unfazed by the Sally Lightfoot crabs that scurry across them Marvel at fluorescent fish, sea lions and lava lizards Keep your eyes peeled for the brilliant plumage of the rare vermilion flycatcher Jump in a kayak and paddle around the islet-dotted bays around Puerto Villamil to get a closer look at penguins, seabirds and maybe even surfacing sea turtles.
- Explore highland villages, where Otavaleño Indians continue centuries-old traditions
- Connect with one of Ecuador's foremost master weavers during a tour of his studio
- Visit award-winning Condor Huasi, a rehabilitation center for Andean condors
- Get set for a life-altering experience as you view Galápagos wildlife up close with an expert local guide
- Swim and snorkel with sea lions and, yes, even with white-tipped reef sharks!
La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa (1 night): Peacocks stroll freely in the lush gardens of this stately inn, which combines Ecuadorian and European styles. (pool, spa, tennis)
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.
Iguana Crossing (2 nights): Set on a pristine beach near a habitat for flamingos and marine iguanas. (pool)
Galápagos Safari Camp (2 nights): Beautifully appointed luxury safari tents offering unparalleled immersion in the natural environment. (pool)
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|
|Otavalo Market Visit (1 Hour)|
|Weaver`s Studio Visit (45 Minutes)|
|Women`s Community Center Visit (30 Minutes)|
|Optional Horseback Riding at Hacienda Zuleta|
|Kayaking at Isabela Island (2 Hours)|
|6||Las Tintoreras Boat Ride & Walk (3 Hours)|
|Giant Tortoise Walk (2 Hours)|
|Puerto Ayora Bay Tour & Snorkel (3 Hours)|
|8||Galápagos Safari Camp Guide Walk (1 Hour)|
* Includes a shuttle
2015 Dates & Pricing*
- 11/1-8 Price: $6098 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 12/17-24 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 12/29-1/5 Price: $6298 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
*Prices may change. Once you book your trip, your price is guaranteed.
2016 Dates & Pricing*
- 1/17-24 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 1/31-2/7 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 2/14-21 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 2/28-3/6 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 3/15-22 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 4/5-12 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 9/4-11 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 9/18-25 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 10/2-9 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 10/16-23 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 10/30-11/6 Price: $5998 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 12/17-24 Price: $7198 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
- 12/27-1/3 Price: $7198 pp dbl. occ., (+ $1200 for sgl. occ.), Internal Air: $790
*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 any open date for your group of 8 or more except for trips departing during the last two weeks of December, where a 16 guest minimum is required. Call us for date availability.
Pricing for Private Trips (prices may vary based on departure date)
|8 - 9 guests from $6,398 pp dbl. occ.||12 or more guests from $5,598 pp dbl. occ.|
|10 - 11 guests from $5,898 pp dbl. occ.|
|8 - 9 guests from $6,798 pp dbl. occ.||12 or more guests from $5,998 pp dbl. occ.|
|10 - 11 guests from $6,298 pp dbl. occ.|
For groups of 2 to 7 guests, please call for Custom Trip pricing.
Guest Trip Reviews
Beginning with a cultural adventure in the highlands and culminating in an extraordinary wildlife viewing experience in the Galápagos, you'll discover the best of two worlds in one fantastic trip. In the Andes, enjoy hiking, market excursions and visits with local artisans. Then delve into the Galápagos Islands, coming face-to-face with some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet while walking with local naturalists, swimming and snorkeling. I hope you'll join us for this unforgettable introduction to two distinct faces of Ecuador.- Regional Manager, Latin America