Exploring Andean Ecuador and the Galapagos where on each island we’ll walk with an expert naturalist guide
See what's planned
- Experience Ecuador's Andes and the Galapagos Islands.
- Discover the Galapagos with an expert naturalist guide.
- Observe wildlife including sea lion, iguanas and blue footed boobies close up and visit the Charles Darwin Tortoise Conservation Centre.
- Explore Cuenca, Quito, Cajas National Park and Saquisili Market.
Imagine an early stroll along the quay in Puerto Ayora, the pelicans and sea lions gathering in hope of some fisherman’s scraps. The sea lions have been known to relax on the sun loungers whilst waiting. Or picture the sun rising across snow covered Chimborazo on the barren altiplano.
Perhaps the most diverse of all our Latin American holidays, this is as good a microcosm of Latin America as you will find. Starting in the Andes at Quito, the most charismatic of capitals; its colonial centre makes it the most attractive of South America’s capital cities. After some time to explore we head south along the corridor of volcanoes, walking under Chimborazo (6,263m). You will learn how the summit of Chimborazo is the furthest point on earth from its centre, ride on the Devil’s Nose train, and observe and learn more of local life visiting homes, markets and communities along the way. Look out for the classic village scene of women in bowler hats and brightly coloured skirts. These clothes are not for show, they are everyday wear for the Andean ladies.
Cuenca is a beautifully preserved colonial city well worth exploring. Continuing from here we walk in the Cajas National Park where at up to 4000m, this lakeland landscape will be at the highest altitude we reach on this tour. From Cajas we descend to Guayaquil with time to walk the impressive Malecon, the redeveloped river front.
We fly to Baltra Island, a small island of the Galapagos where after lunch we enjoy a boat journey from Puerto Ayora to Isabella Island. We will enjoy some great walking through volcanic terrain, visit a turtle interpretation centre and hopefully encounter a myriad of diverse Galapagos wildlife.
Returning to Puerto Ayora we explore the area and spend a day, travelling by boat, to one of the other islands with more diverse habitat, flora and fauna. On each island, we’ll walk with an expert naturalist guide to make sure we get plenty of exercise whilst enjoying the huge natural diversity of each island for which the Galapagos are world famous, including sightings of Sea Iguanas and Blue Footed Boobies.
- Flights from Heathrow to Quito returning Guayaquil to Heathrow via Madrid both ways (Iberia Airlines)
- Internal flights Guayaquil to Baltra (Aerogal)
- Airport transfers
- En suite accommodation with breakfasts taken in the hotels
- Dinners taken at the hotels or at local restaurants
- Four lunches
- English speaking local guide throughout
- Specialist wildlife guides in Galapagos
- All local transport costs.
What's not included?
- Entrance fees (unless otherwise specified)
- Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
- Discretionary tips
- Optional excursions
- Travel Insurance (you can add this when you book)
This is a Grade 4 holiday which mixes active sightseeing and nature watching with mountain and coastal walks. The climate is cooler in the mountains, warm and humid by the coast. We will always walk at a gentle pace, taking into account the altitude in the mountains and the warmth and humidity on the coast. Quito is at 2850m, whilst this is unlikely to cause serious medical issues it will undoubtedly leave you a little short of breath on arrival. We are well aware of this having operated holidays here for many years. The programme has been tailored to offer a gentle start with time to acclimatise. Walks are accompanied by our RWH Travel tour guide and our Ecuadorian national guide so there is some flexibility in arrangements.
Our bottom line is happy travellers, and to that end we trust our tour leaders to use the itinerary below as a basis for providing you with a great holiday. We expect our leaders to make adjustments to the itinerary if the weather, group ability or other local conditions make that necessary. There are normally more options available to our leaders than those listed below and one or more of these options may well be chosen. All distances, heights & timings are approximate.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may unfortunately need to withdraw a tour that is currently confirmed to operate and we therefore reserve the right to cancel your booking. We would always do our utmost to give you plenty of notice should we have to do this. Selected elements of this tour, including local attractions and restaurants, may change at late notice. Please ensure you have valid insurance cover before you travel.
Hotel Grand Mercure Alameda Real
We fly to Quito via Madrid. On arrival in Quito we transfer to our centrally located hotel for dinner and overnight. Quito is at 2,850m so we need to take things a little easy on the first night. It gets noticeably cooler when the sun goes down at altitude.
