One of South America’s smallest countries, but one which packs the biggest punch, Ecuador is the perfect family destination and somewhere that can be visited year-round.
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Board a day flight from the UK to Quito, the Ecuadorian capital.
Note: There are no direct flights between the UK and Ecuador. The quickest connections are with KLM, via Amsterdam or Iberia via Madrid. There are also options via the USA, with British Airways and American Airlines.
You will be met and transferred to your characterful hotel in the heart of old Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site and ancient capital of the Inca Empire.
Stay: One night at La Casona de la Ronda – bed & breakfast
Today you will board a flight to the Amazon, staying in a remote eco-hotel within the Yasuni National Park. The journey from the airport to the lodge consists of a car ride to the dock, a motorised canoe trip along the Napo River and finally a meandering journey in a small, dugout canoe up to the lodge. Throughout the journey you can keep an eye out for giant otters, jacamars, monkeys, kingfishers and hoatzins.
The next few days will be dedicated to experiencing the wonders of this rich and incredibly diverse wilderness. You’ll explore the rainforest alongside expert local guides on excursions that range from canoe trips along the river to specialist bird watching tours. You can also follow one of the many canopy trails in the area, which will offer you a fabulous view over the rainforest.
Stay: Three nights at Napo Wildlife Centre – full board (including activities in small groups)
Swapping the rainforest for the Andean highlands, your holiday now brings you to the famous market town of Otavalo. Your accommodation is a charming working farm set at the heart of the Avenue of Volcanoes, the property has been in the family of former president Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso for over a century.
You will find at your fingertips a wide variety of activities to enjoy in the surrounding area. You could go hiking along winding mountain trails, explore the countryside on beautiful Zuleteño horses, ride mountain bikes through scenic valleys or take a bird watching excursion. Cooking and embroidery classes are also on offer, as well as complimentary cheese-tastings each evening.
Stay: Two nights at Hacienda Zuleta – full board
Fly south to Guayaquil and travel inland past coconut and pineapple plantations to Ecuador’s lesser-explored tropical lowlands. Your home for the next three nights is Hacienda La Danesa, a stunning property, surrounded by tropical plants, cooling streams and exotic birds.
Owner Niels will give you a warm welcome to his family farm which is an excellent base for exploring the south of the country. A completely different environment to the north, over the next three days you will be invited to experience life on the farm – making your own honey and chocolate bars, riding on the beautiful pinto horses and exploring the vast grounds on specially modified mountain bikes, you will never be bored at La Danesa! For the more adventurous you can venture into the nearby cloud forest, where you can explore the trails and even rappel down one of the waterfalls (optional!) or for a more cultural experience, why not visit the local community who live next door to the farm.
For those looking for a more relaxing experience, try river-tubing or treat yourself to an in room spa experience or simply relax in the beautifully designed rooms and enjoy the fresh and seasonal produce which comes from the farm’s kitchen.
Stay: Three nights at Hacienda La Danesa – full board
On day ten you will fly to the Galapagos Islands, where you will board your small expedition ship for a week-long cruise of the archipelago.
Throughout the journey, you will enjoy daily panga, snorkelling, kayaking and island excursions alongside experienced naturalists guides, who will give you a fascinating insight into the islands wildlife, history and geology.
Letty is a twenty passenger expedition ship, which has the added advantage of two naturalist guides on board, meaning group sizes of just ten per guide for activities (normally it is sixteen per guide in the Galapagos). There are ten outside facing cabins, each with ensuite bathrooms. There is also a sundeck, comfortable lounge and dining room. Kayaks, snorkelling equipment and zodiacs are all available for activities.
Over the next week you will explore the unique landscapes and wildlife of the islands. See blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds, colonies of sea lions and giant tortoises and snorkel with turtles, inquisitive fur seals and possibly even hammerhead sharks and whales. Explore beautiful sandy beaches, lava-tunnels and giant craters, each day returning to the boat for dinner and drinks.
Stay: Seven nights on board Letty – full board (including activities with your naturalist guide)
After your final breakfast in the Galapagos you will fly back to mainland Ecuador and connect onto your overnight international flight back to the UK.