Transfer Time = 45m
Hotel Grand Mercure Alameda Real
After breakfast we venture out of the city 26km north to La Mitad del Mundo, the place where the position of the equator was first measured in 1736. Later our local guide will take us through Quito's beautifully preserved colonial quarter. We return to our hotel in Quito for a chance to relax a little before dinner.
Hosteria la Andaluza
Today we hike in the Cotopaxi National Park under the shadow of Cotopaxi volcano. We plan two separate shorter hikes to make sure we see the best of the area. We walk in Cotopaxi Canyon, an easy trail on a gentle gradient. Next we walk around the shore of Limpiopungo Lagoon, a generally flat trail. The figures given are cumulative totals for both walks. If you only choose to do one the distance walked is halved. Look out for a great variety of bird life from finches to waders and waterfowl. Have your camera ready. If the weather is kind there are fantastic photo opportunities of the reflection of Cotopaxi in the lagoon. We will travel on to Riobamba for dinner and overnight.
Hotel Los Balcones
Today we plan to take the train excursion from Alausi to Sibambe and return via the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil´s Nose) railway. Built as part of a railway line between Guayaquil and Quito it is an astonishing feat of engineering. It zig zags up the side of a near vertical wall of rock 'El Nariz del Diablo'. The tracks climb about 800m on the zig zags. Riding the train offers outstanding views. We will stop regularly to allow photos to be taken. We continue by coach to Cuenca, with a visit to the Ingapirca ruins en route. We will have dinner in a local restaurant in Cuenca.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Hotel Los Balcones
Today will be an easy day. We will spend the morning on a guided tour of Cuenca city and then have a free afternoon to relax or catch up on some shopping. It is a pleasant city to explore on foot with a lovely spring-like climate.
Hotel Grand Guayaquil
First we drive to El Cajas National Park for a walk amongst spectacular scenery. We might reach up to 4,000m altitude, which will very likely be the highest point reached on this holiday. The planned walk takes us past Laguna Torreadora. The countryside here is somewhat reminiscent of Scottish moorland. On leaving the park we drive down through the mountains to Guayaquil, at sea level. A stark and fascinating contrast to the mountains. Not surprisingly the weather is much warmer down on the coast.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Hotel Casa de Marita
We fly to the Galapagos Islands. On arrival at the airport at Baltra we drive to Puerto Ayora taking the ferry across the channel that separates Baltra Island from Santa Cruz Island. Puerto Ayora is on the south side of Santa Cruz so we drive over the highlands to reach the capital. In the afternoon we have a two hour boat ride to Isabella Island and our beach side hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Hotel Casa de Marita
Our local guide will take us on excursions to Tintoreras to see the wildlife, particularly Sea Iguanas and Blue Footed Boobies. The walking is short and easy, punctuated by many stops to marvel at wildlife. Later we will walk to the Wall of Tears, the atmospheric ruins of a former penal colony prison.
Today we return by boat to Puerto Ayora and transfer to our hotel. In the afternoon we will walk to Tortuga Bay and to the Charles Darwin Tortoise Conservation Centre. Here you will see turtles being raised and will get an insight into the fascinating turtle life cycle. The walk is a gentle stroll on generally sandy paths.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today we will have an excursion to one of the outlying islands. The excursion will not be confirmed until the day but a wildlife spectacular is assured. The tour will be accompanied by a professional wildlife guide to make sure we see and understand everything.
Finally we return to Baltra Airport to catch our flight to Quito and connect back to the UK.
We arrive back in the UK.
Walks & Excursions
Local Transport Costs
All local transport costs in conjunction with the advertised activity programme are included in the holiday cost. There may be occasions where additional visits or excursions are added to enrich your experience, these will be paid for locally by you if you choose to participate. Local transport can be a mix of private hire coaches, taxis, local buses and ferries depending on the itinerary.
A range of local excursions and activities may be available to book at your destination through a local operator.
We have no involvement in such activities or excursions which are not run, supervised or controlled in any way by
us. Your contract will be with the local activity supplier and we accept no responsibility for their actions or omissions.
When budgeting for your holiday, you will need to consider drinks, any meals not included in the holiday price,
non-included entrance fees, optional excursions you may choose to participate in locally and any souvenirs or
additional services such as laundry. A general guideline for lunches and drinks is £10-£20 per person per day.
Currency in Ecuador
The currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. The Ecuadorians mint their own coins but all notes are standard American bills. ATMs dispense US Dollars.
Although entirely at your own discretion, tipping is an important aspect of tourism and hospitality life and expectations are fairly high. In order to simplify tipping, we strongly recommend that you allow your leader to take care of making sure tips are given to hotel and restaurant staff & to local guides and drivers. This will be done using some funds provided by us together with, if you wish, a contribution from you, which he/she will collect during the holiday.
Tour Leaders & Local Guides
Your tour leader makes the world of difference to your holiday and ours are as passionate about discovering the world on foot as you are. They're resourceful, organised and widely travelled. They will handle all the local administration and other needs that might arise to ensure that you don't have to worry about planning your days and you can enjoy your holiday. Although leading group holidays, they won't forget that every group is made up of individuals. Each tour leader has their own individual style, talents and professional backgrounds and all are trained, qualified, experienced and dedicated to making your holiday as enjoyable, interesting and inspiring as possible.
Leader's Evening Briefing
Each evening, your tour leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. This will be your opportunity to discuss the details and ensure the planned activities suit your walking ability. If you have concerns on clothing or equipment, this can be discussed then also. If you do not wish to join the organised group programme, please let the leader know.
To enhance your experience, as well as your tour leader, each holiday will be accompanied by a well qualified and knowledgeable English-speaking local guide.
Your Travel Details
We fly from London Heathrow to Quito and return on Iberia, with a change of aircraft in Madrid.
Travel within Ecuador is by road, rail, and boat. Please note that the road system in Ecuador is not maintained to the same standard found in Europe, and occasionally detours or delays may occur due to blockages or road works. The Devil's Nose rail journey may be suspended without notice and be replaced with a coach transfer - we cannot guarantee that the rail service will be operating, but will include it if at all possible.
Booking Your Own Travel Arrangements?
If you wish to organise your own flights from a non-UK or provincial airport or travel by rail or car to your holiday destination, 'land only' reductions are often available. Please contact us for details.
Before finalising any independent travel arrangements, please check with us first - especially if doing so 12 weeks or more before your intended date of travel. If you do intend to join your holiday locally please do tell us at least 14 weeks in advance.
If you are joining and leaving your holiday overseas we assume, unless you advise us otherwise, that you will join and leave the holiday at your hotel.
Although airport transfers are not included for those making their own independent travel arrangements, if you wish to join the group at the overseas airport, depending on your flight arrival time, you may be able to be included on the group's transfer. Please contact us at least 5 weeks before departure for more details.
Please note that your flight must arrive within 30 minutes of the group flight to be able to join the group transfer. We also need your flight number, arrival time and departure point so that the group leader is able to meet up with you.
Luggage Allowance & Travel Documents
For all those booking a flight or rail inclusive holiday, details of your travel arrangements and baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent to you approximately 10 days prior to departure.
Personal Details Check
To ensure that we can accurately administer your holiday arrangements, please confirm that the personal details we hold for you are up to date and that you have provided the information we need to secure your holiday travel and accommodation arrangements. Please check your passport details, date of birth and any other important details necessary for us to properly manage your holiday booking. You can view and update information already provided, and add details not yet asked for, by using the Manage My Booking facility on our website www.ramblersholidays.co.uk, or by calling our Sales and Reservations team on +44 (0)1707 331133. When you receive your booking confirmation please check the details as soon as possible.
Passports and Visas
General Passport Advice
It is a good idea to carry photocopies of the personal details pages of your passport.
Should you lose your passport, this may assist with the issue of replacement documents
and your return to your home country.
Passport and visa requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to
ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply
with, such requirements.
General travel and destination advice for UK nationals is available from the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office at www.fco.gov.uk/travel
and at www.gov.uk/travelaware.
Passport Information for Ecuador
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry; this is a strict legal requirement from the Ecuadorean government. Without this minimum validity entry to the country will be denied. British Citizens do not require a visa to enter Ecuador. On arrival in Ecuador you will be issued with a stamp that allows stays of up to 90 days.
The holiday is on a half board basis with breakfasts and dinners provided in hotels or local restaurants. Meals commence with dinner on Day 1. Lunch is included on 4 days. The food is generally excellent with potatoes, beans and rice predominant in the mountains and fish common on the coast and in the Galapagos. Vegetarians are generally well catered for but some patience at mealtimes may be required.
The hotel(s) listed within this document are examples of standard only. Whilst we strive to deliver the hotel(s) listed within this Holiday Information Sheet, there will be times throughout the year when they change. If this occurs, we will advise you as such. From time to time hotels will change near to departure and you will not be advised until after arriving into the destination. We always aim to provide a replacement of similar standard and location, although we cannot guarantee similar facilities such as pool or bar.
Footwear & Kit List
Electricity is supplied at 110 Volts at 60Hz. If you wish to use electrical equipment you will need a two pin North America style adaptor with flat pins. (Supplies in some places can be at 220V).
More information can be found at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/
Lightweight waterproof walking boots with a good moulded sole (such as Vibram or similar) and a deep tread and which provide ankle support are strongly recommended and may be essential for some walks.
General Kit List
Outdoor activities are always safer and more enjoyable if you are prepared.
If you have not travelled with us before the following list might be of use:
- Waterproof jacket (Goretex or similar) and trousers
- Lightweight quick-drying trousers
- Walking T-shirt/shirts
- Walking socks
- Fleece or jumper
- Sun hat, sunglasses, lip salve and sun block
- Warm hat and gloves (if appropriate)
- Swimwear (if appropriate)
- Day sack (this should be able to carry all you would need for the day's activity)
- Day sack liner
- Water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity (more than 1 bottle may be required)
- Basic first aid kit
- Walking poles (should you find them useful)
- Sit mat
This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.
Country Specific Kit
Wildlife and scenery viewing experiences are always improved with binoculars. For seeing a bird in the treetops or picking out some detail on the horizon they are invaluable. If you have a pair, please bring them with you on your holiday. On some holidays it will be appropriate to have them with you all the time. Sometimes you might prefer to avoid carrying the extra weight. Your tour leader will always be happy to advise which days it will be particularly useful to take them.
Travel Documents Checklist
Documents and Information to take with you:
- Passport (make sure it's yours and valid)
- Your travel tickets or e-ticket itinerary
- Any visa or electronic travel authorisation (if required)
- Holiday money
- Credit or debit cards (and separate details of who to call if lost)
- Car parking ticket and car park directions (if prebooked)
- Coach or rail travel tickets (if prebooked)
- Your holiday Booking Confirmation document
- Your travel insurance details
- Alternative form of identification (such as a driving licence)
- Photocopy of the personal details pages of your passport
- A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if relevant
- Details of any medical condition or allergy your holiday leader should know about
Water To Go
An alternative to bottled water from single-use sealed water bottles is
filtered water from a refillable bottle containing its own water filter
such as a Water-to-go bottle available from
Just fill up from any water source and save the environment from disposable plastic bottles.
We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount with our partners Water-to-Go
for you as a thank you for helping the environment. Please go to their website
at www.watertogo.eu and
enter the code RWH17 when ordering. In addition, Water-to-Go will match the
discount with a donation to our charity, Heart & Sole, which will allow us
to continue to make a difference in the countries you visit on our holidays.
Maps, Guidebooks & Other Information
Maps, Guidebooks & More
There are all manner of guides available covering Ecuador. Most notable are the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet.
Evolutionists might care to read the definitive text, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and another excellent book covering Ecuador is The Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming.
The Map Shop
If you cannot find the maps or books locally we recommend:
The Map Shop
5 High Street
Upton upon Severn, Worcs
Tel: 01684 593 146
E-mail: [email protected]
If you key many of the local places mentioned in this holiday fact sheet into YouTube, you will find a vast array of spectacular footage of the area.
Visit the following websites for an idea of the climate in your destination:
Find out more
United States Dollar
UTC -05:00, UTC -06:00
11.5hrs from UK
Visas and Passports
No visa required for a stay of up to 90 days
Avg. Rain: 123mm
Avg. Rain: 154mm
Avg. Rain: 167mm
Avg. Rain: 141mm
Avg. Rain: 89mm
Avg. Rain: 60mm
Avg. Rain: 40mm
Avg. Rain: 37mm
Avg. Rain: 44mm
Avg. Rain: 58mm
Avg. Rain: 52mm
Avg. Rain: 63mm
Staying Healthy On Holiday
Health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility
to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on,
and comply with, such requirements at least 6 to 8 weeks before departure.
Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP.
Altitude sickness can affect travellers whose itineraries take them above about 2,500m although some individuals can experience a milder form above about 1,900m.
Early symptoms include a headache, nausea, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and insomnia.
Further Travel Advice
For further advice please visit:
You might wish to take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you for times when you're unable to wash your hands.
It is a condition of booking with Ramblers Walking Holidays that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the trip, including all optional activities.
Your travel insurance policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation. Please ensure your policy covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are walking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover are not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Whoever you insure with, please ensure that you take full details, and ideally the policy itself, with you on holiday and provide our tour leader with your insurer's name, the policy number and emergency assistance contact numbers.
Please note that it is very difficult to obtain travel insurance once your holiday arrangements have started.
Looking for travel insurance cover?
If you have not already arranged cover, please visit SunWorld who offer travel insurance.
SunWorld policies include cover for COVID-19, subject to applicable terms and conditions.
The Ecuadorian government have recently updated immigration requirements for travellers arriving in Ecuador. Any person entering the country must be able to show they have full medical insurance cover for the duration of the stay.
The Ecuadorian Government reserves the right to refuse entry to anybody unable to produce the correct documentation.
To avoid any confusion or delay at immigration we recommend you have full insurance policy details available for inspection at immigration rather than just a cover note.
The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides up to date information
on security and local laws for travellers, together with current
passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/travelaware.
Please take a few minutes to look at the current advice on your
Please be aware of what's going on around you, take sensible
precautions with your credit cards and passport and avoid displays
of wealth such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches.
Do not carry more cash on you than you will need for each day,
and we recommend that a money belt is used.
We're committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations.
Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence
of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups
not only gives you an up close and personal experience of
your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate
environment. We feel that the most important starting point
to protect the environment is to be out in it.
For more details visit our website.
The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust
Unlike many tour operators we have our own trust through which RWH Travel’s profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects in the UK. The focus of the Trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and their role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public. In addition the Trust welcomes applications for small grants from local organisations in the UK who need support for walking-orientated activities. This includes the establishment of footpaths and bridleways, funding for rebuilding bridges and renovating huts, as well as bursary funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for children who could not otherwise afford to do it. Please visit the ‘About Us’ section of our website and click on the Charitable Trust link for more details.
Heart and Sole
We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able
to use our profits to help make a difference to people's lives.
Heart & Sole is a venture managed by our office staff, whose
aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries
we visit. Through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long
term, direct impact to these communities, particularly in less
developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way.
See our website for more information and details of some of the
projects we support.
Staying In Touch
Please do provide us with a mobile phone contact number. We will only use this to contact you with important information relating to your holiday arrangements.
Do keep your mobile phones switched on and readily available when travelling to the airport or if delayed in transit so that we can contact you with any last minute information relating to your travel arrangements.
As a matter of courtesy, please switch off your mobile phone during walks, or endeavour to minimise its use. Please also try to minimise the use of mobile devices during group meals.
We welcome all comments about our holidays and value ideas for the future. If you have provided us with an email address we will invite you to complete an online questionnaire or to add feedback to our page on the independent review site 'Feefo'.
Please note that this Holiday Information sheet may be periodically updated and reissued.
In most cases the revisions will be minor and the overall nature
of the holiday will remain unchanged. Should we make a major change
to your holiday arrangements between you booking your holiday and
your date of travel we will notify you to specifically draw your
attention to any significant change.
You may wish to review the latest version of this Holiday Information Sheet online prior to travel.
Please note that any advertised offers, benefits or initiatives may be discontinued at any time.
Ramblers Walking Holidays
Our office is open and our Sales & Reservations team are available to speak to you from:
- 9am to 12pm Monday to Friday
Please quote your Booking Reference number and Tour Code whenever contacting us.
We wish you an enjoyable holiday!
Our holiday walking grades
Grade 4 Sightseeing
Full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain. Half day walks will probably involve about 3 hours of walking, with full day walks having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to 600m. Some days of this holiday will be dedicated solely to sightseeing (or include an element of sightseeing). To enhance your experience, a knowledgeable local guide will accompany your small group for part (or the majority) of the holiday.
Discover more about our walking grades